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NFL Draft prospects 2021: The top 10 wide receivers, ranked from Ja’Marr Chase to Elijah Moore

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NFL Draft prospects 2021: The top 10 wide receivers, ranked from Ja'Marr Chase to Elijah Moore

Rookie wide receivers seem to be making bigger impacts in the NFL, and that trend should continue with the talented crop of WR prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. What makes this year’s top receivers so intriguing is several either didn’t play (Ja’Marr Chase) or played limited games due to injuries or opt-outs in 2020 (Jaylen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashod Bateman). This could lead to some surprises as early as the first round, with sleepers being available as late as the third. 

Eight wide receivers went in the first 34 picks of the 2020 draft, and it’s likely this will remain a coveted position in 2021. There might not quite as many wideouts selected as early this year, but with three top-15 studs and several more pass-catchers with first-round talent, you can bet these elite athletes will tempt plenty of teams.

With that in mind, Sporting News takes a closer look at our top-10 WRs for the 2021 NFL Draft.

MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board

Getty Images

NFL Draft 2021 wide receiver rankings

1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Chase opted out of the 2020 season, but he left no doubt about his abilities in ’19 when he caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 TDs. Chase isn’t a monster specimen (a little over 6-feet, 201 pounds), but he’s an elite athlete who can run every route and make every catch. He dazzled at his pro day with a 4.38 40-yard dash, 41-inch vertical jump, and 11-foot broad jump. He’s a sure-fire top-10 pick who has “instant star” written all over him. 

2. DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was particularly electric in the postseason, catching 34 passes for 529 yards and eight TDs in the SEC Championship game and two College Football Playoff games. His 12-catch, 215-yard, three-TD performance against Ohio State is all the more impressive when you factor in that he barely played in the second half because of a finger injury. There’s no denying Smith’s all-around talent and ability as a receiver, but some have expressed concern over his slight frame (6-0, 170 pounds). Durability and the ability to get open against more physical corners in the NFL are worries, but given Smith’s speed and route-running skills, he figures to be a top-15 pick with as much upside as any receiver in this draft.

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(Getty Images)

3. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

An ankle injury ended Waddle’s regular season after just four games, but he managed to return for the National Championship. The speedster was putting up massive numbers before his injury (25 catches, 557 yards, three TDs). Waddle reportedly ran a 4.37 40-yard dash in high school, so even though he doesn’t have great size (5-10, 180 pounds), he can fly past defensive backs, similar to former teammate and ’19 first-round pick, Henry Ruggs III. Some like Waddle over Smith, while others have him a little lower. Either way, he figures to be a top-15 pick. He could be inconsistent (like Ruggs) early in his career, but the potential is there for big numbers. 

4. Kadarius Toney, Florida

Toney was used all over the field last season, catching 70 passes for 984 yards and 10 TDs and adding another 161 yards and a score on 19 carries. He also returned both kicks and punts, where he averaged 22.1 yards per kickoff return and 12.6 yards per punt return. Toney is the type of all-around athlete NFL teams love, so despite measuring at just under 6-feet and 193 pounds, Toney seems like a no-doubt first-round pick. His 4.39 40 time only adds to his upside. 

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(Getty Images)

5. Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

Marshall opted out late in the 2020 season and wound up playing just seven games, but he averaged over 100 yards per contest and hauled in 10 touchdowns. The nearly 6-3, 205-pound receiver has good size and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), and he had no problem working in a complementary role in ’19 (671 yards, 13 TDs) or a featured role in ’20. Marshall likely has first-round talent, but he could fall to the second round and be a real steal for whoever gets him. Either way, he profiles as a relatively “safe,” productive pick.

6. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Bateman played just five games in 2020 before opting out, and while his performance wasn’t quite as good as his breakout ’19, he still averaged over seven catches and 94.4 yards per game. Bateman’s pro day wasn’t overly impressive, save for his 4.39 40-yard dash time. That alone puts him in the second-round discussion. With adequate size (just over 6-feet, 190 pounds), solid route-running ability, and dependable hands, Bateman will likely go in the second or early third round, and he has plenty of upside if he lands with the right team.

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(Getty Images)

7. Rondale Moore, Purdue

Moore is one of the most interesting WR prospects in this year’s draft class. He starred as a freshman, catching 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs in addition to running 21 times for 213 yards and two TDs, but a leg injury in 2019 and knee/hamstring injuries in ’20 limited him to just seven games as a sophomore and junior (64 receptions, 657 yards, two TDs; nine rushes, 35 yards, TD). Moore is also relatively diminutive for a wide receiver at 5-7, 180 pounds, but he reportedly ran a blazing 4.29 40 and had a 42.5-inch vertical. Put it all together and you have an undersized, injury-prone, elite athlete who can run, catch, and return kicks. What’s that worth in the draft? Second-round pick? Third-round? It’s hard to say, but chances are someone will pull the trigger on Moore early and bank on being able to keep him healthy and utilizing him in creative ways.

8. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC

St. Brown had an up-and-down career at USC, never quite breaking out as expected but always providing solid, steady production. He set a career high with seven TDs last season despite playing just six games, but his yards per catch was a career-low 11.7. At nearly 6-feet, 197 pounds, St. Brown’s size doesn’t stand out, and his 4.51 40 time is pretty average. However, he has good hands when locked in and impressive strength, and his overall potential should see him drafted in the first three rounds.

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(Getty Images)

9. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State

Wallace broke out as a sophomore at Oklahoma State (86 catches, 1,491 yards, 12 TDs) and continued to post solid numbers despite tearing his ACL in 2019, catching 112 passes for 1,825 yards and 14 scores in 19 games over his final two seasons. At 5-11, 193 pounds, Wallace lacks elite size, but he reportedly ran a 4.39 40-yard dash during a pro day for his training company. That speed, coupled with his consistent production, should help Wallace land in the second or third round, where he’ll likely be a part-time player this year but show glimpses of major upside.

10. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

Moore was dominant during his eight-game junior season at Ole Miss, catching 86 passes for 1,193 yards and eight TDs. If that wasn’t enough reason to be intrigued by him, he also ran a 4.32 40-yard dash and a 6.65 three-cone shuttle, which is the fastest of any wide receiver since 2018. Clearly, the speed and quickness is elite, but Moore’s size (5-9, 178 pounds) could be an issue. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name called in the second round, and he’s the type of player who could star in a multi-faceted role if he’s selected by the right team. 

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UFC 262 PPV price: How much does it cost to watch Oliveira vs. Chandler?

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UFC 262 date, start time, odds, PPV schedule & card for Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler

The UFC lightweight title is up for grabs Saturday night.

The belt, which was vacated after the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov, is on the line as No. 3-ranked Charles Oliveira and No. 4 ranked Michael Chandler at UFC 262.

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 262 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

Chandler is just in his second bout under the UFC banner after spending the majority of his in-ring career with Bellator. His last bout, a first-round TKO over Dan Hooker at UFC 257 in January, earned him Performance of the Night honors.

Oliveira, the UFC vet, is looking to strap on gold for the first time in his MMA career, and it couldn’t have come at a better time: Oliveira enters this weekend’s fight red hot, riding an eight-fight win streak, whether by knockout or tap-out.

The lightweight belt will find a new waist this Saturday night. Here’s what you need to know.

UFC 262 price: How much does Oliveira vs. Chandler cost?

The main card for UFC 262 is available in the U.S. on the ESPN+ subscription service for $69.99 or $89.99. That portion of the event begins at about 10 p.m. ET.

Earlier fights on the undercard are viewable live on ESPN, ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.

  • Current yearly subscribers can get UFC for $69.99.
  • Current monthly subscribers can get UFC 262 and an upgraded bundle at a discounted rate of $84.99. They can also purchase the event itself for $69.99.
  • New subscribers can get UFC 262 and a yearly subscription for $89.98, which is a savings of more than 30 percent.

Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.

What channel is UFC 262 on?

  • Early prelims: UFC Fight Pass
  • Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+
  • Main card: ESPN+ (pay-per-view)

Fans will be able to watch the main card of UFC 262 only on ESPN+ PPV with an ESPN+ subscription.

The night is split into three events, per usual: The early preliminaries on UFC Fight Pass, the prelims on ESPN/ESPN+ and the main card on ESPN+ PPV.

What time does Oliveira vs. Chandler start?

  • Early prelims: 6 p.m. ET
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET

The night gets underway at 6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass, with the show switching over to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET for the prelims. 

The main card gets underway at 10 p.m. ET, with the fighters expected to make their ring walks around midnight ET, depending on the length of undercard fights.

UFC 262 fight card

Early prelims

  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira, women’s flyweights
  • Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz, featherweights
  • Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano, lightweights

Prelims

  • ​Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy, featherweights
  • Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko, women’s flyweights
  • Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett, middleweight
  • Ronaldo Souza vs. André Muniz, middleweights

Main card

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for vacant UFC lightweight championship
  • Matt Schnell vs. Rogério Bontorin, bantamweights
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush, lightweights
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araújo, women’s flyweights
  • Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza, featherweights

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Marlins’ Jesus Aguilar quite literally tries to steal signs from D-backs’ Carson Kelly

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Marlins' Jesus Aguilar quite literally tries to steal signs from D-backs' Carson Kelly

Caught red-handed.

We know that batters can sometimes take a peek at catcher’s signs to try to get as much information as they can. It’s just part of baseball, after all. But Jesús Aguilar took it to the next level Thursday.

With Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly reaching first base, Aguilar decided to take a peak at the catcher’s signs — by lifting up Kelly’s wrist cheat-sheet.

MORE: Padres fan starts brawl after knocking out Rockies fan

Kelly responds with an incredulous, “What are you doing, man?”

Kelly’s disapproval to Aguilar taking a peek results in a hilarious reaction from Aguilar, looking like a kid who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar before breakfast.

Aguilar is one of baseball’s more fun personalities, so there’s nothing to read into here. But it’s not the first time that Aguilar has tried to steal signs. About a month ago, Aguilar stole an index card straight out of Dom Smith’s back pocket during a game against the Mets — presumably a defensive positioning card that players carry with them on the field.

The Marlins would go on to win the game 5-1.

If Aguilar keeps this up, he might be able to score a role in an “Ocean’s 11” reboot. 

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NASCAR lineup at Dover: Starting order, pole for Sunday’s race without qualifying

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NASCAR lineup at Dover: Starting order, pole for Sunday's race without qualifying

The starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway was set by applying the statistical formula NASCAR is using for the majority of the series’ races in 2021.

Drivers’ starting positions for the Drydene 400 (2 p.m. ET; FS1, TSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) were based on four factors:

  • Driver’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Team owner points ranking (35 percent)
  • Fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent)

NASCAR is conducting qualifying and practice for just eight Cup Series races in the 2021 season. The next qualifying session will take place prior to the May 23 event at Circuit of the Americas, a road course outside Austin, Texas.

Below is the starting lineup, which was set without qualifying, for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race on Dover’s 1-mile oval.

MORE: Watch Sunday’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (free 7-day trial)

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Dover?

Martin Truex Jr. was tabbed to lead the field to green for the Drydene 400 based on the mathematical formula. Truex is coming off his third win of the season, a dominating performance at Darlington last Sunday. He is the only driver to win more than once in the Cup Series in 2021.

Truex also gained the No. 1 pit stall, which is a valuable piece of real estate at Dover because track position is highly important on the Monster Mile.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is second in the series point standings to teammate Denny Hamlin, who will start in the second position Sunday. William Byron, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher received the other top-10 lineup spots.

NASCAR starting lineup at Dover

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway, the Drydene 400, without qualifying.

Start pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
2 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
4 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
6 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
7 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
8 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
9 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
10 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
11 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
12 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
13 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
14 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
15 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
16 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
17 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
18 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
19 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
20 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
21 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
22 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
23 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
24 Daniel Suarez 99 Trackhouse Racing Team
25 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
26 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
27 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
28 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
29 Justin Haley 77 Spire Motorsports
30 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
31 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
32 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
33 James Davison 15 Rick Ware Racing
34 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
35 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing
36 Garrett Smithley 53 Rick Ware Racing
37 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing

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