In our continuing look at rookie seasons (Rookie QBs vs Rookie RBs), our focus now shifts to the best rookie receiving seasons of the last 20 years. It's tough to have a breakout season as a wide receiver, the position is different than a running back because there's more emphasis on the quarterback's ability to throw the ball, and teams usually have multiple options at receiver.
Last year T.Y. Hilton, buoyed by a great rookie passer in Andrew Luck, had the best rookie season. But we've had our fair share of excellent rookies the last couple years. AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Mike Williams to name a few. Let's take a look at some of the best rookie receiving seasons from the last 20 years and see where they compare.
Note: We used the threshold of a minimum 50 receptions to make the list.
On a yards per game basis, Anquan Boldin narrowly beat out Randy Moss for the best season, but he also caught 32 more balls than Randy. On a yards after the catch basis, the recent seasons by T.Y. Hilton (2012) and Julio Jones (2011) were the best at 7.9 yards per reception (after the catch). For a wide receiver that is a huge YAC number, we're used to seeing that from running backs who typically see dump/screen passes and then run for remaining yards.
The next statistic in the above table is the percentage of targets caught. This measures the percentage of catches a receiver makes versus how many balls were thrown in his direction. Eddie Royal mopped up 70% of balls thrown his way, but he failed to get anywhere near that number in his following 4 seasons.
Last but not least, on a sheer ability to hit pay dirt no one even came close to Randy Moss' rookie season. His 17 touchdowns as a rookie is an NFL record, what's more amazing is that he 'only' had 69 receptions to hit that mark, resulting in a massive 19.0 yards per catch.
2013 Breakout Rookie Receivers?
As we look to the upcoming season, who are some receivers that have the potential to crack this Top 20 list? Here are 3 to think about:
- Tavon Austin (Rams) - drafted 8th overall, he will get every opportunity as a starting WR on a team with very little depth at receiver.
- Keenan Allen (Chargers) - taken in the 3rd round, he will most likely be the Chargers 3rd or 4th receiver entering the season. But with Phillip Rivers throwing the ball, and one injury away from moving up the depth chart, Allen is someone to keep an eye on.
- DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) - someone has to lineup opposite of Andre Johnson. He's expected to be the 2nd or 3rd receiver for the Texans, and should see single man coverage all year long.