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When a team drafts a wide receiver in the
11-30-2018, 06:06 AM,
Post: #1
When a team drafts a wide receiver in the
first round of the NFL draft , many fans expect to get the equivalent of a Calvin Johnson, a Julio Jones, or an Odell Beckham without the mouth and attitude. Guys who (barring injury) have consistently produced 1,000+ yard seasons. Nobody expects their team to draft a player like Charles Rogers, whom the Lions drafted with the second overall pick in 2004 but was out of the league after just three years due to injuries and off-field issues. In those three years, Rogers totaled 440 yards in 15 games. The reality is that there is no guarantee that you’ll land a franchise player in the first round of the draft, not at wide receiver, and not at any other position in the draft. And you may have to wait a while before that first-round wide receiver produces the way you were hoping for. 73 wide receivers were drafted in the first round between 2000 and 2017. Only five of them (7%) totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards in their rookie seasons. So expecting a 1,000+ yard season from a first-round rookie is simply unrealistic. If we lower that threshold to 800+ receiving yards we get 16 first-round wide receivers (22%) who’ve met that threshold in their rookie seasons. And while the first round is the most likely place to find these 800+ yard rookies, it is not the only place: an additional 15 wide receivers drafted since 2000 put up 800+ yard rookie seasons. Here’s an overview of all 31 players:The Cowboys haven’t invested a lot of high draft picks into the wide receiver position this decade. Dez Bryant was their last first-round WR in 2010, Terrance Williams and Michael Gallup were added with third-round picks in 2013 and 2018 respectively, and the Cowboys have supplemented their picks with UDFAs like Miles Austin and Cole Beasley. And now they’ve spent a 1st-rounder on Amari Cooper. Here’s a look at how long it took for each of those players to reach the 800+ yard threshold: If Dez Bryant hadn’t fractured his ankle in his rookie season, he’d have probably exceeded 800 yards in each of his first five seasons in the league, a feat that’s only been achieved by six wide receivers since 1990 (A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Keyshawn Johnson, Randy Moss, Frank Sanders).Williams cracked 800 in his third season, Austin in his fourth season, and Beasley in his fifth season. With 190 yards in six games, Michael Gallup is currently on track for a little over 500 receiving yards. His production over the last few games has improved, so his arrow is pointing up, but he’ll have to average 60 yards per game for the rest of the season to hit 800 receiving yards , and that may be difficult given the Cowboys’ run-oriented offense and Amari Cooper’s arrival, but it’s not impossible.With the trade for Cooper, a lot of chatter over the last couple of days has centered around whether investing a first-round pick in next year’s draft or investing that pick in Cooper will be the magic bullet that fixes what’s ailing the Cowboys’ offense.There is no clear-cut answer to that question, as you’d have to factor in cap implications, assumptions about the quality of QB play, assumptions about a potential rookie’s performance, and much more into the equation and would still end up with no clear answer.But what we can do is look at how easy or hard it is for first-round wide receivers to have an immediate impact in their first year in the NFL. The table below shows the percentage of draft picks, by round, that totaled 800+ receiving yards, split by the first five seasons of their career.For the rookie season, I looked at all wide receivers drafted between 2000 and 2017, for the second season, I looked at all wide receivers drafted between 2000 and 2016, the third year is limited to 2000-2015 and so on. I chose the fifth year as the cut off for this analysis, as that’s typically the length of the first contract the first-round wide receivers sign.Observation # 1: You’ve got to be really lucky to draft a first-round wide receiver who’ll become a significant contributor immediately.Only 22% of all first-round picks (or a little less than a quarter) hit the 800-yard threshold in their rookie season. Things look better in the second and third years, where about two out of five first-rounders hit the 800-yard mark, but frankly, two out five isn’t particularly impressive.The Cowboys have been pretty impressed by their own track record in the first round (Stephen Jones: “We’ve had an extended amount of success with our number one draft picks”), but you can only defy the odds for so long.Rabblerousr goes on to add that the Patriots are one team aware of this difficulty, and as a result have tended to trade draft picks for WRs instead of using their picks to draft WRs. That way they get guys who have proven they can win in the NFL. Observation # 2: Almost half of all receivers drafted in the first round never achieve 800+ yards receiving in their career.Russel Clay of put together the following chart (which provided the inspiration for this post) showing the number of 800+ yards receiving seasons by draft round. Clay’s chart is a little different than mine in that he looks at how many 800+ yard seasons a player has over his career, whereas I focused more on when players have their 800+ yard seasons - if it all.Per Clay’s chart, only 56% of all wide receivers drafted in the first round have at least one 800+ yard over their entire career. Which means almost half of all first-rounders never reach that 800-yard threshold. Talk about draft busts!Both approaches agree that the odds of hitting on a wide receiver who will become a significant contributor quickly and consistently are not good. Observation # 3: Amari Cooper will likely outperform a 2019 first-round rookie in his (first) two years in Dallas.Cooper will likely already produce this season, something a 2019 pick won’t be able to. Also, Cooper’s track record (two Pro-Bowl seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards Youth Travis Frederick Jersey , and one season of 680) suggests he’ll be the No. 1 receiver in Dallas in 2019 and should hit 800+ yards. The odds are stacked against a first-round pick hitting that mark in his rookie season.Of course, part of the allure of a first-round pick is that you get him for relatively cheap on his five-year rookie contract, and that’s something that Cooper won’t offer, especially if the Cowboys sign him beyond 2019.The Cowboys paid a steep price for Cooper, but as rabblerousr argues in the Twitter thread above, they are getting a proven WR rather than taking a gamble on a dude who *might* emerge in 2021. Dane Brugler offers a similar argument:Observation # 4: 2019 looks to be a weak wide receiver classThis has nothing to do with stats, but the consensus seems to be building that next year will be a weak first-round class for wide receivers.Bucky Brooks of writes that there’s not a Top 10-worthy WR in the 2019 draft class, and that snagging Cooper (Top 5 pick/2x Pro Bowler) is a better option than picking a WR next year despite Cooper’s flaws.Gil Brandt, formerly of the Cowboys and now also at, looked at the top 50 players for the 2019 draft (including underclassmen he thinks are coming out) and didn’t see a wide receiver in the Top 25. He goes on to say that the Cowboys would be reaching for a wide receiver less capable than Cooper, regardless of where they’ll end up drafting.Dane Brugler of The Athletic doesn’t have a wide receiver in his Top 25.What this all means for the CowboysWR depth can be found everywhere in the draft. If you are looking for a No. 2 or No. 3 guy,you can get a guy like that on the second or third day of the draft, or you can get a cheap, proven veteran in free agency to do just that job. This what the Cowboys did this year, and as Todd Archer of ESPN points out, by acquiring Cooper the Cowboys are effectively admitting that the WR committee was a mistake.If you’re looking for that elusive No. 1 receiver, you’ll probably need to invest a first-round pick and you’d better make sure the guy you get for that investment is going to be a difference maker. And the data of the last 17 years shows that those guys are hard to come by in the NFL draft.Cowboys vs. Giants: Five bold predictions for the game Sunday night It’s pretty intense how gigantic a Week 2 game feels. The Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on Sunday night, and when they do both teams will be fighting for a win, and more important, for the right to not start the season 0-2.Everyone knows the story about how the 1993 Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 with Emmitt Smith holding out, hampering the team’s chances early on. People are also very aware of the New York Giants also started off 0-2 in 2007 before they’d break Cowboys fans hearts in the divisional round of the playoffs months later. As you know, both of these teams won the Super Bowl. Those are exceptions to the rule, 0-2 is a huge hole.A Cowboys and Giants showdown on Sunday Night Football is a staple in today’s NFL so it’s a bit poetic that it would be these teams, these rivals, looking to outlast the other in what feels like a game of survival this week. Either franchise will look to their past should they be the one to lose Youth Cole Beasley Jersey , but neither wants that to be an option. 1-1 is the goal.This game is epic, there’s no way to deny that. Let’s hope it’s a lot of fun with the kind of result that we like. Here are this week’s bold predictions.Anthony Brown will pick off Eli Manning The forgotten man in the secondary a year ago, Anthony Brown made us all remember him in the 2017 season opener when he picked off Eli Manning. It was the second interception of Brown’s career and the second off of Eli. Funny how that works out. What’s the old saying? If you do something twice in a row it’s a tradition? Well Anthony has picked off Eli two years in a row so literally 100% of data supports that he’ll intercept him this year, right? Right?Obviously there are two instances where Brown will be eligible to pick off Eli, but let’s go ahead and cash this out right now please and thanks.The Giants won’t cross midfield in the first halfIf there’s one thing on the Cowboys that we’re all universally confident in, it’s the defense. Dallas has a bevy of playmakers at every level on that side of the ball and they get to feature DeMarcus Lawrence against Ereck Flowers, which is a very good thing.The New York Giants put together over 300 total yards of offense in their season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars which is a little shocking when you say it out loud given the caliber of that defense. It’s not like the G-Men had a great day against the Jags, and it’s not like Eli Manning stopped being himself since then.Dallas is going to try and put together long and methodical drives when they’re on offense early on and when you couple that with who their defense is against who the Giants are, it doesn’t seem like they’ll have success early on.No Cowboys receiver will catch a touchdownThis game has the feel of a lot of field goals and very few touchdowns overall, but I do think that we’re going to see Dak Prescott throw one or two; however, they won’t be to wide receivers.Remember when Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs went something 148 games in a row without throwing a touchdown to a wide receiver? That’s what it feels like we’re on the verge of. Troy Aikman questioned the creativity (the lack of it, obviously) within the Cowboys offense last week, and that’s hardly something that gets fixed in seven days.We’re going to see some tight end, fullback, and/or running back-caught touchdowns against the Giants. Reminds me of Deon Anderson 10 years ago. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesJason Garrett will go for at least one fourth downThe Cowboys are 0 for 1 on fourth down conversions this season, and you never want that to be the case. People like to accuse Jason Garrett of being a conservative head coach (a topic for another day), but going for it on fourth down isn’t something he’s afraid of. You can see this materializing. The Cowboys will have the ball about 10 yards past midfield, be facing a 4th and 1, and Jason Garrett will leave the offense out there. What will happen when he goes for it? Will they hand the ball to Zeke, utilize some play action, or let Dak Prescott run some sort of RPO? We’ll have to wait and see.The Cowboys will hold the lead after every quarterAs this does feel like a low-scoring game it doesn’t feel like we’re going to have a whole lot of change. You can just sense that points are going to be hard to come by and something each team is really going to have to work for. The Cowboys won both of their meetings against the Giants last season, and they really exploded on offense in the second one. Obviously these two teams know each other very well, but the Cowboys seem to be the more desperate team and sometimes that’s enough to win out.Let’s hope that’s the case.

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