WR Analysis

Ja’Marr Chase | LSU

WR1 and WR2 can really be looked at as 1a and 1b, and as ironic as is it to say about two elite receiving prospects, neither creates much separation from the other. However, on the field both excel at this and are two of the cleanest route running prospects I have seen. As of now, due to Chase opting out for the 2020 season, Smith has elevated to the top spot on many boards due to recency bias. I view the bigger bodied Chase as having the same ceiling, but a higher floor than DeVonta Smith. Both will fit in any scheme and it will likely come down to which prospect fits a certain team better. The first WR off the board can easily go either way.

DeVonta Smith | Alabama

I had Smith ahead of Chase for a while, but have swapped the two after some deeper digging. It is easy to forget everything Chase did in 2019 thanks to Smith having the best season ever for a Wide Receiver. I am not too worried about Smith’s slender frame, despite the claims out there about their being such a poor track record for receivers under 180 lbs. Smith may be 165 lbs, but he is one of the cleanest route running prospects, and at 6’1″ he has been mistaken by the media as small, rather than slim. Smith has the makeup to become one of the elite receivers in the league.

Rashod Bateman | Minnesota

Bateman is another do-it-all receiver who has a seat cemented in the elite category. Bateman is a beast and is absolutely going to be a steal if he drops outside the top 15 (similar to Jefferson last year). His production was limited in 2020 because Tanner Morgan struggled to spread the ball to anyone. In 2019, when Minnesota was a much more competitive team, he was voted the Big 10 WR of the year over other NFL guys like KJ Hamler, Rondale Moore (who was often injured) and teammate Tyler Johnson. He was better and much more consistent than Johnson, who likely is going to be a starter in the league soon. The prototypically sized receiver stands around 6’2″, 210lbs and was one of the best receiving threats in man coverage throughout his career. In 2020, Bateman played a majority of his snaps from the slot position, which led to a regression in touchdown production. However, he took over the role of being a pure volume receiver and established his versatility as a prospect. Bateman will fit any scheme and can line up all over the field.

Jaylen Waddle | Alabama

Jaylen Waddle could be categorized as the most explosive prospect in the Draft and is an elite 4.3-second 40 yard dash receiver that has evolved into more than just a deep threat. Coming into 2020, Waddle had never had the chance to be a top option, but dominated as a 3rd or 4th player along with being electric in the return game. In 2020 he returned as a much more polished receiving prospect who developed a diverse route tree that improved his game. Waddle played most of his snaps in the slot, but took his fair share of looks on the outside in 2020 prior to injuring his ankle. Waddle has that quick twitch, dynamite explosion that reminds us of NFL greats like Tyreek Hill. Waddle isn’t overbearing physical, at just 5’10”, but his is stout and should be closer to 200 lbs by the time he fully develops in the NFL. He will likely remain a gadget style player due to his versatility and probably will never become a 50/50 ball, red zone target. That is not a big deterrent, as a team will take Waddle with the hopes of using him primarily across the middle and out of the backfield as much as they send him deep.

Elijah Moore | Ole Miss

Moore had a prolific 2020 season for the Rebels and was awarded the highest praises achievable, including 1st Team All-American and All-SEC honors as well as being a finalist for the Biletnikoff and Maxwell Awards. He finished the season ranked second in the nation in both yards and receptions (both behind only DeVonta Smith). Moore spent nearly all of his first two seasons in the slot and venture outside just 20% of the time in 2020. He excels as a pure slot receiver and has the ceiling to be one of the best in the league, but probably won’t ever have a significant role on the outside. Moore also spent a lot of time in the backfield and was frequently targeted on bubbles and screens, which just adds to his repertoire. He is explosive after the catch and is a tough ball carrier for a smaller receiver and displays a natural and fluid ability in transition and out of breaks. He is as sure handed as they come, but is listed around 5’9″ which really could limit his redzone ability. Moore brings a great combination of being both a deep threat option as well as a YAC machine. In 2020 he forced 18 missed tackles (6th ranked nationally) as well as having 11 contested catches (5th ranked nationally). Moore’s versatility and production keeps him in the 1st Round discussion and ahead of other SEC prospects like Marshall and Toney in our opinion.

Kadarius Toney | Florida

Toney was one of the many stars of the Gator Offense and finished the season with over 1,000 all purpose yards and 11 TDs. He played most of his snaps in the slot and enjoyed a successful season as a top receiving option after he was more of a gadget guy for his first two seasons. He played 613 snaps in 2020 which was more than his first three years combined, so he lacks experience more than anything. He is one of the best athletes out of the group and possesses NFL speed, however, will need to be coached into becoming a more consistent and polished route runner. His cutting ability is also elite, which makes him not only able to break away on routes, but one of the best ball carriers in the open field. He is a sure handed prospect who had just 3 career drops on 123 catchable balls. He played primarily slot, but is not a pure slot prospect like Elijah Moore. Toney is on the fringe of the 1st Round, but has the athletic profile and potential to be molded into any scheme he is drafted into.

Dyami Brown | UNC

Brown was the top receiving threat for UNC’s dynamic 2020 offense. Overshadowed by big names like Javonte Williams and Sam Howell, Dyami Brown quietly recorded his second straight 1,000 yard season, averaging 10 TDs each of those years. At 6’1″, 185lbs he has an elite frame with a decently large catch radius, but where he excels is in his route running. Brown displays this best with his instinctual abilities to frequently create space in the deep levels of the defense. He has good speed, probably in the 4.4-4.5 second range, and really excels in making his breaks late and creating touchdown worthy space on the deep ball. He has speed and it is worth noting that he ran a 10.78 second 100m in high school. He is an extremely smart route runner and it is obvious that he just “gets it” when it comes to the game of football. He is a big play threat, but also has the potential to become a volume receiver in the league. UNC’s offense was rather simplistic from a receiving standpoint and he was limited to many vertical routes, but the agility and athleticism he showed when creating space is very encouraging. I am not worried in the slightest regarding his route tree due to his ability to play with a high IQ. He is also an elite run blocker for his position, something that jumps out on tape immediately and a core reason why Williams and Carter had such efficient seasons. He had 4 drops, but 2 of those coming on back to back plays early in the season against VT on short hitches. He was dynamic deep and had the second most deep yards in college football (543 coming off of 12 receptions). Terrace Marshall may have a higher ceiling, but Dyami Brown has a much higher floor and is a much more complete and ready NFL prospect.

Terrace Marshall | LSU

Marshall is the prospect that only comes around every so often and is a pure athlete with serious NFL potential. The 6’4″ 200+ receiver has a magnificent catch radius and glides for a bigger receiver, but had 7 drops in 2020, which is extremely concerning. He has potential to develop into a star, but will need to improve on his route running when he gets to the league. He played primarily in Justin Jefferson’s slot role from the year prior, so he was facing a serious uphill battle to match 2019 expectations, but salvaged 10 TDs that came in a variety of ways. He can dominate on jump balls and has shown a few sparks after the catch, but the 12.4% drop rate while he was the star is very concerning. Athletic abilities and potential alone should keep Marshall in the 2nd Round.

Rondale Moore | Purdue

Moore was one of the most fun players to watch in college football, but frequently was missing games due to injury. Moore is extremely short, and despite being listed at 5’9″, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is truly closer to 5’7″. Despite being short, he is compact and over 180 lbs, which has helped to make him one of the most dynamic YAC receivers in football. He pins balls off defenders in the open field and is very hard to bring down. Moore had an insanely productive freshman season in 2018, but hasn’t done much since due to injuries and COVID. In the last two seasons combined he had just 2 TDs and 650 yards. Moore is electric with the ball, but the battle will be getting it to him. He has elite speed, but struggled in any sort of press coverage and will likely be a gadget type player that will find most of his production in the short range throws.

Amari Rodgers | Clemson

Rodgers could be the Antonio Gibson of 2021 as he is a great receiving threat, but built like a running back. at 5’10” 210 he is explosive after the catch, but most of his production came from screens and short passes across the middle, which almost certainly keeps his potential to an NFL slot. Teams that draft Rodgers will need to scheme him open in creative ways, but can also use him in a variety of positions all over the field and he will be an immediate impact in the return game. He doesn’t yet posses the balls skills to play on the outside right away, but has elite athleticism and is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands. He is a day 2 prospect, but is also in such a stacked slot class that we could see him fall into the later rounds. However, whoever takes a shot on Rodgers will reap the benefit of having such a skilled and versatile football player.

Demetric Felton | UCLA

Felton is a very similar prospect to Amari Rodgers, but actually had production in the slot as well as in the backfield at UCLA. In 2020 Felton was the feature back for the Bruins and had 132 carries and 22 receptions. Felton shed 10 lbs leading up to the Senior Bowl and now appears to be a much quicker receiver prospect than we had imagined in the fall. Felton is climbing up draft boards, but is also a bit of a niche prospect that will initially fall under the gadget category. He is a shifty runner, but not the cleanest in his routes. He boasted the fastest recorded time at the Senior Bowl practices, so the elite speed is clearly there. A team will take a shot on Felton for his versatility and the possibilities for him are endless.

Amon-Ra St. Brown | USC

St. Brown is one of the most polished route runners in the class, but lacks that quick twitch of agility that so many of the dynamic playmakers above him possess. Outside of the agility and acceleration, St. Brown doesn’t have any clearcut weaknesses. He had an extremely productive 2019 campaign where he played 749 snaps out of the slot alongside 2nd Rounder Michael Pittman who was out wide. St. Brown moved into Pittman’s outside role, and despite scoring a career high 7 TDs in 6 games, he was kept in check and held to under 500 yards. He started the season strong with back to back 7 reception, 100 plus yard games, but never got much going after that outside of a 4 TD half against Washington State. His value is high because he can plug into any offense and play any receiving position, however, he likely won’t be taken to become a number 1 receiver.

Sage Surratt | Wake Forest

Surratt opted out of 2020, but in August was seen as a potential 1st Round pick after a strong 2019 season. He is a dominant jump ball receiver, but isn’t the fastest or most athletic. His true potential lies as a possession receiver and has the potential to become an elite red zone player. In 2019 he displayed his abilities by winning 60% of his 30 contested catch opportunities. He is far from being a burner and he had 5 drops in 2019, but he is a talented playmaker who could probably carve himself a role in an NFL offense. His ceiling isn’t very high, but his floor is.

D’Wayne Eskridge | Western Michigan

Eskridge was a relative unknown by the major media until the Senior Bowl, where he dazzled in practice all week. Eskridge played on both sides of the ball at times at Western Michigan, but had a strong 2020 senior season as he had 784 yards and 8 touchdowns through just 6 games. He is the most enticing small school receiver and proved he can do it against the big dogs at the Senior Bowl. He is a shifty route runner that creates great separation, but is on the shorter side at 5’9″. He has elite speed and is fluid in breaks, but will face bigger and faster defensive backs in the NFL. He is a high risk, but high reward prospect who could likely will be off the board by day 3.

Seth Williams | Auburn

Williams is a physically dominant receiver who never had the chance to get the production he deserved thanks to playing with one of the worst passers in the SEC. He had some of the most amazing catches for anyone in the class, but struggled to continue to produce in the abysmal offense. Williams had a rather high contested catch rate of 30%, which is pretty huge in the SEC, but at the same time his drop rate was above 14%. He slimmed down between his sophomore and junior seasons, which is a good example of how seriously he takes the game and improving as a prospect. He isn’t a burner and doesn’t create the separation that others easily do, but he has everything it takes to make it at the next level as a red zone threat like Kenny Golladay.

Nico Collins | Michigan

Collins is a big bodied receiver at 6’4″ 220 lbs, but we saw a lack of production and film on him as he opted out after playing in a poor Michigan offense. Collins never amassed more than 750 yards in a season and frequently saw most of his production against lesser programs like Rutgers and Indiana (in 2019). He was basically shut down against Alabama in his final collegiate game and didn’t really get anything going in the Senior Bowl. He has attributes that NFL scouts crave, but is far from a finished product and will be drafted as and absolute project. However, Collins has the skillset of a Day 2 receiver and a team will likely take a gamble on the pass catcher.

Jealon Darden | North Texas

Darden is as electric as they come, but is listed at a slender 5’9″ (probably closer to 5’7″). He had insane production in 2019 as he scored 19 TDs with 1,200 yards playing on the outside. He is mostly a vertical threat and played in a very simple offense, but his agility and playmaking ability keeps him as an interesting project. He has packed on muscle since arriving at North Texas and likely has added over 15 lbs, which you can see on tape. He is short, but never appears too small and can get up with the best of them. Darden was a game-breaker and dominated man coverage, but will face an uphill battle in the league and could transition into a big play role.

Shi Smith | South Carolina

Smith is undersized, but has the toolkit to be an electric slot receiver. He had a magnificent Senior Bowl, but never put together a full season of production at South Carolina, which is concerning. He is as threatening in the slot as anyone, but that is probably his limit as he is nowhere close as versatile as many in the class. He certainly will make an NFL roster, but I don’t see his potential as high as most media members do.

Marlon Williams | UCF

Marlon Williams is another receiver that is built like a running back, which shows as he is one of the best YAC guys in the class. He struggles to get separation, but is one of the hardest to take down when the ball is in his hands. He produced very well in 2020 in a lesser conference and 17 of his 71 receptions came off of screen passes. He forced 22 missed tackles, which won’t be as easy in the NFL, but is definitely something to be excited about. He doesn’t pose much of a threat vertically, but given the track record of polished UCF receivers he has serious potential at the next level.

Tutu Atwell | Louisville

Atwell is one of most notable speedsters in the class and undoubtably will be drafted as a deep threat. A former QB at the storied Miami Northwestern football program, he took the same path as fellow alumni legend Teddy Bridgewater and took his talents to Louisville. It was there that Atwell transitioned into becoming a WR and had a rather productive career combining for nearly 2,000 yards in the last two seasons. He is a freak athlete, but at 5’9″ 165 lbs teams won’t invest too much capital.

Frank Darby | Arizona State

We have seen a Sun Devil receiver drafted in the first round of the last two drafts, but we probably won’t see that trend continue. However, Darby is an uber talented pass catcher who likely will be drafted as a project. Darby played in just two games in 2020 due to COVID outbreaks and was held to just 46 yards.

Tylan Wallace | Oklahoma State

Wallace was an electric prospect who fell down boards following an ACL injury. He bounced back in 2020 and put together a 900 yard season despite just playing in 9 games. At Oklahoma State Wallace played on the outside and was an electric burner deep. Don’t let his size fool you because at just a hair under 6′ he still was one of the most successful players when it comes to contested catches. He had a fine week in Mobile and displayed his dazzling route running against top corners. He has the size of an NFL slot, but the outside production puts him into an interesting bucket amongst NFL scouts.

Cade Johnson | South Dakota State

Johnson is another small school prospect who enjoyed early success at the Senior Bowl. As a member of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Johnson had back to back 1,200 + yard seasons and combined for 25 TDs over the two seasons. Johnson didn’t get to play in 2020, but looked as fresh as ever at the Senior Bowl.

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