Ranking the 2013 WR draft class

Metrics argue for Baylor's Terrance Williams as top receiver

Updated: April 12, 2013, 12:29 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Terrance WilliamsAP Photo/Tony GutierrezCombine his attributes with his production and Baylor's Terrance Williams is a tempting target.

The NFL may have the greatest amount of quality quarterback depth in the league's history right now, so many teams that are looking to upgrade passing attacks will aim to do so via the wide receiver position.

This year's NFL draft has a slew of starting-caliber prospects, yet it doesn't have a slam dunk leader like Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald (two of Mel Kiper's all-time top wide receiver prospects).

So how can we separate the cream of the crop? A thorough examination of the numbers helps identify the leaders of the receiving pack.

Each of the top nine prospects was ranked in the following categories: age (as of the 2013 draft), height, weight, 40-yard dash time, overall yards per attempt, vertical yards per attempt, stretch vertical yards per attempt, targets per game and success rate (completion percentage with penalty pass plays included as completions).

(Note: vertical passes are aerials that travel 11 or more yards downfield; stretch verticals are thrown 20 or more yards.)

Each player's metrics are based on a tape review of a minimum of nine games against BCS-caliber competition, with the exception of Cal's Keenan Allen, who played in only seven BCS-caliber games.

The player's rankings were then tabulated on a 1-9 scale, with the best score getting a rating of 9. Each player's overall total can be found under the raw points listing.

Since some categories deserve more weight than others, this year's rankings also had the addition of a modified point structure that added a 20 percent weight to targets per game, a 30 percent weight to YPA, VYPA, SVYPA and success rate and a 50 percent weight to the 40-yard dash time. This total can be found under the modified points listing.

Each player also has a modified point listing for productivity, which includes his rankings in YPA, VYPA, SVYPA, success rate and targets per game, and for attributes, which includes the rankings for the 40-yard dash, height, weight and birth date.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let's take a look at how the rankings turned out.


1. Terrance Williams, Baylor Bears

Birth date: Sept. 18, 1989 (23 years old)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 208 pounds
40-yard dash time: 4.5
YPA: 12.6
VYPA: 19.4
SVYPA: 26.0
Targets per game: 11.9
Success rate: 72.3 percent

Raw points: 60 (ranked first)
Modified points: 72.7 (first)
Productivity points: 42.9 (first)
Attributes points: 29.8 (fifth)

Williams won both the raw and modified points categories on the strength of his metrics, as he led this group in YPA, VYPA and SVYPA and did so while ranking fourth in success rate. He rated near the top in height (tied for second tallest) and weight (third heaviest), but that size advantage was a likely factor as to why he ranked next to last among our top nine receivers in the 40-yard dash. Williams is by far the oldest player in the group, more than a full year older than the next oldest player (Stedman Bailey), so his first place ranking still comes with some negatives.