Projecting Xavier Legette's 2024 Statistics

Mar 2, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette (WO14) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette (WO14) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Xavier Legette's prospect profile mirrors this meme.

On the left, you have folks worried about his analytical profile. His late college breakout, his poor career YPRR (yards per route run) numbers, and a myriad of other data points that believe Legette will be a bust at the NFL level.

On the right, you have fans that are impressed by his size and movement skills. People who understand his lack of college production due to the situation around him at South Carolina and his run of heartbreaking issues in his personal life. I assume the person on the right is taking pictures of the scenery on his phone, but there's a tab open in another app showing a picture of Xavier Legette mounting his steed "Dolla Bill."

Legette's story will play out over a (hopefully) long career in Process Blue, but for now, he's a walking test case for the film versus analytics debate that ravages the football internet streets.

If you missed the first two installments of this projections series, check out Bryce Young here, and Diontae Johnson here.

Projecting Legette is an interesting exercise. For decades, rookie receivers failed to make an impact in the NFL. The physical and mental learning curves were too steep, and a year or two of development was necessary for young wide outs to learn game in the league.

The passing boom of the 2020s has flipped that narrative on its head. Three of the top four rookie receiving seasons of all-time have happened in the last five years, led by Puka Nacua's 2023 campaign. Nacua ended up breaking every rookie receiving record on his way to finishing as a second-team All Pro wide out.

Projecting Legette to breathe the rarified air of Nacua, Justin Jefferson, or Ja'Marr Chase's rookie season is a stretch, but those three have paved the way for the ability to project elite production out of a rookie. However, I'm not expecting Legette to set the league ablaze in year one.

It starts off with questions about Legette's role in Dave Canales' offense. Where is he going to play? X? Z? Slot? A mix of all three? What kinds of routes will Legette predominantly run? Shallow crossers, or vertical stretchers? Deep in-breakers, or routes closer to the line of scrimmage to let his YAC ability show? Will Legette even see the field in 12 or 21 personnel groupings from day one?

I have Legette pegged to receive 68 targets in his rookie season. Coincidentally the same number as 2023 Buccaneers rookie receiver Trey Palmer. Palmer, a sixth round pick out of Nebraska, quickly developed into the third option on the Buccaneers offense behind Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. I believe Legette will sit firmly behind Adam Thielen and Diontate Johnson in the pecking order his rookie season.

On those 68 targets, I project Legette to pull in 37 receptions at a 15.0 yards per reception clip. DJ Chark disappointed in his lone season in Carolina, but he was still able to rack up 15 yards per catch as the lone vertical threat in a disappointing offense. Legette's combination of speed and YAC ability should have him reach that average regardless of where on the field most of his targets come from.

37 receptions at 15 yards per adds up to 555 receiving yards in Legette's rookie season. I project Legette to hit pay dirt twice, bringing his final receiving line to 37 receptions for 555 yards and two touchdowns.

The most similar 2023 comparisons to that stat line are Arizona's Michael Wilson and Baltimore's Odell Beckham Jr. Some would see that as a disappointment. Others would be able to see through the statistics and find flashes in Legette's game that would solidify him as a building block. Which brings us back to the same discussion we had at the beginning of this...

How do you feel about X's projection?

Matt Alquiza