We are three rounds into the NFL Draft, and despite many thinking the Green Bay Packers will take a wide receiver early, they have not yet. Two of the bigger named wide receivers still out there are Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown. Both would come in and compete with Geronimo Allison and DeAngelo Yancey, who was drafted last year in the fifth round.
Starting out with the Oklahoma State product, Ateman caught 59 passes for 1156 yards and eight touchdowns in the Cowboys wide open offense. Ateman saw his former college teammates Mason Rudolph and James Washington go on the second day of the draft (both to the Pittsburgh Steelers), and it should not take too long into the final day for the Wylie, Texas, native to hear his name called.
His 40-yard dash time of 4.62 most certainly knocked him down considerably in the draft. Since 2012, the only wide receiver who ran a 4.62 or worse and have a top 24 season among receivers is Jarvis Landry. The only other players to really make an impact are Cooper Kupp and Mohamed Sanu. Ateman also turns 24 early in the football season, which may have an impact as well. Small, but I think it does not help his case.
Ateman has extremely good size for the position, but like I mentioned, he lacks ideal speed. He also has good hands, so he could find a niche as a possession receiver. Ateman also excels at virtually any route you ask him to run. His breakout season in 2017 came after missing the entire 2016 season with a foot injury.
It is not all bad for the Oklahoma State product, though. When Ateman was targeted this year, Rudolph’s passer rating was 134.7, according to Pro Football Focus. That passer rating is fourth among 2018 NFL Draft eligible wide receivers. Also, according to PFF, he was second in yards per route run (3.52), only trailing Florida International’s Thomas Owens. Interestingly enough, Washington was No. 3 in that category. The Cowboys were one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
Not surprisingly, with Rudolph’s passer rating so high when targeting Ateman, he had multiple routes in which he excelled at. The out pattern was easily his best, though, as quarterbacks had a 158.3 passer rating when targeting him. He also dominated on the go pattern, as quarterbacks had a 124.0 passer rating when throwing to him. Ateman also made a great one-handed catch in the end zone during Senior Bowl week.
St. Brown not only has the best name in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he had a productive career for the Fighting Irish, especially as a sophomore. St. Brown declared after his junior season, despite catching only 92 passes for 1484 yards in his three-year career in South Bend. As I mentioned, St. Brown had a nice sophomore campaign, catching 58 passes for 961 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. With quarterback questions, his numbers took a dip to 33 receptions for 515 yards and four scores in 2017.
Like Ateman, St. Brown has good size for the position. But unlike his Oklahoma State counterpart, the former Notre Dame receiver ran a sub-4.5 40. The sure-handed St. Brown has the tools that teams can work on and improve him into a starting wide receiver. With a player like Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football, that would only help his progress.
According to PFF, the former Fighting Irish wide receiver had a 2017 grade of 78.4, which was 50th best in the class, regardless of position. He had a down year this past year, but heading into the season, he had a 2.69 yards per route run, which was fifth among power five/Independent wide receivers in 2016.
Even though his stats are not even close to Ateman, I would take St. Brown first. His skills are better for the NFL with his size and especially his speed (when compared to Ateman). These two are a pair of players to watch as the draft hits the final four rounds.——————
Jonathon Zenk is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He is a huge Packers fan, and a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. You can follow Jonathon on Twitter at @jzenk42