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Rookie Receivers: Who's Catching On

We have spent considerable time in the first half of the season chronicling the lack of production from the three pass catchers the Redskins took in the second round (trading out of their first-round pick to do so). In fact, the Redskins have received essentially no contributions from the 10-man draft class, apart from seventh-round pick Chris Horton (who has been very solid as a starter and has exceeded expectations).

This was considered a poor draft for receivers, yet the Skins splashed big on them despite serious needs elsewhere. Under Joe Gibbs, the philosophy was clear - deal multiple picks to move up and get the guy you think is best of the breed. It was quality over quantity (moving up to draft Chris Cooley, Jason Campbell and Rocky McIntosh in a four-year span under Gibbs).

Under Vinny Cerrato, it was just the opposite in his first draft as the overlord of all things Redskin. He did nothing in free agency and stockpiled picks, banking on compensatory picks (and using one of those on Horton looks pretty genius right now). He went for quantity, at this point, over quality. Over time several of these kids might become stars, but the team opted to go heavy for what they believed to be a need at the top of the draft with the expectation that these kids could help fill a void for bigger, younger receivers right away. Most weeks, Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly don't even get on the field for any considerable amount of time.

The second round ended up containing three wideouts who have already made a great impression and helped their teams win with monster performances. Donnie Avery is coming on for St. Louis as a big-play, downfield threat, using the bomb he caught against the Redskins as a springboard after being slowed the first month of the season (he was injured most of training camp). Eddie Royal (VaTech) and DeSean Jackson have been game-breakers, too, from Week 1. A lot of guys in this group lack the size the Skins coveted, but, bottom line, many of them are producing.

Here's a look at the second-round WRs at the midpoint of the season:

Donnie Avery (STL), 33rd overall
20 catches for 337 yards 2 TDs
(6 catches for 163 yards vs. the Pats Sunday; 14 catches for 291 yards and 2 TDs in last 3 games)

Devin Thomas (WAS), 34th
5 catches for 49 yards

Jordy Nelson (GB), 36th
16 catches for 177 yards and 1 TD

James Hardy (BUFF), 41st
7 catches for 66 yards and 1 TD

Eddie Royal (DEN), 42nd
39 catches for 392 yards 2 TDs
(second on team in receiving, has two 100-yard games, 3rd in the NFL with 13.6 average per punt)

Jerome Simpson (CIN), 46th
1 catch for 2 yards

DeSean Jackson (PHI), 49th
32 catches for 505 yards and 1 TD
(leads team in receiving, has a punt-return TD, 3 games of 98 yards or more, 5 of 70 or more, 9th in the NFL in punt return average)

Malcolm Kelly (WAS), 51st
1 catch for 6 yards

Limas Sweed (PIT), 53rd
4 catches for 39 yards

Dexter Jackson (TB), 58th
No catches; handling kickoff and punt returns

Three tight ends were taken in the second round:

John Carlson (SEA), 38th overall
20 catches for 214 yards and 2 TDs
(leads team in receptions and yards)

Fred Davis (WAS), 48th
1 catch for 6 yards

Martellus Bennett (DAL), 61st
8 catches for 145 yards and 1 TD
(34-yard TD catch in Week 7)

The Redskins are ill-equipped to compensate for any sort of medical issues to receiver Santana Moss, and that hamstring is going to get a lot of attention over the second half of the season. He is Jason Campbell's favorite target as well as the lone deep threat and is utterly irreplaceable at this point. Devin Thomas is supposed to be the guy to complement him eventually, and if he is able to make any significant progress the second half it would bode very well for the team.

I have a feeling this won't be the last time we flash back to the top of this draft and compare and contrast, and, with 13 of the 32 players in this round either WRs or TEs, there is a significant group to evaluate.

By Jason La Canfora  |  October 28, 2008; 8:15 AM ET
 
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Comments

Overlord?

Posted by: bmo63 | October 28, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I think he prefers, "The Executive Vice President of the Most High."

Posted by: bmo63 | October 28, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the Fred Davis pick (But why aren't we using him?), but there is a reason Thomas and Kelly were projected to be higher and everyone passed on them.

Posted by: Rypien11 | October 28, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

10 wide recievers listed above.

6 of the ten have fewer than 10 catches.

I'd be more interested in knowing how many of these guys came right in and started right away OVER an established vet??

Question for all those who/whom attend games at FedEx on a regular basis. Do I need to buy a parking pass for the game that I'm going to, or what is the best manner in which to get TO the field??

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

John Carlson (SEA), 38th overall
20 catches for 214 yards and 2 TDs
(leads team in receptions and yards)

Shows just how pathetic the Seahawks are, more so than Fred Davis not being a good pick....when a rookie TE is leading your team in receiving....

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Typical urine in the cornflakes type of post from JLC towards Cerratto. It's not good enough to be 6-2 at this point WITHOUT the contributions of the 2nd rounders? Is it possible that they aren't contributing because the immediate need isn't dire and Moss/Randle-El/Cooley are playing at a high level? Those other teams NEEDED their rookies to be impactful immediately. For all of the whining JLC did about not drafting OL/DL, the OL seems to be doing just fine (with the NFL's leading rusher) and the DL is holding up pretty well also with the 6th overall and 5th vs the run rankings at the midpoint. Find some other way to grind that Snyderatto axe JLC.

Posted by: jaldrichl | October 28, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't JLC preaching that we needed to be building through the draft and not using draft picks and cap space on free agents, If you are going to build with draft you must have patience, i'm not saying they made the best picks but they have got to have time. Would JLC rather Moss went down and Thomas was forced to have 20-25 cathes like some of the others have. Some people are never happy but still keep grinding that ax.

Posted by: Tappahannock | October 28, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Metro metro metro beantown…can’t wait to go this Monday either!

Posted by: bms46and2 | October 28, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

There are also cash lots that have regular shuttles going to and from the field.

Posted by: TeeSkins | October 28, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

bms, I'm an out of towner, is the Metro the bus, or subway line??

Thanks....

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Another meaningless post. Again, good teams draft for depth and the future. bad teams draft for the "now".

Lets take a look at some receivers rookie years:

C.Johnson: 28 rec, 329yds, 1TD
T. Owens: 35 rec, 520 yds, 4TD
P. Burress: 22 rec, 273 yds, 0TD
S. Moss: 2 rec, 40 yds, 0TD
S. Smith: 10 rec, 154 yds, 0TD


My point is, this is a meaningless debate. As pointed out above, many Pro-Bowl WR's do not contribute at all there rookie years. The stats speak for themselves. Point is Royal, Jackson, & Avery went to non-playoff teams, with sub-par receiving corps. The Skins are solid at the position and drafted for depth and the future, which is what good teams do. Awesome job by Vinny and the crew! I also guarantee Randle El would start over any one of those guys on any of those teams they play for. If ARE got that many balls thrown to him, he would exceed those rookie's numbers. Moss is our #1 threat, and that is why he is 5th in the NFL in receiving. Thomas & Kelly are learning the offense and learning from some of the best.

Posted by: cj658 | October 28, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Wow just wow! I can't wait for the Ravens game and hope we beat the hell out of them. Why don't you pull up first round picks and see how may have an impact on their teams?

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | October 28, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

And here we go again!!!! 6-2, playing good football, 2-1 in the best division in football.....let's beat a dead horse again and again and again!!! Unf'nbelievable!! I guess the wind is blowing and the wet rag, sorry small wash cloth, that is Lacantwrite is at it again!!

Posted by: Lacantwrite | October 28, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

jaldrichl: couldn't agree more. You hit the nail on the head!!!

Posted by: cj658 | October 28, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

cj makes probably the best point to counter this post. Avery, Jackson and Royal all went to situations where they are either starting outright, or forced into started due to injury. I'm sorry but its a totally different set of circumstances, you can't compare the two situations.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

bms, I'm an out of towner, is the Metro the bus, or subway line??

Thanks....

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse


Beantown,

Back in the 80's, many bars would provide bus service to/from the game, serving beer/food both ways. Don't know if this is still happening, but I suspect the alcohol part isn't. Anyone know?

Posted by: cosomfla | October 28, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Jasno,

Thanks for putting up the numbers which seem to prove that with rookie WRs, you don't really get much. 6 of 10 with less than ten catches? Makes Thomas and Kelly seem better than I'd realized.

The receivers who are putting up decent numbers are on teams where the receivers were so weak that they had to start, or rely on, rookies. That's not the Redskins, is it?

And if Santana Moss does go out for a while, then Thomas gets more passes thrown to him and suddenly his numbers will go up like Jackson's or Avery's. Likewise, if Cooley goes down, then Davis will get more passes and his numbers will go up. Frankly, I like the way things have been going so far.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | October 28, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

Depending on were you are staying while you are here, there are metro buses that will take you to the stadium. if you are staying in DC you will have to take the metro train to Landover and then ride the bus to the stadium.

Posted by: Flounder21 | October 28, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

J La, stop bashing and go do some sit ups you pudgey ba$tard!

Posted by: TonyButterFingersHomo1 | October 28, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

We do not need the rookies to play that much that is a good thing, and if we have an injury then Thomas will get in and get alot more balls.

We are the only team in the league with three receivers that have over 30 catches, stop talking about the draft you dumba$$.

Posted by: Flounder21 | October 28, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

In response to "thecork" yesterday. You are an idiot just like LaCanfora. You harp on the fact how Avery had more yards in one week than all our rookies. Who else is Bulger going to throw to? Holt is getting washed up. Again the Skins have the 5th best receiver and 3 guys with at least 30 balls caught.

I guess according to your logic, Steve Smith and Plax were bad draft picks because they didn't help their teams out their rookie seasons? Good work Cork, you and LaCanfora are absolutely brilliant.

Posted by: cj658 | October 28, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Greg - If you're driving in, there are cash lots available where you don't need a parking pass. I believe they usually charge $20. If it's not too cold and you're early enough you can find a cash lot not too far from the stadium and walk over. It's a good walk but doable.

Posted by: executivesource | October 28, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Avery's playing for the Rams. Their record is 2-5.

Royal's playing for the Broncos. Their record is 4-3.

Jackson's playing for Philadelphia. Their record is 4-3.

Carlson's playing for Seattle. Their record is 2-5.

On the other end, players with low numbers are playing for teams like Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Dallas.

So what lessons are there in this? Jasno doesn't probe this at all. My guess is that if you want to have good record, you shouldn't play rookies at receiver. Or, if the causation is reversed, then if your rookie WRs are putting up big numbers, then your record won't be very good.

The big outlier is Jerome Simpson: 1 reception and the Bengals are 0-8.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | October 28, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I have seen Devin Thomas play (on TV), he is fast and athletic, he seems to have alot of potential. And from what I read from Post/Media, injured Malcom Kelly sounds like a player. Fred Davis is just not getting his chance with All Pro Cooley playing so well.

I think we have to look back after a few seasons or so to tell how well Skins/Vinny Cerrato did in this years draft.

Posted by: sonny275 | October 28, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

jlc should go somewhere else to do sports. he is like wilbon a fan of some other team. how can he be considered an insider. the skins probably do not allow him in the locker room. he is to wishy washy just like politicians.

Posted by: rls1041 | October 28, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Question for all those who/whom attend games at FedEx on a regular basis. Do I need to buy a parking pass for the game that I'm going to, or what is the best manner in which to get TO the field??

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 28, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I would get a parking pass. The shuttles are crowded and you don't want to be waiting around for them after the game. Get a Red parking pass. It will be the cheapest and, though the lots are slightly further from the stadium, they are the easiest lots to get your car out from after the game. If you want to spend a little more money then get a Green lot pass. You will then park adjacent to the stadium. Paying for anything closer than a Green pass is just extravagant and a waste of money. You can see a map of the lots at Redskins.com. There are sidewalks to the stadium from the Red lots (though you will have to cross some streets at cross walks). If you park in the Green lot you will walk through the parking lot to the stadium and not have to cross any streets on foot.

Posted by: Ehren | October 28, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Just another worthless jab at Vinny. For any of the rooks to make contributions, there would have to be injuries. Luckily we have depth at OL, WR, TE, DE and CB. So none of the picks have been needed immediatley. The only place where we needed immediate help was at safety due to the death of ST, ergo Chris Horton has stepped up.

JLC in his earnest attempt to make Vinny look bad glosses over alot situational facts just to pull a post out his butt crack.

Nice work Jerk!

Posted by: Predator48 | October 28, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

jlc should go somewhere else to do sports. he is like wilbon a fan of some other team. how can he be considered an insider. the skins probably do not allow him in the locker room. he is to wishy washy just like politicians.

Posted by: rls1041 | October 28, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

This is a piece that didn't need to be written. The general consensus around the NFL is that it takes two years to develop wide receivers and we are just halfway through season one. To make statements intimating who is a bust and who is not at this point is nothing short of completely moronic. JLC needs to do his homework before writing such an irresponsible piece.

In addition, seems to me I remember some people in this town intimating the same thing about Jason Campbell during his rookie and sophomore seasons. Anyone remember those comments that he couldn't possibly be as good as they thought or he wouldn't be carrying the clipboard anymore. They sure got that one right didn't they?

Lastly, concerning the Cerratto bashing we hear all the time. Compare Vinny's drafting record to the man who was "undeservedly fired" (Charley "we didn't fire him soon enough" Casserly). It speaks for itself.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 28, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Get over it guys. JLC is spot on.

The reason that players like Avery and Royal are doing well is because they came it to camp in shape and ready, not just because they are need.

We NEED Kelly and Thomas - or at least one of these guys to be productive. They are hardly in shape and have shown their misgivings with understand a very basic west coast offense.

Cerrato should not be handling player personnel. We need to bulk up our O/D-Line...that is planning for the future. Not drafting three pass catchers with three second round pics.

Go Skins.

Posted by: cissaq | October 28, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Get over it guys. JLC is spot on.

The reason that players like Avery and Royal are doing well is because they came it to camp in shape and ready, not just because they are need.

We NEED Kelly and Thomas - or at least one of these guys to be productive. They are hardly in shape and have shown their misgivings with understand a very basic west coast offense.

Cerrato should not be handling player personnel. We need to bulk up our O/D-Line...that is planning for the future. Not drafting three pass catchers with three second round pics.

Go Skins.

Posted by: cissaq | October 28, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I think a big issue is why they dont use D Thomas or J Tryon as a punt returner. I mean, using rookies for kicks is not that risky and it prevents Moss from getting banged-up.

Posted by: vincentc | October 28, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

more proof that JLC is a d-bag

Posted by: jonthefisherman | October 28, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

jalaca - must be tough to see the skins actually winning. rookies that perform during their rookie season are the exception, not the rule. Wait to next year and then make the analysis. Starting to wonder if this is getting personal for you with your cousin Vinny.

Posted by: flancaster99us | October 28, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

So we really expected 2 rookie wideouts to make an impact when the coach explicitly said that he did not expect them to make an impact? We thought they would be the next Colston type rookies when he specifically said he did not expect ANY rookie wideout to make a significant contribution. Think maybe his apprehension to play rookie wideouts has anything to do with their lack of playing time? We thought they were going to come in and unseat Santana Moss, Randle El and Chris Cooley? 1 is hobbled, the other is making an impact on special teams, and the 3rd is behind one of the best pass catching tight ends in the game today. This post is absurd and irrelevant. Who is to say that if Devin Thomas were not on the Eagles or with the Broncos that he wouldn't have the same or better numbers? Different coach, different depth chart and different offensive schemes. Of course that type of consideration does not allow JLC to bash Cerrato, so it is quickly dismissed and the facts that support bashing management are used. Pathetic and sad. I am done with this blog.

Posted by: mmmhmmm | October 28, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Jason La Can't spellas personal beef with Vinny is plainly obvious and it's funny to watch.

Denver, Philly, and St. Louis needed immediate production and so their rookies were pressed into immediate service. I don't particularly love Vinny, but anyone who blames him for Kelly being hurt is a total moron. Oh, I'm sorry, JLC's "anonymous league sources" knew all along that he was injury prone right?

Too funny......

Posted by: jahs4fun | October 28, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Don't pay too much attention to La Canfora's opinions, he's a Raven's fan waiting for an opportunity to open up at the Baltimore Sun. Please give rookies at least two or three years before you pass judgment.

BeantownGreg,
The best little known spot to park at Fedex Field is to take Arena Dr. toward the stadium. Take a left at Brightseat Rd before you get to the church. On your left will be a business park that allows parking for the games. It's close enough that you can still walk to the stadium and avoid the shuttle bus!

Posted by: Burg_gold_blood | October 28, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Don't pay too much attention to La Canfora's opinions, he's a Raven's fan waiting for an opportunity to open up at the Baltimore Sun. Please give rookies at least two or three years before you pass judgment.

BeantownGreg,
The best little known spot to park at Fedex Field is to take Arena Dr. toward the stadium. Take a left at Brightseat Rd before you get to the church. On your left will be a business park that allows parking for the games. It's close enough that you can still walk to the stadium and avoid the shuttle bus!

Posted by: Burg_gold_blood | October 28, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Find something else to write about JLC, you've beaten this one to death

Posted by: ChillyWilly3781 | October 28, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What we do know is we didn't draft for need. That's not to say that the rooks will never pan out, let's hope so.

Posted by: joeboggs | October 28, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Well Kelly can't be considered anything but an injured man. His production this year has no bearing on the draft.

And both Thomas and Davis are coming in behind Redskin superstars. Their time on the field is going to be limited. They're not going to have as many make-or-break opportunities as someone who's coming into a team with a desperate need.

That aside, this draft is also something of a pass because of Zorn. He's a new coach with a new system that he's got to teach to his first-string playmakers. His staff has less time to engage a rookie and bring them along. I think it's no coincidence that the defensive rookie is coming along faster than the offensive rookies. It's an established system where a lot of guys can lean in and give tips, coach, and compensate on the field. On offense, not so much.

This draft was also somewhat blind. Nobody really knew what Zornball looked like, so finding players suited for it was handicapped.

So Cerrato doesn't lose points as he would if he were drafting for an established system.

I like Thomas, and I don't think there's any reason to expect he won't come along. He DOES have a TD that was called back by someone else's dumb penalty.

Davis is more of an enigma to me so far. He's the one pick of 2008 that does seem to be underperforming based on the chances he's been given. But he's also a TE, not a receiver, so comparing his numbers to WR is silly, especially considering he plays behind Cooley.

Posted by: jvwright | October 28, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

JLC you will try to negatively spin stuff against ceratto whenever possible. There is no objectivity to this post. Quantity over quality? The 2nd round isn't a place where you get low quality, in fact you probably get your biggest bang for your buck in the second round statistically speaking. Crap reporting.

And while the 3 receivers we picked up haven't made major contributions they were all considered best available when we got them. Trading down for extra picks in the 2nd round was a great move, whether these guys work out or not is a different issue. There is clearly a lot of luck involved.

Thirdly, statistically speaking 1st year WRs don't generally produce in their first year.

So basically your post has no sound statistical basis at all. You are just trying to stir the pot. We could have easily picked up these same players in the first round instead of trading down and been in the same position today in terms of production but with less picks and we would have spent more money.

Instead of looking at just this draft how about showing the first year success in the last 5 years of all the top 10 WRs picked.

Posted by: offbyone | October 28, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll second what cj658 had to say above. Moss had a terrible first season and we depend on him.

Jason, good receivers take time to adjust. Plus, the receivers we have are doing pretty well, making it tough for the rookies to get in. (Not to mention one is hurt, but you didn't focus much on that.)

Most of those guys you listed haven't done jack yet, and some of them may be flashes in the pan and gone in two years.

You're contradicting yourself pretty badly. You need to get over your animosity with Cerratto. Stop whining about everything the guy does. You can't accomplish everything in one draft class. And most picks don't pan out anyway, no matter who's drafting them.

Posted by: lordtwang | October 28, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Also, Jason.

Keep in mind Devin Thomas had a huge TD catch with a bunch of yards taken away by a penalty that wasn't his fault.

Posted by: lordtwang | October 28, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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