The NFL Draft has, in recent years, introduced a wealth of talent at the wide receiver position to the profe sional level. The consensus entering the 2022 college football season, though, is that the wide receivers expected to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft as a whole fall below the lofty standard that Mookie Betts Jersey has become almost normalized. That said, there are exciting and borderline elite pa s-catchers still in the college ranks who can be difference-makers in the NFL. While most believe that the question of the best wide receiver in the 2023 draft comes down to either LSU's Kayshon Boutte or Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the University of North Carolina's Josh Downs should be considered as a contender for that title.Born Aug. 12, 2001 to parents Gary and Tanya Downs, the Suwanee, Ga., native was a multi-sport star athlete at North Gwinnett High School before deciding to focus on football. Downs played basketball during his freshman year and excelled as a member of the track and field program as a freshman and sophomore. By the end of his second year of high school, Downs had already placed third in the state in the triple jump and fourth in the state in the long jump. Of course, the 2021 breakout for the Tar Heels was at his athletic best for North Gwinnett on the gridiron. In his sophomore year, Downs hauled in 63 pa ses for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns. His effort helped the program to a 14-1 record and a win in the 7A state championship game. As a junior, Downs had 37 catches for 624 Brock Holt Jersey yards and another nine touchdowns while the team went 10-3 and earned a spot in the third round of the 7A state playoffs. In his final high-school season, the athletic pa s-catcher made 83 receptions for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns. North Gwinnett went 12-2 and made the 7A state semifinals. Downs was awarded first-team All-County and first-team All-State honors as a senior. He also received an invitation to the All-American Bowl. A three-year star on a team that seriously contended for the Georgia 7A state championship every year he contributed, Downss exposure and performance earned him recognition as a highly capable recruit. 247Sports Composite Rankings gave him a four-star rating while labeling him a top-100 senior in the country at 95th overall. The same outlet listed him as the 17th-best receiver in his cla s and the 13th-ranked player from Georgia that year. Downs chose to attend and enroll early at UNC over various other notable programs, including Ohio State, South Carolina, Ole Mi s, Michigan and Penn State. Despite playing 10 games during his freshman season, Downs was unable to consistently contribute while buried behind two established standout pa s-catchers and NFL Draft prospects (Dyami Brown, taken with the 82nd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft; Dazz Newsome, taken with the 221st pick of the 2021 NFL Draft). Nonethele s, he capitalized on a big opportunity in the Orange Bowl against Texas A&M with what were, at the time, career highs of four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. After losing two star receivers to the 2021 draft and another standout, Beau Corrales, to injury, the Tar Heels were in Babe Ruth Jersey an uncertain situation without a clear top option entering the 2022 season. Downs quickly established himself as an elite weapon. Appearing in all 13 games with 12 starts at wide receiver and also being the punt returner, the Georgia native set program records with 101 receptions (best in the ACC, fifth nationally) and 1,335 receiving yards (second in the ACC, 11th nationally). He had eight receiving touchdowns. His 754 yards after the catch were third-best in the country. Furthermore, he established himself as a reliable po se sion receiver by ranking 11th in the nation in first downs. His 114.2 all-purpose yards per game were seventh in the conference and his 9.8 yards per punt return placed him third in the ACC and 13th nationally. Downs had eight or more catches in 11 of the teams 13 games on his way to a nation-leading 41.4% target share in the UNC offense. His eight-game touchdown streak left him just one short of the school record. Downs received first-team All-ACC honors from the conference itself and was named first-team All-ACC by Pro Football Focus. He was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. Of course, college succe s is just a small part of a prospects draft profile. In 2021, Downs showed off a skillset that places him firmly in the first-round conversation entering the 2023 draft proce s. In many ways, the Tar Heels star receivers game is predicated on his stellar athleticism. Downs boasts special movement skills. He is explosive linearly, laterally, and through cuts. His suddenne s, agility, and change of direction leave defenders struggling to match him in coverage and after the catch. Moreover, Downss quick feet expedite and help disguise his cuts. He has angle-beating, home-run speed that enables him to win over the top and to make plays with the ball. Whats more, Downs is an exceptionally flexible athlete who can make any cut at any time and even string sharp changes of direction back to back. While athleticism is a crucial factor in finding succe s in the NFL, it alone does not produce a strong profe sional career. Downs is a refined pa s-catcher who understands every aspect of route-running and seamle sly blends each of them together. At the line of scrimmage, Downs beats pre David Price Jersey s with shiftine s and footwork. He is somewhat effective working through contact. Still, he has primarily played from the slot against off coverage. In these situations, he has the burst to get onto defensive backs toes early and stack them. He maintains a uniform route stem Hanley Ramirez Jersey without telegraphing his breaks before making sharp, sudden cuts without losing any speed. Additionally, Downs is a nuanced route-runner who regularly employs body language, directional work up the stem, and speed adjustments to force defenders into premature reactions and false steps.Furthermore, he regularly manipulates cornerbacks and safeties starting at his release and working through the catch. Downs has flashed solid hand usage to keep opponents off his frame and, on occasion, separates with physicality. He has the speed to capitalize on any mistake a defensive back makes. Perhaps most excitingly, Downs creates for himself and his teammates on a play-to-play basis. His speed forces defenders to respect deep routes and focus on him, all the while allowing the UNC star to snap underneath patterns or otherwise leave open space of which his teammates can take advantage. Scroll to ContinueDespite his size, Downs is impre sive at the catch point. He is a reliable hands catcher who can play a po se sion role when nece sary. The North Gwinnett product secures the ball through light contact. He adjusts to errant throws with outstanding body control and ball tracking. Whats more, he displays a large catch radius for his size. He can and does make grabs at extension. Downs is willing to lay o