Although he’s not the biggest receiver, Josh Downs has been one of the most productive in college the last two years and figures to be one of the first off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft. Downs has one of the biggest assets a receiver can have (speed) and easily creates separation. His steady hands and precise routes give him a high floor with a chance to sneak into the first round and have a long pro career.
Josh Downs Draft Profile
College: North Carolina
Downs is undersized, but he is also one of the fastest players in this draft class. More than that, he puts his speed to work, as he tracks the deep ball as well as anyone in college football.
His speed and quickness allow him to separate with ease at all three levels, and his ball skills and hands allow him to play with a bigger catch radius than his size would suggest. He can hit a third gear and run down the deep ball, and that speed forces defensive backs to give him some cushion.
His foot tempo is very impressive — he gets in a lot of quick steps when stemming his route, putting defenders in a bind. He has a good feel for pressing defensive backs and setting them up for the top of his route. His speed makes him dangerous in the open field as well, where he has the ability to hit a home run when he gets the ball in space.
Lack of size is an issue, and it shows up when opponents take a more physical approach to defending Downs. The vast majority of his production in college came out of the slot, where he was afforded a free release regularly; he might not fit on the outside in the NFL.
More physical opponents also had success re-routing him, and NFL defenses will be looking to rough him up. His lack of size also prevents him from making plays on contested catches.
Downs has a fairly high floor — even as a slot-only receiver, he’s a dangerous weapon whose speed and ball skills should allow him to make plays against NFL defenses. His ceiling is limited by his size and underwhelming physicality.
Final Grade: 1st/2nd Round
(This profile is one of more than 200 featured in the Athlon Sports 2023 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Purchase a copy online today, download the digital edition for instant access, or look for it on newsstands everywhere.)
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Publish Date:2023-04-06 03:47:09