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2021 Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings

The 2021 wide receiver class is another special one, complete with future stars and numerous depth options. While nearly impossible to rival the already legendary 2020 class, 2021 has all the prerequisites to be remembered for a long time. In this post, I’ve compiled 2021 rookie wide receiver rankings for 40 of the top receivers. Keep in mind that these rankings will certainly change as testing, landing spots and draft capital come to light.

Below the rankings, I’ve offered some analysis on receivers ranked 7-40. If you’re interested in reading about the top 6, feel free to check out these articles: Rookie Wide Receivers: Three for the Money and Rookie Wide Receivers: 4, 5 and 6. I also put together a similar list for rookie running backs and quarterbacks which can be found here: 2021 Rookie Running Back Rankings & 2021 Rookie QB Rankings.

2021 Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
RankPlayerClassSchoolBMI
1Ja'Marr ChaseJuniorLSU28.2
2Jaylen WaddleJuniorAlabama26.1
3Rashod BatemanJuniorMinnesota27
4Terrace Marshall Jr.JuniorLSU25
5DeVonta SmithSeniorAlabama23.1
6Rondale MooreJuniorPurdue26.6
7Amon-Ra St. BrownJuniorUSC25.7
8Tylan WallaceSeniorOK St.25.8
9Elijah MooreJuniorOle Miss27.3
10Kadarius ToneySeniorFlorida26.2
11Dyami BrownJuniorUNC25.1
12Tamorrion TerryRS JuniorFSU25.1
13Nico CollinsSeniorMichigan26.2
14Amari RodgersSeniorClemson30.1
15Seth WilliamsJuniorAuburn26.4
16Chatarius AtwellJuniorLouisville24.4
17Marquez StevensonRS SeniorHouston25.8
18Sage SurrattRS JuniorWake Forest26.9
19Jhamon AusbonSeniorTexas A&M27
20Simi FehokoRS Soph.Stanford26.8
21Tyler VaughnsRS SeniorUSC24.4
22Marlon WilliamsSeniorUCF29.2
23Dazz NewsomeSeniorUNC26.5
24Anthony SchwartzJuniorAuburn24.3
25Trevon GrimesSeniorFlorida26.5
26Cornell PowellRS SeniorClemson28.5
27Shi SmithSeniorSouth Carolina27.3
28D'Wayne EskridgeRS SeniorWMU28.1
29Warren JacksonSeniorCol. St.24.8
30Frank DarbyRS SeniorASU26.4
31Ihmir Smith-MarsetteSeniorIowa23.6
32Brennan EaglesJuniorTexas27.9
33Whop PhilyorSeniorIndiana25.1
34Dax MilneJuniorBYU25.1
35Jaelon DardenSeniorNorth Texas25.7
36Tre NixonRS SeniorUCF23.1
37Jonathan Adams Jr.SeniorArkansas State27.5
38Austin WatkinsRS SeniorUAB26.2
39Dillon StonerRS SeniorOK St.27.1
40Cade JohnsonRS SeniorSDSU25.8

BMI is calculated using each receiver’s currently listed height and weight. This is likely to change for many receivers as testing occurs.

7) Amon-Ra St. Brown, 6’1”, 195 lbs

St. Brown should enter the draft as the best pure slot receiver in the field. His route running is crisp and he has the strong hands teams depend on over the middle. After the catch, his strength and elusiveness are evident. Has been an extremely consistent producer each year at USC. St. Brown also provides good blocking from the slot and physicality oozes from his game. Speed will be among the primary concerns for St. Brown as he transitions to the NFL. Regardless, his play speed doesn’t appear to suffer and he should be an early Day 2 pick at the latest.

8) Tylan Wallace, 6’0”, 190 lbs

Wallace broke out in his sophomore season and has been a meaningful contributor for the Oklahoma State offense ever since. He suffered a devastating ACL tear in 2019 but was able to return free from any setbacks this season. Wallace has very good hands, body control and toughness for a wide receiver. He loves to compete in contested catch situations and willingly chips in as a blocker. His Pro Day performance will play a major role in where he gets drafted. We also didn’t see a ton of versatility from him in the Cowboys offense. An early Day 2 selection is the most likely event for him.

9) – Elijah Moore, 5’9”, 185 lbs

Moore increased his production in each season and blew up as the focal point of the Rebels air raid in 2020. Moore’s skill set is diverse, including the ability to separate, run a solid route tree and compete. His athleticism is solid, and he uses his short area quickness to find space and eat after the catch. Size will almost definitely limit Moore to a slot role in the NFL and there are some questions about his long speed. Moore has played his way to a consensus Day 2 pick.

10) Kadarius Toney, 6’0”, 193 lbs

Perhaps no receiver in the 2021 class saw their draft stock rise like Toney’s since the beginning of the season. A focal point of the Gators offense, Toney turned 70 receptions into 984 yards, adding an additional 19 carries for 161 yards. He’s a tremendous athlete, possessing elite agility, acceleration and explosiveness. He proved himself to be a gamebreaker at every level of the field. Deceptively strong and does some of his best work after the catch. Toney does not own the greatest hands in the class and his route running will need to continue to improve for him to reach his ceiling. Currently being mocked as a Day 1 pick, I envision Toney as more of a Day 2 player.

11) Dyami Brown, 6’0”, 185 lbs

Brown was one of a handful dynamic playmakers on the Tar Heels this year and rocketed up draft boards as a result. Moreover, he surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the second season in a row. Brown served as an effective, reliable deep threat for Sam Howell, averaging at least 20 yards per catch in both of those years. He showcased good burst, hands and athleticism throughout his time at UNC. Possesses very good ball skills and body control all over the field. His toughness and effort also make him an effective blocker. He’ll need to add some strength as he transitions to the NFL and he didn’t run the most diverse route tree at UNC. Look for Brown to come off the board on Day 2 or very early on Day 3.

12) Tamorrion Terry, 6’4”, 210 lbs

Terry played extremely well as a redshirt freshman and sophomore at FSU, posting 744 and 1,188 yards in those seasons. 2020 was nothing short of a disappointment for Terry, and he left the program after playing in just five games. Terry is an exciting blend of size, speed and playmaking ability. He’s proven himself able to score long touchdowns as a deep threat as well as after the catch. Catch radius, athleticism and play strength are all pluses. On the other hand, Terry has had his share of mental mistakes and at times reverts to body catching. An impressive showing at his Pro Day would vault him into Day 2 consideration.

13) Nico Collins, 6’4”, 215 lbs

Collins had steadily increased his receiving production each year in the Wolverines often defunct passing attack. As a bigger receiver, he thrives on the outside, combining excellent ball skills with plus athleticism. He should quickly carve out a role in the red zone and also contributes as a blocker. Collins has been praised for his attitude, work ethic and toughness. He does lack some polish to his game and may take time to develop into an every-down player in the NFL. Route running will be one of his primary areas of focus as he turns pro. Collins is likely to fall on the Day 2/3 borderline. 

14) Amari Rodgers, 5’10”, 210 lbs

Rodgers was not heavily utilized for the majority of time at Clemson however he stepped up in 2020, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. As he moves to the NFL, Rodgers profiles as a slot receiver with a very solid build. Additionally, he’s a strong athlete with plus acceleration and the long speed necessary to be a factor downfield. Rodgers is a natural hands catcher with exceptional elusiveness and toughness after the catch. He’s still guilty of the occasional bad drop, and size puts limitations on his catch radius. Rodgers will be squarely in the mix to hear his name called late on Day 2 or in the early stages of Day 3.

15) Seth Williams, 6’3”, 211 lbs

Williams has been a staple in the Auburn passing attack over the past three seasons. As a big, athletic receiver, Williams has shined in contested catch and high-point situations. He’s not a body catcher by any means and has solid long speed once he gets going. Sadly, Williams lacks the quickness and burst of a great route runner. He struggled with drops in 2020 and didn’t create a ton of separation at the college level. Williams may see his stock slip to Day 3 without an impressive Pro Day.

16) Chatarius Atwell, 5’9”, 165 lbs

Atwell broke out as a sophomore in 2019, racking up 1,272 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cardinals. He’s a tremendous athlete with top tier agility, suddenness and breakaway speed. Once the ball’s in his hands, his elusiveness and dynamism are on full display. Size is among the primary concerns with Atwell, and he has difficulty working through contact. Furthermore, his catch radius is minuscule. He won’t be able to block in any capacity. Even so, Atwell’s playmaking ability will earn him mid-round selection.

17) Marquez Stevenson, 6’0”, 190 lbs

Stevenson is a tremendous athlete who’s displayed gamebreaking speed during his time at Houston University. Not only a deep threat, Stevenson can operate from all levels of the field and once he gets a step he’s rarely caught. He’s shown the versatility to operate on the outside, from the slot and as a runner on designed plays. Tracking, body control and timing have continued to improve. Stevenson could stand to add some strength as he can struggle against bigger DBs. Route tree needs to become more diverse and nuanced. He should hear his name called late on Day 2.

18) Sage Surratt, 6’3”, 215 lbs

Surratt broke out during his redshirt sophomore season, eclipsing 1,000 yards in just 9 games. He effectively uses his size to bully smaller corners and dominate one-on-one battles. Ball skills, football IQ and hands are exactly what you want to see from a receiver in his mold. Route running is solid and should continue to progress. Speed and athleticism are not great strengths of his, and he may have trouble separating at the NFL level. Expect him to go in round 3 or 4 of the NFL Draft.

19) Jhamon Ausbon, 6’2”, 210 lbs

Ausbon opted out of the 2020 season but took a major step forward in 2019 as a focal point of the Aggies passing attack. As a result of his size, Ausbon has very good play strength and body control. His hands are strong and extremely reliable while he’s worked to improve his route running each season. Work ethic and IQ are also strengths of Ausbon. Conversely, Ausbon lacks speed and the type of athleticism you’d like to see in a future NFL receiver. He will fit best as a steady possession receiver who’ll need volume to thrive in fantasy.

20) Simi Fehoko, 6’4”, 220 lbs

Fehoko has been steadily rising up draft boards after taking another step forward in 2020. He capitalizes on his size with tremendous ball skills and a monstrous catch radius. Fehoko uses his strong hands to pluck the ball out of the air and is a problem for DBs to bring down after the catch. He possesses plenty of deep speed and also looks to be a very capable route runner. Fehoko’s relatively small sample size may be called into question and he’s had to battle a few drops in his young career. Fehoko has put himself close to the Day 2/3 borderline and could rise further if he tests well.

21) Tyler Vaughns, 6’2”, 190 lbs

Vaughns has been a consistent contributor to the Trojans offense since his redshirt freshman season. He has good size and uses it to his advantage in contested catch situations. Displays good tracking and body control on a number of his receptions. Blocking is above average for a receiver and he’s a natural hands catcher. Vaughns is lacking a bit in the athleticism department and is a candidate to struggle getting separation at the next level. Needs to continue to improve his route running as he moves forward. He’ll have an outside shot to hear his name called on Day 2 but looks more like a Day 3 player.

22) Marlon Williams, 6’0”, 215 lbs

Williams has steadily improved each year at UCF and managed to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in just 9 games this season. He’s thrived in the big slot role but also possesses the requisite size to work on the boundary. Very strong after the catch and effort will never be an issue with his game. Athleticism may be questioned after he tests at his Pro Day and his route tree at UCF was also limited. He should go down as a mid-round selection on draft day. 

23) Dazz Newsome, 5’11”, 190 lbs

Newsome has been a fixture of the Tar Heels passing attack since his sophomore season. Quickness, separation and route running are staples in Newsome’s game and he looks to carry those into the NFL. He’s a natural hands catcher and racks up yards after the catch. There are physical limitations to Newsome’s game and he’s likely relegated to slot duties in the NFL. It’s unlikely he possesses enough long speed to threaten NFL defenses deep. Like Brown, he also hasn’t run the most diverse of route tree’s at UNC. Day 3 is when he’ll be selected barring a phenomenal Pro Day. 

24) Anthony Schwartz, 6’0”, 179 lbs

Quite possibly the fastest player in the draft, Schwartz has increased his receiving production each season at Auburn. His athleticism is superb as he showcases agility, burst and exceptional long speed. These traits keep defenders honest and create a cushion he can utilize to consistently pick up short gains. While his strengths are evident, so are his weaknesses. Schwartz is a very slight WR, and he lacks a fair amount of polish in his game. As a result, he will be more of a project in the early stages of his NFL career. A strong Pro Day could make him a late Day 2 selection.

25) Trevon Grimes, 6’4”, 218 lbs

Grimes was a consensus top 10 wide receiver recruit in 2017 but failed to live up to the hype at the college level. Grimes exhibits great athleticism for a big receiver and capitalizes on his size by thriving in contested catch situations. A large portion of his production came downfield and it remains to be seen if he can succeed at the short to intermediate levels. He has all the tools to be a playmaker but has yet to consistently put it together. His route running, and game in general has failed to develop much at the collegiate level. Someone will take a shot on Grimes’ upside in the early portion of Day 3.

26) Cornell Powell, 6’0”, 210 lbs

Powell has squarely put himself in draft conversations after his solid 2020 campaign which was highlighted by his performance against Ohio State in the CFP semi-final. He has good size, body control and contested catch ability. Powell’s athleticism is solid, showing enough burst and acceleration to keep DBs honest and make plays. Powell’s late breakout age, lack of consistent production and route running ability will be among the primary concerns as he transitions to the NFL. He should go off the board at some point on Day 3.

27) Shi Smith, 5’10”, 190 lbs

Smith has been a reliable contributor to the Gamecocks’ offense over the past four seasons. Though he’s not the biggest guy, Smith displayed plus ball skills and timing on a number of sensational grabs. Route running is polished though not overly diversified and his toughness won’t be questioned as he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Not a superb athlete but well-rounded in that department. Size should limit Smith to a slot role in the NFL and how fast he runs at his Pro Day will be essential to his draft stock. He’ll hear his name called on Day 3 of the NFL draft. 

28) D’wayne Eskridge, 5’9”, 190 lbs

Eskridge was a force at Western Michigan this year, averaging 128 yards per game and 23.3 yards per reception. As you may have guessed, he is downright fast and has the track and field background to back it up. He possesses excellent athleticism, changing directions in an instant and reaching top gear in a hurry. Eskridge is also a solid route runner who flashes crisp breaks and attacks defenses at all levels of the field. A lack of length will be among the primary concerns for Eskridge as he enters the draft. Regardless, there is always a need for speed in the NFL and Eskridge undoubtedly checks that box. Age should push Eskridge back to a Day 3 pick.

29) Warren Jackson, 6’6”, 215 lbs

Jackson broke out in his junior season for the Rams, turning 77 catches into 1,119 yards and 8 scores in just 10 games. When it comes to his game, Jackson is a towering receiver who knows how to use his size to his advantage. His catch radius is massive, and he uses every bit of it to dominate defenders in contested catch and high-point situations. Jackson is also an effective, willing blocker with some RAC ability. Acceleration and agility are not strengths of Jackson’s and may result in him struggling to separate from NFL DBs. There are also question marks surrounding his ability to beat press coverage. Jackson should be off the board on Day 3 barring some gaudy testing numbers.

30) Frank Darby, 6’1”, 200 lbs

Darby is another intriguing WR prospect who lacks the kind of historical production you’d ideally like to see. Having said that, he’s a ton of fun to watch, blending good size, physicality and athleticism. He displays above average quickness and twitch, with enough long speed to threaten defenses vertically. Good tracking and competitiveness allowed him to succeed in contested situations. Darby has been guilty of a few too many body catches and there noted concerns about his ability to separate. A lack of usage at ASU is also head scratching, though not necessarily a knock. Darby looks destined for Day 3.

31) Ihmir Smith-Marsette, 6’1”, 179 lbs

Smith-Marsette is a fluid receiver who chipped in steadily for the Iowa offense but saw a sharp drop in his production from 2019. He boasts good short-area quickness and enough speed to do serious damage once he gets going. Iowa consistently manufactured touches for him to capitalize on his versatility. At the forefront of Smith-Marsette’s concerns will be route running and play strength. He has not shown a ton as a route runner and is as light as they come. A Day 3 selection is his most likely fate.

32) Brennan Eagles, 6’4”, 229 lbs

Eagles is another big-bodied wide receiver with an excellent set of hands. He shows good speed vertically and has no issues utilizing his insane catch radius to make contested catches. Eagles lacks development as a route runner and there are plenty of questions surrounding his athleticism. He’s yet to prove he can be effective in short to intermediate areas of the field. A Day 3 selection will be the best case for Eagles.

33) Whop Philyor, 5’11”, 180 lbs

Philyor has been a key component of the Hoosier’s passing attack over the past two seasons. Though he operated all over the formation, Philyor projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. Philyor has the kind of acceleration and agility you look for in a slot receiver and he’s extremely elusive with the ball in his hands. Toughness and work ethic are routinely praised. Philyor’s size will limit his upside at the next level, but he should be pretty scheme agnostic. It would be surprising to not see him drafted on Day 3.

34) Dax Milne, 6’1”, 190 lbs

Milne’s draft stock came to life in 2020 as a key cog in the Cougars offensive machine. He was able to parlay 70 receptions into 1,188 yards while averaging 17 yards per catch. As a prospect, Milne is praised for his route running ability and understanding of how to get open. He’s quick off the line and flashed solid ball skills this season. Milne will not be among the most athletic receivers in the draft but has a real shot at carving out a role as a possession receiver in the NFL. A Day 3 selection will be Milne’s best-case scenario. 

35) Jaelon Darden, 5’9”, 174 lbs

When it comes to Darden, speed is the name of his game. He’s increased his production each season at North Texas and averaged an impressive 132.2 yards per game this season. The ability to move all over the formation is present in his game as he was manufactured a variety of touches each season. Acceleration, elusiveness and burst are blatant strengths. When looking at weaknesses, size and hands are the primary concerns. Darden’s elite speed should find him a home late on Day 3.

36) Tre Nixon, 6’2”, 180 lbs

Nixon was a dependable producer in the UCF passing attack in 2018 and 2019 before missing 2020 with a shoulder injury. Nixon displays good athleticism and more than enough long speed to keep defenses honest. Hasn’t run a diverse route tree at UCF but looks good on his limited sample size. Nixon will need to improve his tracking, hands and play strength to really find success in the NFL. Day 3 will be Nixon’s best chance to hear his name called.

37) Jonathan Adams Jr., 6’3”, 220 lbs

Adams Jr. increased production each year at Arkansas State while registering an impressive 1,111 yards and 12 scores on 79 receptions in 2020. He has great size and made his hay dominating in contested catch situations. Adams Jr. lacks the speed and athleticism you’d like to see, offering little after the catch ability. Furthermore, he struggled with drops throughout 2020. Expect him to be forced to go the UDFA route.

38) Austin Watkins, 6’3”, 210 lbs

Watson was a JUCO transfer who exploded onto the C-USA scene in 2019 when he posted 1,092 yards on just 57 catches. Watson has good size for a receiver and tremendous ball skills. He thrived in contested catch situations, showcasing the strong hands, focus and body control to succeed. Route running is surprisingly crisp and features plenty of nuance. Solid after the catch and able to operate at all levels of the field. While he’s a very well-rounded receiver, Watkins will have questions about his ability to separate and if he has the necessary speed to succeed downfield. He has a shot at sneaking into the final rounds on Day 3.

39) Dillon Stoner, 6’0”, 200 lbs

Stoner has been a fixture in the Cowboys’ passing attack over the past 4 seasons. His reliable hands, toughness and football IQ have been evident on Saturdays. Stoner has also steadily contributed on special teams and that will go a long way to him cracking an NFL roster. Unfortunately, athleticism is not a strong suit of Stoner’s. In the rosiest of circumstances, he’ll work as a possession receiver. His name will probably be called in the later stages of Day 3 and he’s unlikely to surface on the fantasy radar.

40) Cade Johnson, 5’10”, 180 lbs

Johnson was wildly productive in the FCS, surpassing 1,200 yards in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons while averaging over 17 yards per reception. Johnson’s best traits are acceleration, speed and elusiveness after the catch. These traits have also enabled him to thrive as a kick returner and on designed runs. Size and level of competition will be some of the biggest questions surrounding Johnson as he tries to make the jump to the NFL. He has a shot at hearing his name called on Day 3 but will need a strong showing at the Senior Bowl to solidify that.

If you enjoyed my 2021 Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings be sure to check out my other content in the Articles section and follow me on Twitter @FantasyFuru. Thanks for reading!

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