Which wide receivers were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft? Who were the teams that drafted them, and how does this class compare to previous years?
What wide receivers were drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Let’s take a look at the wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU | Round 1, Pick 5 | Cincinnati Bengals
After much discussion over which wide receiver would be selected first in the 2021 NFL Draft, it was no surprise to see Ja’Marr Chase receive that honor. Chase opted out of the 2020 college football season, but his performance as a sophomore in 2019 meant he was always near the top of draft boards heading into the draft.
With Joe Burrow throwing him the ball, Chase posted 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 21.2 yards per reception. Those numbers saw Chase rank fourth in yards per reception while ranking first in both receiving yards and touchdowns. Therefore, it made a lot of sense to see Burrow and Chase reunited in Cincinnati.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama | Round 1, Pick 6 | Miami Dolphins
Even though he suffered an injury during the 2020 season, Jaylen Waddle was always in the discussion to be a top-10 selection. After Chase was taken with the fifth pick, the Miami Dolphins selected Waddle as the second wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Prior to his injury, Waddle had posted four straight 100-yard receiving games. Through four games, Waddle had 557 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Incredibly, he had racked up those numbers on just 25 receptions, averaging 22.3 yards per reception. He was on pace to get close to 2,000 receiving yards had he played the full season.
DeVonta Smith, Alabama | Round 1, Pick 10 | Philadelphia Eagles
Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith saw his stock rise and fall during the draft process. With Smith’s size consistently questioned, it was little surprise to see him wind up as the third wide receiver taken. Ultimately, his fall to 10th overall became too much of a value for the Philadelphia Eagles to pass up.
Having traded back to pick 12 from the sixth overall pick ahead of the draft, the Eagles moved back up to 10 to select Smith. The Alabama wide receiver heads into the NFL off the back of a combined 3,112 receiving yards and 37 receiving touchdowns in the past two seasons.
Kadarius Toney, Florida | Round 1, Pick 20 | New York Giants
After Chase, Waddle, and Smith, the question of the fourth wide receiver off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft was an intriguing one. With a number of options in consideration, it was Kadarius Toney who the New York Giants selected after trading back from the 11th overall pick.
Toney was a late breakout in his college career. He posted more than half of his career receiving yards as a senior following a shift to wide receiver from a utility role. However, Toney still registered 19 carries for 161 yards as a senior. His ability to be used in both aspects of the game makes him a fascinating selection for the Giants.
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota | Round 1, Pick 27 | Baltimore Ravens
Often viewed as the fourth wide receiver option behind Chase, Waddle, and Smith, Rashod Bateman was the only other receiver to be given a first-round grade on Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline’s 2021 NFL Draft big board.
Bateman had a mixed final college season with Minnesota in 2020. After averaging 20.3 per reception in 2019, he managed just 13.1 yards per reception in five games as a junior. While the situation meant his stock did not really get diminished, it prevented Bateman from enhancing his stock to potentially join the other three as a top-15 selection.
The selection of Bateman by the Ravens is intriguing. Bateman provides a playmaker for the offense opposite Marquise Brown. On the other hand, no team in the league had fewer passing attempts last season than the Ravens. Only two pass catchers topped 50 targets in 2020: Brown and tight end Mark Andrews.
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 2
6) Elijah Moore, Mississippi | R2-P34 | New York Jets
7) Rondale Moore, Purdue | R2-P49 | Arizona Cardinals
8) D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan | R2-P56 | Seattle Seahawks
9) Tutu Atwell, Louisville | R2-P57 | Los Angeles Rams
10) Terrace Marshall, LSU | R2-P59 | Carolina Panthers
The group of receivers selected in the second round provided a mix of the expected and surprising. Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, and Terrace Marshall were all viewed as fringe first-round selections. Marshall’s stock slipped a little following his pre-draft medical evaluation, meaning he slid to the back end of the second round. All three will have an opportunity to be contributors to their teams immediately as rookies.
The selection of D’Wayne Eskridge by the Seattle Seahawks raised some eyebrows, but it was the selection of Tutu Atwell that was the major surprise. While Eskridge was given a second to third-round grade by Pauline, Atwell was viewed as a potential fourth-round selection. However, Atwell is now set to compete with Van Jefferson to be the third receiver in the Los Angeles Rams’ offense.
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 3
11) Josh Palmer, Tennessee | R3-P77 | Los Angeles Chargers
12) Dyami Brown, North Carolina | R3-P82 | Washington Football Team
13) Amari Rodgers, Clemson | R3-P85 | Green Bay Packers
14) Nico Collins, Houston | R3-P89 | Houston Texans
15) Anthony Schwartz, Auburn | R3-P91 | Cleveland Browns
Of the three wide receivers selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, only Josh Palmer was graded lower than the third round. Palmer produced consistently in his final two seasons with Tennessee and impressed at the Senior Bowl. He will now have an opportunity to compete to be the third receiver in the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense, with the possibility of replacing Mike Williams if they decide to move on this year.
The other four selections are all intriguing additions to their respective offenses. Dyami Brown, Amari Rodgers, and Nico Collins could all start in the NFL as rookies, while Anthony Schwartz’s speed makes him a player to watch for the future in Cleveland.
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 4
16) Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville | R4-P109 | Tennessee Titans
17) Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC | R4-P112 | Detroit Lions
18) Jaelon Darden, North Texas | R4-P129 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
19) Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State | R4-P131 | Baltimore Ravens
20) Jacob Harris, UCF | R4-P141 | Los Angeles Rams
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 5
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 6
24) Frank Darby, Arizona State | R6-P187 | Atlanta Falcons
25) Marquez Stevenson, Houston | R6-P203 | Buffalo Bills
26) Shi Smith, South Carolina | R6-P204 | Carolina Panthers
27) Racey McMath, LSU | R6-P205 | Tennessee Titans
28) Jalen Camp, Georgia Tech | R6-P209 | Jacksonville Jaguars
29) Seth Williams, Auburn | R6-P219 | Denver Broncos
30) Dazz Newsome, North Carolina | R6-P221 | Chicago Bears
Wide receivers selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 7
31) Mike Strachan, Charleston | R7-P229 | Indianapolis Colts
32) Tre Nixon, Central Florida | R7-P242 | New England Patriots
33) Ben Skowronek, Notre Dame | R7-P249 | Los Angeles Rams
34) Kawaan Baker, South Alabama | R7-P255 | New Orleans Saints
35) Dax Milne, BYU | R7-P258 | Washington Football Team
How many wide receivers were drafted in 2021?
A total of 35 wide receivers were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. This is tied for the second-most in the last 10 years, behind only 2020 (37) — it’s tied with 2015 (35). It was the eighth time in the last decade that more than 30 receivers were selected across the seven rounds. With five receivers selected in the first round and a further 10 on Day 2, only the 2020 and 2007 drafts saw more receivers selected in the first two days.
After the 2020 NFL Draft became the first since 2007 to have two wide receivers from the same school selected in the first round, the 2021 NFL Draft saw the same thing happen again. Incredibly, all four receivers, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, and Jerry Jeudy, were from the same college (Alabama). Of the 11 first-round wide receivers selected in the past two drafts, 36 percent were from Alabama.
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