Rookie Snapshot 2021: Where will the wild cards of the NFL draft land?

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Liz Loza
·10-min read
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Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

Size: 6-feet-tall and 208 pounds

Age: 21-years-old (6/11/1999)

Background: Born in Canada, Chuba (pronounced CHOO-buh) Hubbard grew up in a suburb of Edmonton. A world-class sprinter — who placed fourth overall in the 100-meter sprint at the 2015 (summer) IAAF World Youth Championships — his production at Bev Facey Community High School (6,880 yards and 82 touchdowns on 458 carries) attracted the attention of American scouts.

After receiving offers from 25 schools — from Alabama to Oregon — Hubbard committed to Oklahoma State. After two years in Stillwater, the red-shirt sophomore had his breakout. Carrying the ball 328 times for 2,094 yards and 21 rushing scores, Hubbard’s 2019 put him on the NFL’s radar, as he was a finalist for both the Doak Walker and Walter Payton Player of the Year Awards.

His 2020 effort, however, did not go as smoothly. Hubbard's opportunities and efficiency waned and after seven games, an ankle injury forced him to opt out of the remainder of the year.

Pros: Impressive first-cut; straight-line speed for days; solid vision.

Cons: Limited experience as a pass-catcher; struggles in pass-protection; coming off an ankle injury that forced him to end his 2020 effort prematurely.

The Big Picture: A one-cut wonder, Hubbard’s greatest strength is his ability to burn in the open field. He’s patient enough to wait for a hole and then, upon spotting it, get skinny and accelerate right through it. That’s a recipe for big plays, as evidenced by the nearly 50 runs over 10 yards that he managed in 2019.

What Hubbard doesn't offer, however, is versatility. His blocking technique needs improvement and his experience as a receiver is limited. With the exception of one seven-catch game (@ West Virginia), Hubbard averaged 1.3 catches per contest in 2019. His usage in the passing game declined even more in 2020, as he reeled in a total of 8 grabs.

Ultimately, Hubbard is great at a few things… but he’s not good at all of (or enough of) the things to constitute and an early draft pick or a workhorse role.

NFL Comp: (a *slightly* slower) Tevin Coleman

Fantasy Fit: Limited to a two-down role, Hubbard’s production will probably frustrate fantasy managers who are lured in by the home-run hitter. And with PPR becoming an increasingly regular part of the virtual game’s scoring system, it’s hard to chase the former Cowboy’s flash. In his first year, I’d anticipate Hubbard delivering more in DFS than redraft.

Demetric Felton, RB, UCLA

Size: 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds

Age: 22-years-old (7/16/1998)

Background: Born in Memphis but raised in SoCal, Felton’s athletic ability was clear early on. He excelled at baseball and track, but his heart was set on football.

Felton found his groove moving from WR to RB his junior year at Great Oak High School. Over his final two years with the Wolfpack, the teen recorded 2,624 rushing yards and 29 TDs on 327 carries as well as nine receiving scores. Earning a three-star designation from 247Sports, Felton received seven offers from a range of programs (including Michigan and Arizona State) but decided to stay local and committed to UCLA.

Used to toggling between positions, Felton reverted back to receiver upon arriving in Los Angeles. With only limited action via the slot, it wasn’t until 2019 — after, again, getting touches as a running back — that his playing time experienced a serious uptick. Recording 925 scrimmage yards and five total scores over 141 plays, Felton finished second in team rushing yards and receptions.

In 2020, with Josh Kelly in the Bolts backfield, Felton worked as the Bruins RB1. Albeit over an abbreviated season, the 22-year-old proved he could carry the load, tallying 132 totes (with two consecutive games at over 30 carries a piece) for 668 rushing yards and five ground scores over six contests (22 carries/gm). He additionally managed 22 grabs for 159 receiving yards and 3 TDs via the air.

Averaging the fourth-most rushing yards (111.3) and sixth most all-purpose yards (165.8) in the Pac-12, Felton received second-team All-Pac-12 honors. He followed that up with a solid Senior Bowl showing, scoring the first TD of the contest.

Pros: Change of direction; demonstrated growth and refinement as a route-runner; dynamic in space.

Cons: Slight build; lacks power.

The Big Picture: There’s nothing slight about Felton’s confidence. This is, after all, a kid who proclaimed, at the age of 7, that he was going to play in the NFL.

A true hybrid talent, Felton is never not sending it. With quick feet and twitchy hips, he can stop and start with ease, often leaving defenders praying for their ankles. Combining acceleration and agility, he excels as a runner who can bend the edge and/or a receiver who can rack up yards after the catch. While his elusiveness makes him an absolute chore to tackle, his size and play-strength aren’t enough to keep him from going down once corralled.

NFL Comp: Nyheim Hines

Fantasy Fit: As evidenced by his success in Chip Kelly’s system, Felton will be best utilized by a creative play-caller who employs an up-tempo offense with spread concepts. Assuming that happens, his potential dual-eligibility (thanks again, Ty Montgomery) would offer fantasy managers regular upside as a flex play.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Size: 6-feet-tall and 190 pounds

Age: 21-years-old (11/29/1999)

Background: Raised by his mother, LaShonda Cromer, Bateman grew up in southern Georgia. His love of football began in peewee leagues, but by the time he got to high school, his sights were set on the NFL.

Additionally lettering in basketball (like his mama did), Bateman was an undoubted star on the Tift County gridiron. As a senior he broke the Blue Devils’ single-season receiving record, reeling in 83 balls for 1,539 yards and 21 scores.

A four-star recruit, Bateman was the No. 29 ranked receiver in the 2018 class. He received offers from 24 schools (including Georgia and Ole Miss), but committed to P.J. Fleck the summer before his senior year and followed through.

Making an immediate impact as a true freshman, Bateman started all 13 games in his first effort at Minnesota. He broke the Gophers’ frosh records in receptions (51) and receiving yards (704) while also scoring six TDs.

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13)
Rashod Bateman became a star for the Golden Gophers. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In 2019, he again started all 13 games, upping his productivity. While he only recorded 9 more catches, he nearly doubled his yardage (1,219) and number of TDs (11). The Richter–Howard Receiver of the Year and a Biletnikoff Award finalist, Bateman moved into 2020 planning to further build on momentum.

But #2020 had other plans.

Asthmatic since childhood, the then-20-year-old contracted COVID-19 over the summer. After a trying battle with the virus, he decided to opt out of his junior season. But once the Big Ten reversed its decision to cancel the season, Bateman chose to return after all.

Just five games into the already-abbreviated season — in late November — a Covid outbreak hit the Gophers’ locker room. Fearful of getting sick again, the Minnesota wideout resolved to opt out for a second (and final) time.

Pros: Nuanced route-runner; elite hands; ace ball-tracker.

Cons: Lacks top-end speed; average strength.

The Big Picture: Bateman is a polarizing study. On tape, his double-moves and one-handed grabs can’t help but inspire optimism, even excitement. Yet, his measurables aren’t “elite.” Initially listed as 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Bateman came in at 6-feet and 190 pounds at Minnesota’s Pro Day. That difference in size has created some questions about the 21-year-old’s ability to win on the outside at the next level.

Still, his instincts and awareness — which consistently show up in his route running and ball skills — can’t be doubted. He may not be a physical marvel but he checks all the boxes. Regularly available to his quarterback, Bateman understands how to use technique to get open, find separation, and gain yards after the catch.

There’s a good chance he comes off the board on Day 1 (keep an eye on Chicago and Tennessee).

NFL Comp: Keenan Allen

Fantasy Fit: Baked into Bateman’s upside is his potential versatility. It’s likely that he’ll be successfully deployed via the slot while additionally winning on the outside. At the beginning of his career, however, it’s reasonable to expect he’ll offer more inside utility.

Could he be this year’s Justin Jefferson? Sure. Would I draft him with that expectation? Nope.

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Size: 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds

Age: 21-years-old (3/27/2000)

Background: To quote Moore, “Football is what I do.”

TBH, it’s been what he’s always done.

The South Florida native was a popular four-star recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, who Rivals ranked the No. 33 player in the state and the No. 34 WR in the nation. After receiving 33 offers (!!!), Moore initially committed to Georgia. In December of his senior year, however, he had a change of heart and — flim, flam, bim, bam — headed off to Oxford.

Appearing in 11 games (four as a starter) as a true freshman, Moore recorded a 36-398-2 stat line in 2018. The following year he started all 12 games and led the Rebels in receptions (67), yards (850), and touchdowns (6). Clearing 100 yards in four outings, Moore averaged 70.8 receiving yards per game (SEC WR9) and landed on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

He also paid homage to DK Metcalf in an interesting way during the 2019 Egg Bowl. But Rebels would prefer to keep that incident in the past and, instead, focus on 2020.

In an offense newly led by Lane Kiffin, Moore caught fire. Converting 86 of 101 looks for 1,193 yards and 8 TDs over just eight games, he led the country in receptions per game (10.8) and receiving yards per game (149.1). Moore ended his college career as the only receiver in Ole Miss history to go over 200 yards three times in a career, all of which came in 2020.

Pros: Dominates after the catch; 98th percentile agility (10.67); only two drops in 2020; fearless playmaker.

Cons: Lacks prototypical NFL size for the position, likely relegated to the slot; potential struggles versus press coverage at the next level.

The Big Picture: If the NFL becomes tiresome, Moore should call NASA, because all he does is navigate space.

Utilizing explosive quickness and sharp route technique, the former Rebel expertly (and regularly) creates separation. His ability to weave through traffic and elude defenders allows for massive gains after the catch. A threat to score whenever the ball is in his (ultra-reliable) hands, Moore is a scrappy slot stud with who offers added value as a returner.

NFL Comp: Tyler Lockett

Fantasy Fit: The main knock against Moore is that he doesn’t have the size to win on the outside. In fantasy, however, we’ve seen plenty of YAC monsters post gaudy numbers via the slot. Moore is a mini-monster over the middle. That fearlessness might get him hurt, but it could also inspire the right offensive mind to test his mettle on the perimeter.

Landing spot is, obviously, going to be key for Moore’s FF outlook. But with a skill set that Coach Kiffin compared to Steve Smith’s, I’d bet on the 21-year-old skimming his ceiling … even if it takes a minute.

Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF

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