NFL Draft 2021: Order, Predictions for Ja'Marr Chase, Top WR Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2020

LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) runs against Oklahoma during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA semifinal college football playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

One of the more interesting aspects of the 2020 NFL draft was the depth at the wide receiver position. Six wideouts were drafted in the first round, and several more potential No. 1 receivers were selected over the course of draft weekend.

Essentially, this was a terrific year for a team to be in need of receiver help ahead of the draft. The good news for those still in the pass-catcher market is that next year's draft might be just as promising or even better.

Once again, it appears that receiver will be one of the incoming class' deeper positions. Here we will examine some of the top potential 2021 receiver prospects, along with the draft order and a full Round 1 mock.


2021 NFL Mock Draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

2. Washington Redskins: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

3. Carolina Panthers: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

5. Miami Dolphins: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU 

6. New York Jets: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

7. Detroit Lions: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

8. Arizona Cardinals: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

9. Atlanta Falcons: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

10. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

11. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

12. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

13. Chicago Bears: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

14. Los Angeles Chargers: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

15. Cleveland Browns: Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (from L.A. Rams): Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia

18. Tennessee Titans: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson

19. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

20. Minnesota Vikings: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

21. New England Patriots: Jay Tufele, DT, USC 

22. Indianapolis Colts: JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU

23. Buffalo Bills: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

24. Philadelphia Eagles: LaBryan Ray, DL, Alabama

25. Green Bay Packers: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

26. Seattle Seahawks: Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State

27. Dallas Cowboys: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

28. New Orleans Saints: Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

30. Baltimore Ravens: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

31. San Francisco 49ers: Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Caden Sterns, S, Texas


Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

During the 2020 campaign, LSU's Ja'Marr Chase could separate himself from what should be a relatively stacked receiver class. The 6'1", 200-pound pass-catcher has a challenge in front of him, as he'll no longer be receiving passes from Heisman winner Joe Burrow. Chase will also be operating without former passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who left for the NFL this offseason.

"Remember he wasn't a really productive player his first year," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on the ESPN College Football Podcast (h/t Matt Howe of 247Sports).

However, if Chase can thrive without Burrow and Brady, it could cement his status as one of the top overall prospects in the draft. In 2019, he racked up 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 receptions. If he can produce numbers close to that in what could be a far less impressive Tigers offense, it will show teams that Chase isn't reliant on a great quarterback or a terrific scheme.

This could be important for a team selecting near the top of Round 1, as they presumably won't be loaded with talent.


Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Butch Dill/Associated Press

For some casual NFL fans, Alabama wideout Devonta Smith may be a familiar name. He was widely projected to be a first-round pick alongside Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy in April, but he decided to return for another year with the Crimson Tide.

However, fellow wideout Jaylen Waddle may end up being the first Alabama receiver off the board next year. His speed and ability to separate are the reasons why.

"Waddle was Alabama's No. 4 wide receiver last season, but he is super-talented and will be a huge part of the Crimson Tide's new-look offense in 2020," Kiper wrote in his early 2021 big board. "He's electrifying with the ball in his hands and always appeared to be 2 or 3 yards open last season."

Waddle only caught 33 passes in 2019, but he turned those into 560 yards and six touchdowns. With Jeudy and Ruggs now in the NFL, he should see a much bigger—and much more statistically prolific—season in 2021.

Listed at 5'10" and 182 pounds, Waddle is similar in size and skill set to Ruggs, who ended up being the first receiver taken in 2020.


Rondale Moore, Purdue

While fans are used to seeing players from schools like LSU and Alabama get selected in the first round, Purdue products are far less common. Pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan was the last Boilermaker selected in Round 1 back in 2011.

Don't be shocked if wideout Rondale Moore ends that drought next April. The 5'9", 180-pound speedster is fast, dangerous after the catch and extremely versatile.

Last season, Moore caught 29 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned five punts and returned nine kickoffs—all in four games of action. He was sidelined for most of the season with a hamstring injury. In 2018, More caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 scores.

"Whether it's in the return game or passing game, Moore is a threat to make house calls any time he touches the ball," Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller wrote.

Miller ranked Moore as the 16th overall prospect on his way-too-early 2021 big board.