The 2021 NFL Draft is still a few months away but it’s never too early to take a look at the top prospects that could be coming off the board. This draft class is considerably deep on offense. From quarterback to the offensive line, this is a deep class but there is another position that should be loaded in the first round.
The SEC features some of the top prospects expected to be taken in the first round, especially at wide receiver. We will learn more when the NFL Combine is conducted but for now, take a look at these top receiving options.
Ja’Marr Chase – LSU
The best bet on sports is to expect to see Chase go in the top-10 of this draft. Chase was formally Joe Burrow’s go-to target when LSU set a record on offense and won the NCAA Division I National Championship. With Burrow at the help, Chase set a single-season SEC record for receiving yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20). Even though Burrow left last season, taken No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase was equally productive.
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His route-running and technique have improved greatly. Chase finished last season with 107 receptions for 2,093 yards and 23 touchdowns. Chase is 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds. The Bengals will be picking high in the draft again. The Bengals could try and add to their offensive arsenal.
Jaylen Waddle – Alabama
Waddle was overshadowed by his teammate Devonta Smith but in some mock drafts, he is rated as the higher prospect. Waddle possesses all-around talent with exceptional speed. He makes the play look like it is in slow motion. He potentially has the best hands out of any receiver in the draft.
Right away, Waddle would provide a player like Taylor Gabriel or Henry Ruggs II, somebody that can bolt down the field and give the quarterback a long option. Waddle suffered a fractured right ankle in October, so his stats were not that eye-popping. He finished last season with 28 receptions for 591 yards. Make no mistake, he is a top-10 prospect that could fall down the draft.
Devonta Smith – Alabama
Smith is seen as a fringe top-10 prospect in some drafts but then he is seen as the No. 2 overall picks by the New York Jets. With Smith’s Heisman Trophy season, he appears to have the potential to be the best receiver in this draft. Smith is just 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, so some teams are likely to be skeptical about selecting him high. However, with quick speed, great route running, and perfect hands, Smith is an undeniable talent.
The best comparison coming out right now is Jarvis Landry. The Pro Bowl wideout for the Cleveland Browns is an outstanding receiver and punt returner. Smith brings skills to be a return man as well. If Smith can put on about 15-20 pounds with a team, he could be a Pro Bowl receiver as soon as his second season.