This WR class is one the most talented in recent memory. High level talent, depth, dynamic athletes, tons to like here and top 5 is chock full of studs.
1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Between his opt-out and LSU’s struggles, many have forgotten about Chase and his expansive skill set. The Louisiana native was the most productive WR in the most productive offense (at the time) in the history of college football. He was so dominant as the X that it pushed Justin Jefferson inside to the slot, and we all know what happened when Jefferson moved outside with the Vikings.
Chase can do everything on the field, but what sets him apart is his ability to make contested catches. He is far and away the most physically imposing player on this list and NFL teams will love his aggressiveness and knack for high-pointing the football.
Mind you Chase was 19 at the time of this play and just 20 right now. He is unequivocally the best WR in this class and the only one who can beat corners with size, speed, and skill.
2. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
This may be a hot take, but I favor Waddle over Devonta Smith. Alabama’s leading receiver at the time of his ankle injury, Waddle was intended to be the premier threat in that offense. Of course, Smith went on to win the Heisman Trophy, but had their situations been reversed that just as easily could have been Waddle.
Production aside, Waddles freakish speed and athleticism vault him ahead.
Human beings are not supposed to be able to move like like that. Waddle can change directions while remaining at his top speed, something I’ve only ever seen Tyreek Hill do. Every team needs speed and Waddle offers the most in this class.
3. Devonta Smith, Alabama
The Heisman Trophy winner leaves Alabama as one of the most productive players in school history and his ranking behind both Chase and Waddle is more a nod to their talents than a knock on his own. Smith is great at the catch point, using his length, hands, and sensational body control to win 50-50 balls despite lacking the size to box out corners.
He is also a silky smooth route runner, taking deliberate strides to separate from defenders in the open field and has the acceleration to leave them in the dust once he gets the ball in his hands.
A fear I have with Smith as he transitions to the NFL is his ability to get clean releases off the line. Steve Sarkisian is a wizard and had a knack for scheming Smith open all over the field: outside, in the slot, with motion, and from the backfield to give him ample space to operate. This will not be as easy once the defenders become smarter, longer, and stronger.
Smith is still a monster in his own right, but I trust the more defined qualities of Chase and Waddle at the next level (OldTakesExposed incoming).
4. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Bateman is being overlooked for a few reasons. First off, he opted out of this season after just 5 games causing many to forget his dominance in 2019. He paced the explosive Minnesota offense as a true sophomore with 1,219 yards and 11 TDs. Many considered him to be one of the best route runners in the country and he graded as top 15 WR on PFF. Secondly, Bateman is not twitchy like many of us want our first round receivers to be. He is a very good athlete, all things considered, but his movements are not sudden to the point of awe.
Regardless, the cumulative package here is more than enough to warrant a 1st round grade. Bateman blends size, physicality, footwork, and an underrated ability to win contested catches.
All of his best traits or on display with this play. He dusts the corner off the line with a hesitation move and then beats him to the pylon where he skies over him for the TD. A very difficult play made easy, Bateman’s tape is filled with reps like these. He is a stud.
5. Rondale Moore, Purdue
Another player who is being overlooked, Moore is a freak of nature who has barely been on the field since his true freshman campaign. He is short (5’9″), but very solid (180 lbs), just like Tyreek Hill. His size works to his advantage though, as it creates a certain suddenness in his moves and a low center of gravity to generate power.
There is simply no reason this play should result in a touchdown. None whatsoever. There were 3 separate times where it looked like he was done for.
Despite his immense talent, there are some concerns with Moore. He had a bizarre opt-out/opt-back-in situation this year that was peculiar. I would have liked to see some more reps from Moore after injuries cost him most of 2019 and his usage was limited to gadget-type plays as a freshman. Of his 160 targets, 118 were at 9 yards or fewer downfield. However, just because he has never run a diverse route tree does not mean he can’t (a la Brandon Aiyuk). I am confident Moore is capable of doing just about anything on a football field.
Kadarius Toney, Florida
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State