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.
|DO SECOND-YEAR RECEIVERS "STEP UP"?|
|1999||Torry Holt, St.L.||52-788-6||36||82-1635-6||7|
|1999||• Troy Edwards, Pitt.||61-714-5||42||18-215-0||100|
|2000||Darrell Jackson, Sea.||53-713-6||35||70-1081-8||18|
|2000||• Sylvester Morris, K.C.||48-678-3||49||0-0-0||--|
|2001||Rod Gardner, Was.||46-741-4||43||71-1006-8||19|
|2001||• Chris Chambers, Mia.||48-883-7||33||52-734-3||47|
|2002||• Antonio Bryant, Dall.||44-733-6||45||39-550-2||66|
|2002||• Donte Stallworth, N.O.||42-594-8||50||25-485-3||75|
|2004||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||58-780-8||31||103-1409-10||2|
|2004||• Roy Williams, Det.||54-817-8||32||45-687-8||35|
|2004||• Keary Colbert, Car.||47-754-5||41||25-282-2||93|
|2005||Reggie Brown, Phil.||43-571-4||49||46-816-9||27|
|2006||Santonio Holmes, Pitt.||49-824-3||38||52-942-8||24|
|2007||Calvin Johnson, Det.||48-756-5||38||78-1331-12||3|
|2008||• Donnie Avery, St.L.||53-674-4||39||47-589-5||50|
|2009||Mike Wallace, Pitt.||39-756-6||36||60-1257-10||9|
|2009||Hakeem Nicks, NYG||47-790-6||33||79-1052-11||8|
|2009||Jeremy Maclin, Phil.||56-773-4||35||70-964-10||14|
|2010||Dez Bryant, Dall.||45-561-8||42||63-928-9||19|
|2011||• Greg Little, Cle.||61-709-2||47||53-647-4||52|
|2011||• Titus Young, Det.||48-607-6||45||33-383-4||74|
|2011||• Doug Baldwin, Sea.||51-788-4||42||29-366-3||79|
|2012||Josh Gordon, Cle.||50-805-5||41||87-1646-9||3|
|2012||Kendall Wright, Ten.||64-626-4||45||94-1079-2||20|
|2013||DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||52-802-2||49||76-1210-6||14|
|2013||• Terrance Williams, Dall.||44-736-5||45||37-621-8||52|
|2013||• Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.||45-469-9||38||33-384-2||83|
|2013||• Marlon Brown, Balt.||49-524-7||48||24-255-0||106|
|2014||Allen Hurns, Jac.||51-677-6||49||64-1031-10||19|
|2015||Stefon Diggs, Min.||52-720-4||47||84-903-3||31|
|2015||• Tyler Lockett, Sea.||51-664-8||41||41-597-2||65|
|2016||• Sterling Shepard, NYG||65-683-8||36||59-731-2||42|
|2016||• Malcolm Mitchell, N.E.||32-401-4||50||0-0-0||--|
|2017||• Keelan Cole, Jac.||42-748-3||48||38-491-1||81|
|2018||Courtland Sutton, Den.||42-704-4||50||72-1112-6||19|
|2018||DJ Moore, Car.||55-788-2||36||87-1175-4||16|
|2019||Darius Slayton, NYG||48-740-8||37||?-?-?||?|
|2019||Deebo Samuel, S.F.||57-802-6||31||?-?-?||?|
|2019||Diontae Johnson, Pitt.||59-680-6||39||?-?-?||?|
|2019||Marquise Brown, Balt.||46-584-7||46||?-?-?||?|