My State of The Union series is back this week – this time with the 2021 wide receivers! After a full weekend of college football games, we continue our series evaluating the state of the union of future rookies.
Last year there was a whopping 15 receivers drafted, six in the first round alone, which makes last year’s classes one of the deepest since the 2013 class that gave us so many household names.
The 2021 class is shaping up to be just as deep as 2020 but with even more top-end talent potentially from a fantasy perspective. I don’t have as many first-round grades at this point but I think the overall talent is better especially at the number one spot in the rankings.
I have my eye on six receivers in particular that can be first-round rookie picks at the moment with gigantic upside and could help turn a fantasy team around sooner rather than later.
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The clear cut WR1 for me this year and its basically in permanent ink. Chase is the complete package playing with size, speed, and athleticism that has him far and above everyone else in this class. He got a Randy Moss comp from me in a previous article and I stand by that based on what I see on tape. Whatever team he lands on, odds are he will be a top-five pick, and he will be the WR1 from day one.
Related | 2021 Rookie Introduction: Ja’Marr Chase
Rondale Moore, Purdue
Coming off a knee injury last year may have cooled things for Rondale Moore but when you go back and watch the 16 games he has on tape you know he is special. Moore is a bonafide playmaker – whether it be at receiver, in the backfield, or on special teams – just get the ball in his hands and watch something special happen. He will be well-rested and recovered from his injury last year so seeing him at the combine and pro day should be fun when this process starts.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
The 2020 Henry Ruggs on the Crimson Tide offense, Jaylen Waddle is an absolute speedster and will be the focal point of the air attack in Tuscaloosa. Waddle doesn’t have the most diverse route tree but with the departure of Jerry Jeudy and Ruggs, we will see his role grow and with that his routes as well. What we know Waddle can do though is take screens and slants to the house and its that special speed that will make him a first-round pick in the NFL draft as well as your rookie drafts.
Devonta Smith, Alabama
We just met the Henry Ruggs in the 2021 wide receiver class, now we meet the Jerry Jeudy. Devonta Smith came on the scene with Tua Tagovialoa when he caught the game-winning pass in the national championship three years ago. Since then he has demonstrated smooth route running and separation ability but where he thrives is tracking and attacking the ball in the air. He will be a fun red zone threat for any team he lands on. Smith can easily scalp five to seven touchdowns as a rookie in red zone and goal-line situations.
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Last year, the entire state of Minnesota felt attacked when their guy Tyler Johnson had holes poked in his game and in his reputation off the field. They wanted a first-round type of talent when Johnson wasn’t the one to deliver. Rashod Bateman is that guy, however. He separates well with speed and footwork (something Johnson didn’t do) and he runs a better, more diverse route tree. He will be a fun guy to watch as this draft season unfolds because after all the tape he also projects to be one hell of an athlete.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
Time and again when I was watching Jamie Newman last week I kept seeing Sage Surratt making athletic catches and big-time plays over and over. Surratt will probably rise up my draft board when the time comes to watch him again this fall and spring. Based on my initial grading I am giddy about his potential. He may be the best watch of any 2021 wide receiver in the class and that is saying something when one of the guys gets a comp to Randy Moss.