I don’t think I’ll be drafting DeVonta Smith, JaMarr Chase or Jaylen Waddle. They’re decent-enough prospects, but with heralded rookie receivers, they tend to get so overhyped that it’s hard for them to meet expectations.
With Chase, I think he’ll be one of the first 20 receivers selected in most drafts, and Smith probably will go in the next 10. I don’t think Waddle (pictured) will go as early, with him going to a roster that already has DeVante Parker and Will Fuller.
With Chase and Smith, most (I think) are operating under the assumption that they’ll be the best receivers on their own teams. I’m not at that point yet. Especially with Chase, with the Bengals also having two other quality wide receivers (Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins). With Smith, he’s on a team with fewer other options.
If we look at other heralded rookie receivers, the track record isn’t very good, with a lot more misses than hits.
Since 2000, 28 wide receivers have been chosen with top-10 picks. Only eight of those players were the most productive wide receiver on their own team in their first year. (Only eight others were even the 2nd-best receiver on their own team.)
Of these 28 receivers, only two finished with top-20 numbers in their first season (using PPR scoring).
Only eight of these 28 receivers finished with top-30 numbers (that’s including the two in the top 20). There were actually twice as many receivers (17) who finished outside the top 50.
Four of the biggest misses have come recently, with Kevin White, Corey Davis, John Ross and Mike Williams all failing to put up even top-80 numbers in their first season. Injuries played a factor with all of those guys, but I don’t think any of them showed enough early in their careers to make it seem like they would have put up top-45 numbers as rookies if only they had stayed healthy.
|TOP-10 WIDE RECEIVERS (rookie numbers)|
|2000||Peter Warrick, Cin.||4||51||592||7||167.0||30|
|2000||Plaxico Burress, Pitt.||8||22||273||0||49.3||86|
|2000||• Travis Taylor, Balt.||10||28||276||3||74.7||72|
|2001||• David Terrell, Chi.||8||34||415||4||99.5||61|
|2001||• Koren Robinson, Sea.||9||39||536||1||99.9||60|
|2003||Charles Rogers, Det.||2||22||243||3||66.0||88|
|2003||Andre Johnson, Hou.||3||66||976||4||186.6||22|
|2004||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||3||58||780||8||185.4||31|
|2004||Roy Williams, Det.||7||54||817||8||183.8||32|
|2004||Reggie Williams, Jac.||9||27||268||1||63.8||93|
|2005||Braylon Edwards, Cle.||3||32||512||3||101.2||67|
|2005||Troy Williamson, Min.||7||24||372||2||76.0||82|
|2005||Mike Williams, Det.||10||29||350||1||70.0||88|
|2007||Calvin Johnson, Det.||2||48||756||5||158.8||38|
|2007||• Ted Ginn, Mia.||9||34||420||3||94.3||74|
|2009||Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak.||7||9||124||1||29.3||118|
|2009||• Michael Crabtree, S.F.||10||48||625||2||122.5||60|
|2011||A.J. Green, Cin.||4||65||1,057||7||218.0||17|
|2011||• Julio Jones, Atl.||6||54||959||8||203.5||21|
|2012||• Justin Blackmon, Jac.||5||64||865||5||184.8||29|
|2013||Tavon Austin, St.L.||8||40||418||6||132.9||53|
|2014||Sammy Watkins, Buff.||4||65||982||6||200.0||27|
|2014||Mike Evans, T.B.||7||68||1,051||12||245.1||13|
|2015||• Amari Cooper, Oak.||4||72||1,070||6||214.7||21|
|2015||Kevin White, Chi.||7||0||0||0||.0||--|
|2017||Corey Davis, Ten.||5||34||375||0||71.5||85|
|2017||Mike Williams, LAC||7||11||95||0||20.5||139|
|2017||John Ross, Cin.||9||0||0||0||1.2||199|