We saw three wide receivers go in the top ten of the 2021 NFL Draft and we haven’t seen that happen since 2017 when Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross III left the board. This 2021 unit is a dynamic group of young studs that are highly decorated and have high ceilings. After all the arguments about who will be the first drafted, the new argument is who will have the best rookie season now that they are on their respective teams. I am going to give my opinion on the argument by going through each individual and examining scheme fit, surrounding talent, and coaching.
Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals – 5th Overall
I’m not ready to bet against someone with the tape that Ja’Marr Chase has from 2019. I understand that he opted out and had Joe Burrow but he only got bigger, faster, and stronger and on top of that he still has Joe Burrow. Chase is built like a MAC truck for a wide receiver and is a play maker who puts up jaw dropping numbers. I don’t think Ja’Marr will miss a beat as he transitions to the NFL.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/74 receptions/1,226 receiving yards/16.6 YPC/10 receiving touchdowns
Jaylen Waddle – Miami Dolphins – 6th Overall
Before his injury, Jaylen Waddle was out pacing Heisman Trophy winner and teammate DeVonta Smith in most categories. Waddle is explosive, an underrated route runner, and has chemistry with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The pick of Waddle at six was no consolation prize even though Ja’Marr went off the board one spot before. Waddle is going to blow open this offense.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/43 receptions/826 receiving yards/19.2 YPC/5 receiving touchdowns
DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles – 10th Overall
If DeVonta Smith was 20 pounds heavier, his outlook would be much better. I love the kid as a competitor and his tape is absolutely phenomenal but the biggest difference between this year and last is the size, strength, and physicality of the cornerbacks he faces. He could find some early success this year in the slot and might be able to progress to the outside. Nonetheless I think he is Hurts’ go to guy from day one and will put up a nice stat line.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/83 receptions/1,102 receiving yards/13.3 YPC/8 receiving touchdowns
Kadarius Toney – New York Giants – 20th Overall
I love the fit of Toney for the Giants. He adds a dynamic element to their offense that they were sorely lacking. Kadarius is as electric as they come and is a threat to score on every play. He is a smooth operator who will bring reliable hands and nasty route running to the Giants, all while breaking ankles in the process. I think Toney will have a bigger role later on in his career but he will definitely make an impact this year.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/52 receptions/759 receiving yards/14.6 YPC/ 7 receiving touchdowns/17 carries/185 rushing yards/10.9 YPC/3 rushing touchdowns
Rashod Bateman – Baltimore Ravens – 27th Overall
I think if anyone in this class can make an impact for their team from day one, it’s Bateman. Rashod is a dynamic threat who is a great route runner and has surprising long speed for his size. The reliable hands of Bateman will translate to him being the go to guy on critical downs and the go to guy for a deep spark. Bateman will be incredible in this Ravens offense and will be the WR1 Lamar Jackson has deserved all along.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/87 receptions/1,244 receiving yards/14.3 YPC/10 receiving touchdowns