If form holds, two or three rookie wide receivers will finish with top-30 numbers this year. That’s been the average over the last 10 years.

There was some chatter on this yesterday, with folks arguing the merits of whether TheyWanta Devonta. So it’s reasonable to look at previous years to see how many others have been able to pull off what Smith is attempting.

In the last 10 years (using PPR scoring) 25 rookie wide receivers have finished with top-30 numbers. Of those 25, note, only 11 were first-round picks. There were actually more of these guys (14) coming from outside the first round. That trends speaks against the idea that the three best rookie wide receivers this year will be those three who were drafted early.

In four of the past five years, there have been two rookie receivers from outside the first round who finished with top-30 numbers. That seems almost unbelievable, but the numbers are below. It had me going back and skimming over the names of the receivers selected after the first round. I don’t see one that I could put in a top 40 with any seriousness. If somebody’s going to do it, I guess Elijah Moore (Jets) or Terrace Marshall (Carolina). I have interest in fourth-rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Lions, but top-30 numbers would be a tough ask.

In the chart below, if a player was selected after the first round, he’s got a black dot.

YearPlayer (round)RecYdsAvgTDPPRRk
2011A.J. Green, Cin.651,05716.37218.017
2011Julio Jones, Atl.5495917.88203.521
2011• Torrey Smith, Balt. (2)5084116.87180.030
2012• T.Y. Hilton, Ind. (3)5086117.28187.028
2012Justin Blackmon, Jac.6486513.55184.829
2013• Keenan Allen, S.D. (3)711,04614.78223.618
2014Odell Beckham, NYG911,30514.312297.08
2014Mike Evans, T.B.681,05115.512245.113
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.731,00813.89227.816
2014• Jordan Matthews, Phil. (2)6787213.08202.225
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.6598215.16200.027
2014• Jarvis Landry, Mia. (2)847589.05189.430
2015Amari Cooper, Oak.721,07014.96214.721
2016• Michael Thomas, N.O. (2)921,13712.49259.77
2016• Tyreek Hill, K.C. (5)615939.712219.018
2017• JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt. (2)5891715.88197.720
2017• Cooper Kupp, LAR (3)6286914.05178.925
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.6482112.810208.820
2019• A.J. Brown, Ten. (2)521,05120.29217.122
2019• DK Metcalf, Sea. (2)5890015.57193.129
2019• Terry McLaurin, Was. (3)5891915.87191.930
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.881,40015.97274.26
2020CeeDee Lamb, Dall.7493512.67219.722
2020• Chase Claypool, Pitt. (2)6287314.111216.923
2020• Tee Higgins, Cin. (2)6790813.66196.628

—Ian Allan