Small wonder: Success of rookie wide receivers trending downward
The prototypical NFL receiver is big and fast, capable of making big plays down the field by either out-muscling or simply out-running the defenders. Think
Teams are constantly trying to find such players, which is why in the first round of this year's draft the Raiders, 49ers, Giants and Titans took
Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound
What about the big boys? They had virtually no impact. The biggest of the bunch, Buffalo's
So, what gives?
"I really don't know," said Royal when asked about the discrepancy between big and small. "I think we were fortunate to be in good situations with good offenses."
There is some truth to that sentiment given that Royal and Jackson caught balls from
None of the receivers I spoke with had a good explanation, so I asked somebody on the other side of the ball, someone who has to cover these guys for a living -- Bills cornerback
One school of thought, piggybacking off what gives McGee problems, is that it takes bigger receivers longer to learn how to fight off the jam at the line of scrimmage, whereas smaller guys use their quicks, which is more natural for a rookie or young player.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to intimate that the era of the dominant man-child receiver is over. Not even close. In fact, Arizona's
But there has to be something to this when it comes to rookie wideouts in the modern NFL making an impact. What is that expression again? Once (Royal) is an accident, twice (Jackson) is a coincidence, but three (Avery) times is a trend. It certainly seems to be the case based on last season, especially when you consider how little their oversized counterparts did.
What does all this mean for this year's rookies? I would keep my eyes on Minnesota's
Given last year's trend among second-rounders, maybe this big vs. small debate is not just limited to the big-money picks. It will be interesting to see how undersized 2009 third-rounders like Seattle's