The evolution of the wide receiver position has been remarkable to watch. In a pass-heavy NFL, it has become paramount for teams to find upper echelon pass-catchers. The likes of Michael Thomas (Saints), DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals), Tyreek Hill (Chiefs), and Julio Jones (Falcons) are featured in some of the highest-powered offenses in the league and can take a team to the next level. Now, NFL General Managers are tasked with finding the next great alpha receiver and they will have their chance with the 2021 Draft class.
The 2020 NFL Draft created an influx of talent at the position, and the 2021 wide receiver class is poised to do the same. In fact, the 2021 group is potentially better than the 2020 class and it has a chance to be historically good.
We saw 35 wide receivers selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, including 13 receivers being selected in the first two rounds. Henry Ruggs III (Raiders), Jerry Jeudy (Broncos), CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys), Jalen Reagor (Eagles), Justin Jefferson (Vikings), and Brandon Aiyuk (49ers) were the group of sensational receivers selected in the first round of the 2020 Draft. The bottom line is that the 2020 group is as good as we’ve ever seen when it comes to wide receivers entering the NFL ranks.
However, as good as the 2020 group of receivers was, the 2021 class is littered with talent and even possesses the potential to be better. What makes the 2021 wide receiver class so good?
Headliners of the 2021 wide receiver class
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (6’1″, 200 pounds)
When it comes to the 2020 and 2021 wide receiver classes, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is the best overall prospect at the position. It doesn’t matter who is lined up against him, Chase is going to produce at a high level.
In 2019, Chase was exceptional, as he accumulated 1,790 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 receptions. Even more impressive, he was able to average a remarkable 21.2 yards per catch. His outstanding performance led to him winning the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the top receiver in the country.
Chase has extraordinary hands and can pluck the ball with ease. He is a smooth operator, who can consistently find soft spots in opposing defenses. He is a stunning deep ball threat, as he possesses the ability to run by defensive backs, and excels at winning the contested catch.
One underrated trait in Chase’s game is his strength as a runner with the ball in his hands, which is evident in the clip below.
LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase using a stutter step to freeze the CB and then burst inside to get separation. From there Chase uses his strength and balance to shed the block and accelerate for a long TD #NFLDraft #LSU pic.twitter.com/Iz8oRMOypc
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 28, 2020
Simply put, Chase is the best wide receiver in college football and will ultimately be a top-five selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. When the dust settles, he will become the next great wide receiver in the NFL.
Rondale Moore, Purdue (5’9″, 180 pounds)
Rondale Moore only played in four games in 2019, as his season was shortened by a significant knee injury. In 2018, as a true freshman, he was among the best wide receivers in college football, hauling in 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns.
While he doesn’t have ideal size, Moore is a big play waiting to happen. He is electric, possessing the juice to blow the roof off of opposing defenses. He has great hands, is a brilliant route runner, and can make defenders miss in the open field. His speed and dynamism as a runner allow him to create yards after the catch in chunks.
Despite being a bit undersized, Moore is a tough, physical runner who possesses great vision when the ball is in his hands, which will be showcased in the clip below.
Rondale Moore is the best slot receiver in the county. pic.twitter.com/TMUaxPm0cr
— Dave Lackford, Esq. (@RivalsDave) November 18, 2018
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5’10”, 183 pounds)
It was a crowded wide receiver room for the Alabama Crimson Tide, so Jaylen Waddle‘s stats won’t jump off the page. In 28 career games at Tuscaloosa, Waddle has yielded 78 receptions for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns. With that said. Waddle is poised for a huge season in 2020 and will skyrocket up NFL boards prior to the 2021 Draft.
When you watch film on Waddle, the first thing that comes to your mind is the word “explosive”. He and Moore are in a battle to be dubbed the most electrifying player in college football.
With the ball in his hands, Waddle is magic, as his elusiveness makes tackling him in the open field quite the challenge. His unparalleled speed makes him a matchup nightmare and allows him to create separation with ease. He also adds value as a dynamic kick returner.
As the clip below will indicate, saying Waddle is fast is a drastic understatement.
Confirmed: Jaylen Waddle is incredibly fast. pic.twitter.com/p6TgHkBVsa
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 1, 2018
In 2020, Waddle will no longer be a part-time player and will have the opportunity to showcase his elite talents. His speed and explosiveness will be very attractive qualities for NFL front offices. To help his case, he will be able to test off the charts at the NFL Scouting Combine. When all is said and done, Jaylen Waddle is a potential top-10 pick in the 2021 Draft.