Many people believe that the New Orleans Saints will draft a wide receiver, perhaps with their second round pick, when the NFL holds their annual player selection meeting next week. The Saints already have Michael Thomas, one of the best receivers in the league, but the organization was disappointed with the rest of the production at receiver. They expect a big improvement in consistency and production from second year wideouts Tre'Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood, and are getting veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith back from injuries that hampered their 2018 season. This wide receiver draft class is considered deeply talented though, so the Saints may come away with at least one through the weekend's selection festivities. Today, we compare two receivers from a prolific West Virginia University passing offense.
David Sills V, WR (West Virginia)
Sills was famously offered a scholarship as a quarterback at the age of 13 by Lane Kiffin, who at the time was the head coach at U.S.C. Sills suffered numerous injuries as a high school senior, and the Trojans made a coaching change, leading to him ultimately accept a scholarship offer to West Virginia University, who moved him to wideout. After his freshman year, he would transfer to El Camino College for an opportunity to play quarterback, but returned to the Mountaineers after just one season. Sills was a major part of West Virginia's explosive offense in 2017, catching 60 passes for 980 yards and an NCAA-best 18 touchdowns, earning 1st team All-Big 12 and 2nd team All-American honors. He was just as productive last year, with 65 receptions for 986 yards and leading the Big 12 with 15 touchdown catches, once again earning a spot on the All-Big 12 team.
Sills' numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine weren't eye popping, but he did exhibit good leaping ability and solid foot quickness.
40-yd. dash = 4.57 seconds
Vertical jump = 37.5 inches (7th among wideouts)
Broad jump = 117 inches
3-cone drill = 6.97 seconds
20-yd. shuttle = 4.28 seconds
60-yd. shuttle = 11.69 seconds
David Sills V possesses good recognition of opposing coverages and has shown rapid improvement as a route runner. He competes fiercely for every ball, and has excellent elevation and good body control on contested throws. Sills has natural ball skills down the field, and has good concentration on over the shoulder throws. He is adept at using the sideline and end zone boundaries, and is a dangerous threat near the goal line. Though not a breakaway threat as a runner, Sills has nifty moves in the open field to pick up extra yardage.
He is relatively inexperienced as a wideout, and ran a limited route tree in West Virginia's system. Sills has a very thin frame, and must get stronger at the next level. He struggles to get off the line against physical defensive backs, and must learn to shield defenders from the ball in the middle of the field.
Sills was part of a lethal 1-2 punch at wide receiver for the Mountaineers. His teammate at wideout should also hear his name called at some point during the draft.
Gary Jennings, WR (West Virginia)
Jennings didn't have the notoriety of his more ballyhooed teammate Sills, but was every bit as effective for the Mountaineers. He saw some action as a true freshman and sophomore, combining to catch 17 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns in 2015 and '16. The arrival of quarterback Will Grier to the program in 2017 would cause an explosion in production for both Jennings and Sills. Jennings' 97 receptions during the '17 season would be first in the Big 12, and 4th in the entire N.C.A.A., while his 1,096 yards were fourth best in the conference. Struggling with an ankle injury, Jennings saw a small drop in his production in 2018, but he established himself as a deep threat. He caught 54 passes for 917 yards last year and scored 13 touchdowns, which was second in the Big 12 (behind teammate Sills), and sixth in the N.C.A.A.
Jennings surprised some scouts with his display of athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine. He finished in the top eight among all wideouts in the 40 yard dash (4.42), vertical jump (37"), broad jump (127"), 20 yard shuttle (4.15), and bench press reps (20).
Gary Jennings is a reliable possession-style of receiver with deceiving athletic ability. He has a long stride, coupled with the speed to pull away from defensive backs on deep routes. Jennings uses his body to shield off defenders from the ball in traffic, and maintains his focus well in tight coverage. He holds up against physical coverage, and makes excellent adjustments to balls thrown behind him. Jennings thrives on crossing routes, and is a tough open field runner that fights through contact for yards.
Despite his speed, Jennings doesn't have the instant burst to gain separation, relying instead on scheme or his physicality. Like Sills, he wasn't asked to run an extensive route tree in college, and must sharpen his routes to be successful at the NFL level.
Both David Sills and Gary Jennings could hear their name called early in day three of the NFL draft (rounds 4-7), perhaps even earlier. Both are big-bodied wideouts who can make plays against every level of a defense. Sills has been the more consistent red zone threat, but Jennings is the more physical receiver, with better athletic ability. Both wideouts have shown the capability to flourish from either the outside position or the slot, and the Mountaineers utilized each in bunch formations. Jennings has the type of game where he may be used more around an offensive formation, while Sills could be used mostly as an outside receiver. The West Virginia offensive system has not always translated well to the NFL for it's skill position players, but each of these players have shown the pass catching skills and natural instincts to be the exception and perhaps carve themselves a bright future on a National Football League roster.
Which West Virginia wideout will have a better NFL career?
This poll is closed
David Sills V