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Pea-shooter receivers

Can Panthers salvage struggling young WRs?

Among wide receivers with at least 30 targets last year, only four averaged under 5 yards per target. The Panthers had half of them – Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall. Can we now simply dismiss these guys from future consideration?

These aren’t merely camp bodies. Both were selected in the second round. Mingo was a top-40 pick a year ago. Such players tend to get more patience than others. (Particularly Mingo, who’s entering his second season, versus Marshall who’s coming back for the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.)

While the production has been pretty putrid, I ran some historical numbers, and there have been a few receivers who’ve been able to rise from the ashes after similar seasons.

Below see the list of 101 wide receivers in the 32-team era who’ve averaged fewer than 5 yards per target (with at least 30 targets). Seven of these receivers at some point later in their career had a season with top-30 numbers (using PPR scoring). Another six had a top-40 season. (I’ve got the top-30 guys tagged with double dots and the top 40 guys with single dots.)

Now, 13 out of 97 isn’t a great hit rate. It indicates that when you have a bunch of these guys, about one out of every 7-8 of them will have a relevant season later in their career. But it does happen from time to time.

For the receivers from 2023, Mingo seems like a possibility, having played only one season (and for a 2-15 team). And Kadarius Toney has already shown some ability to make some plays. (I didn’t like the way Kansas City used him last year, constantly throwing him quick passes around the line of scrimmage; Toney in a couple of games as a rookie looked like another Odell Beckham.)

Van Jefferson also averaged under 5 yards per target last year while playing for both the Rams and Falcons. I am comfortable saying it’s just never going to happen for him, but the Steelers have signed Jefferson for the upcoming season. (Pittsburgh took a swing on a similar struggling receiver last year, Allen Robinson, with little to show for it.)

In the chart below, the final two columns merit some clarification. The first (the “rank”) shows where the player ranked among receivers in that season using PPR scoring. The final column shows the highest the player ranked among wide receivers in any of the remaining seasons of his career.

2017Breshad Perriman, Balt.3510772.2017.714551
2003• Reche Caldwell, S.D.348802.4019.912634
2015Rashad Greene, Jac.3519932.7246.3113113
2012Mike Thomas, 2TM40181082.7140.5119119
2013•• Kenny Britt, Ten.3511962.7020.613728
2017Kamar Aiken, Ind.44151333.0028.3131131
2009•• Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak.4091243.1129.311828
2011• Eddie Royal, Den.50191553.1151.311431
2015Brian Quick, St.L.32101023.2020.215370
2010Johnnie Lee Higgins, Oak.30101033.4020.3141141
2002Derrick Alexander, Min.39141343.4133.4120120
2012Kevin Elliott, Jac.31101083.5020.8139139
2018John Ross, Cin.58212103.6784.98674
2009Josh Cribbs, Cle.37201353.61108.56855
2018Chad Williams, Ari.46171713.7141.0127127
2015Marlon Brown, Balt.30141123.7025.2144144
2008Ronald Curry, Oak.48191813.8249.29999
2008Donte Stallworth, Cle.45171703.8139.610695
2012Early Doucet, Ari.53282073.9049.6111111
2015Keith Mumphery, Hou.32141294.0026.9141141
2003Cortez Hankton, Jac.41171664.0033.6111111
2005David Patten, Was.53222174.1043.710443
2017Eli Rogers, Pitt.36181494.1138.9123123
2003Az-Zahir Hakim, Det.108494494.24126.14949
2009Deon Butler, Sea.42151754.2032.511674
2021Ray-Ray McCloud, Pitt.66392774.2068.2107107
2013Davone Bess, Cle.86423624.2292.27979
2023Terrace Marshall, Car.33191394.2032.9137?
2019Trey Quinn, Was.47261984.2153.8106106
2004Josh Reed, Buff.36161534.3031.211952
2005Randy Hymes, Balt.31111324.3236.2113113
2017•• Zay Jones, Buff.74273164.3270.68726
2002Germane Crowell, Det.47222014.3148.1106106
2010Bryant Johnson, Det.49182104.3041.0118118
2005Kevin Johnson, Det.31171334.3030.3121121
2002Donald Hayes, N.E.31121334.3237.3115115
2003David Terrell, Chi.84433614.3185.58155
2008Marty Booker, Chi.49142114.3247.4101101
2009Mike Furrey, Cle.39231704.4040.0111111
2009• Eddie Royal, Den.79373454.4083.68131
2014Marquess Wilson, Chi.32171404.4137.011787
2008Ashley Lelie, Oak.45111974.4242.7103103
2006•• Chris Chambers, Mia.154596774.44160.23529
2015Donteea Dye, T.B.30111324.4130.2134134
2002Dedric Ward, Mia.39191724.4036.2118118
2008Syndric Steptoe, Cle.41191824.4037.2113113
2023Kadarius Toney, K.C.38271694.4153.0108?
2019KeeSean Johnson, Ari.42211874.5148.0112112
2020Jeff Smith, NYJ37171674.5033.7137137
2022Braxton Berrios, NYJ32181454.5057.7109105
2011Mike Sims-Walker, 2TM33121504.5027.0128128
2005Tyrone Calico, Ten.42221914.5041.1107107
2008•• Sidney Rice, Min.31151414.5453.19411
2010Joey Galloway, Was.38121734.6029.3125125
2011Mike Thomas, Jac.91444154.6192.68080
2002Chris Doering, Was.42181924.6251.2101100
2012Juron Criner, Oak.33161514.6139.1122122
2010•• Laurent Robinson, St.L.75343444.6279.08520
2021Terrace Marshall, Car.30171384.6032.813988
2003Bryan Gilmore, Ari.45172084.6249.89898
2022Scott Miller, T.B.40231854.6042.3124124
2004Tai Streets, Det.56282604.6162.09494
2010• Ted Ginn, S.F.35121634.7141.411734
2011Andre Caldwell, Cin.68373174.7386.78282
2017Brandon Marshall, NYG33181544.7033.4125125
2010Bernard Berrian, Min.54282524.7052.4108108
2007Joe Horn, Atl.52272434.7157.39696
2003Charles Rogers, Det.52222434.7366.08888
2009Lance Long, 2TM38201784.7037.7113113
2002• Marcus Robinson, Chi.52212444.7363.49237
2008Brian Finneran, Atl.36211694.7143.9102102
2013Greg Little, Cle.99414654.7299.57373
2021Robby Anderson, Car.110535194.75138.54949
2006Alvis Whitted, Oak.63272994.7057.39898
2015Eddie Royal, Chi.50372384.8166.79386
2014Danny Amendola, N.E.42272004.8153.010444
2019Javon Wims, Chi.39181864.8142.6119119
2007Darrell Jackson, S.F.104464974.83113.76464
2008Chris Henry, Cin.46192204.8253.09595
2009Michael Clayton, T.B.48162304.8147.0104104
2009Bryant Johnson, Det.87354174.8394.77777
2019•• Zay Jones, 2TM45272164.8048.911026
2016Tavon Austin, LAR106585094.83148.85252
2007Keary Colbert, Car.69323324.8065.29191
2009Chansi Stuckey, 2TM66303184.8274.49283
2013Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ind.64293094.8170.59795
2002• Reche Caldwell, S.D.43222084.8364.79134
2006Bryan Gilmore, S.F.3181504.8138.4107107
2002Willie Jackson, 2TM53252574.8156.79999
2007Brad Smith, NYJ67323254.9281.07979
2011Derrick Mason, 2TM35191704.9036.0121121
2023Van Jefferson, 2TM43202094.9041.3122?
2022Brandon Powell, LAR32241564.9047.612091
2002Kevin Lockett, 2TM42162054.9465.29090
2018Jermaine Kearse, NYJ76373714.9180.18989
2013Darius Johnson, Atl.43222104.9149.0112112
2011Jonathan Baldwin, K.C.52212544.9152.4108101
2023Jonathan Mingo, Car.85434184.9084.881?
2010Early Doucet, Ari.59262914.9161.69643
2022Marquez Callaway, N.O.32161584.9137.8127127
2004Greg Lewis, Phil.37171834.9036.911256

—Ian Allan

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