The A tier of players are the elite of the elite. In comparison, players that would have been in this tier going into last year’s draft would have been CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. All three of these guys that we are going to talk about can be alpha number one’s for their team and will be good NFL players.
Ja’Marr Chase is the clear number one wide receiver going into the draft. While I personally believe it is a lot closer between him and Smith/Waddle than others, he is still the number one. Chase has elite size, speed, and hands. However, I also need to see crips routes and releases for a guy to be rated this high and Chase delivers, especially against great competition like Alabama. Chase is the closest thing to Julio Jones that we have had in a very long time, and I do not make that comp lightly, but Chase literally has all the traits.
We saw what an elite release and route running could do for a rookie in his first year with Justin Jefferson. That is what DeVonta Smith is offering any NFL team willing to draft him. He has that magical release and elite separation with every route he runs. The number one trait that translates from college to the NFL when watching film is separation. Look at Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, etc. I do not care that his frame is lean; no one is going to be near him when he is catching the football.
Jaylen Waddle is going to be the next Tyreek Hill. Well, let me rephrase that, he is going to be the next Hill, without being an absolutely horrible human with the off-the-field issues. Waddle has elite speed, elite vertical separation, and incredible high-pointing ability. It was like someone made a clone of the Tyreek Hill style of player. As long as Waddle has a QB who can air the ball out long, you are getting an absolute elite talent here.
My High-B tier players are just short of the A-tier. This is where a guy like Justin Jefferson would have slid in pre-draft last year for me. These are all still extraordinarily good talents, but they are not quite slam dunk number one wide receiver at the next level. If these players go to a team where they can be number two’s, I have little doubt that they will thrive and be great in their first season.
Elijah Moore shocked me on tape. He had some of the best routes and best after the catch ability in the draft. Moore is actually extremely close to being A-tier for me. This is this year’s, Justin Jefferson. I mean that in a guy who is going to go in the backend of the first round or early second and can easily become one of the very best wide receivers in the league his rookie year. The balance and route running that Moore runs with is legitimately incredible.
Bateman is Ja’Marr Chase light. Yes, Bateman had a weird pro day where he came in a whole inch shorter than expected and several pounds lighter. However, while COVID cannot explain the height, it does explain the weight loss. We also have to mention that he ran a Sub 4.4 forty-yard time at this new frame. I am honestly not worried. If anything, I am actually okay with him playing lighter because his routes on his pro day looked fantastic. Bateman is going to be a solid contributor at the next level, and he can be a slightly smaller AJ Brown or DK Metcalf, which is an elite outside weapon.
It might seem lazy, but I really just see Tee Higgins in Terrace Marshall. A guy with solid route running, solid hands, great speed, sizeable, but not absolutely elite at any one thing. That does not mean he will not be a great wide receiver, but I do think Marshall fits best as a top-of-the-line WR #2 for a squad over being the go-to guy in the air.
Low-B tier players are guys with lots of upside and players that can possibly be difference makers for their team but do not really have the production or skill set to turn into elite producers the first year out of college. The Low-B tier is for players who will need to develop but are still very valuable.
The High-C tier of players is reserved for a mixed bag of guys. We have some great value slot wide receivers, as well as players with tons of upside like a Josh Palmer. I also have Rondale Moore falling here as I really do not think he belongs in that talent pool that is offered by the B-tier. All of these wide receivers could be top-3 guys on a myriad of rosters and perform year one.
My final tier of players, the Low-C tier players, are question marks. These are players that showed quite a bit off in college, enough to get drafted and warrant a roster spot going into the season. However, I am not convinced that these guys will make an impact in the NFL. Ideally, they get a good wide receiver coach that develops them and points them in the right direction.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
The rest of the wide receivers in the draft, I believe, are fighting to make a roster spot and therefore do not feel a need to rank them.