Offseason Breakdown: Wide Receivers

Breakout picks and depth chart notes from the offseason.

The Options

Tony Jones, Senior
Christian Jones, Senior
Cameron Dickerson, Junior
Miles Shuler, Junior
Kyle Prater, Senior
Tommy Fuessel, Redshirt Freshman
Andrew Scanlan, Redshirt Sophomore
Mike McHugh, Redshirt Sophomore
Pierre Youngblood-Ary, Junior
Cermak Bland, Junior
Macan Wilson, Redshirt Freshman
Jordan Perkins, Junior

Some thoughts:

— Enter the Tommy Fuessel hype machine. I expect him to be the ideal sleeper receiver for Northwestern. From the first practice onward, he earned the respect of his teammates for hard work and eventual scout team success. He's a mature, solid route runner who adjusted quickly after playing quarterback in high school. He was arguably the next closest player to losing his redshirt; let's be thankful he has four years of eligibility remaining.

— If I had to guess another breakout player, I'd say Andrew Scanlan, but I'm leaning towards him being excellent in 2015 and beyond. He showed terrific chemistry with Matt Alviti in scout team work, so the quarterback race might affect the wide receiver depth chart.

— I'm most interested to see how Rutgers transfer Miles Shuler works into the offense. He, like many receivers on this depth chart, could either be silent or a major contributor. I'm leaning towards the latter. His speed works exceptionally well in Mick McCall's offense. Mike McHugh is another speedster to watch, though I'd suggest placing him on kickoff returns.

— It's going to be Jones and Jones who dominate, of course. Those two figure to monopolize targets during crunch time, and they benefited from Trevor Siemian's strong performance against Illinois. They're loaded with natural talent, and if that translates to consistent strong performances, then all the better for an NU team that needs to recover from last year.

— Youngblood-Ary might be the third or fourth most talented receiver on this list, which makes it inexplicable that Fitzgerald has placed him in the doghouse for so long. Many projected "PYA" to be one of NU's breakout players, but that's looking less and less likely as the depth chart is strengthened from below.

— I expected Dickerson to have quite the breakout season. Instead: 11 total catches, 125 yards and one touchdown. That made no sense, and worse, Mike Jensen passed him (and many others) on the depth chart. He's not quite reaching his potential, and that puts his role in jeopardy moving forward.

— My prediction from most receptions to fewest in 2014 (excluding Dan Vitale): T. Jones, C. Jones, Shuler, Dickerson, Fuessel, Prater. Sticking to it.

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