Five NFL WR's Poised To Take Their Game To The Next Level In 2021
The 2021 NFL season is less than 100 days away, and we are in the midst of full projection season. As we continue to finish our preseason statistical projections, we wanted to throw out a post covering five players to watch out for in 2021. The analysis parameters will include several factors such as statistical projections, recent year stats, current team situation, 2021 player grade projection. In some instances, we use additional outside data or scouting reports to support the analysis. Check out our preseason NFL guide. (Note) Our analysis will exclude highly projected players that missed all of or a high percentage of 2020 due to injury or other circumstances. Players such as Saquon Barkley and CMC are excluded from this list because obvious is obvious (They are elite when healthy). Check out the player and team grade dashboard (Beta). (#1). WR A.J. Brown Tennessee Titans Rec Grade: TIER 1 Level 2 Good 2021 Stat Projections: 138 Tgt, 1236 yds, 9 TD's A.J. Brown is a player on the rise in 2021. In 2020, he amassed nearly 1100 yards on 70 receptions. He tied for 10th in the NFL in yards per target with 10.1. Brown is the definition of yards after the catch savant who averaged 6.1 yards after the catch in 2020, ranking 6th among WR's with at least 50 targets. His ability to be physically dominant against DB's in the NFL in his first two seasons gives us reason to believe he will only continue to ascend. (Analysis prior to Julio Jones Trade). (#2). WR D.K. Metcalf Seattle Seahawks Rec Grade: TIER 1 Level 2 Near Elite 2021 Stat Projections: 131 Tgt, 1225, 8TD's Climbing up the charts like a BillBoard top 100 single, Metcalf has all of the potential to enter the elite level in 2021. His 1300 yards receiving ranked 7th in the NFL in 2020. Among WR's with at least 100 targets, Metcalf ranked 2nd to Calvin Ridley in average depth of target (13.7). Metcalf is a physical player with incredible deep-ball ability. The areas where Metcalf needs to improve, route running at the short and intermediate levels and limiting drops; once he improves in both, he will undoubtedly leap into the elite status. (#3). WR Terry McLaurin Washington Football Team Rec Grade: TIER 1, Level 2, Near Elite 2021 Stat Projections: 146 Tgt, 1110 Yds, 7 TD's McLaurin is possibly the most technically sound young WR in the NFL. A good route runner who can get consistent separation and who boasts 4.3 speed. McLaurin posted 1100 yards in 2020 while working with sub-par QB play. His ceiling is absolutely in the elite tier, and he has an opportunity to prove that with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fold in 2021. The area where McLaurin will likely see an increase in 2021 will be his average depth of target. His ADOT dropped from 2019 (14.0) to 2020 (9.7). (#4). WR Chris Godwin Tampa Bay Bucs Rec Grade: TIER 1 Level 3 Above Average 2021 Stat Projections: Chris Godwin entered the 2020 season as a player who had elite-level WR written all over him with Tom Brady as his QB. He did not hit the elite level overall but did show why we believe he can reach the elite level of tier one. His route running ability is high-level, and his slot prowess is exactly what Tom Brady needs. Godwin still managed to post 800+ yards on 84 targets while playing in only 12 games. If he can stay healthy in 2021, he will likely be Tom Brady's favorite target. (#5) WR Jerry Jeudy Denver Broncos Rec Grade: Tier 2, level 1, Average 2021 Stat Projections: 108 Tgt, 915 Yds, 6 TD's Jerry Jeudy battled through drops and inconsistent QB play as a rookie in 2020, but he did show flashes of brilliance. His ability as a high-level route runner and finding holes in coverage are the two strengths that we believe Jeudy will continue to build on. Assuming that Denver continues forward with Drew Lock or Teddy B in 2021, Jeudy will play a masterful role in the success of either player, but let's also consider the trade rumors of Aaron Rodgers to Denver. Jeudy managed only 52 catches on 113 targets in 2020. Juedy vowed this offseason to improve his concentration to decrease his total drop rate. If he can do that, he will have the opportunity to enter into the tier one, level three range of WR's in 2021, with a ceiling that can soon reach tier one elite.