Who Will Be the Top Rookie Wide Receiver in Three Years? (2021 Fantasy Football)
We’re just over one week away from the NFL Draft and once again we have a loaded wide receiver class, especially at the top. For this week’s collaborative article our writers share their opinions on who will be the top rookie WR three years from now.
Q. 3 years from now, who will be the top WR fantasy asset from the 2021 draft class?
Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
Teams around the NFL are beginning to look for wide receivers that can do a little bit of everything. If looking for that type of player, they should look no further than Jaylen Waddle. Waddle comes into the league after suffering an ankle injury in his final season at Alabama, which limited him to 28 receptions for 591 yards and four receiving touchdowns in 2020. Before his unfortunate injury, Waddle was on track to outpace DeVonta Smith — who would proceed to win the Heisman Trophy — in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. While Waddle may not have the height that some teams are looking for in a No. 1 wide receiver, he more than makes up for that with his ability to create separation with ease from his defenders, and his ability to create big plays. Besides his playmaking traits as a wide receiver, Waddle flashed his returning skills at Alabama, totaling 947 return yards, and three return touchdowns in his three years with Nick Saban. It can be somewhat lazy to liken Waddle to Tyreek Hill, but he could have a similar career projectory as Hill, where he can start out as a weapon of sorts as he rounds out his game at the wide receiver position. As long as Waddle’s ankle ailment doesn’t become a long-term concern, Waddle could very well be the most valuable wideout from the 2021 NFL Draft three years from now.
– Skyler Carlin (@skyler_carlin)
Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
I believe landing spot has a lot to do with predictive success – especially at receiver – but Chase has the combination of production and athleticism to be a star in the NFL. The 2019 Biletnikoff winner as the nation’s top receiver, Chase went over 1,700 yards and scored 20 touchdowns as a true sophomore at LSU outshining teammate Justin Jefferson. We all saw what Jefferson was able to do last year, which gives me a lot of confidence that Chase is going to eat. He blazed a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day but the most impressive measurement of the day was his 3.99 short shuttle time. That marked the first time a receiver broke the four-second mark in the short shuttle since Amari Cooper did it in 2015. Chase has the speed to outrun coverages and the quick twitch movements to work well in space too. The only thing that will stop him from being a star is getting drafted by the Lions but I am not sure even Jared Goff and Dan Campbell can hold him down. Hopefully we don’t have to worry about them getting the chance to try.
– Jason Kamlowsky (@JasonKamlowsky)
DeVonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
The one knock on Smith is his lack of size, he is 6′ 1″ and only 175 pounds. I really do not think that is that big of a deal. Antonio Brown dominated the league for a number of seasons and he is only 5′ 10″ and 185 pounds. Tyler Lockett puts up good fantasy numbers in Seattle at only 5′ 10″ and 182 pounds. I am much more concerned with route running and hands than I am height and weight. Smith is arguably the best route runner in this Draft Class, he has fantastic hands, and he had great production with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards, and 23 touchdowns last year. He is on the small side, but with a good quarterback he can still produce monster fantasy numbers in the NFL. Considering how well Amari Cooper and Julio Jones have performed at the NFL level, Alabama has shown it can produce great NFL wide receivers in the past and I expect Smith to be their next great receiver at the NFL level. He should be the best wide receiver in this class by 2023.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
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