clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Report: North Carolina WR Josh Downs has not had any ‘official’ visits with NFL teams

Is the modern game bypassing small receivers?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Florida A&M at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a bit of a head-scratcher . . .

North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs is widely projected as one of the best wideouts in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Pro Football Focus has him as the 40th-best prospect on their Big Board and says this about him:

Downs is a slot weapon that you can feed schemed-up targets to and watch go to work. He racked up 195 catches for 2,364 yards and 19 scores across the past two years.

What’s more, Downs is a “legacy” player.

  • His father, Gary Downs, was a 3rd-round selection by the New York Giants in the 1994 NFL Draft and spent his 6-year career playing RB for 3 different teams (the Giants, the Broncos, and the Falcons).
  • His uncle, Dre’ Bly, was a cornerback who was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft (#41 overall). He spent 11 years in the league (4 teams), recorded 43 career interceptions (+ 150 PDs), and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice.

Yet, according to a recent report by Ian Rapoport, Josh Downs has had zero pre-draft visits with NFL teams.

Sure, his size is an issue.

This is “the other part” of PFF’s blurb about Downs:

The only problem is that he’s probably never going to be much more than a slot at his size (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), with only 81 routes on the outside in his career.

Still, NFL teams need good slot receivers, right?

Especially consistently good ones.

Here are Downs’ stats the last two seasons:

  • 2021: 101-of-144 (70.14%) for 1,335 yards (13.2 average) with 8 TDs
  • 2022: 94-of-116 (81.03%) for 1,029 yards (10.9 average) with 11 TDs

According to PFF, his contested catch rate was elite at 72.2%. His drop rate was an acceptable/respectable 3.1%. He had an elite grade vs. man-coverage (92.1), and while his overall receiving grade was lower (86.5), it still measured out as elite compared to his peers.

And yet . . .

Josh Downs has had zero pre-draft visits with NFL teams.