The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. It’s important for daily fantasy players to know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Southern Methodist wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 6.
Redshirt Junior | 6’3″ and 218 Pounds | Born October 10, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 1-2
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench reps: 18 | 3-cone: 6.57 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.11 sec | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 124 in
A high school tight end and safety, Sutton signed with SMU as a defensive back but played sparingly as a receiver during his three-game injury-shortened true freshman season. With the arrival of head coach Chad Morris in 2015, Sutton transitioned to offense full time and led the team as a redshirt freshman with 49 receptions for 862 yards and nine touchdowns. His market share numbers were impressive, as he captured 33.9 and 47.4 percent of SMU’s receiving yards and touchdowns. After a strong sophomore season (76 receptions, 1,246 yards, and 10 touchdowns; 39.3 and 45.5 percent of receiving yards and touchdowns), Sutton was eligible for the NFL draft but decided to return to SMU for his junior year, which was solid: 68 receptions, 1,085 yards, and 12 touchdowns. He even scored a rushing touchdown. His market share did decline in 2017 (28.4 and 34.3 percent of receiving yards and touchdowns), but that’s understandable: He was sharing the field with fellow draft prospect Trey Quinn.
While Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is generally regarded as the top receiver in the draft, Sutton is still a potential first-round prospect, and he had an excellent combine. He’s not a speedster, but his agility drills were outstanding for a player of his size. Given that Sutton was on the SMU basketball team for the second half of the 2015-16 season, he plays football with an aggressive “my ball” mentality and is a big-bodied polished route runner with down-field ability: In his 2016 breakout, he was second among draft-eligible players with 16 deep receptions (Pro Football Focus). With his size and near-elite production — since 2016 he’s averaged 93.3 yards and 0.92 touchdowns per game — Sutton is a locked-in top-50 pick.
With good size and great college production, Sutton is in an elite cohort. Of all the first- and second-rounders to enter the NFL over the last decade, here are the big-bodied wide receivers (at least 6’0″ and 200 pounds) with multiple 1,000-10 receiving seasons in college.
- Corey Davis (2017, 1.05)
- Josh Doctson (2016, 1.22)
- Amari Cooper (2015, 1.04)
- Sammy Watkins (2014, 1.04)
- Davante Adams (2014, 2.53)
- Justin Blackmon (2012, 1.05)
- Michael Crabtree (2009, 1.10)
As a multi-year spread-system producer who relies more on size and technique than speed, Sutton is highly comparable as a prospect to Adams and Crabtree, except he’s bigger. He might not have a great career, but Sutton is unlikely to be a Laquon Treadwell-level nonentity in his first few seasons. Sutton should be an NFL starter within his first season.
Photo Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports