2021 wide receiver class is special and has a chance to be historic

The 2021 wide receiver class is absolutely loaded, and has a chance to be truly special. Here's more from Pro Football Network draft analyst Neal Driscoll on the next batch of NFL pass-catchers.

The middle tier

Justyn Ross, Clemson (6’4″, 205 pounds)

With the departure of Tee Higgins to the NFL, Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross becomes the number one target for Trevor Lawrence. Ross had a good but not great season in 2019, tallying 66 receptions for 865 yards and 8 touchdowns.

With the luxury of catching passes from the best quarterback in college football, Ross was poised to be in store for a monster 2020 season. However, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced that Ross will undergo neck surgery, and will be out for the season. He becomes the ultimate risk-or-reward prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ross has impressive size, the ability to stretch the field, and can win the contested catch. His route running is phenomenal, as he possesses a diverse route tree, and is savvy in and out of his breaks. He needs to get stronger at the catch point but is excellent when it comes to his body control and ability to track the ball.

While his play in 2019 left something to be desired, Ross was brilliant during Clemson’s national championship run in 2018. Below, you will find a clip from the National Championship Game, which showcases elite concentration, as he beats 2021 cornerback prospect Josh Jobe for a big gain.

Teams will be wary of his injury, but if he could prove to be healthy, Justyn Ross will be a steal.

Devonta Smith, Alabama (6’1″, 175 pounds)

Yes, Alabama is once again loaded at the wide receiver position. Despite having to fight Jeudy and Ruggs III for targets, Devonta Smith busted onto the scene in 2019, catching 68 passes for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns. An encore performance in 2020 could elevate Smith’s 2021 Draft stock.

Every year while at Tuscaloosa, Smith has shown the ability to improve from the season before. He is a polished technician, allowing him to display beautiful route-running ability. He is sure-handed, possessing soft hands, and is absolutely lethal after the catch.

The play that goes hand-in-hand with Smith is the game-winning touchdown pass he hauled in from Tua Tagovailoa to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2017 National Championship.

Devonta Smith was going to be a potential first-round pick if he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, so he is almost a lock to be selected in the first round in 2021. With Jeudy and Ruggs III now playing their football on Sundays, Smith will have the opportunity to build off of a brilliant 2019 season.

The depth

In addition to the six players listed above, the 2021 wide receiver class offers much more talent at the position. Seth Williams, Rashod Bateman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chris Olave, Tylan Wallace, and Tamorrion Terry are all potential first-round prospects, whose floor would be top-50 selections in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In addition, Wake Forest’s Sage Surratt is also a very intriguing prospect. As I detailed in my article on overrated and underrated 2021 NFL Draft prospects,  Surratt is one of the most underrated players in college football. His game reminds me of the 33rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tee Higgins.

Overall, the 2021 wide receiver class offers insane talent, especially in the first two days of the draft, and as a result, has the potential to be historically good.

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