Who’ll be the first receiver taken?

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The draft generally is regarded as having three truly elite receivers, along with an elite tight end who could line up a lot at receiver. Setting aside the question of where Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will land, let’s ponder the question of the order in which the top receivers — Ja’Marr Chase of LSU and Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith of Alabama — will exit the board.

With quarterbacks undoubtedly the first three selections and another deep receiver class, it’s not easy to peg when the wideouts will start to be selected, or where. The Falcons could go quarterback, trade down with a team that wants a quarterback, take Pitts or tackle Penei Sewell, or grab one of the best receivers.

The Bengals at No. 5 likely go Sewell if he’s there, which possibly makes the Dolphins the first team to take a wideout.

Miami, as some believe it, would be inclined to take Waddle over Chase and Smith. Chase’s case could be impacted (even though it shouldn’t be) by the fact that he opted out of the 2020 season over COVID concerns.

The question then becomes whether Chase would go before Smith, or Smith before Chase.

There may not be much of a gap between the first and second receivers taken, either. The Lions at No. 7 could go wideout after seeing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones leave in free agency, and the Panthers at No. 8 are down a starter after the defection of Curtis Samuel.

Being the first receiver taken, especially in a draft deep with receivers, can carry a unique burden. The chip on the shoulder the drives so many wideouts (especially second rounders but also other first-rounders) isn’t there for the first receiver drafted. Time and again, that extra kick in the ass has helped receivers, both in their rookie seasons and beyond.

Last year, the Raiders made Alabama’s Henry Ruggs the surprise first receiver taken in the draft. He definitely wouldn’t be the first receiver if they re-drafted now.

We’ll find out in 12 days the order of the top three receivers — and whether there’s another Jalen Reagor surprise lurking on the board. In time, we’ll see which guys become the Justin Jefferson/Chase Claypool of the class, and which ones will be working into their second season and beyond to reach their full potential.

29 responses to “Who’ll be the first receiver taken?

  1. I’d never take a receiver in the first round. Supply and demand. There are tons of small, fast guys on the planet. The position is not critical to winning. Good QB’s can win with any receivers.

  2. I don’t know about the first. But if the Steelers take one, he’ll be the best.

  3. tyelee says:

    April 17, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Can’t miss with Smith or Waddle…
    because of size, likely Waddle!
    —————–
    Well you cant say Smith is can’t miss and then list a factor(which you undersell cause it’s a huge factor) of why he may miss. No one doubts his talent but if he stays relatively healthy thru his career he would be an outlier because of his size…as per the question in the column it’s likely Chase or Waddle and atm I’d place money on it being Chase.

  4. charliecharger says:

    April 17, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    I’d never take a receiver in the first round. Supply and demand. There are tons of small, fast guys on the planet. The position is not critical to winning. Good QB’s can win with any receivers.
    —————
    Well let’s see you’ve now said you would never draft a qb in round 1 because “you can find 1 later”, you would never a draft a rb in round 1 and now you would never draft a wr in round 1 but hey you repeatedly said for years Luke Falk is a star type franchise qb so you must know what your talking about…

  5. Rashod Bateman is being slept on – only receiver better is Chase. Waddel and Smith will be as unimpressive as Jeudy and Ruggs were last year. SE-C-ya later, washout

  6. Taking a hobbled ankle receiver that relies on speed over chase or smith would be the dumbest decision ever.

  7. The Raiders are hilarious. Mayock reminds me of Matt Millen. Smartest guy in the room.

  8. Chase and I think the media has completely missed the Mark on the number 3 pick. It will be Pitts. “Undoubtedly” the first 3 picks with be QBs- come on Florio, you’re better than this. You don’t trade 3 first for anything but a sure thing- Pitts is the most sure thing in the draft. Do you take Megatron or the 3rd best QB in the 2021 draft? They want a First for Jimmy? Hmmmm I wonder why. Bc they have zero plans to trade him. This whole dog and pony show with the QB visits is so that Jerry Jones (when he is partying hard) doesn’t do something crazy and move to 2 for Pitts. No brainer- 3 is Pitts. Book it.

  9. tyelee says:
    April 17, 2021 at 6:33 pm
    Can’t miss with Smith or Waddle…
    because of size, likely Waddle!

    um, Waddle is 5’10 and 180 pounds, really not much size difference at all. But Waddle is the one that’s had injury problems.

  10. Wr that early in the draft is silly. How many rings does Moss have? Johnson? People that can catch are dime a dozen. Replaced yearly. Look at the top guys. Every few years there is a new set of top 5 in the league. Game has changed. Teams win. RBs and Wrs do not.

  11. The Bengals at No. 5 likely go Sewell if he’s there, which possibly makes the Dolphins the first team to take a wideout

    —-

    About 75% of Bengaldom is expecting them to take Chase, whether they prefer Chase or Sewell there.

  12. Chase is a monster. Waddle is Ruggs 2.0. I like Smith a lot, but he’s going to be a slot guy in the NFL. There really is no debate.

  13. “Miami, as some believe it, would be inclined to take Waddle over Chase and Smith.”
    — Chase is a #1 WR. Smith is a #2 WR. Waddle is a #3 WR.

    Waddle is a slot; we have 4 of them already with Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Malcolm Perry, and Lynn Bowden.

    Devonta Smith is the same size/speed of: Lamar Thomas. In 1998, he had 603 Yards; I see that potential in Smith.

    Chase is the only can’t miss WR in this draft; it’s a terribly weak class; If Devontae Parker were in this class, 6’4″ 4.4 40-time, he would be the first receiver picked.

  14. Super strong wr class this year. I have it

    1. Chase
    2. Bateman
    3. Smith/waddle (i lean waddle, but wouldnt argue the other way)
    4. Marshall jr.

    Then you have another 3-4 guys who have first round talent but not necessarily 1st round tape. This is an amazing wr class. But Chase is step above everyone. Recency bias might hurt his stock, but i think he might be the most talented and complete wr since Fitzgerald (megatron was amazing and had other worldly size/speed combo, but wasnt as complete a player coming out.)

    After watching a bunch of games, i might even say Marshall has the highest ceiling, though he is unlikely to hit it. Chase is a guaranteed ten year pro bowler/all pro.

  15. As a Packers fan I will give rare kudos to Rick Spielman. Like I assume many Packers fans we were hoping Jefferson would fall to GB last year, he’s a Davante Adams in the making and certainly before Adams became the stud he is today. That was a great pick for the Vikes.

    That said picking a WR early in round one with such a plethora of talent, is risky. Nonetheless, kudos to the Vikes.

  16. How many rings does Moss have? None. But he was a key member of two teams that set a single season scoring record, and lost three games between them. Moss should have gone first overall.

  17. There’s a growing segment of people saying the Bengals will take Chase. I hope that’s just smoke, for the sake of Joe Burrow and that entire offense.

  18. Bengals aren’t taking Sewell. Everyone thinks it, but they aren’t. Chase will be first off the board at 5.

  19. What doesn’t get mentioned is that usually the top WR goes to a crappy team picking in the top 10 or top 5. It’s hard for a rookie WR to make an impact on a team that likely won 5-6 games the previous year. More holes to fill than a WR for sure. WRs slipping later in rd 1 are typically going to a good team, better QB, established coaching staff, better ownership, etc…think Metcalf for example.

  20. xxsweepthelegxx says:

    April 18, 2021 at 8:14 am

    What doesn’t get mentioned is that usually the top WR goes to a crappy team picking in the top 10 or top 5. It’s hard for a rookie WR to make an impact on a team that likely won 5-6 games the previous year. More holes to fill than a WR for sure. WRs slipping later in rd 1 are typically going to a good team, better QB, established coaching staff, better ownership, etc…think Metcalf for example.
    ———
    Well Metcalf was a 2nd round(last pick in 2nd round actually) wr so thats a really, really poor example of someone your propping up as being drafted at end of round 1.

  21. If some team puts their thinking cap on, takes Kyle Pitts, turn him into a WR rather than a TE like he is just now.

    By every metric available, he has WR measurables.

  22. And there are very few big fast guys. That is why they get drafted early.

  23. I’m pretty sure the Bengals are taking Chase unless Atlanta pulls a surprise and takes him first.
    I mean that combo QB-WR was the most lethal in college and that was with Chase only being 19 and Burrow’s second season starting. They both have a lot of upside, have the chemistry and Burrow is asking the Bengals to draft Chase which should have a lot of weight in the decision.

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