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Rookie receivers

Hype tends to exceed production with top rookie receivers

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)
2000Peter Warrick, Cin.4515927167.030
2000Plaxico Burress, Pitt.822273049.386
2000• Travis Taylor, Balt.1028276374.772
2001• David Terrell, Chi.834415499.561
2001• Koren Robinson, Sea.939536199.960
2003Charles Rogers, Det.222243366.088
2003Andre Johnson, Hou.3669764186.622
2004Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.3587808185.431
2004Roy Williams, Det.7548178183.832
2004Reggie Williams, Jac.927268163.893
2005Braylon Edwards, Cle.3325123101.267
2005Troy Williamson, Min.724372276.082
2005Mike Williams, Det.1029350170.088
2007Calvin Johnson, Det.2487565158.838
2007• Ted Ginn, Mia.934420394.374
2009Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak.79124129.3118
2009• Michael Crabtree, S.F.10486252122.560
2011A.J. Green, Cin.4651,0577218.017
2011• Julio Jones, Atl.6549598203.521
2012• Justin Blackmon, Jac.5648655184.829
2013Tavon Austin, St.L.8404186132.953
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.4659826200.027
2014Mike Evans, T.B.7681,05112245.113
2015• Amari Cooper, Oak.4721,0706214.721
2015Kevin White, Chi.7000.0--
2017Corey Davis, Ten.534375071.585
2017Mike Williams, LAC71195020.5139
2017John Ross, Cin.90001.2199

—Ian Allan

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