In this series, we are going to do a deep dive into the top 2021 NFL Draft Class’s wide receivers, and see who they compare to historically. We are going to build them out from the standpoint of their physical acumen, their athletic abilities, and then bring it full circle by looking into their college production. Combining these three components we will settle on a final comparison that I believe most accurately outlines each player’s potential range of outcomes in the NFL. We will count down the top-15 pass-catchers with their comparable players as our countdown to the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 29th.
In this edition of the article, we will also introduce the ‘Rotoviz Celebrity Shot’ section. This will be done by using the Rotoviz Prospect Box Score Scout. I will share the most similar player based on their profile and presumptive draft capital.
6. Rashod Bateman
Physical: Rashod Bateman measured in at 6’0” and 190 lbs. at his Minnesota Pro Day. This equates to a BMI of 25.5. Testing at that size has several comparable players, however, Jerry Jeudy and Jabar Gaffney are the closest from a physical match perspective. However, if we open it up a bit we can include Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Tim Carter, Will Fuller, Calvin Ridley, and Dante Pettis.
Athletic: Bateman tested very well in the athletic testing portions of the Minnesota Gopher Pro Day. At 190 lbs. he ran an elite 4.39-second 40-yard dash, which equates to an above-average 102 Speed Score, a very good 287 WR Freak Score. To go along with that he tested well for someone above 6’0” tall Bateman jumped 36” in the vertical and 123” in the broad jump. He compares loosely to Devin Hester, who transitioned to a cornerback/return specialist. He also tested very similar to Jerry Jeudy, at nearly the same size, and more loosely LaMichael James and Anthony Gonzalez.
Production: As a true freshman, Bateman nearly broke out with 51 catches for 704 yards and six TDs. This accounted for 26.8% of Minnesota’s passing attack. What makes this more impressive is that he did this while Tyler Johnson had the best-adjusted performance index for a Minnesota Gopher receiver since 2000. He had over 2.0 yards per team pass attempt and 2.38 adjusted yards per team play. He then went on to have his most productive season in 2019 with 57 catches for 1,170 yards and 11 TDs. He also surpassed Johnson as the WR1 in Minnesota.
Rashod Bateman joins just 37 other Power Five wide receivers who were able to produce three seasons above over an 80% adjusted performance index in all three seasons that they played. What is more insane is that Bateman was able to do this while playing in only 70% of their games. Bateman joins an elite company with players that fit these criteria.
A.J. Green, Braylon Edwards, Calvin Ridley, Dwayne Bowe, Lee Evans, and Santonio Holmes all earned round-one draft capital after accomplishing this feat. If Bateman is not drafted in the first round he still can look at production profiles of players like Tyler Boyd and Tyler Lockett who achieved NFL success. Here is a look at these players’ advanced production metrics.
Rotoviz Celebrity Shot: If Bateman is draft in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft Moore’s closest comparison is Paul Richardson with a similarity score of 88 (out of 100). If Bateman falls to the second-round in the 2021 NFL Draft Bateman’s closest comparison remains as Paul Richardson with a similarity score of 98 (out of 100).
Final Comparison: Rashod Bateman has the prototypical size to play as an outside receiver in the NFL but has the speed and route-running savvy to win in the short and intermediate levels. Bateman is very similar to the body type of Jerry Jeudy, but arguably a higher potential upside when considering his elite production profile.
5. Jaylen Waddle
Physical: Waddle is another Alabama receiver who did not give his measurements nor test at the Pro Day due to his ankle injury. Because of this, we will use his listed measurements, standing at 5’10” and 183 lbs. Waddle has a BMI of 26.25 which is in the range of several historical comparisons who found great success in the NFL. Santana Moss and Tyler Lockett both had very strong NFL careers, and Lockett just signed a big deal to keep playing for Seattle. Several busts fit this profile, however, only Phillip Dorsett landed round-one draft capital as Waddle is expected to earn.
Athletic: Again, Waddle did not test due to his injury, but from his film, we can make some assumptions about how he would have tested. Waddle running a 4.35-second 40-yard dash would be a conservative estimation. In 2019, Waddle put a race with Henry Ruggs (4.27-second 40-yard dash at 2020 NFL Combine) and was step-for-step with the Raiders speedster until the end.
The 2019 race between Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs was a TIGHT finish 😳🔥🔥
(via IG/jaylenwaddle) pic.twitter.com/vTMzKNw4EY
— 247Sports (@247Sports) March 3, 2021
Using this 4.35-second 40-yard dash assumption, Waddle falls in a cohort with Santana Moss and Phillip Dorsett again. Rondale Moore wraps up this athletic comparison as these are the three players who ran a sub-4.35-second 40-yard dash at between 180 and 185 lbs.
Production: Waddle exploded out of the gate in his 2020 junior season. Through the first four games, Waddle had 591 yards and three TDs on 28 catches.
Waddle averaged an insane seven catches for 147 yards and 0.75 TDs per game in his first four games of the season before he injured his ankle. If we extrapolate this out for a healthy 13-game season Waddle would have outproduced DeVonta Smith in receiving yardage. Keep in mind that Smith got the lion’s share of Mac Jones’ targets after Waddle went down, so hypothetically we can argue that Waddle would have been the receiver to win the Heisman had he been healthy.
Rotoviz Celebrity Shot: We are going to assume that Waddle goes in the top-15 selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. Waddle’s closest comparison is former teammate Jerry Jeudy with a similarity score of 79 )out of 100).
Final Comparison: Jaylen Waddle is my “landing-spot resistant” wide receiver for the 2021 NFL Draft. In this I mean a bad landing spot such as the Ravens or Patriots would impact Waddle less than every other receiver in the draft. Santana Moss is a player that is the most similar to Jaylen Waddle.
4. Rondale Moore
Physical: Standing at 5’9” and 183 lbs. the Boilermaker is the most athletic receiver in a class of the most athletic receivers we’ve ever seen. With a BMI of 27.03, Moore is not the impending force physically that his tape shows. Moore has several very close comparisons but at this point none closer than T.Y. Hilton for whom Moore is practically a carbon copy.
Athletic: Moore may be the most athletic receiver in the NFL on the day he is drafted. Despite his size, Moore has alpha receiver traits. As a high schooler, Moore ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He also jumped 42” vertically. These two metrics are very similar to what Henry Ruggs III put up at the NFL Combine this year that landed him as the WR1 in the “deepest receiver class ever”.
Moore’s high school testing garnered a 133.62 SPARQ score, this score would be in the top 98th percentile in the NFL and take into effect that this was in 2017 as a 16-year old. Moore will likely add mass to his frame and enhance his testing numbers this year as he has elected to opt-out of the 2020 season. His athleticism was in the spotlight as Moore had one of the most impressive true freshman seasons ever.
Production: While Moore battled injury in his sophomore and junior seasons, he produced at an elite level when healthy. Moore is in rarified air when comparing his freshman season, age 18 breakout. He had a Power Five record of 1,471 scrimmage yards. He compares favorably to Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Stefon Diggs, and Mike Williams as a true freshman.
His advanced analytics profile also is very strong compared to these players. As a true freshman Rondale hit a top-four adjusted performance index among Power Five wide receivers since 2000. He also posted a 36% dominator rating, 2.46 yards per team pass attempt, and 2.94 adjusted yards per team play. While he only played in seven games over the past two seasons, he still produced elite statistics averaging nine catches and 93 yards per game.
Rotoviz Celebrity Shot: If Moore is draft in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft Moore’s closest comparison is Brandin Cooks with a similarity score of 88 (out of 100). If Moore falls to the second-round in the 2021 NFL Draft Moore’s closest comparison is DeSean Jackson with a similarity score of 86 (out of 100).
Final Comparison: Rondale Moore has a Brandin Cooks body type but he plays more like Steve Smith. He has athletic abilities similar to Tyreek Hill. Moore is essentially a Tyreek Hill who will go at defenders the same way Steve Smith did.
Be sure to check in as we unveil the top-three pass-catcher and who they compare similarly to as we count down to the NFL Draft Thursday.
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