A Look at Speed in the 2021 NFL Draft

Mississippi wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) drives into the end zone for a touchdown past Vanderbilt during the second quarter at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Nas Vandy Olemiss 028

In any sport which involves running, speed is a great weapon. That’s true of the Wide Receiver position in football. It’s not the be-all and end-all, route running and catching the ball is pretty important. Being really fast doesn’t make you a great receiver, but it does make you a weapon that a coach can use. So who are the speedsters in this year’s draft? The top 5 40 yard dash times are as follows.

  1. Anthony Schwartz, Auburn, 4.27s
  2. Rondale Moore, Purdue, 4.32s
  3. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU, 4.34s
  4. Elijah Moore, Mississippi, 4.35s
  5. Kadarius Toney, Florida, 4.38s

The players in position 2 to 5 are no secret to anyone, they’re players projected to be selected in the 1st or 2nd round. The player that most interests me is former track athlete Anthony Schwartz, the man with the fastest time this year. A very impressive 4.27 seconds. He’s a good size at 6’1 and 175 lbs and has shown sufficient ability and toughness to show he’s not just a fast track guy. He’s projected to go in the 5th round by most. With a time like that an explosive playmaker, who posses a “home run threat” before and after that catch.

 If he’s there in the 4th I’d love my team (Vikings) to take him with one of their four 4th rounders. He’s a player worth taking a chance on. Of course, fast 40 times arent a guarantee for success. The record holder for the fastest time is John Ross with 4.22s, and his career hasn’t exactly taken off. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, with the 9th overall pick. It has been a story of one injury after another. When he has been healthy he has played 27 games (20 starts) and has 51 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s the type of effective weapon top-end speed can give you.

Fast Receivers Through the Rounds

For the team’s looking for a Reciever with speed, there are several options through the different rounds. At the top of the draft Rashod Bateman, Minnesota (4.43s) and, Terrace Marshall Jnr, LSU (4.40s) are the obvious ones. For teams who want the more well-rounded Receiver. That they expect to be a top guy.

 For team’s that don’t want to spend a top pick on a Reciever, but it is a priority on day 2. Dyami Brown, North Carolina (4.46s) and Nico Collins, Michigan (4.45s) are next in line. Those 40 times are a bit slower, but these are still dynamic players, especially Brown. His college stats are impressive, with back to back 1000 yard seasons, averaging 20 yards per reception, and scoring 20 touchdowns. Collins is a little more unproven after opting out last season, and being in a Michigan offense that didn’t utilise his skills to full potential. So will likely take more time to reach his potential.

The Middle Rounds

In the mid-rounds Chatarius Atwell, Louisville (4.39s) is a player all about speed. The diminutive Receivers other skills are inconsistent and underdeveloped, but his sheer speed will give teams something to work with. Another option would be the bigger physical presence of Simi Fehoko, Stanford (4.44s). To compare, Atwell is 5’9 and 153 lbs, whilst Fehoko is 6’4 and 227 lbs. Two very different specimens, depending on what teams are looking for. I think Fehoko offers more to a team, but I can see the attraction of Atwell to a good offensive mind. That would draw up specific plays for him.

The Late Rounds

Finally, for the teams who have filled all their needs, and want to take a 7th round flyer. There are a couple of names that stick out to me. Jacob Harris, UCF (4.39s) has an impressive 40 time. At 6’5 and 219 lbs, and also a possibility to play Tight End. The phrase matchup nightmare comes to mind and will garner interest from NFL teams. Which may see him taken higher than the 7th round in the end.

The last player I have for you is Racey McMath, LSU (4.39s) with a name like that he was born to be fast. McMath has all the tools to be an NFL receiver but has spent his time down the depth chart in a stacked LSU Receivers room. Hopes for a breakout season in 2020 never fully materialised. He would still be a worthwhile development project, who impressed in college on special teams. I hope he makes it just for the fantastic name!

If, like me, you are hoping your team is looking to add a bit of speed to the offense, hopefully, I’ve given you some interesting names to keep an eye out for this coming weekend.