Yesterday I took a brief look at the tendency of heralded rookie wide receivers to fall short of expectations. Despite expectations and hopes, a good chunk of the rookie receivers putting up big numbers are players who weren’t as coveted coming out of the draft.
Let me expand on that a little, bringing in some additional names and data – making it more of a meaningful study.
Below, find a list of the best receivers from each draft class over the last 20 years. “Best” can be a subjective term, so I will define it as the player who compiled the best numbers in these first three years of his career, using standard fantasy scoring (6 points for touchdowns, and 1 for every 10 yards). For the players from 2015 and 2016, of course, they’re not at a full three years yet, so I’m just listing the current leader.
So there are 20 wide receivers listed. If scouts were always right and things were easily forecasted, those would be the same wide receivers who were selected first in each of those drafts, but that’s not even close to being the case.
Of the 20 listed, only six of those wide receivers were the first one chosen the year they came out. I have those guys tagged with black dots. Three others were at least the second wide receiver chosen in their draft year.
But the majority of the most productive wide receivers (11 of 20) were selected later. Five of the 20 were the 10th chosen or later.
Marques Colston is the ultimate rags-to-riches story, emerging from the seventh round. Darrell Jackson, T.Y. Hilton and Mike Wallace were all selected late in the third round.
Serves as a reminder that while everyone will tend to focus in on Mike Williams, John Ross and Corey Davis, there’s a good chance some receiver selected in the second or three round will end up being a big factor.
On this chart, “Rk” is his rank at his position – where he was chosen among wide receivers. Reidel Anthony, for example, was the third wide receiver selected in 1997.
And the stats you see, as a reminder, on the first-year numbers but the total of his work in his first three seasons.
|MOST PRODUCTIVE ROOKIE RECEIVERS, BY YEAR|
|1997||1-16||3||Reidel Anthony, T.B.||116||1,452||12||217.2|
|1998||1-21||2||Randy Moss, Minn.||225||4,163||44||680.3|
|1999||1-6||1||• Torry Holt, St.L.||215||3,786||19||492.6|
|2000||3-80||15||Darrell Jackson, Sea.||185||2,671||18||375.1|
|2001||2-52||10||Chris Chambers, Mia.||164||2,580||21||384.0|
|2002||1-20||3||Javon Walker, G.B.||153||2,417||22||373.7|
|2003||2-54||6||Anquan Boldin, Ariz.||259||3,402||16||436.2|
|2004||1-3||1||• Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||230||3,135||24||457.5|
|2005||1-3||1||• Braylon Edwards, Clev.||173||2,685||25||418.5|
|2006||7-252||31||Marques Colston, N.O.||215||3,000||24||444.0|
|2007||1-2||1||• Calvin Johnson, Det.||193||3,071||22||439.1|
|2008||2-49||7||DeSean Jackson, Phil.||171||3,124||24||456.4|
|2009||3-84||11||Mike Wallace, Pitt.||171||3,206||24||464.6|
|2010||1-24||2||Dez Bryant, Dall.||200||2,871||29||461.1|
|2011||1-4||1||• A.J. Green, Cin.||260||3,833||29||557.3|
|2012||3-92||13||T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||214||3,289||19||442.9|
|2013||1-27||2||DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||239||3,533||19||467.3|
|2014||1-12||3||Odell Beckham Jr., NYG||288||4,122||35||622.2|
|2015||1-4||1||• Amari Cooper, Oak.||155||2,223||11||288.3|
|2016||2-47||6||Michael Thomas, N.O.||92||1,137||9||167.7|