From 2019 to 2021, 13 wide receivers were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Some of these receivers—such as Justin Jefferson, Jammer Chase, and Jaylen Waddle—began with historic, record-breaking campaigns and climbed to the top of the position by the end of their first years. Others, such as CD Lamb, Jerry Judy, and Devonta Smith, had slightly above average rookie seasons, but have since blossomed into high-end starters. Sure, there have been some notable omissions among the group, but for the most part, first-round rookie receivers are producing earlier than at any other point in NFL history.
It’s early, but the rookie receiver class of the 2022 first round looks like another special. Over the course of two weeks, the quintet (except at No. 12, pick Jameson Williams, who is probably the most talented rookie receiver of the year but will be on the IR through at least Week 4 as he recovers from an ACL tear) averaged Has only eight goals, five receptions, and 64 receiving yards per game, while demonstrating unnatural talent bell Staff writer Ben Solak concluded in April that “there will never again be a weak draft class in the receiver position.”
Moving on to week three, let’s take a closer look at the performances of these five rookies and project what their stats might look like by the end of the season.
No. 8 Pick Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
Data for two weeks: 19 goals, 13 receptions, 160 yards, 1 touchdown
Full season pace: 162 goals, 111 receptions, 1,360 yards, 9 touchdowns
The USC product was the first receiver ever produced in April, and for good reason. At 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds, London has been compared to Mike Evans, another large-bodied former basketball player who has an almost unparalleled catch radius. Atlanta’s new X receiver currently leads all rookie wideouts in Pro Football Focus’s receiving grades, receptions and receiving yards, and according to TruMedia he is also earning 33 percent of his team’s total goals, after Larry The highest rate during two weeks by any rookie wide receiver from Fitzgerald in 2004.
London’s FBS-leading 19 controversial catches last season were seen as a red flag by some draft pundits, with his lack of straight-line pace often cited as the reason why he had to take so many turns in college. Had to fight for jump balls. So far in the NFL, however, he has averaged 3.8 yards per route run and consistently generated extra yards despite not keeping the wheels of some of his draft-mates.
Watch the clip below from Week 1 against the Saints, when the rookie found a soft spot in the defense and was 12 yards off the field with a cut:
London ended the play with a truck stick, but noted that he had the presence of mind to give Atlanta a chance at another play before halftime. That’s top-shelf awareness for a receiver playing in his first career game.
However, his inattention does not stop here. The rookie made similar smarts during this melee exercise with Marcus Mariota against the Rams in Week 2:
Sure, Mariota’s dynamism would have kept that drama alive, but it would have been nothing without London’s clever freelance zig route and toe-tapping sideline grab. It’s this kind of sensible, subtle drama-making – against a strong defense – that makes London look like a future star.
With the Falcons through with two games, it is clear that London is much more than a jump threat with limited speed. Right now, he’s looking as talented as the better half of Atlanta’s “Twin Towers” and other receivers in this class. Falcons fans hope Kyle Pitts joins in the fun soon.
Number 10 Pick Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
Data for two weeks: 22 goals, 12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns
Full season pace: 187 goals, 102 receptions, 1,309 yards, 17 touchdowns
The former Ohio State star smashed massively in Cleveland last weekend, displaying field-tilting speed and root-running chops that made him Danny Kelly’s top receiver in the 2022 draft.
For starters, let’s take just a second to appreciate his ultra-squiggly route chart from the Jets’ matchup with Brown:
Wilson ended the contest with 102 yards and two touchdowns, including this goal-line fade when he knocked out fellow rookie Martin Emerson Jr. with his shoe on the line of the scuffle:
What stands out about Wilson’s performance in Week 2 is how successful he was despite Joe Flacco’s accuracy issues throughout the game. Wilson won consistently fast-paced routes against the Browns, but Flacco often had the rookie behind or in the top of his head. According to PFF, three of Wilson’s 14 goals were unfinished due to foul passes, including one that would have given him his third touchdown that day:
But don’t worry, Jets fans. Flacco is a stand-in for
rising superstar Zack Wilson… who led the league in bad-throw rate last season. OK, so maybe there’s a quarterback issue in New York that will affect Wilson’s short- and long-term prospects. And hell, maybe he’ll be subject to consistently playing bad quarterback throughout his career, a la Allen Robinson II. Even in that scenario, though, it’s hard to imagine a polished Wilson—who currently leads the NFL with eight red-zone goals, including seven within the 10-yard line—failed.
For now, we must celebrate the jets’ drafting of a really good receiver that is only scratching the surface of its potential. We can save the quarterback questions for another day.
No. 11 Chris Olev, Pick the New Orleans Saints
Data for two weeks: 16 goals, 8 receptions, 121 yards, 0 touchdowns
Full season pace: 136 goals, 68 receptions, 1,029 yards, zero touchdowns
It’s clear that the Saints want to throw it deep for the 6-foot speedster that Saint wanted to draft so badly that they essentially traded five picks For the chance to pick him up in the April draft.
Over the course of two weeks, Olev leads all receivers in goals for more than 20 yards and averages an astonishing 38.7 air yards on such plays. He ranks fourth among receivers in go-route percentage (probably a blessing and a curse), and ninth in team air yard share.
Since TruMedia began tracking the figure, Olev’s 334 air yards was the third-highest by a receiver in the second week, and the highest since DeAndre Hopkins’ 22-target game in 2015. He was also the most by a rookie during that period, surpassing Odell Beckham. Junior’s 322-yard mark—even though Olev scored eight fewer goals than OBJ in that game last week.
Simply put, Jamis Winston is dodging it to this dude in the downfield. That’s the good news.
The problem is, well, Winston. On Sunday, Winston missed Olev five times, tied for the second-most wrong pass for a distinguished receiver in a game over the past two seasons.
New Orleans May want to To force-feed Olev, but no matter how many looks to the rookie, he’s doing nothing with such a pass, which comes on back-to-back plays:
Olev will go as long as his quarterback takes him—which is often too far over deep passes!—and the early returns aren’t promising. There may be some accuracy issues as Winston is playing with multiple fractures to his spine (how? why?), but he also doesn’t look much better in 2021 than he did during his last full season as a starter. Leading the league when he had thrown 30 interceptions and wrong passes.
Receivers with Olave’s athletic profile—his vertical jump and height, are ranked in the 12th and 35th percentiles, respectively, in MockDraftable’s database—can’t be expected to regularly win jump-ball opportunities, especially With a quarterback who cannot deliver the ball. -point.
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. could be planning more quickly-evolving routes to get the rookie ball into space, but that may be better for Olev’s counting stats than offense. Ultimately, despite his speed, Olev wasn’t the most electric player in college after catches, and he defended perhaps best, taking away safety assists from Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry.
With Sean Peyton no longer leading the offense and Winston playing an injury, the Ohio State out-of-favour rookie may not have the immediate effect Mickey Loomis & Co. were hoping will be the case when they try to get him to Heaven and Earth. But gone. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Olev continues to rack up air yards at an exciting rate.
No. 16 Pick Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders
Data for two weeks: 10 goals, 7 receptions, 99 yards, 3 touchdowns
Full season pace: 85 goals, 60 receptions, 842 yards, 26 touchdowns (LOL!)
Very few pundits saw it coming, but Dotson’s early-season use is off the charts in Washington, where former Nittany Lion alongside Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuels is part of a three-pronged receiver corps that looks like one of the best in football. Is. Dotson’s 93 passes in the first two weeks are the most by a rookie through his first two games since 2013, and his 141 snaps rank him third among all NFL receivers this season.
Dotson was arguably the most impressive rookie receiver in Week 1, as two of his five goals went for touchdowns. He caught another touchdown in Week 2 against the Lions, making him the first rookie pass catcher in the past decade to score three times in the first two weeks of the season.
Like the other receivers on this list, there are important questions about the quarterback wielding the ship. Carson Wentz was so bad at the end of last season that Indianopolis sent him to the Commanders just a year after trading a conditional second-rounder (who converted to first) for him.
Thus far, however, Wentz has been more than serviceable, ranking among the league’s top 10 passers in expected points added per game, passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Despite his frequent root involvement, Dotson has not been a target hunter like the three receivers he has been drafted ahead of. This is probably because Washington’s receiving core is better than the other teams’ and more plays are drawn up for experienced wideouts. Still, it’s a bit curious that Dotson has been on the field as much as he has and has taken only seven catches. His rapport with Wentz will be something to monitor going forward.
No. 18 Pick Treylon Burke, Tennessee Titans
Data for two weeks: 11 goals, 7 receptions, 102 yards, 0 touchdowns
Full season pace: 94 goals, 60 receptions, 867 yards, zero touchdowns
Burks’ first day at the Rookie Minicamp was one to remember. The new Titans receiver, whose draft rights were acquired in a trade with Eagles for pro bowler AJ Brown, had to leave the field early and was seen using an inhaler after struggling with conditioning throughout practice.
A few weeks later, it was revealed that Burke had asthma, which, although not a debilitating condition for the 22-year-old, may have come as an unpleasant surprise to the Tennessee fan base, hopefully shunned by Arkansas receiver Brown. Massive will fill the void. , The Twitter and media cycle, predictably, went wild.
During the two weeks in the regular season, it is clear that most of the off-season forage was ungrounded. The child can play.
Among qualified rookie receivers, Burkes ranks first in PFF offensive grading and yards per route run, and he has been as effective a run blocker as Robert Woods, who some say is Woods’ best run-getter in football. Blocking is one of the receivers.
Burke doesn’t have count statistics for the other four people on this list, but there is a strong argument that he is as well suited for his offense as any of them. Their participation is also increasing, as their target share has increased from 16 percent in Week 1 to 27 percent in Week 2.
Over the summer, Titans general manager John Robinson was asked if Burke needed to “replace” the Browns. His answer? “The Treylon needs to open, close and block.”
So far, so good.