Rookie Seasons of Wide Receivers Drafted in 2014—The Best Rookie Crop Ever

By Chris Malumphy

The 2014 NFL Draft may have produced the best rookie crop of wide receivers ever.

The wide receivers drafted in 2014 produced the best cumulative rookie season results of all-time, amassing 807 receptions for 10,445 yards and 81 touchdowns dwarfing the totals for the 2013 rookie crop of 493 catches, 6,900 yards and 43 touchdowns which were fairly typical totals for recent years. The next best season for rookie wideouts was 2009 which had 658 catches 9,044 yards and 53 touchdowns.

Odell Beckham Jr. led the way with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns despite only playing in 12 games for the Giants. The Buccaneers' Mike Evans excelled despite poor quarterback play in Tampa Bay with 68 catches for 1,051 yards, a 15.5 yard average and 12 touchdowns. The Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin, with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns joined Beckham and Evans to form the first trio of wide receivers from the same draft to top 1,000 yards in their rookie seasons. Buffalo's Sammy Watkins almost made it a fourth with 982 yards on 65 catches for 6 touchdowns. Beckham, Evans, Benjamin and Watkins were all first round draft picks. The sole first round pick to not put up big numbers among the wide receivers drafted in 2014 was Brandin Cooks who caught 53 balls for 550 yards and three touchdowns for the Saints.

The biggest producers from the second round were the Eagles' Jordan Mathews (67 receptions, 872 yards, 8 touchdowns) and the Dolphins' Jarvis Landry (84 catches, 758 yards, 5 touchdowns). Landry was Beckham's teammate at LSU. Allen Robinson (48 catches, 758 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Marqise Lee (37 catches, 422 yards, 1 touchdown) teamed up as rookie wideouts for the Jaguars, but it is difficult to gage their talent absent more consistent quarterbacking in Jacksonville. The Packers' Davante Adams had 38 receptions for 446 yards and 2 touchdowns while Seattle's Paul Richardson had 29 catches for 271 yards and 1 touchdown.

Third rounders John Brown (48 catches, 696 yards, 5 touchdowns) of the Cardinals and Donte Moncrief (32 catches, 444 yards and 3 touchdowns) of the Colts also showed promise. The only wide receiver drafted after round three who made an impact was the Steelers' fourth round pick Martavis Bryant with with 26 receptions for 549 yards, a whopping 21.1 yard average and 8 touchdowns.

Remarkably, the totals accumulated by the 2014 draftees were decidedly front-ended, with surprising little help provided by the 18 wide receivers drafted after the third round. In order to accumulate hefty cumulative stats for an entire draft crop, you'd normally at least a few surprises from the later rounds. Wide receivers drafted after the third round in 2014 caught only 64 passes for 971 yards and 11 touchdowns, the poorest results since 2007 and 2008 for receivers taken so late in the draft. Note that the Steelers' Martavis Bryant. a fourth round pick, accounted for more than half those yards and touchdowns. In contrast to 2014, wide receivers drafted in the fourth round or later in 2009 caught 294 pass for 3,512 yards and 22 touchdowns. There are several ways of think about these results. The first is that teams can no longer wait until later in the draft to get a good wide receiver since there is such a high premium placed on the position in the pass-happy NFL. Another thought is that these results bode well for the potential lasting power of the 2014 draftees in their pursuit of becoming the best draft crop ever over their careers since the rookie totals were overwhelmingly accumulated by the best of the best and were not contributed to significantly by less athletic players who are less likely to keep up the pace over the long term.

Wide Receivers Drafted in 2014
Name Team Round Pick Player College Team Rec Yds Avg TD
Sammy WatkinsBills144ClemsonBills6598215.16
Mike EvansBuccaneers177Texas A&MBuccaneers68105115.512
Odell Beckham Jr.Giants11212Louisiana StateGiants91130514.312
Brandin CooksSaints12020Oregon StateSaints5355010.43
Kelvin BenjaminPanthers12828Florida StatePanthers73100813.89
Marqise LeeJaguars2739USCJaguars3742211.41
Jordan MatthewsEagles21042VanderbiltEagles6787213.08
Paul RichardsonSeahawks21345ColoradoSeahawks292719.31
Davante AdamsPackers22153Fresno StatePackers3844611.73
Cody LatimerBroncos22456IndianaBroncos22311.50
Allen RobinsonJaguars22961Penn StateJaguars4854811.42
Jarvis LandryDolphins23163Louisiana StateDolphins847589.05
Josh HuffEagles32286OregonEagles89812.30
Donte MoncriefColts32690MississippiColts3244413.93
John BrownCardinals32791Pittsburg State (KS)Cardinals4869614.55
Jalen SaundersJets44104OklahomaSaints177.00
Bruce Ellington49ers46106South Carolina49ers66210.32
Shaq EvansJets415115UCLA          
Martavis BryantSteelers418118ClemsonSteelers2654921.18
Kevin NorwoodSeahawks423123AlabamaSeahawks910211.30
Ryan GrantRedskins52142TulaneRedskins7689.70
Devin StreetCowboys56146PittsburghCowboys2189.00
Jared AbbrederisPackers536176Wisconsin          
Robert HerronBuccaneers69185WyomingBuccaneers6589.71
T.J. JonesLions613189Notre Dame          
Matt HazelDolphins614190Coastal Carolina          
Walt PowellCardinals620196Murray State          
Quincy EnunwaJets633209Nebraska          
Mike CampanaroRavens73218Wake Forest          
Jeff JanisPackers721236Saginaw Valley StatePackers2168.00
James WrightBengals724239Louisiana StateBengals59118.20
Tevin ReeseChargers725240Baylor          
Jeremy GallonPatriots729244Michigan