It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.
Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.
On Tuesday, we continued to stack our vertical preseason draft board. Here are a few of the main talking points from the discussion that took place.
Bateman or Waddle?
Every year, the wide receiver position is hotly debated when it comes to the NFL draft. Whether it’s due to readily available highlight tapes, growing talent at the position, or even just the fantasy football component attached to the position, everyone debates who should rank where. One of these debates ended up transpiring in our own group today, specifically between Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman. Crabbs saw the two similarly, but noted he ranked Waddle higher. Interestingly enough, Reid was the opposite, explaining that Bateman’s relatively high-floor made him the more appealing prospect of the two.
“So I watched (Waddle) and Bateman but I actually liked Bateman better. I just think he’s a little more polished right now,” Reid explained. “He reminds me a little bit of Kenny Golladay coming out of Northern Illinois. He’s just so smooth. He plays slot, outside, and gives you everything you want. He’s a monster at the catch point and can run any route you want. He’s not super explosive after the catch, but prior to that point he gives you everything you want in a receiver.”
As for Waddle, Reid noted that the debate between the two is very close, explaining that ranking Bateman over him was very much a preference decision and not an actual indictment on the Alabama pass-catcher as a prospect.
“It comes down to what type of receiver you want,” Reid stated. “Waddle is a game-breaker. You don’t know when he’s going to show up, but when he does, he’s a firecracker. I just trust Bateman’s polish a little more (right now).”
Ford or Sterns?
After the Waddle vs. Bateman debate at wideout, a similar discussion took place at safety between Texas’ Caden Sterns and Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford. The staff was in more of a consensus on this one, though, as everyone seemingly agreed that Ford had a slight edge.
“I think Sterns is a little more safe in his approach and his frame is more filled out, but I just love Ford’s upside,” Reid explained. “Anytime you can get a guy who plays the game so urgent, I just like guys like that. I think he can get a bit out of control, but that’s his game. Sterns is a little more fluid and sees the field better, but it’s hard to gravitate against a player like Ford.”
Crabbs concurred with this sentiment, noting that Ford has “more fire in his belly” and offers more in terms of being a true impact player.
“Those intangible components make him a more attractive player,” Crabbs concluded.