Josh Downs, North Carolina (5’9”, 171)
What Scouts Say:
Dynamic slot WR. Plays bigger than his size, wins contested catches, dynamic athlete that wins after the catch. Has drop issues, most likely exclusively a slot WR and lacks the strength to play on the boundary. Strong open-field runner, plus special teams return ability. Developed route tree, struggles with his release. Two years of elite offensive production. Slot player who still averaged 8.5, 94, and 1 full TD per game in year 3 after putting up 7.5, 103, 0.6 TDs as a Sophomore. Best change of speed skills at the position this year. Excellent separator and yards after catch guy. Wins with speed, not technique and with his frame could struggle beating the jam off the line at the next level. Insane footwork. Almost exclusively a slot WR in college.
What We Saw:
Josh Downs could end up being one of the top 3 WRs in this class, and we’ll all say we saw it coming even though his profile leans more into him being a role player at the next level. He can’t block but will surprise you by playing much bigger than you think, he doesn’t have world-beating speed but he still blows by defenders, and he has a nasty set of moves to aid his already excellent route running abilities in getting open. He uses his speed and ability to change gears to set DBs up to fail, and I believe his skill set could translate well to a wide open offense that allows him to get one on one matchups in the slot. Yeah, he won’t be playing on the outside at the next level, but who the fuck cares?
Downs is fun to watch; this class seems to be slot central and Downs appears to be king of that position with his consistent production in North Carolina. Very elusive at finding the holes in the defense, when he is given space to operate or is schemed to be open. For a smaller player he is not afraid to get vertical and grab the ball using his hands, which is fun to see, he just has drop issues which may be to a focus thing, but that is solvable. Very good route tree where he uses his agility to create separation once he gets moving. Unfortunately I feel like Downs is going to be stuck in slot purgatory as a WR3/WR4 on teams due to his size and being bullied at the line by DBs. I want him to succeed but I just don’t see fantasy success in his future like Rondale Moore. He’s not an avoid, but he’s someone I will let pass me by to see if he comes back to me. I’ll have fun watching him on sundays, but I won’t be upset if he’s not on my rosters.
Percy Harvin/Rondale Moore