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Hollywood Brown

Will Brown, other 2nd-year receivers, break out?

John Harbaugh was talking up Hollywood Brown the other day, saying he’s looking forward to seeing what he can do now that he’s healthy and has been around for a year. Are the Ravens sitting on one of the season’s breakout receivers?

Brown showed some potential in the opener last year, with a couple of long touchdowns at Miami. He also went over 100 yards in their playoff loss against Tennessee.

“That’s going to be really interesting to see because his talent is at a high level,” Harbaugh said on a local radio show. “His motivation is at a high level. His hands are better, and really kind of a lot better, than we thought. Not that we didn’t think he had good hands, but he’s got really good hands. So all those things, I can’t wait to see when he gets back.”

It all sounds promising. But there are receivers in Brown’s situation every year, and as I look at the last 20 years, I see as many hits or misses.

On this one, let’s look at receivers who in the first season put up top-50 numbers but didn’t rank in the top 30. That is, I’m not looking for guys like Randy Moss, Odell Beckham and Mike Evans, who immediately were star receivers. Instead, I’m looking at guys who showed some potential in their first season. How many of those players were then able to move up into the elite level?

I see 36 such receivers in the last 20 years. Half of them put up better numbers in their second season, but half were worse.

In the chart below, six of those 36 wide receivers in their second season put up top-10 numbers (using PPR scoring). Another nine finished with top-20 numbers. But 18 of the 36 got worse (and I’ve them tagged with black dots).

At the bottom (in bold) you see the four wide receivers last year who put up top-50 numbers but ranked outside the top 30: Brown, Diontae Johnson, Deebo Samuel and Darius Slayton. The rookie receivers last year were good enough that they’re not listed here (they already made it into the top 30 in their first season): DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin.

On the stats below, you’re looking at catches, receiving yards and total touchdowns (including rushing and returns). Other stats (rushing yards and 2-point conversions, most notably) are included in determining where receivers ranked in the seasons, but those stats are listed to make the chart more legible.

YearPlayerNo-Yds-TDRkNext YrRk
1999Torry Holt, St.L.52-788-63682-1635-67
1999• Troy Edwards, Pitt.61-714-54218-215-0100
2000Darrell Jackson, Sea.53-713-63570-1081-818
2000• Sylvester Morris, K.C.48-678-3490-0-0--
2001Rod Gardner, Was.46-741-44371-1006-819
2001• Chris Chambers, Mia.48-883-73352-734-347
2002• Antonio Bryant, Dall.44-733-64539-550-266
2002• Donte Stallworth, N.O.42-594-85025-485-375
2004Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.58-780-831103-1409-102
2004• Roy Williams, Det.54-817-83245-687-835
2004• Keary Colbert, Car.47-754-54125-282-293
2005Reggie Brown, Phil.43-571-44946-816-927
2006Santonio Holmes, Pitt.49-824-33852-942-824
2007Calvin Johnson, Det.48-756-53878-1331-123
2008• Donnie Avery, St.L.53-674-43947-589-550
2009Mike Wallace, Pitt.39-756-63660-1257-109
2009Hakeem Nicks, NYG47-790-63379-1052-118
2009Jeremy Maclin, Phil.56-773-43570-964-1014
2010Dez Bryant, Dall.45-561-84263-928-919
2011• Greg Little, Cle.61-709-24753-647-452
2011• Titus Young, Det.48-607-64533-383-474
2011• Doug Baldwin, Sea.51-788-44229-366-379
2012Josh Gordon, Cle.50-805-54187-1646-93
2012Kendall Wright, Ten.64-626-44594-1079-220
2013DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.52-802-24976-1210-614
2013• Terrance Williams, Dall.44-736-54537-621-852
2013• Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.45-469-93833-384-283
2013• Marlon Brown, Balt.49-524-74824-255-0106
2014Allen Hurns, Jac.51-677-64964-1031-1019
2015Stefon Diggs, Min.52-720-44784-903-331
2015• Tyler Lockett, Sea.51-664-84141-597-265
2016• Sterling Shepard, NYG65-683-83659-731-242
2016• Malcolm Mitchell, N.E.32-401-4500-0-0--
2017• Keelan Cole, Jac.42-748-34838-491-181
2018Courtland Sutton, Den.42-704-45072-1112-619
2018DJ Moore, Car.55-788-23687-1175-416
2019Darius Slayton, NYG48-740-837?-?-??
2019Deebo Samuel, S.F.57-802-631?-?-??
2019Diontae Johnson, Pitt.59-680-639?-?-??
2019Marquise Brown, Balt.46-584-746?-?-??

—Ian Allan

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