With the 2021 NFL Draft only a few weeks away, teams are finalizing their evaluations and building their draft boards. So are the folks in draft media. This wide receiver class follows the trend of deep, talented groups of pass catchers to come out in the last year. Here is how this group stacks up. (Note: Kyle Pitts is ranked as a tight end.)
1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase didn’t play this year and still sits atop this class given his rare blend of strength, speed and ball skills. It is scary to think that Chase’s football is still ahead of him and he will be a star wherever he lands in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Davante Adams
2. DeVonta Smith, Alabama
DeVonta Smith’s stock has seemingly dropped given concerns about his size. It’s curious given how many first round cornerbacks the talented pass catcher dominated in college. Smith is a polished player who will hit the ground running in the NFL. Size be damned.
Pro Comparison: Marvin Harrison
3. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
While there are flashier players in this class, I can’t help but feel Rashod Bateman will comfortably transition to the NFL very quickly. He is a technician at the position and teams will love his dependability.
Pro Comparison: Stevie Johnson
4. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
I have my reservations about Jaylen Waddle but there is no doubt if he hits, he will hit big in the NFL. Waddle has angle breaking speed and can turn any play into a touchdown. Hard to argue with him having an impact at the next level.
Pro Comparison: Tyreek Hill
5. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Tylan Wallace will likely go later than he should, but he will be a contributor in the NFL. He has good speed, great ball skills and strong hands. He had a down year in a slumping offense, but his best tape is as good as anyone’s in the class.
Pro Comparison: Michael Gallup
6. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Teams that need a dependable slot receiver are going to love Elijah Moore. He is a great athlete with excellent route running ability and soft hands. His smaller size didn’t stop him from consistently making tough catches in college and he should carry that over to the league.
Pro Comparison: Emmanuel Sanders
7. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Amon-Ra St. Brown comes from a family of athletes and it is clear in the way he plays. Not only is he a solid athlete, but he is tough as hell with willingness to make big catches in traffic. His best football is still ahead of him.
Pro Comparison: Golden Tate
8. Rondale Moore, Purdue
Rondale Moore has a lot of questions to answer in the NFL. His size, his ability to stay healthy, etc etc, but there is no question about his impact on the game. Moore is a special athlete and an even better football player. Few guys in this class are as dangerous as he is with the ball in his hands.
Pro Comparison: KJ Hamler
9. Terrace Marshall Junior, LSU
One of the fastest risers in the class this year, Terrace Marshall is the football equivalent of a 3 point specialist. He made his money as an outside receiver at LSU and his speed will be his greatest asset in the NFL. If he can diversify his game a bit, he will be a tremendous player.
Pro Comparison: Tyrell Williams
10. Kardarius Toney, Florida
Kardarius Toney has some of the most impressive highlights in the class and NFL teams will be enticed with getting the ball in his hands. The question is how he gets deployed in an NFL offense. If a team can solve that, look out.
Pro Comparison: Josh Huff
11. Seth Williams, Auburn
12. Dynami Brown, UNC
13. Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
14. Dazz Newsome, UNC
15. Amari Rodgers, Clemson
16. Cade Johnson, SDSU
17. Marlon Williams, UCF
18. Jaelon Darden, North Texas
19. D’Wayne Eskridge, WMU
20. Cornell Powell, Clemson