The NFL Draft projects to have a big three at wide receiver, with Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle projected to be selected in the top 15 of the NFL Draft. While much of the attention is on the top of the position, there is a deep group of secondary options depending on team direction and fit. Using aggregated mock drafts in March and April from Grindingthemocks.com, there are key teams and players to watch as you prepare your dynasty teams before the NFL Draft.
The Baltimore Ravens ranked 29th in wide receiver yards per drop back and wide receiver receptions per drop back in 2020. This could be by design, as the Ravens only ranked 25th in wide receiver routes per drop back. But if the Ravens want to diversify their offense and maximize their upside, they will need wide receiver help.
Mock drafts have recognized the need for wide receiver help, with 33% mocking a wide receiver to Baltimore in the first round with Rashod Bateman (13%), Terrace Marshall (12%), and Kadarius Toney (5%) the most commonly mocked wide receivers. Marquise Brown saw 25% of the targets and the 7th highest percentage of air yards at the position in 2020. A selection of a wide receiver is a recognition Brown is not a true WR1, but is not likely to totally harpoon his role.
23.9% of mock drafts have the Bears selecting a wide receiver. With Allen Robinson on a one year franchise tag, the Bears reportedly shopping Anthony Miller, and Chicago’s interest in Kenny Golladay in free agency, it would not be surprising to see the Bears address the position. This may seem like a bad landing spot, but the wide receiver would have a clear opportunity to be the lead wide receiver in 2022. Bateman (11%) and Toney (6%) are the most commonly mocked wide receivers. Chicago could also be in a range to capitalize if Waddle or Smith fall in the draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals have needs on their offensive line, but the problems were more on the interior of the offensive line, than at tackle in 2020. The most common position mocked is offensive tackle followed by wide receiver (20%). The most commonly mocked player is Chase (18%) who would reunite with college quarterback Joe Burrow.
A Chase selection would cap the upside of Tee Higgins. Recent trades involving Higgins include:
- Higgins and 1.09 for 1.03 and 3.02 (Superflex)
- Higgins for James Robinson
- Higgins for Allen Robinson and a 2022 2nd round rookie pick
If the Bengals pass on wide receiver, they may instead target Kyle Pitts (8%) who could likewise cap the upside of Higgins.
The Detroit Lions present an open depth chart for a wide receiver with Jared Goff who has the ability to sustain wide receiver fantasy production. With Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams the incumbents, a wide receiver could see an open opportunity at 100+ rookie season targets.
66% of mock drafts project Detroit to select a wide receiver, amongst the highest positional rank outside the top 3 picks in the draft. Waddle (25%) and Smith (24%) are the highest likelihood selections and represent a floor for how far Chase (17%) falls in the NFL Draft.
Green Bay Packers
The draft community has projected Green Bay to select a wingman for Davante Adams for years only to see the Packers pass on the position. This year is no different, with wide receiver the most commonly mocked position for Green Bay (31.7%) with Toney (11%) and Rondale Moore (8%) the two most likely options.
Indianapolis is a team in transition. T.Y. Hilton has been re-signed to a one year deal and the Colts traded for Carson Wentz. The Colts have Michael Pittman Jr and Paris Campbell as recent day two picks to lean on at the position, with 11.5% of mock drafts projecting Indianapolis to select a wide receiver, with no specific wide receiver making the top five of the most mocked players.
Mock Drafts have wide receiver as the most likely selection. At 6th overall, the Dolphins have a good opportunity to take Chase or Kyle Pitts. Devante Parker is currently trading for a second round valuation which could be a good cash out opportunity given the likelihood Miami addresses the wide receiver position, along with the addition of Will Fuller V.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have revamped their offense signing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency, along with wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. The most commonly mocked position is quarterback (40%) with wide receiver the second most common (20.4%). Smith and Waddle are both mocked 7% of the time. Neither would have a big impact on the value of Agholor and Bourne who are both largely seen as ancillary dynasty options. Former first round pick N’Keal Harry has been disappointing to start his career, but presents a cash out opportunity before falling through the floor. Recent trades include
New Orleans Saints
Will the post-Drew Brees offense continue to function without a legitimate threat opposite Michael Thomas? Wide receiver is the most commonly mocked first round selection, with Toney (9.7%) and Moore (5.2%) the most commonly mocked wide receivers. A wide receiver selection is a recognition of the failed Tre’Quan Smith era than it is a threat to Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara. Either wide receiver is more of a space weapon than a true target hog that would tilt the axis of the offense away from Thomas and Kamara.
New York Giants
35.4% of mock drafts have the Giants selecting a wide receiver in the first round. This is a recognition Daniel Jones needs a supporting set of weapons before the Giants make a decision on a contract extension. Waddle (18%) and Smith (14%) are the leading contenders and could line up opposite of Kenny Golladay in a remade offense.
It is historically very uncommon for a team to invest a first round pick in the wide receiver position then select a wide receiver earlier the next season. The most commonly mocked position for the Eagles is wide receiver, but many of the mocks were completed before the Eagles traded down in the draft. Philadelphia has been the subject of trade up rumors, which may be necessary to land Waddle, Smith, or Chase, their three most commonly mocked wide receivers.
The loss of Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith in free agency has created a hole in the Tennessee passing game. 21% of mock drafts project a wide receiver, with Bateman (9%) the most commonly mocked wide receiver. Bateman would be doubling down on the run after the catch skills of A.J. Brown. With a need at EDGE, watch for Tennessee to be in the market at wide receiver in the second round if they pass in the first round.
Tee Higgins and Jalen Reagor are second year wide receivers on teams that are projected to be in the wide receiver market in the NFL Draft. With the potential risk ahead, exploring the market is advisable, particularly given the price of Higgins. Other situations, like Chicago, could be more delayed gratification landing spots that create value in rookie drafts.
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