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NFL Could be Entering Golden Age of Wide Receivers

The NFL has become a passing league as of late and the majority of the emphasis is placed on the quarterback. While there are some great quarterbacks in the league, not enough credit is given to the wide receivers who make these quarterbacks look so good. Right now, there is an influx of good young wide receiver talent and it should make for a better product which the league is striving for.

Over the course of the NFL’s history there have been some great wide receivers that have come into the league. While Jerry Rice still remains as one of the best of all time, lately there has been a noticeable drop off. There have been wide receivers taken in the first round of drafts, but very rarely do these players make a significant impact in their first year. Even players who are the best today like Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown weren’t superstars their first season. Here is what some of the top receivers did in their first year in the NFL:

 

Name GP Catches Rec Yards TD
Calvin Johnson 15 48 756 4
Dez Bryant 12 45 561 6
Jordy Nelson 16 33 366 2
Antonio Brown 9 16 167 0
Demaryius Thomas 10 22 283 2

 

In last year’s draft, there were five wide receivers taken in the first round and three of them were taken within the first 12 picks. The three rookies were Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins and each had incredible seasons as they combined for over 3,000 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. took over the NFL with his amazing catches and was an easy Pro Bowl selection as he finished the season with 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. People may be surprised to know that Beckham wasn’t the first wide receiver taken off the board. Also, Beckham missed the first four games of the season due to a hamstring injury so imagine what type of damage he can do in a full season.

 

Name GP Catches Rec Yards TD
Odell Beckham Jr 12 91 1,305 12
Mike Evans 15 68 1,051 12
Sammy Watkins 16 65 982 6

 

Other than Beckham, there was Sammy Watkins who was taken with the No. 4 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills and Mike Evans who was taken No. 7 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both of these teams had inconsistent quarterback play and made changes during the season, but the rookie receivers were able to work well with the second quarterback. Evans had one of the best stretches of any receiver when he had 458 yards and five touchdowns over a three week period. Now the Buccaneers think they have their quarterback in Jameis Winston.

Watkins was the least impressive out of the top wide receivers taken, but still had a decent season with just under 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He dealt with some nagging injuries during the second half of the season, but the Bills have an idea of who will be their quarterback going into this season and it will be interesting to see what happens when he has a full season with the same quarterback. He also needed to do a little growing up as he was a little bit of a showboat, which cost his team at least one touchdown.

Imagine what Sammy Watkins will do to the NFL when he's got a capable quarterback throwing passes his way.

Imagine what Sammy Watkins will do to the NFL when he’s got a capable quarterback throwing passes his way.

What is great about these young receivers is that each two of them did not play with an elite level quarterback. The one who really looked the best was Beckham who was playing with a two time Super Bowl MVP in Eli Manning. Evans had to deal with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon and Tampa Bay was one of the worst passing attacks ranked in the bottom third in passing yards and touchdowns. Watkins had the least working with him as he started the season with EJ Manuel who can be seen as a bust, but once the team switched to Kyle Orton he improved.

In this year’s NFL Draft, there was another influx of wide receivers as six more were taken in the first round with two in the Top 10. there will be two more rookie wide receivers that are set to take the league by storm. The Oakland Raiders drafted Amari Cooper with the fourth pick and then three picks later the Chicago Bears took Kevin White. Both of these wide receivers are playing with some higher rated quarterbacks, so they could be in store for some big rookie seasons. Time will ultimately tell how these young receivers will do, but early word has been positive.

The NFL has accommodated the evolving offense as they have implemented new rules to help out wide receivers. The league put more emphasis on defensive holding and with the league making money off of fantasy football which has become one of the biggest forms of entertainment in America. With a fresh new set of young wide receivers, expect a lot more offense in the NFL and some great seasons for quarterbacks and wide receivers alike. So often the quarterback gets the praise, but now it is time for the wide receivers to bring up the play of their quarterback and there are a couple in the NFL that can now.





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