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Wide Receiver Rankings

(Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

2021 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings: Daubert’s List

Wide Receiver Rankings
Ja’Marr Chase tops the 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver rankings. Who else cracks the top 10 as Trey Daubert releases his rankings for the position? (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

After hitting the quarterbacks and running backs, we’re moving onto the wide receivers. On the surface, it looks like a very strong wide out class. It’s hard to top the incredible group the 2020 NFL Draft gave us. The number of talented receivers coming into the league is incredible. With that said, which players make the cut in the wide receiver rankings heading into the 2021 NFL Draft?

2021 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings: Daubert’s List

1: Ja’Marr Chase (LSU)

I get it, people have short memories. Luckily, I was born with a pretty good one. Trey never forgets. Sorry, not sorry, I will not a 20 touchdown season. That’s what Ja’Marr Chase did in the 2019-20 college football season. The common sense factor is too strong here.

Let me get this straight, you guys saw what Justin Jefferson did this year in the NFL, right? There is no question Chase was better than Jefferson while being a true sophomore while at LSU. I’m sorry but there’s just no way Chase doesn’t top the list for me.

Chase checks in at 6-foot-1, 200, and almost looks like a running back that’s been crafted into a dangerous wide out. I think he’s the strongest receiver in the draft. Chase dominates against press and at the catch point. He’s so good at creating those angles too and winning routes that maybe he shouldn’t. Oh, he’s a damn good route runner too. The man has no problem getting open. The speed isn’t elite but his Pro Day time of 4.38 is probably a bit exaggerated but it checks a box.

Ja’Marr Chase is wide receiver 1.

2: Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

The Waddle vs. Smith debate is fascinating. I don’t necessarily blame you if you want to go Smith at two. I just feel like Jaylen Waddle has sort of an alien quality to him. Waddle didn’t technically run a 40 at the Pro Day but who cares. His speed is on another planet. Total unicorn.

It’s not that Waddle just is fast. His explosive fast twitch movements don’t look human. There’s a power element to it. Sort of like maybe a soccer player dribble a ball way better than what it looks like it should normally be done. Everything looks too easy.

The production isn’t necessarily off the chart. His best season actually came as a freshman while Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and DeVonta Smith were already on the roster. What does that tell you? He contributed while those players were on the team speaks volumes. In six games for Bama in 2020, Waddle reeled in 28 receptions for 591 yards and five touchdowns. Yes, that’s a 21.1 yard per catch mark and did it while suffering a bad leg injury late in the year.

Yes, Waddle isn’t the biggest guy in the world. Standing at 5-foot-10, 182, he doesn’t look like a normal WR1. All I know is this is a piss missle shooting out of hell. Nobody wants to guard this guy one on one.

Wide Receiver Rankings
DeVonta Smith won the Heisman but is he really third on the 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver rankings? (RICHARD SHIRO | Associated Press)

3: DeVonta Smith (Alabama)

It’s hard to put the Heisman Trophy winner third on the list. It’s also hard to feel 100 percent confident you get the bang for your buck drafting him. I’ve always felt that Smith was better than Henry Ruggs. Still, Ruggs doesn’t look like he’s going to live up to his draft status either right now.

The list of 160 whatever pound receivers in the Hall of Fame doesn’t exist. They don’t. Maybe football is changing but the elite receivers in NFL history sure as hell don’t look like the Alabama product. That doesn’t mean Smith is a bad player. He could very well be a hit. History just isn’t on his side.

Having said that, there is a lot to love when it comes to Smith. The speed is a check. The route running is excellent. He’s such a sudden and smooth player in and out of cuts. He’s also a nightmare in open space. Smith is very elusive and a killer when it comes to those YAC yards. The Crimson tide receiver might be small but he’s gotten much stronger from his freshman year. He’s gotten very good at high pointing the ball and winning those 50-50 balls you wouldn’t think he would given the size.

It’s hard to suck when you cash in on an 1,856 yard season with 23 touchdowns. The potential is high but the floor might be lower than anybody is willing to admit.

4: Rondale Moore (Purdue)

What can you say about Rondale Moore? The guy is just a bowling ball of hell. Moore is a short receiver, but he’s not a small one. The Purdue product is just so dangerous with the ball in his hands. He breaks tackles like rookie mode on Madden. Moore is fast, versatile, and straight electric factory.

There’s a big gap from the top three receivers in this draft. However, I think Moore is a tier of his own. I don’t think there’s anybody close to Moore in the running for the 4th guy off the board. Given the skill set Moore brings to the table, he realistically should be next in line.

The production hasn’t been there since his true freshman year. Mostly because of injuries, but who cares. He’s impossible to tackle and has every chance to replicate what Deebo Samuel gives the 49ers. Yes, Moore can play running back and line up all over the field. I’m all in here.

5: Rashod Bateman (Minnesota)

Rashod Bateman will be an interesting case study. I thought Tyler Johnson was underrated a year ago and made a strong impression with the Bucs as a rookie. He probably should have gone a round higher. The problem is, I like Bateman but now I think Bateman is overrated. The gap between Bateman and Johnson has been overstated.

Bateman has good size and build to him at 6-foot-2, but if you’re expecting elite traits, go somewhere else. The Minnesota lacks those high end twitch movements. He also has had a number of drops in college which is an area of concern.

The positives is that he’s a plus route runner and can win those 50-50 balls. I like Bateman but I would temper those expectations for him in the NFL as a sure fire first round pick. I’m not ready to go there.

6: Terrace Marshall (LSU)

Terrace Marshall might have been the third option on his own college team but it was on a loaded national champion. Who cares? Marshall is a height, weight, speed demon. It’s hard to find guys 6-foot-4 with his build running under 4.40 which is what he did at the LSU Pro Day.

I wouldn’t call Marshall the most polished route runner in the world but he’s imposing and can fly. He’s won plenty of routes going over the top and tracks the ball super well in the air. He’s a tough dude to bring down as well. Marshall still feels like a bit of a mystery. He opted out during the middle of the season and was the third option two years ago. His potential feels undefined but I’m not sure there’s a question he can play.

7: Elijah Moore (Ole Miss)

Ole Miss just keeps churning out talented wide receivers, huh? Moore is next in line but he’s nothing like DK Metcalf or AJ Brown. Moore is a smaller speed demon that can take the top off the defense. Moore is a 5-foot-9, 185, wide out that can take the top off the defense.

Moore was also a great possession receiver for Ole Miss. He finished the 2020 season with 86 receptions for 1,193 yards, and eight touchdowns in eight games. Moore isn’t a super complex one to figure out. You hope you get a better version of Ted Ginn and keep it moving.

8: Amon Ra St. Brown (USC)

Truthfully, I don’t even like Amon Ra St. Brown. It’s just hard to put anybody else in the class ahead of him at this point. He’s got the bloodlines but even his brother stinks in the NFL. The more I talk St. Brown, the more I talk myself out of him. Nevertheless, there’s probably something here.

St. Brown doesn’t have great height at 5-foot-11 and also isn’t fast either. He gets stuck in routes a lot. Then again, I also wasn’t fond of JuJu Smith-Schuster coming out of school and St. Brown a hell of a lot like him. He produced at USC and can win those contested catch situations.

9: Kadarius Toney (Florida)

I’m much lower than the consensus on Kadarius Toney. Frankly, I think the hype has gotten a bit out of control. Toney has elite speed. The route running truthfully needs a lot of work. You better hope you’re getting a better Tarik Cohen. Otherwise, he’s a bust. Personally, I think Kadarius Toney belongs as a running back instead of listed on the wide receiver rankings. But I know NFL teams don’t view him that way.

10: Dyami Brown (North Carolina)

I don’t even neccessarily know if I’m in or out on Dyami Brown. I also considered D’Wayne Eskridge for this spot. I may have put Eskridge higher but I haven’t made the time to watch more Western Michigan. Brown has some of that take the top off the defense ability. I’m also not sure he’s even better than Dazz Newsome. Once you get past the top seven, the rankings become very tricky.

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