To get a better understanding of the wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft, I thought I would break them down by position so that we could get a better understanding of exactly which ones the Dallas Cowboys could be interested in. To accomplish this, I grouped these WRs into the positions I envision them playing in the NFL — “X”, “Z”, or “slot” receiver.
I tried to be as honest as possible in my assessment of each wide receiver, but it's a little difficult to project their position in the NFL because it's not as clear-cut as other positions in the league. A lot of these WRs have the ability and versatility to play anyone of the receiver positions, and will likely be asked to do so because it makes things more difficult for opposing defenses.
Continue reading below to see how I have the 2019 WR draft class grouped by the position I believe they will play in the NFL. Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of the type of WR the Dallas Cowboys could possibly be targeting.
The “X” receiver, or “split-end”, is more commonly known as a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. For the Dallas Cowboys, this player is unquestionably Amari Cooper. With him on board and more than likely fixing to receive a contract extension, it's highly unlikely the Cowboys are looking to draft this type of receiver. But, we will take a look at them regardless.
The X receiver more often than not lines up on the line of scrimmage and is the furthest away from the tight end, typically on the opposite side of the formation. Since they line up on the line of scrimmage, they aren't allowed to motion pre-snap, meaning they usually draw the opposing defenses best cornerback.
A typical X in the NFL is a player gifted with size and strength, but speed and route running ability is starting to become more prominent as well. They have to have the ability to work the boundary and beat press coverage.
Here are the WRs in the 2019 NFL Draft class who I believe to project as an X receiver in the NFL:
- Hakeem Butler
- D. K. Metcalf
- J. J. Arcega-Whiteside
- Kelvin Harmon
- Auntoine Wesley
- Travis Fulgham
- Preston Williams
- Miles Boykin
- Jamal Custis
The “Z” receiver, or “flanker”, is more commonly known as a No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL. In a sense, the Z receiver is a hybrid of the X and slot WR. For the Cowboys, this player is Michael Gallup. Even with Gallup on the roster, I don't think it would keep the Cowboys from drafting another Z type receiver.
The Z receiver traditionally lines up on the same side of the field as the tight end. This receiver will be set back off the line of scrimmage in order to keep the tight end eligible to run passing routes, which also means they can be used in pre-snap motion. Because of this, they are required to run a more diverse route tree and work the middle of the field more often instead of the boundary like the X receiver.
Since the Z position is kind of a hybrid between the slot and X, these receivers lineup in multiple alignments and play a variety of roles. They need to be able to play on the outside and on the inside, which only adds to their value. It's that kind of diversity that could intrigue the Cowboys into drafting one of these Z receivers.
Here are the WRs I project to be Z receivers in the NFL:
- Emanuel Hall
- David Sills V
- Terry McLaurin
- Demarcus Lodge
- Tyre Brady
- Darius Slayton
- Gary Jennings Jr.
- Anthony Johnson
Primary Z receivers who could receive extra work in the slot:
“Slot” and “Big Slot” Receiver
I believe there are two different types of slot receivers in the NFL. The first kind is the traditional “slot” receiver. These are the kind of slot WRs like Cole Beasley has been with the Dallas Cowboys. They are generally the smaller/quicker receivers who win with their separation ability and route running.
The second kind is the “big slot”. These kind of slot WRs are generally too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties to cover. This is an evolving position and players are starting to earn a more prominent role in the NFL. They are kind of a hybrid of a big wide receiver and a tight end. Think JuJu Smith Schuster with the Pittsburgh Steelers or Evan Ingram with the New York Giants.
Slot receivers generally have the advantage of getting a free release. They will work either side of the field and are constantly asked to go in motion. They rely on their change of direction and the ability to find open spaces in the defense.
With the departure of Beasley in free agency, the Cowboys could be looking at one of these types of slot receivers.
Here are the WRs I project to be slot receivers in the NFL:
- Marquise Brown
- Mecole Hardman
- Andy Isabella
- Hunter Renfrow
- Penny Hart
- Ryan Davis
- Greg Dortch
- Diontae Johnson
- Terry Godwin II
Here are the “Big Slot” receivers: