Headlines

The 2015 NFL Rookie WR Class Leaves Plenty To Be Desired

on

The 2014 NFL Draft class of rookie receivers was one of the best if not the best we have ever witnessed.

New York Giants Odell Beckham missed four games and still managed an astonishing 91 catches for 1,305 yards, with 12 touchdowns. Beckham disposed of the stringent learning curve many receivers endure and dominated like Randy Moss did his rookie season.

If Beckham was not good enough, the draft class is filled with others that possibly could surpass Beckham (hard to imagine) and find themselves considered the best of the 2014 NFL Draft class.

The Buffalo Bills selected Sammy Watkins fourth-overall and despite the lack of consistent quarterback play, he demonstrated the ability to be a game changer and has the play-making ability to become one of the elite receivers in the league.

The list of other first-round talents were Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans (seventh-overall), New Orleans Saints’ Brandin Cooks (20th-overall) and Carolina Panthers’ Kelvin Benjamin (28th-overall).

Hard to imagine, but it is true that everyone of those first-round rookies in 2014 proved to be worth the selection and are showing incredible upside.

We haven’t even mentioned the receivers selected after the first-round that include a pair of Jacksonville Jaguars receivers in Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee (second round), Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Matthews (second round) and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Martavis Bryant (fourth round) just to mention a few in the jam packed mega-talented class from 2014.

Unfortunately, the 2015 NFL Draft class of receivers are set to hit the stage with astronomical expectations.

This year’s current class had six first-round draft selections compared to the five taken last year. The list of current first-round rookies include Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper (fourth-overall), Chicago Bears’ Kevin White (seventh-overall), Miami Dolphins’ DeVante Parker (14th-overall), Philadelphia Eagles’ Nelson Agholor (20th-overall), Baltimore Ravens’ Breshad Perriman (26th-overall) and the Indianapolis Colts Phillip Dorsett (29th-overall).

“It’s was awesome,” were the words used by Oakland Raiders second-year quarterback Derek Carr on playing with his rookie receiver Cooper. “I knew I wanted to get him some touches. I want to get him as many as we can in the preseason. That way he just gets the feel for it and all those things.”

Cooper is the most likely candidate getting the 2015 class off to a quick and productive start.

One of the most decorated receivers leaving college football over the last decade Cooper still has his work cut out for him regarding the production he’ll need to achieve to match the previous rookie class.

It is already becoming increasingly clear that the current group of rookies receivers will have a tough time duplicating the marvelous campaign put together by last years rookie receiver draft class.

The Bears’ rookie receiver Kevin White’s rookie season is nearing disaster mode after sustaining a stress fracture in his shin during OTAs and will miss at least the first six regular-season games. Add in the fact that the last time the Mountaineers had an elite first-round prospect deliver the goods (never) from the offensive end leaves White with plenty of catching (no pun intended) up to do.

White is not alone in the current dilemma of battling injuries.

“I hate that he’s missing it, hate that he’s not out here,” said Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh referring to his rookie receiver Breshad Perriman who has missed camp. “I have a knot in the pit of my stomach in some ways about it. In other ways, I know it’s all out of our control, and I’ll put it in God’s hands and let him take care of it. To me, that’s the best strategy, right there.”

The Ravens first round pick has been unable to go with a knee injury leaving the Ravens looking for a deep threat replacement with former Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith signing with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency earlier this year.

Miami Dolphins first-round pick Devante Parker still hasn’t suited up for the team and there’s no guarantee he will be available for opening day either.

“When he’s ready to go, we’re ready for him,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said.

Of course Odell Beckham proved last season that it’s not completely necessary to have a full training camp and preseason of work to still be effective.  With that said, it’s a major anomaly, just like the 2014 NFL Draft class of wide receivers.

A total of six receivers were selected in the first round this year and that ties the highest mark in the last seven years (2007). It is conceivable NFL personnel didn’t want to miss out on another flurry of talented players and decided to up the ante.

In comparison, no receiver was taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

 

It’s more than reasonable to expect a let down.

Optimism remains, but the harsh reminder of the learning curve to excel from the collegiate to pro level that somehow last year’s rookie receiver class mastered is like a sixth-grader mastering geometry.

Any draft class, especially one year removed from the historic debut of Beckham and company, are going to be judged unfairly.

Usually there are a handful of receivers drafted in every NFL Draft in Round One. The results are usually 50/50 that NFL teams can get it right.

For every Calvin Johnson there is a Charles Rogers and for every Darrius Heyward-Bey there is a Demaryius Thomas.

So for every Amari Cooper there is a…


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.