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  • Late Round Rookie Wide Receivers With WR3 Potential

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    There were some tough landing spots for rookies in the 2021 Draft. There were also some unexpected picks who now have decent draft capital and can make an impact. Here are some rookie wide receivers to keep your eye on.


    The 2021 NFL Draft had some less than desired landing spots for rookie wide receivers and provided some questionable early draft picks. These picks were of wide receivers who many thought would go later, and as a result, are still dropping in rookie drafts regardless of draft capital.

    This could be huge in rookie drafts, allowing you to bulk up on other skill positions and not overpay for other rookies with lower potential snap shares. Let’s take a look at some of these undervalued rookie wide receivers who have solid draft capital.

    Dez Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans – Drafted 4th round, 109th overall – IDPGUYS ADP: 74.33 (WR22)

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    College Career Stats: 45 games, 154 receptions, 2,589 receiving yards, 16.8 yards per reception, 21 touchdowns. 

    Dez Fitzpatrick does not garner some of the draft capital that some of the rookie wide receivers I will mention do, but he has great potential return. Fitzpatrick never lit the world on fire in college, having never posted more than 45 receptions or more than 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

    Many people thought that this pick was a reach, considering Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tylan Wallace, and Seth Williams were all still available. Landing in Tennessee gives him some great potential return, though.

    What Makes This Rookie Wide Receiver Intriguing

    Fitzpatrick is a good route runner, though not the most athletic wide receiver. He is very technical in his route running and uses head feints and footwork to keep defensive backs off balance. Fitzpatrick uses his footwork to create a great release at the line, which could bode well in the red zone, as you can see here:

    The situation that Fitzpatrick falls into is amazing, based on the Titans depth chart. A.J. Brown is an absolute stud and is easily the team’s WR1. In addition to Brown, the Titans signed free agent wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who will likely be their slot presence. Reynolds has shown signs of potential throughout his career, though he has yet to really take off.

    Beyond that, the Titans are pretty barren at wide receiver, and Fitzpatrick could easily be the Titans’ starting outside receiver opposite of A.J. Brown. Corey Davis manned this position in 2020 and produced 65 receptions for 984 yards and 5 touchdowns. With the possibility of being an every-down wide receiver, Fitzpatrick is definitely worth an add late in your rookie drafts.

    Josh Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers –  Drafted 3rd round, 77th overall – IDPGUYS ADP: 51 (WR15)

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    College Career Stats: 42 games, 99 receptions, 1,514 receiving yards, 15.3 yards per reception, 7 touchdowns.

    Josh Palmer, to say the least, had an uninspiring collegiate career — he never exceeded 34 receptions or 484 receiving yards. This was not all his fault, though. Palmer was stuck as the WR3 on the Volunteers’ squad behind Jajuan Jennings and Marquez Callaway.

    Palmer was expected to break out in 2020, though the quarterback play at Tennessee was less than stellar. This pick was also considered a reach, considering Nico Collins and Dyami Brown were still on the board.

    What Makes This Rookie Wide Receiver Intriguing

    Palmer is a highlight reel waiting to happen on the football field. He has great length, athleticism, and ball skills, which make him a nice fit for the high-flying Chargers’ offense. Outside of Keenan Allen, the Chargers have had inconsistent play from its wide receiver position.

    Mike Williams has never seemed to truly live up to his first-round draft capital, even though he has been quietly productive. He is also in the final year of his rookie contract and has been productive enough to garner a pay increase. Palmer fits the bill of the exact profile receiver that Williams is. Palmer is explosive off the line and has good ball tracking, as you see here:

    The Chargers’ offense is explosive with Justin Herbert at the helm. Palmer will likely come in and compete for the WR3 position on the Chargers team, which instantly garners potential for production. Palmer is starting to pick up steam in rookie drafts. Though he is still looked over, you should draft him everywhere that you can, in the fourth round or later in rookie drafts.

    Tutu Atwell, Los Angeles Rams – Drafted 2nd round, 57th overall – IDPGUYS ADP 68.33 (WR19)

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    College Career Stats: 32 games, 139 receptions, 2,303 receiving yards, 16.6 yards per reception, and 20 touchdowns.

    Tutu Atwell’s limitations are evident, just by looking at him. He is paper-thin for the NFL, checking in at 155 lbs and stands at 5’9.” Atwell has a very tough time in contested catch situations and catching the ball over the middle of the field. Because of this, he is not a true slot receiver and has issues against stronger corners on the outside. Atwell possesses blazing speed and the ability to take the top off of the defense.

    What Makes This Rookie Wide Receiver Intriguing

    I mentioned above that Tutu Atwell has blazing speed, is a gadget player, and he can be explosive and take some quick hitters to the house, like in this clip here:

    That video shows one way Atwell can be used in the Rams’ offense, but I see him being used to exploit defenses deep. The Rams went and traded “noodle arm” Jared Goff for gun-slinging Matt Stafford. Stafford, over the years, has shown to be one of the better deep passers in the NFL.

    Atwell can blow by most defensive backs, given he gets a clean release and has very good ball tracking abilities. Add in the fact that he has second-round draft capital, and the Rams seem to have plans for him. I am comfortable taking Atwell any time in the mid to late fourth round or later, in my rookie drafts.

    Anthony Schwartz, Cleveland Browns – Drafted 3rd round, 91st overall – IDPGUYS ADP: 68 (WR18)

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    College Career Stats: 33 games, 117 receptions, 1,433 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns, 42 rushing attempts, 323 rushing yards, 7.7 yards per attempt, 7 rushing touchdowns.

    Anthony Schwartz is another guy who can truly take the top off of a defense. He recorded the fastest 40 time of any prospect in the 2021 Draft, posting a 4.25 40-yard dash. Schwartz was never a show-cased receiver in the Auburn offense and was never used to his strengths. He was mostly used as an underneath receiver in the intermediate game, when he should have been used as a deep threat.

    What Makes This Rookie Wide Receiver Intriguing

    Schwartz offers a dynamic to the Browns’ offense that they have been lacking, and that is a legitimate deep threat. The Browns roster; Jarvis Landry,  a premier slot receiver, one of the best in the game; Odell Beckham Jr. who is electric, when healthy;  and now Schwartz, who will keep defenses honest. Schwartz also adds in some rushing experience with 42 career rushing attempts. The Browns can use Schwartz in jet sweeps to get the most use out of Schwartz’s speed, like in this clip:

    The Browns will likely deploy Schwartz with the starting lineup due to his ability to stretch the field, added to his third-round draft capital. He is being drafted incredibly late in many rookie drafts or is being undrafted altogether. He is worth a late pick with the ability to have a WR3/4 season.

    Summary

    With rookie drafts already underway, people are reaching for talented wide receivers in poor landing spots. There are plenty of less touted rookie wide receivers who landed in better spots, ones that you can draft later in rookie drafts. All four of these receivers have fourth-round draft capital or better and are being looked over in rookie drafts. Make sure you grab one of these guys with one of your late-round picks.


    Check out all of my IDP, Devy, and Offensive work at idpguys.org. Be sure that you pre-order our rookie draft magazines which we load with fantastic player profiles and landing spot analysis.

    Joseph Haggan

    I am the content manager for IDPGUYS and Co-Host of the IDP Lounge. Creator or the top IDP scoring/rankings tool. Aspiring prospect scout.
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