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.
|ROOKIE RECEIVERS WITH TOP-30 NUMBERS (last 10 years)|
|2011||A.J. Green, Cin.||65||1,057||16.3||7||218.0||17|
|2011||Julio Jones, Atl.||54||959||17.8||8||203.5||21|
|2011||• Torrey Smith, Balt. (2)||50||841||16.8||7||180.0||30|
|2012||• T.Y. Hilton, Ind. (3)||50||861||17.2||8||187.0||28|
|2012||Justin Blackmon, Jac.||64||865||13.5||5||184.8||29|
|2013||• Keenan Allen, S.D. (3)||71||1,046||14.7||8||223.6||18|
|2014||Odell Beckham, NYG||91||1,305||14.3||12||297.0||8|
|2014||Mike Evans, T.B.||68||1,051||15.5||12||245.1||13|
|2014||Kelvin Benjamin, Car.||73||1,008||13.8||9||227.8||16|
|2014||• Jordan Matthews, Phil. (2)||67||872||13.0||8||202.2||25|
|2014||Sammy Watkins, Buff.||65||982||15.1||6||200.0||27|
|2014||• Jarvis Landry, Mia. (2)||84||758||9.0||5||189.4||30|
|2015||Amari Cooper, Oak.||72||1,070||14.9||6||214.7||21|
|2016||• Michael Thomas, N.O. (2)||92||1,137||12.4||9||259.7||7|
|2016||• Tyreek Hill, K.C. (5)||61||593||9.7||12||219.0||18|
|2017||• JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt. (2)||58||917||15.8||8||197.7||20|
|2017||• Cooper Kupp, LAR (3)||62||869||14.0||5||178.9||25|
|2018||Calvin Ridley, Atl.||64||821||12.8||10||208.8||20|
|2019||• A.J. Brown, Ten. (2)||52||1,051||20.2||9||217.1||22|
|2019||• DK Metcalf, Sea. (2)||58||900||15.5||7||193.1||29|
|2019||• Terry McLaurin, Was. (3)||58||919||15.8||7||191.9||30|
|2020||Justin Jefferson, Min.||88||1,400||15.9||7||274.2||6|
|2020||CeeDee Lamb, Dall.||74||935||12.6||7||219.7||22|
|2020||• Chase Claypool, Pitt. (2)||62||873||14.1||11||216.9||23|
|2020||• Tee Higgins, Cin. (2)||67||908||13.6||6||196.6||28|