Three wide receivers were selected within the first ten picks and five overall in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. How many will be selected in the top 10 and first round of the 2022 draft? And who will be the first receiver off the board?
First Wide Receiver Selected Odds
Garrett Wilson +110
Drake London +140
Jameson Williams +700
Treylon Burks +1000
Chris Olave +1400
Revisiting the 2021 NFL Draft
This isn’t quite the same as years where one or two pass catchers separate themselves from the rest of the field by being a cant-miss dynamic prospect.
There is no Ja’Marr Chase in this year’s draft. Chase was selected fifth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals a year ago and made an immediate impact on the field, helping lead the team to its first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. He was rewarded with NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors while setting the record for receiving yards by a rookie.
Chase was the brightest star of last year’s bunch, but he wasn’t the only standout. Alabama products Jaylen Waddle (sixth to the Miami Dolphins) and DeVonta Smith (10th to the Philadelphia Eagles) were also selected within the top ten. Both players were swift difference makers, with both receivers leading their respective teams in all three major statistical categories for the position: receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.
Wide receiver is a hot position in the league as teams move more and more toward a pass-first approach.
The importance of having talented pass catchers on the roster can be seen in the league’s average salary per position, where wideouts rank fourth among all position groups — a smidge behind edge rushers. It’s anticipated that teams likely value pass-catchers highly again in this year’s version of the draft.
While there’s no Chase on this year’s draft board, two players seem to have distanced themselves from the pack.
Former Buckeye Garrett Wilson (+110) has been trending in the direction of WR1 in this class for a while now and it’s reflected in his odds. It’s likely this gap between Wilson and the rest of the pack only widens as the draft approaches, so now’s probably the time to grab him if you fancy his chances at being the first WR off the board.
Drake London (+140) has also separated himself from the rest of his class. He’s a big-bodied former basketball player who will be a pain for opposing defensive backs in the red zone. That being said, he has question marks that Wilson doesn’t have.
There’s only one season of elite-level production on the former Trojan’s resume and he fractured his ankle in college a year ago.
Jameson Williams’ odds at +700 are intriguing, as he would likely challenge to be the first wideout off the board if fully healthy.
Williams transferred to Alabama from Ohio State last offseason and blossomed into arguably the sport’s brightest star at the position. He racked up 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to helping quarterback Bryce Young secure the Heisman Trophy.
That being said, he tore his ACL in the national championship and therefore the longshot odds are justified.
It’s not difficult to envision a team falling in love with Treylon Burks (+1000) because of his combination of size and athleticism.
He has an unusual body type for the position (6’2” and 225 lbs) and is a bonafide athletic freak. How many WRs out there can squat over 500 pounds, bench press 380 pounds, and still possess breakaway speed?
In 2021, Burks accumulated 66 receptions for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns despite suiting up for a run-first Razorbacks team playing against arguably the most difficult schedule in the entire country.
The buzz wore off Burks somewhat after he ran a verified 4.55 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, slower than was anticipated. For what it’s worth, Burks’s game speed appeared much faster on tape, as he routinely left SEC defensive backs in the dust.
Sure, some teams may be discouraged by his unusual body type and less-than-elite 40-time, but it only takes one club to fall in love — and boy, parts of Burks’s game are lovely.
Ohio State’s Chris Olave (+1400) is expected to be taken in the first round, but it’s highly unlikely he usurps his former teammate as the first WR selected. His odds seem justified.