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Rookie receivers

Looking for diamonds in second round of draft

The Bills traded down twice before selecting Keon Coleman. Does that mean they knew he would be there? Or did they not really care which wide receiver they would be selecting at No. 33 overall?

In particular, the Bills could have stayed at No. 32 and selected Xavier Legette (another large receiver). They instead moved down one spot, losing the fifth-year option but picking up some consolation prizes. Would be interesting to know if they like Coleman more than Legette.

Half of the wide receivers selected in the 30s of the draft were wide receivers.

There’s been some big hits on this range of the draft, including Tee Higgins, Deebo Samuel and Michael Pittman. But there have also been some big misses (most recently, Laviska Shenault, KJ Hamler, Elijah Moore).

The 49ers used a late first-round pick on Ricky Pearsall. They’re hoping he’s more like Deebo Samuel than the last other receiver they drafted early in the second round (Dante Pettis).

As a general rule of thumb, I like to compare players to others who have been selected in the same area of the draft, setting a general expectation of what’s realistic to hope for. Below see the wide receivers picked in the first half of the second round over the last 0 years. The hit rate is a little better than what I was expecting.

There have been 22 selected in the last 10 years, and five were able to put up top-40 seasons in their first year. That’s about what you would expect. It’s not easy coming in and making an impact right away.

But of those 22, 10 had at least one top-30 season during their career. It would be fair to say half (since Christian Watson hasn’t gotten there yet but looks like he will).

For this incoming group in the second round, I would definitely be willing to throw a later-round pick at Coleman. I also like Ladd McConkey (pictured), with the Chargers not having much else at wide receiver. I would guess McConkey probably will be the leading receiver on that team, playing inside and catching a lot of shorter passes.

Ja’Lynn Polk is a local kid (played across the lake at Washington) but I will pass on him. He looks too similar to all those other receivers they’ve collected in New England.

In the chart below, you’re looking at rookie-season production. Players who eventually had a top-30 season (using PPR scoring) are tagged with black dots.

2016• Michael Thomas, N.O.479211379259.77
2014• Jordan Matthews, Phil.42678728202.225
2020• Tee Higgins, Cin.33679086196.628
2019• Deebo Samuel, S.F.36578023191.131
2016Sterling Shepard, NYG40656838184.436
2022Christian Watson, G.B.34416117164.142
2020Laviska Shenault, Jac.42586005157.146
2021Elijah Moore, NYJ34435385138.250
2018• Courtland Sutton, Den.40427044136.350
2018• Christian Kirk, Ari.47435903123.558
2015Dorial Green-Beckham, Ten.40325494112.959
2015• Devin Funchess, Car.41314735108.365
2018Dante Pettis, S.F.44274675103.571
2020• Michael Pittman, Ind.3440503198.980
2020KJ Hamler, Den.4630381390.188
2014Marqise Lee, Jac.3937422186.188
2023Jonathan Mingo, Car.3943418084.881
2017• Zay Jones, Buff.3727316270.687
2014Paul Richardson, Sea.4529271162.198
2022Wan'Dale Robinson, NYG4323227151.6116
2017• Curtis Samuel, Car.4015115032.9126
2015Devin Smith, NYJ379115126.5142
2024Keon Coleman, Buf.33?????
2024Ladd McConkey, LAC34?????
2024Ja'Lynn Polk, N.E.37?????

—Ian Allan

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