If you’ve been following my Rank the Rooks series, I’d like to let you know what to expect. I’ve already ranked QB’s and running backs. This week will be the wide receivers, and next week will be the tight ends. Once I’ve ranked all the offensive positions separately, I’m going to combine all four offensive categories into one big, glorious ranking of the top 24 rookie players so you can start planning for your dynasty rookie draft. I’ll re-rank the top 24 again after the rookie combine and after the draft. Check here every Thursday to get a jump on your league competition! Now let’s rank those future showboating primadonna wide receivers!
- Devonta Smith, Alabama: No, this isn’t about the national championship game. It’s about his entire college career. If you look at his college stats, he got better every single year. That tells me that’s he’s a player dedicated to his craft. What he did in his senior season, and the title game was otherworldly. If you haven’t followed him all season, here’s what he did: 117 catches for over 1800 yards. He averaged 16 yards per catch. Oh, and he also scored 24 times, including one rushing touchdown. He scored a receiving touchdown once every five catches! Those numbers are very comparable to Jerry Rice’s college senior year, and like Jerry Rice, Devonta Smith stayed and played all four years.
2. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama: Had he stayed healthy, who knows how his senior season would have turned out. He was on pace for a stat line in the four games he played, which would have made him worthy of this spot. That being said, in his two previous seasons, he was one of the best receivers in college football. Because he missed time last season, he may be a bargain on draft day for an NFL team and you.
3. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU: I’m going to be honest with you. I kind of hate Ja’Marr Chase. Here’s how I see Ja’Marr Chase: He had a very unspectacular freshman season with 23 catches for 313 yards. That doesn’t scream future NFL star to me. In his sophomore season, with Joe Burrow, he had 84 catches for 1780 yds and 20 TDs. That’s a 21.2 average yards per catch. Now that says future NFL star. So, what did he do in his junior year? He sat out to prepare for the combine and draft. Yes, his sophomore season was spectacular, but how often do you see players get better by not playing? He’s 6’1” and 200lbs. Nothing spectacular there. He’s an average-sized receiver who will go over a year and a half between his last college game and his first pro game. If he shows up at the combine and he’s 6’3” tall and runs a 4.3 40 yard dash, I’ll change my tune. Pick him at your own risk.
4. Kadarius Toney, Florida: Here’s a guy who could surprise at the next level. It’s not so much his straight-line speed that makes him stand out; it’s his suddenness. He can change directions on a dime. In basketball parlance, he can break ankles with his moves. He put it all together in his senior season for the Gators. Over his last five games, he averaged 7 catches for 118 yards and found the endzone in four of the five.
5. Rashad Bateman, Minnesota: Now we’re talking! 6’2” and 210 lbs. That’s what the number 1 receiver should look like on every team. Yes, like Ja’Marr Chase, Bateman ended his college career prematurely. Still, unlike Chase, Rashod Bateman played the 2020 season and only opted out in November after half the team and coaching staff came down with Covid. Here’s Bateman’s cumulative stats for his college career: 147 catches for 2395 yards (a 16.3 yd/catch avg.) and 19 touchdowns.
Elijah Moore, Mississippi: 5’9” and 185. After I drooled over Bateman’s perfect X receiver size, you might be wondering why I rank Moore this high. 1. He got better every year of his college career. 2. He may be 5’9” tall, but he’s 185 lbs at 5’9”. That is stout. He is, as the kids say, thicc. Elijah’s not going to get pushed around by anyone. 3. Look what he did against SEC teams this season: In just eight games, he had 86 catches (that’s over ten catches per game!), 1193 yards (that’s 149 yards per game!), and eight touchdowns (that’s a TD every game!). Against national champ Alabama he put up an 11 for 143 line. In the real NFL and on my fantasy teams, I want this guy as my slot receiver!
Come on back next Thursday for the tight ends entering the 2021 draft! Whether you love or hate my analysis, feel free to comment below or give me a shout on Twitter @thephilfactor