The 2020 NFL Draft was billed as one of the best in a very long time for wide receiver prospects. However, the 2021 NFL Draft has a couple of stud receivers at the top of its own.
DeVonta Smith vs Ja’Marr Chase comparison
The two best wide receiver draft prospects in the upcoming draft are Ja’Marr Chase from LSU and DeVonta Smith from Alabama. It seems like the Smith vs Chase debate has been heating up as we get closer to the draft.
Let’s take a closer look at each of their resumes as they embark on their professional careers, and decide which one projects to be the better prospect.
DeVonta Smith Draft analysis
It’s hard to find players with better resumes in college football history than DeVonta Smith.
The following players have accepted invitations to attend the draft in Cleveland: Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Ja'Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, Kyle Pitts, Christian Barmore, Gregory Rousseau, Micah Parsons, Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain.
This is the 'first group' to accept, per @NFL345.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 7, 2021
He became the first non quarterback to win the Hesiman Trophy since 2015, and had about as special of a season as any receiver could have. He scored an outrageous 23 touchdowns last season through the air, which is fifth all time in college football history. Smith also tallied an absurd 1,856 yards receiving in just 13 games.
On some of his touchdown catches, Smith displayed some excellent footwork around the boundaries, getting the required one foot down in the college game to secure the catch. That body control will translate into the NFL.
Despite coming down with some athletic catches, Smith is not that large in stature. He’s 6’1” and 175 pounds, which isn’t that imposing for an NFL wide receiver.
He did welcome contact in the SEC though, and was pretty durable in college, having played all 13 games in 3 straight years. However, if Smith continues to seek out collisions in the NFL, there’s a chance he might not be around too long. He will need to be smart with his aggressiveness, and learn that sometimes running out of bounds is the sensible play.
Ja’Marr Chase Draft analysis
When last seen on the field, Ja’Marr Chase was busy eviscerating the Clemson Tigers in the college football national championship game.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) March 31, 2021
He scored two touchdowns, and had 221 yards receiving in the biggest game of his collegiate career. Chase did not shrink from the immense spotlight on him and the LSU offense, which bodes well for his ability to be a big game player in the NFL.
While his numbers fell short of Smith’s 2020 campaign, Chase had an incredible 2019 season, scoring 20 touchdowns and racking up 1,780 yards through the air. He’s also more compact than Smith, weighing in at 208 pounds, which bodes well for taking the pounding of an NFL season.
When Chase was last seen on the field, it was January 13th, 2020. The supremely talented wide receiver decided to opt out of the 2020-2021 college football season to prepare for the NFL Draft, so we haven’t seen him play in a while.
Additionally, while Chase tore up the competition in 2019, he was just ok in limited playing time in 2018. It begs the question: was his remarkable 2019 season largely due to the other worldly play of QB Joe Burrow, or did he have just as big a hand in making last year’s number one overall draft pick look good? We’ll certainly find out the answer to that question in the NFL.
DeVonta Smith vs Ja’Marr Chase: Verdict
While Ja’Marr Chase is an impressive physical specimen who figures to impress at the next level, DeVonta Smith’s overall body of work so far on the field is difficult to ignore.
He’s been a top notch contributor to a few Alabama teams regardless of who the quarterback has been.
His game breaking ability and speed once the ball is in his hands is something defensive coordinators will lose sleep trying to game plan against. While Smith’s long term durability is a legitimate concern, he seems like more of a guarantee to be a dangerous player from his first snap in the league.
Chase’s outlook might vary based on how well he clicks with his new quarterback, and how quickly he can acclimate back to game speed.