From the Press Box: Wide receiver-needy teams shouldn’t draft one in the first round
The 2020 NFL Draft is this upcoming Thursday and while the format will certainly be completely different than in the past, it’s still all about football and making dreams come true for young men taking their game to the next level.
This year’s draft features what’s arguably one of the best draft classes for wide receivers in recent memory.
As a Denver Broncos fan, that made my ears perk up as the Broncos are in desperate need of a speedy slot receiver to complement the young stud they have in third-year wideout Courtland Sutton.
But as the draft grows closer and the Broncos didn’t address the issue at left tackle or middle linebacker, it became more apparent to me the Broncos should wait until the second round to grab their wide receiver.
I have always had an issue with over-paying for wide receivers and spending first-round picks on them.
I also didn’t like the Dallas Cowboys paying wide receiver Amari Cooper before they paid quarterback Dak Prescott and kind of understand the Houston Texans trading DeAndre Hopkins (like the move, just feel like they should’ve got more for him).
Wide receivers generally don’t equal wins for teams.
The following receivers led the league in catches and in parenthesis is their teams final result.
Michael Thomas (Saints lost in Wildcard Round), Keenan Allen (Chargers missed playoffs), DeAndre Hopkins (Texans lost in Divisional Round), Julian Edelman (Patriots lost in Divisional Round), Julio Jones (Falcons missed playoffs), Allen Robinson (Bears missed playoffs), Cooper Kupps (Rams missed playoffs), Tyler Boyd (Bengals had worst record in league), Robert Woods (Rams missed playoffs) and D.J. Moore (Panthers missed playoffs).
It’s worth noting that these are simply wide receiver rankings in catches. Players like running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Austin Ekeler are also in the Top 10 for catches, but they play different positions.
My point is, three of the Top 10 wide receivers in the NFL made the playoffs with their teams.
For what it’s worth a wide receiver whose team made the Super Bowl doesn’t appear until No. 34 with Tyreek Hill at 58 catches.
Wide receivers are an integral piece of the puzzle, but they are only as good as the system they play in and the quarterback.
A player like Peyton Manning or Patrick Mahomes can elevate a wide receiver and make him a lot of money. But not the other way around.
If the Cowboys don’t bring Prescott back, is Cooper really going to get 79 balls from back-up Cooper Rush?
The Broncos had three different quarterbacks last year and leading receiver Courtland Sutton only had 72 catches on the year.
A good game for a wide receiver, in my opinion, is 10 catches, 150 yards and a touchdown. Michael Thomas, arguably the best receiver in the game, averaged nine catches, 172 yards and had nine touchdowns on the season (half a touchdown/game but that’s not possible).
There are other perks that come from a guy like Thomas, such as pulling extra coverage to open up other wide receivers or the run game, but statistically speaking, this is what it is.
If you are going to draft a wide receiver in the first round, you are first off hoping he isn’t a bust or injury-prone, then you want him to be a part of 10 plays/game and bring you in nine to 10 scores a year.
If you feel like your team is a wide receiver away from contending for a Super Bowl, that’s fine, take one in the first round. Chances are you’re picking in the back 10 of the first round anyways.
But, in the case of the Broncos, they have other needs they need to address with players who are more likely to contribute right away and more often than a wide receiver.
John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jcl1987.