By Tyler Lauletta
Ja’Marr Chase. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
- The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft begins April 29.
- There’s a ton of pass-catching talent in the 2021 draft class, led a trio of SEC receivers.
- As many as seven wide receivers may be taken with in the first round.
Headlined by a trio of receivers from the SEC, fans could look back on 2021 as one of the most impressive groups of wide receivers in recent memory.
Even with all of these talented wide receivers, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is possibly the most dangerous pass-catcher in the entire class.
Below we break down the nine top pass-catchers in the 2021 draft class and which teams might be lucky enough to land them through the first two rounds this weekend.
- Rondale Moore, Purdue
2020 stats: 35 receptions, 270 yards, 0 touchdowns
One thing to know: Rondale Moore put up superstar numbers as a freshman at Purdue, bringing in 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Boilermakers in 2018. Injuries nagged at him for his next two seasons, and Moore opted out of the first half of the 2020 campaign, so his stats are less blistering since that freshman year.
- Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU
2020 stats: 48 receptions, 731 yards, 10 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Cleveland Browns (26), Baltimore Ravens (27), Jacksonville Jaguars (25, 33)
One thing to know: Terrace Marshall Jr. is yet another standout wide receiver from LSU. After playing the third man to Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase in the Tigers 2020 run to a title, Marshall broke out in 2021 with some eye-popping games, including an 11 reception, 235 yard, three-touchdown effort against Mizzou.
- Kadarious Toney, Florida
2020 stats: 70 receptions, 984 yards, 10 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Washington Football Team (19), Tennessee Titans (22), New Orleans Saints (28), Green Bay Packers (29)
One thing to know: Kadarious Toney was one-third of Florida’s explosive offense in 2021, playing along side fellow early draftees Kyle Pitts and Kyle Trask to lead the Gators attack. In four of the Gators final five games of 2021, Toney finished with at least 100 yards and a score.
- Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
2020 stats: 36 receptions, 472 yards, 2 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Chicago Bears (20), Baltimore Ravens (27)
One thing to know: Rashod Bateman is another player whose 2020 numbers don’t tell the whole story of, as he opted out of the second half of the year after Minnesota’s season was derailed by COVID-19. He’s a crafty receiver capable of making his own space and getting up in the air to bring down a contested ball.
- Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
2020 stats: 86 receptions, 1,193 yards, 8 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Indianapolis Colts (21), Jacksonville Jaguars (25, 33), New Orleans Saints (28), Green Bay Packers (29)
One thing to know: While a step below the top tier of the 2021 draft class, Elijah Moore is a wild talent that should be ready to make an immediate impact. A fantastic route-runner and YAC-machine, it’s easy to imagine him pairing up with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay to make some magic.
- Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
2020 stats: 28 receptions, 591 yards, 4 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Miami Dolphins (6), Detroit Lions (7), New York Giants (11), Philadelphia Eagles (12), New England Patriots (15)
One thing to know: Fans might not be too familier with Jaylen Waddle due to his shortened season in 2020, but he’s possibly the most explosive talent out of this group. In open space, Waddle is a menace that’s nearly impossible to take down. His highligh reel is flat-out hilarious. Even as the fourth-ranked pass-catcher here, he could easily wind up the superstar of this class.
- Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
2019 stats: 84 receptions, 1,780 yards, 20 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Cincinnati Bengals (5), Miami Dolphins (6), Detroit Lions (7)
One thing to know: Ja’Marr Chase was one of the most impactful weapons of the LSU’s dominant offense in 2019. After opting out of the 2020 season, a reunion with quarterback Joe Burrow in Cincinnati could be in order.
- DeVonta Smith, Alabama
2020 stats: 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, 23 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: New York Giants (11), Philadelphia Eagles (12), New England Patriots (15), Arizona Cardinals (16)
One thing to know: DeVonta Smith became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since 1991 and with good reason. He’s an unstoppable force with the ball, and fast as hell. While there’s some concerns about his size heading into the NFL, his talent is undeniable. Any team knocking him for being too small might regret passing on him.
- Kyle Pitts, Florida
2020 stats: 43 receptions, 770 yards, 12 touchdowns
Potential landing spots: Atlanta Falcons (4), Miami Dolphins (6)
One thing to know: Even with such a talented group of wide receivers set to go in the first two rounds of the draft, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is the most exciting pass-catcher to watch heading into the 2021 NFL season. Pitts already played like a pro in the Gators offense, and is a perfect fit for the modern NFL style of tight end play. Whatever team is lucky enough to draft him has a star in the making.