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Rookie receivers

Quiet preseason could leave rookie receivers undervalued

The rookie receivers didn’t light up the boxscores in the preseason, but that’s OK. That’s just how it goes nowadays. And if form holds, probably a couple of these first-year receivers are going to be very good.

I’ve trotted out the numbers a few times. In the last 10 seasons, 26 rookie receivers have finished with top-30 numbers. (That’s using PPR scoring). There’s been at least three in each of the last three seasons. These guys are coming in ready to play.

Gone, however, are the days of preseason games being an integral tool in getting ready for the regular seasons. Most coaches nowadays prefer to rely more on controlled work at practices. The old model of the first-unit offense playing some in the first two preseason games, then playing into the third quarter of the third game, has been retired.

In the last three years, 11 wide receivers finished with top-30 numbers in their rookie year. None of those guys, remarkably, had 30 receiving yards in the preseason, and none of them caught a touchdown.

So best, I’m thinking, to not get too worried about the modest debuts of those six receivers taken in the first round (and I’ve got them all listed below). I expect we’ll see some good games out of those guys (and some of the later-round guys as well).

Pictured: Jahan Dotson, Washington.

PRESEASON STATS FOR BEST ROOKIE RECEIVERS (last 10 yrs)
YearPlayerTgtNoYdsTDReal Games
2021JaMarr Chase, Cin.5116081-1455-13
2021Jaylen Waddle, Mia.43210104-1015-7
2021Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.10628090-912-6
2021DeVonta Smith, Phil.4219064-916-5
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.--------88-1400-7
2020CeeDee Lamb, Dall.--------74-935-7
2020Chase Claypool, Pitt.--------62-873-11
2020Tee Higgins, Cin.--------67-908-6
2019A.J. Brown, Ten.3110052-1051-9
2019DK Metcalf, Sea.418058-900-7
2019Terry McLaurin, Was.000058-919-7
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.11559164-821-10
2017JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.6435058-917-8
2017Cooper Kupp, LAR108105162-869-5
2016Michael Thomas, N.O.10452092-1137-9
2016Tyreek Hill, K.C.12490061-593-12
2015Amari Cooper, Oak.158124072-1070-6
2014Odell Beckham, NYG--------91-1305-12
2014Mike Evans, T.B.7596168-1051-12
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.1912193173-1008-9
2014Jordan Matthews, Phil.1915134067-872-8
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.8321065-982-6
2014Jarvis Landry, Mia.8773084-758-5
2013Keenan Allen, S.D.10648071-1046-8
2012T.Y. Hilton, Ind.149116150-861-8
2012Justin Blackmon, Jac.1610136164-865-5
2022Drake London, Atl.11240?
2022Garrett Wilson, NYJ86520?
2022Chris Olave, N.O.54511?
2022Jameson Williams, Det.--------?
2022Jahan Dotson, Was.22230?
2022Treylon Burks, Ten.74371?

—Ian Allan

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