The 2023 NFL Draft wasn’t exactly chock-full of superstar wide receivers, but it was a really solid and deep position group that offered plenty of value and upside in each round. Below, we continue our NFL odds series with a rookie receiving yards prediction and pick.
Here are the NFL odds for the rookie class, courtesy of FanDuel
NFL Odds: Rookie Receiving Yards Odds
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: +280
Jordan Addison: +280
Quentin Johnston: +500
Zay Flowers: +1000
Jonathan Mingo: +1200
Seattle Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
In lieu of overhauling the front seven, the Seahawks threw a curveball with the No. 20 overall pick, taking the best player available and one of the five biggest steals from the first round of the draft. The pick also set off a long-awaited run on receivers, as Johnston, Flowers, and Addison joined JSN in consecutive order off the board.
There are questions about his ability to win consistently down the field with below-average top-end speed and whether he’ll be able to operate on the outside with success, given he played from the slot over 83 percent of the time at Ohio State.
But despite missing most of last season with a nagging hamstring injury, Smith-Njigba was well worth the premium investment for the Seahawks, and he gives them an embarrassment of riches at the position. He should be able to feast from the slot, where his short-area quickness, ball skills, elite body control, and tremendous route-running will create matchup nightmares.
Seattle’s finally found its legitimate No. 3 receiving threat to pair with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But it’s an open question whether there will be too many mouths to feed in the offense for JSN to be the NFL’s leading rookie receiver.
Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison
At 5-11, 173 pounds with 4.49 wheels, Addison certainly isn’t going to blow you away with his size or speed. But he’s a very versatile receiver and proficient, nuanced route runner who finds consistent separation. The Biletnikoff Award winner is dangerous in the open field with underrated YAC skills and has drawn comparisons to the likes of DeVonta Smith and Tyler Lockett.
The fourth receiver taken in this year’s class also might’ve landed in the best situation, as he replaces Adam Thielen as the Vikings’ No. 2 receiver opposite superstar Justin Jefferson, with K.J. Osborn primarily operating from the slot.
Even at the age of 32, Thielen finished with 70 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns in that role last season. Jefferson, still just 24 years old, led the league in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809) last year.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Quentin Johnston
Arguably the biggest boom-or-bust receiver in this year’s class, Johnston is a big-play, long-striding vertical threat with an impressive catch radius, and he averaged 18.8 yards per catch in three years at TCU.
At 6-3, 208 pounds, Johnston should face plenty of mismatches thanks to his dynamic skill set, along with the presence of standout receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
While some argue Zay Flowers would’ve been a better fit in the Chargers’ offense as he offers more consistent separation—which has been a key missing element in their passing attack—Johnston’s a high-point-catch machine and a versatile, physical wideout that will cause headaches for opposing defensive coordinators.
In one of the most heartwarming moments during the draft, Johnston told his mom, an Army veteran, that she can retire.
Baltimore Ravens WR Zay Flowers
On the same day the Ravens made Lamar Jackson the NFL’s highest-paid player with a massive contract extension, they gave him an electric weapon to take the offense to new heights. Needless to say, Jackson is happy with the addition.
One of my favorite prospects in this year’s class at any position, Flowers possesses terrific ball skills with top-end speed. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Antonio Brown, Percy Harvin, and Steve Smith Sr. (from the man himself), Flowers also boasts tremendous balance and body control and is incredibly dynamite after the catch.
Flowers brings a game-changing combination of energy, confidence, versatility and play-making ability to a Baltimore’s offense that desperately needed another legitimate threat to go along with Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, and free agent addition Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham missed last season with a torn ACL, and Bateman, a 2021 first-round pick, has missed 16 games through his first two seasons. With the Ravens replacing long-time offensive coordinator Greg Roman this offseason with Todd Monken—who has a track record of immense success overhauling stagnant passing attacks—look for big things from Jackson and Flowers.
Carolina Panthers WR Jonathan Mingo
Mingo didn’t exactly tear up the stats sheet at Ole Miss, but the film told a different story. While he lacks true breakaway speed, he runs crisp routes with attention to detail and put his elite ball-tracking skills on full display with a plethora of spectacular contested catches.
At 6-2, 220 pounds, Mingo stood out in this year’s class as a prototypical height-weight-speed specimen. Mingo’s also a very solid blocker and offers legitimate inside-outside versatility. Panthers coach Frank Reich clearly has a vision for him.
He also earned the stamp of approval from Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr., who told team owner David Tepper to draft him about an hour before they selected him with the No. 39 overall pick. Mingo shouldn’t have much trouble emerging as the favorite target of rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young.
While they were solid, affordable offseason additions, Adam Thielen turns 33 before the start of the season, and D.J. Chark, an injury-prone field-stretcher, has never played a full season. Terrace Marshall, a 2021 second-round pick out of LSU, still has some untapped potential, but he could get buried on the depth chart quickly after hauling in just 45 catches for 628 yards and a touchdown through two seasons for the Panthers.
Rookie Receiving Yards Winner Prediction & Pick
While some of the long-shots offer intrigue for potentially exceptional value, including Jayden Reed (+2200) and Tank Dell (+3000), who new Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud actually recruited to the new-look Texans, Jordan Addison and Zay Flowers look like the safest bets and still offer really strong value heading into the summer. With Addison having a clearer path to an immediate high-volume role in a potent passing attack, I’ll give the edge to the Vikings’ rookie receiver.
Rookie Receiving Yards Winner Prediction & Pick: Jordan Addison +280