When a receiver shows potential as a rookie (like CeeDee Lamb or Chase Claypool last year) the tendency is to assume he’ll be better in Year No. 2 – he’ll be more knowledgeable and confident. But that doesn’t show up as strongly as you might think with the numbers.

Consider the following chart. It shows the 35 rookie wide receivers in the last 20 years who’ve finished with top 40 numbers (PPR scoring) but who hasn’t ranked in the top 20. Here, I’m not looking for guys like Randy Moss or Odell Beckham, who were clearly superstars right away. Instead, I’m looking for guys who had shown potential – the guy you’re hoping will become stars.

So with these 35 players, we can then look at how they did in their second season, getting a measure of how many (with their extra experience, reps and know-how) got a lot better.

Not as many as you might think.

Of the 35, 22 got better in their second year, but 13 got worse (of those 13, two actually finished with slightly better numbers but finished with a lower ranking at the position). Regardless, it’s about a 2-1 ratio.

Of these 35, seven had the big breakout-type jump, not only getting better but moving up into the top 10 (again, using PPR scoring). That’s a pretty good hit rate in that regard, I suppose – roughly 1 in 5 went from being merely good or serviceable into being a big-time legit No. 1 receiver. It’s not easy posting top-10 numbers at wide receiver.

In the chart below, there are four guys in bold. Those are the 2020 candidates; we’ll see how they do this year. The players with the black dots are the ones who finished with a lower ranking at their position.

YearPlayerRecYdsTDPPRRkNext YrRk
2020CeeDee Lamb, Dall.749357219.722?-?-??
2019A.J. Brown, Ten.5210519217.12270-1075-1211
2020Chase Claypool, Pitt.6287311216.923?-?-??
2015Amari Cooper, Oak.7210706214.72183-1153-515
2011Julio Jones, Atl.549598203.52179-1198-1011
2014Jordan Matthews, Phil.678728202.22585-997-816
2009Percy Harvin, Min.607908200.52371-868-719
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.659826200.02760-1047-920
2007Dwayne Bowe, K.C.709955199.52286-1022-716
2020Tee Higgins, Cin.679086196.628?-?-??
2004• Lee Evans, Buff.488439194.82948-743-732
2019DK Metcalf, Sea.589007193.12983-1303-107
2019Terry McLaurin, Was.589197191.93087-1118-420
2019• Deebo Samuel, S.F.578026191.13133-391-196
2014Jarvis Landry, Mia.847585189.430110-1157-69
2012T.Y. Hilton, Ind.508618187.02882-1083-519
2008DeSean Jackson, Phil.629124186.83062-1156-1210
2003Andre Johnson, Hou.669764186.62279-1142-618
2004Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.587808185.431103-1409-102
2012• Justin Blackmon, Jac.648655184.82929-415-193
2020Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.607487184.535?-?-??
2016• Sterling Shepard, NYG656838184.43659-731-242
2004• Roy Williams, Det.548178183.83245-687-835
2011• Torrey Smith, Balt.508417180.03049-855-831
2017• Cooper Kupp, LAR628695178.92540-566-651
2001• Chris Chambers, Mia.488837177.23352-734-347
2019• Darius Slayton, NYG487408170.03750-751-354
2009• Austin Collie, Ind.606767169.72958-649-835
2019Diontae Johnson, Pitt.596806167.13988-923-721
2000• Peter Warrick, Cin.515927167.03070-667-144
2018DJ Moore, Car.557882163.03687-1175-416
2009Hakeem Nicks, NYG477906162.83379-1052-118
2013• Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.454699161.73833-384-283
2000Darrell Jackson, Sea.537136160.23570-1081-818
2007Calvin Johnson, Det.487565158.83878-1331-123
2009Jeremy Maclin, Phil.567734156.63570-964-1014
2009Mike Wallace, Pitt.397566155.43660-1257-109
2008• Donnie Avery, St.L.536744151.33947-589-550
2006Santonio Holmes, Pitt.498243150.73852-942-824

—Ian Allan