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Big Ten Football: The B1G’s Wide Outs on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and Their NFL Draft Potential

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Big Ten Football: The B1G’s Wide Outs on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and Their NFL Draft Potential

2020-08-11 13:46:47

 

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman. (Image Source: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation released its preseason watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, a list which includes eight Big Ten wide receivers, two of which have already opted out to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. With the reported impending cancelation of the 2020 Big Ten season, here’s a look at the candidates, their NFL prospects, and potential futures:

Opted Out

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota (Junior): Considered by most to be the best receiver in the Big Ten it wasn’t that much of a surprise when Bateman opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the NFL Draft. The Georgia native has an outstanding size/speed combo which translates to big plays on the field.

2020 Decision: Bateman wasn’t draft-eligible coming off a special sophomore season, otherwise he might already be in the league where they play for pay.

2021 Draft Prospects: Many have Bateman pegged as a first-rounder, potentially the first receiver off the board come the spring of 2021.

Rondale Moore, Purdue (Junior): The Big Ten’s most exciting player, it’s unfortunate that we only got to see Moore electrify the field for 16 games at West Lafayette. An all-purpose dynamo who was a threat to go the distance every time he touched the football, not just as a receiver. Moore was a true game-breaker.

2020 Decision: Like Bateman, Moore was coming off his true sophomore season, so there was no NFL decision to be made coming off the 2019 campaign.

2021 Draft Prospects: The combine will be more important than ever, especially for someone like Moore coming off an injury. Could join Bateman in the first round.

Preseason Award Watch Lists: Chuck Bednarik Award | Maxwell Award | Davey O’Brien Award | Doak Walker Award |

The Seniors:

Nico Collins, Michigan (Senior): Michigan’s best pass-catcher is a physical specimen who has tremendous size (6-4/222) and elite athleticism. Collins runs extremely well, is strong, with outstanding body control, and top-notch agility.

2020 Decision: No one would have batted an eye had Collins declared for the 2020 Draft following his junior year and he may now be regretting that decision.

2021 Draft Prospects: Collins is in a tough spot. He could have left last season, but he came back to Ann Arbor for a reason. Not a lock to go in the first two rounds.

Whop Philyor, Indiana (Senior): After doing most of his damage after the catch I was excited to watch Philyor play with the big-armed Michael Penix in 2020.

2020 Decision: While he was draft-eligible coming off his 1,000-yard season, there wasn’t a lot of buzz regarding Philyor potentially leaving early for the NFL.

2021 Draft Prospects: Like Collins, Philyor hasn’t used his redshirt season. I’d be surprised if we don’t see Philyor back in Bloomington in 2021, spring or fall.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa (Senior): An all-purpose talent, Smith-Marsette is a dangerous return man and a legit speedster who has improved as a receiver.

2020 Decision: Most expected Smith-Marsette to return for his senior season, but had he declared he would have gone off the board ahead of other B1G underclassmen.

2021 Draft Prospects: As a prospect, he lies somewhere in between Collins and Philyor. A potential top 100 player, but is the combine enough to solidify that status?

Draft Eligible:

Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (Junior): A touchdown machine, the 6-5 Freiermuth was ready to emerge as Penn State’s go-to receiver in 2020. He has excellent hands, a great catch radius, and is a good blocker. One of four tight ends on the list.

2020 Decision: Had Freiermuth been draft eligible it’s very possible he could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, as many view him as a first-round prospect.

2021 Draft Prospects: Unless he says otherwise, I’d expect Freiermuth to be in the 2021 NFL Draft one way or another. Potentially the first tight end selected.

Chris Olave, Ohio State (Junior): Not the most highly touted receiver to arrive in Columbus over the past couple of years, Olave emerged as OSU’s best receiver by his sophomore season and even better things were expected for him in 2020.

2020 Decision: Less likely than Freiermuth to declare had he been eligible, there’s a good chance Olave would have been a Day 2 pick if he was part of the 2020 NFL Draft.

2021 Draft Prospects: Without playing another snap, Olave is a likely second-round pick. How much can he help his stock potentially playing with a new QB in 2021?

Not Draft Eligible:

David Bell, Purdue (Sophomore): The only sophomore out of the Big Ten to make the watch list, Bell is coming off a sensational true freshman season which saw him crack 1,000 yards in 2019 despite shaky quarterback play in West Lafayette. When Rondale Moore went down with a season-ending injury, Bell stepped up as Purdue’s No. 1 receiver with six 100-yard performances in the final nine regular-season games. At 6-2, he has great length with reliable hands and outstanding body control. Flashed the ability to make tough catches as a freshman. We’re looking forward to seeing how much he will grow as a player before he likely leaves for the NFL in 2022.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.

 

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