9 wide receivers the Rams could target in the 2021 NFL draft
Somewhat surprisingly, the Los Angeles Rams have been eyeing a bunch of wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft despite already having Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson already on the roster. They’ve met with a handful of players, including some who could go as early as the second or third round.
They’re clearly looking for a speedy wideout or someone with good size and verticality to his game, bringing a different element compared to what the Rams’ other receivers already possess.
With the draft right around the corner, here are nine wide receivers the Rams could target at some point on Day 2 or 3.
D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
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Eskridge is squarely on the Rams’ radar as a potential second- or third-round pick after meeting with him pre-draft. He’s a blazing fast wideout who is also dangerous in the return game, though he is undersized at about 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds. In his college, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception and also had a kick return for a touchdown last season, scoring from just about everywhere on the field. His 4.39 speed would give the Rams another explosive playmaker and a dynamic return specialist capable of flipping the field.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
The Rams also met with Smith-Marsette and he’s another return specialist with good speed and decent size at 6-foot and 181 pounds. At Iowa, he caught 110 passes for 1,615 yards and 14 touchdowns. In the return game, he took back 53 kickoffs for 1,520 yards and two touchdowns. He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 37-inch vertical, showing the explosiveness he possesses. Smith-Marsette is the perfect Day 3 prospect for the Rams thanks to his speed and return ability. With some coaching, Smith-Marsette can become a well-rounded receiver capable of contributing as a WR4.
Anthony Schwartz, Auburn
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Schwartz might be the fastest player in the draft after running a 4.25 in the 40-yard dash at Auburn’s pro day. He did so at 6-foot and 186 pounds, too. But Schwartz is a raw receiver who needs to develop into more than just a speed demon. In college, he caught 117 passes but only turned them into 1,433 yards, a meager average of just 12.2 yards per catch. He doesn’t bring experience as a return specialist like some of the other receivers the Rams have looked at, but he’s someone Sean McVay could certainly find a role for in the first year or two.
Tutu Atwell, Louisville
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Atwell is tiny by NFL standards, standing just 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed. Atwell ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day and posted a 4.09 in the short shuttle, showcasing his downfield speed and short-area quickness. He was a legitimate home run threat in college, catching 140 passes for 2,307 yards (16.5 average) and 21 touchdowns. Atwell could be a mid-round target after meeting with the Rams in the pre-draft process, putting him on their radar as a potential pick at some point on Day 3.
Demetric Felton, UCLA
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Felton will be viewed as a running back by some and a wide receiver by many, bringing excellent versatility and playmaking ability to the NFL regardless of where he lines up. He rushed for 1,101 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 99 passes for 958 yards and another eight touchdowns in college, doing everything for UCLA. The Rams have met with him already so he’s a prospect they seem to like, though it’s not clear if they view him as a wideout or running back. McVay would find creative ways to get him involved, though, be it on handoffs, screen passes or in the return game, where he returned 26 kickoffs for 611 yards and a touchdown at UCLA.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
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Surratt isn't going to run by many defensive backs in the NFL after posting a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, but he has a big frame and can be a different type of downfield threat for the Rams. He’s 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds with 32 ¼-inch arms, allowing him to come down with jump balls when given the opportunity. Aside from Tyler Higbee, the Rams lack a big-bodied pass catcher. Surratt could fill that void as a Day 3 pick, even if he’s not the fastest wideout available. Prior to opting out in 2020, Surratt caught 107 passes for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns in only 22 games played the previous two years.
Simi Fehoko, Stanford
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Fehoko has an intriguing combination of size (6-foot-4, 222 pounds) and speed (4.42) that should get him drafted early on Day 3, potentially by the Rams. He doesn’t have much experience or production at the college level after starting just five games and playing 22 total at Stanford, catching a total of 62 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. Fehoko will need time to develop into a starting-caliber receiver, but he has the tools and measurables to eventually become a talented wideout who can play in the slot or line up outside.
Jaelon Darden, North Texas
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Darden is a jitterbug type of receiver at 5-foot-7 and 174 pounds with 4.44 speed and a 35.5-inch vertical. He caught a whopping 38 touchdown passes on 230 total receptions in college, totaling 2,782 yards receiving. So clearly, college production isn't a question for the wideout. He also has some experience in the return game, fielding 35 punts and returning them for 310 yards with one touchdown. Projected to be a mid-round pick, Darden could be a specialized weapon for McVay on offense and special teams thanks to his ability to make plays deep or turn a short pass into a big gain.
Nico Collins, Michigan
Wide receivers who are 6-foot-4 with 4.45 speed don’t grow on trees, which is why Collins could be a steal for whichever team drafts him. He opted out of the 2020 season but caught 75 passes for 1,361 yards and 13 touchdowns in his previous two seasons. He has the frame and leaping ability (37.5-inch vertical) to win jump balls, making him a different type of downfield threat for the Rams. Los Angeles could use a big-bodied receiver on the outside to complement Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but it remains to be seen if the front office would be willing to use a Day 2 pick on Collins because that’s where he’ll likely be taken.