2021 NFL Draft: Teams that should consider wide receiver early

2021 NFL Draft prospects DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospects DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Ja'Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr., 2021 NFL Draft
2021 NFL Draft prospects Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

NFL Free Agency has begun and most of the top free agents are off the board. For the next couple of weeks, teams will look at what they have on their rosters and evaluate their needs and what they can improve on via the 2021 NFL Draft. One of the most important parts of evaluating addressing a need during the draft is figuring out where they could get the optimal value. If a need has a need at a position with a lot of depth throughout the draft it may be in their best interest to address a different need earlier and address that original need with their next selection.

At this point of the offseason, teams need to figure out if they can get the most value out of a veteran free agent that is still available or from a rookie from the draft. The factors that are considered in that decision are the available free agents on the market and players that could be gotten with the draft pick the teams have. Also, teams should consider their window for winning. Teams trying to win now should go with a veteran versus a team trying to rebuild their roster should take a rookie in the draft and develop him.

The wide receiver position has been interesting in recent years because of the influx of high-end talent of the position into the league during that time. For the most part, expensive wide receivers won’t get signed until a couple of days into free agency. This is because there are other positions that teams would rather spend their available salary cap on first before addressing that position.

For example, this offseason the only major wide receivers that agreed to a deal during the tampering period were Nelson Agholor and Corey Davis. Premier free agent wide receivers Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Kenny Golladay didn’t sign contracts until days later.

Some teams would rather wait out and potentially miss signing a wide receiver in the free-agent market because it is easy to find a star receiver later in the draft. Terry McLaurin, Stefon Diggs, Tyler Lockett, Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Godwin are a couple of star-wide receivers that were drafted in the third round or later.

Even in the draft, teams are starting to select wide receivers later in the first round. The top three wide receivers in the 2020 draft class Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III were all considered top-10 prospects by analysts who cover the draft. But on draft night Ruggs fell to the Raiders at pick #12, Jeudy went to the Broncos at pick #15, and CeeDee Lamb came off the board at pick #17 to the Dallas Cowboys.

The free-agent market for wide receivers has dried up quickly as the best receivers available include Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, and Sammy Watkins. All are very talented but realistically they could all be seen as a team’s second or possibly third option in a passing attack at this point of their careers.

So the teams with major voids at wide receiver may want to turn to the draft in order to fill their need at the position instead of signing a veteran. This year’s class of wide receivers has a case to potentially be greater than last year’s outstanding crop of receivers that came out of the draft. There is a crazy amount of depth at wide receiver in the 2021 draft class. Multiple teams can fill the void they have at the position in any of the early rounds of the draft. Here are the teams that should add another pass-catcher to their receiving core through the 2021 NFL Draft.