NFL Exec: Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle Are 'All Better Than' Jeudy, Ruggs

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2021

LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase makes a reception during an NFL Pro Day at LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

We all thought the 2020 wide receiver class was special. According to one NFL executive, it's nothing compared to the 2021 crop. 

The executive told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated that Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle compare favorably to Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. 

"They're different body types and styles," the executive told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. "You got the powerful, physical guy in Chase; the explosive playmaker who's incredible with the ball in his hands in Waddle; and the all-encompassing route-runner with speed and toughness, but not size, in DeVonta. They're all better than [Jerry] Jeudy and [Henry] Ruggs. [CeeDee] Lamb is right in the mix with them, but Ruggs and Jeudy are below those guys for me."

Ruggs was the first wide receiver taken with the 12th pick in last April's draft. It's likely that at least two of the three top wideouts in this class will be top-10 selections. Chase has been viewed as the top receiver in the 2021 class for more than a year, though Smith's Heisman run last season will put him in the conversation.

The Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5), Miami Dolphins (No. 6) and Detroit Lions (No. 7) could all potentially use their top pick on a receiver. 

The NFL executive quoted in Breer's piece did not say how he would compare Chase, Smith and Waddle to Justin Jefferson, who was by far the most productive rookie receiver last season. Jefferson set the NFL rookie receiving record with 1,400 yards and was named a second-team All-Pro with the Minnesota Vikings.

While Jefferson was the fifth receiver off the board last April, teams that select Chase, Smith and Waddle will be hoping their production matches him more than Jeudy or Ruggs.