2019 Rookie Wide Receivers And Receiver Rookie Records

Today I look at the 2019 rookie wide receivers and which ones have the best potential to achieve rookie receiving records. (Update: 7/29 Adjusted DK Metcalf’s projection to break a rookie record).

Targets

The late Terry Glenn holds the record for wide receiver targets in a rookie season with 167.  Glenn was a tough small receiver chosen by the Patriots with the 7th overall pick of the 1996 draft. He was chosen on Bob Kraft’s decision overriding head coach Bill Parcells. Glenn won over Parcells through an outstanding rookie season in which he made the All-Rookie Team. In the final game of the regular season the Patriots fell behind the Giants 22-0 late in the third in a game the Patriots needed to clinch a playoff spot. Glenn went on to have six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Giants. After the game Parcells told Glenn in front of the team – ‘I’m proud of you. You showed me that you’re a player.’ The rookie top ten for targets are shown in the following table.

Rk Player Year Age Draft Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 Terry Glenn 1996 22 1-7 NWE 15 15 167 90 1132 12.58 6 75.5 53.9% 6.78
2 Anquan Boldin 2003 23 2-54 ARI 16 16 165 101 1377 13.63 8 86.1 61.2% 8.35
3 Kelvin Benjamin 2014 23 1-28 CAR 16 15 145 73 1008 13.81 9 63 50.3% 6.95
4 Kevin Johnson 1999 23 2-32 CLE 16 16 137 66 986 14.94 8 61.6 48.2% 7.2
5 Joey Galloway 1995 24 1-8 SEA 16 16 133 67 1039 15.51 7 64.9 50.4% 7.81
6 Justin Blackmon 2012 22 1-5 JAX 16 14 132 64 865 13.52 5 54.1 48.5% 6.55
7 Odell Beckham 2014 22 1-12 NYG 12 11 130 91 1305 14.34 12 108.8 70.0% 10.04
8 Amari Cooper 2015 21 1-4 OAK 16 15 130 72 1070 14.86 6 66.9 55.4% 8.23
9 Eddie Royal 2008 22 2-42 DEN 15 15 129 91 980 10.77 5 65.3 70.5% 7.6
10 Mike Williams 2010 23 4-101 TAM 16 16 129 65 964 14.83 11 60.3 50.4% 7.47

 

The Cardinals  selected receiver Andy Isabella in round two of the draft. Like Terry Glenn, Isabella is also a small receiver at 5’9″ and 188 lbs. Isabella had the third most targets per game in the NCAA in 2018 with 12.6. His speed and change of direction skills make him difficult to cover. At the combine Isabella was tie for the fastest wide receiver in the forty. He was sixth in the three-cone and short shuttle. In 2018 Andy Isabella led all wide receiver draft prospects in receiving yards team market share with a 47.5%. The next closest receiver was over 5% less.

Arizona new head coach Kliff Kingsbury was head coach of Texas Tech from 2013 to 2018. During that period Texas Tech was in the top six teams in passing attempts per season. Three of those seasons they were number two. In 2013 with Davis Webb and  Baker Mayfield at quarterback Texas Tech ran passing plays nearly 65% of the time which was the fourth highest in the NCAA. I see Isabella being one of the three Cardinals starting receivers along with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.

According to ESPN.com  out of all NFL receivers only three in 2018 passed Terry Glenn’s rookie target record. The top targeted receiver, Julio Jones, only passed Glenn’s record by three targets. Sixteen receivers would have cracked the top ten of rookie target records if they were rookies.  I see Isabella cracking the top ten of rookies for receiving targets but Terry Glenn’s rookie record would appear to be out of reach. It has been over three years since a rookie made the top ten. Amari Cooper on the Raiders got to number eight with 130 targets in 2015. Kyler Murray to Andy Isabella should make for exciting football.

Receptions

The rookie record for receptions by a wide receiver was set in 2003 by Anquan Boldin on the Cardinals with 101. For receptions per game (minimum 25 receptions) the record is Odell Beckham with 7.6 receptions per game. Boldin is second with 6.3.

Anquan Boldin was one of the toughest players at wide receiver. In 2008 he suffered a brutal helmet to helmet hit that required seven metal plates and 40 screws in his face. He missed just two games.  Boldin retired in 2017 after 14 years in the NFL. In Boldin’s words – “At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority. My life’s purpose is bigger than football”. Boldin has founded the Anquan Boldin Foundation to help educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children. He has traveled to Ethiopia to volunteer with Oxfam America.  Here are the top ten all-time in receptions.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt Rec per game
1 Anquan Boldin 2003 23 ARI 16 16 165 101 1377 13.63 8 86.1 61.2% 8.35 6.313
2 Michael Thomas 2016 23 NOR 15 12 121 92 1137 12.36 9 75.8 76.0% 9.4 6.133
3 Odell Beckham 2014 22 NYG 12 11 130 91 1305 14.34 12 108.8 70.0% 10.04 7.583
4 Eddie Royal 2008 22 DEN 15 15 129 91 980 10.77 5 65.3 70.5% 7.6 6.067
5 Terry Glenn 1996 22 NWE 15 15 167 90 1132 12.58 6 75.5 53.9% 6.78 6.000
6 Jarvis Landry 2014 22 MIA 16 11 112 84 758 9.02 5 47.4 75.0% 6.77 5.250
7 Michael Clayton 2004 22 TAM 16 13 122 80 1193 14.91 7 74.6 65.6% 9.78 5.000
8 Kelvin Benjamin 2014 23 CAR 16 15 145 73 1008 13.81 9 63 50.3% 6.95 4.563
11 Bill Groman 1960 24 HOU 14 13 72 1473 20.46 12 105.2 5.143

 

Marquise Brown was the first receiver chosen in round one of the 2019 draft. He is projected to be a slot receiver on the Ravens due to his size of 5’9″” and 170 lbs, his speed, shiftiness, toughness and fearlessness. Brown had a 74% catch rate. That was best among the top targeted college receivers. Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s passing strength was passes to the middle of the field. That fits nicely with Brown’s skills as a slot receiver. Brown could easily be the number one wide receiver on the Ravens in 2019.

I project Marquise Brown to have the most rookie receptions with 64. It will not challenge Anquan Boldin’s rookie record nor even crack the top ten rookie records. However it will tie Calvin Ridley for the tenth highest of the last five seasons. The basis of the projection starts with Lamar Jackson’s desire to be more of a passing quarterback. In his rookie season Jackson had 24.3 pass attempts per game which was the lowest among starting quarterbacks. Projecting a 10% increase in pass attempts puts him at 428 for the year. That would be 28th among the 2018 quarterbacks.  Projecting Brown as the WR1 on the Ravens I used the average team target share for a wide receiver one which was 23% for the 2016 season according to nfl.com. That gives Brown 98 targets. Lastly I use a projected catch rate. Brown had a 74% catch rate his last year. I used a 65% catch rate. That would be tenth best among 22 rookie receivers over the last five years with 80+ targets. Two Ravens receivers had a 65% or better with Jackson quarterback. Willie Snead had 65.4% on 26 targets over Jackson’s seven games. Chris Moore had 70% on 10 targets over those seven games.

It will be interesting to see if Lamar Jackson improves as a passer from year one and if Jackson hooking up with Marquise Brown improves on an already exciting run game.

Receiving Yards

The rookie record for receiving yards was set by Bill Groman in 1960 on the Houston Oilers with 1,473 yards in just a 14 game season. In his six years of professional football, Groman played on four AFL championship teams, the only man ever to do so. Groman is the only player in pro football history to have more receiving touchdowns (27) within the first 25 games of his career than O’dell Beckham. After college Groman was teaching eighth grade science when a lunch with a fellow teacher and her husband got Groman hooked up with  the head coach of the newly formed Oilers in the AFL. The rest is NFL history. Here is a table of the top ten rookies for receiving yards.

Rk Player Year Age Tm Lg G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 Bill Groman 1960 24 HOU AFL 14 13 72 1473 20.46 12 105.2
2 Anquan Boldin 2003 23 ARI NFL 16 16 165 101 1377 13.63 8 86.1 61.2% 8.35
3 Randy Moss* 1998 21 MIN NFL 16 11 124 69 1313 19.03 17 82.1 55.6% 10.59
4 Odell Beckham 2014 22 NYG NFL 12 11 130 91 1305 14.34 12 108.8 70.0% 10.04
5 Billy Howton 1952 22 GNB NFL 12 12 53 1231 23.23 13 102.6
6 Michael Clayton 2004 22 TAM NFL 16 13 122 80 1193 14.91 7 74.6 65.6% 9.78
7 Michael Thomas 2016 23 NOR NFL 15 12 121 92 1137 12.36 9 75.8 76.0% 9.4
8 Terry Glenn 1996 22 NWE NFL 15 15 167 90 1132 12.58 6 75.5 53.9% 6.78
9 Bill Brooks 1986 22 IND NFL 16 12 65 1131 17.4 8 70.7
10 Harlon Hill 1954 22 CHI NFL 12 12 45 1124 24.98 12 93.7

Andy Isabella had the most receiving yards in 2018 topping the next player by over 200 yards with one less game. His 1,698 yards in 2018 is eighth most in a season since 2000. Isabella also is the active career leader in receiving yards in the FBS with 3,526. Isabella can stretch the field. In 2018 he was second in receiving plays of 10+, 20+ and 30+ yards. He is first in receiving plays of 40+, 50+ and 60+ yards. Isabella accounted for 47.47% team market share of receiving yards for UMass. That was the tops among 2019 draft prospects.

Quarterback and 2019 rookie Kyler Murray was third in the FBS in passing yards with 4,361. Over the last 10 years eleven quarterbacks have started all 16 games their rookie season. The average passing yards of these 11 rookies is 3,600 yards The average of the top five is 4,000 yards. I see Kyler Murray as hitting 4,000 passing yards and Isabella getting one third of that. This would put him in the top five of all-time rookie receiving yards. Here are the eleven starting rookies over the last ten years.

Rk Player Year Age Draft Tm GS Yds
1 Andrew Luck 2012 23 1-1 IND 16 4374
2 Cam Newton 2011 22 1-1 CAR 16 4051
3 Jameis Winston 2015 21 1-1 TAM 16 4042
4 Carson Wentz 2016 24 1-2 PHI 16 3782
5 Dak Prescott 2016 23 4-135 DAL 16 3667
6 Sam Bradford 2010 23 1-1 STL 16 3512
7 Andy Dalton 2011 24 2-35 CIN 16 3398
8 Ryan Tannehill 2012 24 1-8 MIA 16 3294
9 Derek Carr 2014 23 2-36 OAK 16 3270
10 Russell Wilson 2012 24 3-75 SEA 16 3118
11 Geno Smith 2013 23 2-39 NYJ 16 3046
Average All 3596
Average Top 5 3983

 

In 2018 Arizona was last in the league in passing yards with only 2,523. The high was set by Tampa Bay with 5,125 and the average was 3,804. The potential receiving yards turnaround of Arizona and rookie receiving yard records will make following the Cardinals an interesting story-line in the 2019 season.

Yards per Reception

The record rookie yards per reception is held by Bucky Pope. Pope set the record in 1964 on the Rams with 31.44 yards per reception on 25 receptions. Pope was tall at 6’5″ and fast. He also had 10 receiving touchdowns that rookie year which stands at tie for tenth all-time by a rookie wide receiver. Pope turned out to be a one year wonder as his career was cut short due to injury. In 1965 after fulfilling his six month reserve duty for the army, Pope rushed back to help the Rams as they depended on him. He was not ready and injured his knee real bad in an exhibition game for which he was paid only six dollars. Pope missed all of the 1965 season and was never the same after the injury. He wound up playing 19 games over three years before hanging it up after the 1968 season. Here are the top ten rookies in yards per reception with a minimum 21 receptions.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 Bucky Pope 1964 23 RAM 14 12 25 786 31.44 10 56.1
2 Jimmy Orr 1958 23 PIT 12 12 33 910 27.58 7 75.8
3 Art Graham 1963 22 BOS 14 21 550 26.19 5 39.3
4 Ron Sellers 1969 22 BOS 12 9 27 705 26.11 6 58.8
5 Harlon Hill 1954 22 CHI 12 12 45 1124 24.98 12 93.7
6 Chris Sanders 1995 23 HOU 16 11 87 35 823 23.51 9 51.4 40.2% 9.46
7 Mac Speedie 1946 26 CLE 14 10 24 564 23.5 7 40.3
8 Mal Kutner 1946 25 CRD 11 5 27 634 23.48 5 57.6
9 James Jett 1993 23 RAI 16 1 78 33 771 23.36 3 48.2 42.3% 9.88
10 Billy Howton 1952 22 GNB 12 12 53 1231 23.23 13 102.6

Xavier Ubosi was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is his third signing since the 2019 draft. He was previously waived by the Patriots and the Jets. His 2018 yards per reception of 23.9 yards was first in the FBS. Ubosi is currently on injured reserve.

Darius Slayton was chosen by the Giants in round five of the 2019 draft. His 22.2 yards per reception in 2017 was second best among 2019 rookies and fifth best in the FBS that year.  Slayton hit wide receiver targets for seven of his eight combine drills. He was third among wide receivers in the broad jump and vertical jump. Slayton currently is sidelined in training camp with a hamstring injury.

Hakeem Butler is third among signed draft prospects in yards per reception. His 21.97 yards per reception in 2018 was third best in the FBS. He made that average on 60 receptions which was the most receptions for the top fifteen players in yards per reception. Butler has exceptional measurements for a wide receiver. On mockdraftable.com charts he come in at the top 5 percentile in all measurements with height (6’5″), wingspan (83 7/8ths), arm length (35.25″) and hand size (10.75″) all being 98 percentile or better. He still meets wide receiver combine drill targets for the forty (4.48 s) and five additional combine drills for a total of six out of eight.

D.K. Metcalf had the sixth best yards per reception among 2019 NFL rookies. His 21.88 yards per reception in 2108 would be fourth in the FBS but he only played seven games due to a season ending neck injury. Metcalf is like a  faster version of Hakeem Butler. D.K.’s physical measurements are in the top 5 percentile for weight, wingspan and arm length among historical combine wide receiver data. Metcalf met wide receiver targets for six of the eight drills. He was third at the combine among wide receivers in the forty (4.33), first in the bench press (27 reps), third in vertical jump and fifth in the broad jump.

Metcalf was selected in the second round of the draft by the Seahawks  and is projected to be a starting receiver. Seahawks’ quarterback Russel Wilson was fourth in the league last year in 40+ passing plays with 13. His career yards per completion of 12.2 yards is tie for third among active quarterbacks. Wilson’s career 7.9 yards per attempt leads all active quarterbacks. Metcalf’s speed and vertical threat capability coupled with Russell Wilson’s ability to push the ball downfield make Metcalf my favorite to lead the rookie receivers in yards per reception.

In the last five seasons no rookie wide receiver even cracked the top ten in rookie yards per reception. This could be due to the league drifting more towards quicker short passes. In fact the latest date for a top ten player in yards per reception is 1993. It is highly unlikely a 2019 rookie breaks the top ten let alone upset Bucky Pope at number one. Here are the top ten 2019 rookies in college yards per reception.

Rk Player Year Class School 2019 Team G Rec Yds Avg TD
14 Xavier Ubosi 2018 SR Alabama-Birmingham TAM 13 35 837 23.9 8
21 Darius Slayton 2017 SO Auburn NYG 11 29 643 22.2 5
22 Jaylen Smith 2016 SO Louisville unsigned 12 27 599 22.2 6
24 Hakeem Butler 2018 JR Iowa State ARI 13 60 1318 22 9
26 Olabisi Johnson 2016 SO Colorado State MIN 11 28 613 21.9 4
28 D.K. Metcalf 2018 SO Mississippi SEA 7 26 569 21.9 5
54 Jon’Vea Johnson 2018 SR Toledo DAL 13 32 660 20.6 9
74 Terry McLaurin 2018 SR Ohio State WAS 12 35 701 20 11
108 Marquise Brown 2017 SO Oklahoma BAL 13 57 1095 19.2 7
182 Anthony Ratliff-Williams 2017 SO North Carolina TEN 12 35 630 18 6

Receiving Touchdowns

Randy Moss leads all wide receivers in rookie receiving touchdowns with 17 set in 1998 on the Vikings. Receiver Billy Howton leads all wide receivers in rookie receiving touchdowns per game set in 1952 on the Packers with 13 touchdowns set in 12 game season.

Billy Howton’s 13 touchdown receptions as a rookie held as number one from 1952 until Randy Moss broke it in 1998. To this day Howton remains as tied with one other player for second in rookie receiving touchdowns. This in spite of the league going to a 16 game season.  When he retired after the 1963 season, Howton was the all-time leader in receiving yards. He held that position for three years.  All other nine players that held all-time leader in receiving yards for 3+ years are in the Hall Of Fame. Randy Moss was inducted into the NFL Football Hall of Fame in 2018. Billy Howton has yet to be named a finalist in Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting. Howton is 89 years old and it would be the right thing to induct him into the Hall Of Fame. Here are the top ten rookies all-time for receiving touchdowns.

Rk Player From To Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Y/Tgt TD/Game
1 Randy Moss* 1998 1998 MIN 16 11 124 69 1313 19.03 17 82.1 10.59 1.063
2 Billy Howton 1952 1952 GNB 12 12 53 1231 23.23 13 102.6 1.083
3 John Jefferson 1978 1978 SDG 14 14 56 1001 17.88 13 71.5 0.929
4 Odell Beckham 2014 2014 NYG 12 11 130 91 1305 14.34 12 108.8 10.04 1.000
5 Mike Evans 2014 2014 TAM 15 15 122 68 1051 15.46 12 70.1 8.61 0.800
6 Bill Groman 1960 1960 OTI 14 13 72 1473 20.46 12 105.2 0.857
7 Bob Hayes* 1965 1965 DAL 13 13 46 1003 21.8 12 77.2 0.923
8 Harlon Hill 1954 1954 CHI 12 12 45 1124 24.98 12 93.7 1.000
9 Mike Williams 2010 2010 TAM 16 16 129 65 964 14.83 11 60.3 7.47 0.688
10 Alyn Beals 1946 1946 SFO 14 1 40 586 14.65 10 41.9 0.714
11 Bucky Pope 1964 1964 RAM 14 12 25 786 31.44 10 56.1 0.714
12 Calvin Ridley 2018 2018 ATL 16 5 92 64 821 12.83 10 51.3 8.92 0.625
13 Bill Swiacki 1948 1948 NYG 12 1 39 550 14.1 10 45.8 0.833
14 Daryl Turner 1984 1984 SEA 16 8 35 715 20.43 10 44.7 0.625
15 Sammy White 1976 1976 MIN 14 14 51 906 17.76 10 64.7 0.714

David Sills leads all 2019 rookies in college receiving touchdowns in a season with 18 he caught in 2017. He again appears on the list at number three with 15 touchdowns in 2018. David scored a touchdown once every 3.7 catches in his career. Sills was signed by the Bills as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 draft.  Sills is tall at 6’3″ and one of the two tallest receivers on the Bills. Sills had the thirteenth best vertical jump (37.5) at the combine among wide receivers and the best combine vertical among Bills wide receivers. His draft profile on nfl.com lists his strength to elevate  and high-point 50-50 balls. It also lists that Sills is a goal-line specialist winning with slants and fades. In his career at West Virginia David Sills had 27 red-zone receptions and came away with 22 touchdowns. In 2017 he had 12 touchdowns on 14 receptions in the red-zone.

The current experienced receivers on the Bills in 2018 all together had 52 targets in the red-zone, made 26 receptions (50%) and came away with 12 touchdowns (23%).  Bills quarterback Josh Allen had 27 passing attempts in the red zone and came away with four touchdowns for a 14.8% conversion. That was the lowest in the league. I do not see Sills leading the rookies due to quarterback Josh Allen’s passing productivity especially in the red-zone.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside was tie for third in the FBS in receiving touchdowns with 14. In his college career Arcega-Whiteside has 27 red-zone receptions and came away with 22 touchdowns.  No other draft prospect had more red-zone receiving touchdowns in 2018 than JJ’s nine. His 14 receiving touchdowns in 2018 was 48% of his team’s receiving touchdowns.

In 2108 Carson Wentz was third in the league in the percent of pass attempts inside the 10 yard line that scored touchdowns with 46%. Inside the 20 he was seventh scoring on 31% of his attempts. Arcega-Whiteside was a second round pick and should see significant playing time.

I project Arcega-Whiteside as leading the rookies in receiving touchdowns. Last year rookie Calvin Ridley broke into the top ten rookies in receiving touchdowns with ten. I see Arcega-Whiteside doing the same. Here are the  top ten rookies for college receiving touchdowns.

Rk Player Year Class School 2019 Team G Rec Yds Avg TD TD MS
5 David Sills 2017 JR West Virginia BUF 12 60 980 16.3 18 49.0%
14 John Ursua 2018 JR Hawaii SEA 13 89 1343 15.1 16 37.0%
20 David Sills 2018 SR West Virginia BUF 12 65 986 15.2 15 49.0%
21 JJ Arcega-Whiteside 2018 SR Stanford PHI 12 63 1059 16.8 14 48.0%
28 Anthony Johnson 2017 JR Buffalo TAM 12 76 1356 17.8 14 58.3%
32 Preston Williams 2018 JR Colorado State MIA 12 96 1345 14 14 56.0%
38 Andy Isabella 2018 SR Massachusetts ARI 12 102 1698 16.6 13 48.1%
39 Gary Jennings 2018 SR West Virginia SEA 11 54 917 17 13 34.2%
40 Diontae Johnson 2017 SO Toledo PIT 14 74 1278 17.3 13 46.4%
49 Parris Campbell 2018 SR Ohio State IND 14 90 1063 11.8 12 23.5%
70 A.J. Brown 2017 SO Mississippi TEN 11 75 1252 16.7 11 39.3%

Receiving Yards Per Game

Odell Beckham leads all rookies in receiving yards per game in their rookie year. He had 108.8 yards per game in 12 games in 2014. Here are the top ten rookies of all time for receiving yards per game.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G
1 Odell Beckham 2014 22 NYG 12 11 91 1305 14.34 12 108.8
2 Bill Groman 1960 24 HOU 14 13 72 1473 20.46 12 105.2
3 Billy Howton 1952 22 GNB 12 12 53 1231 23.23 13 102.6
4 James Brim 1987 24 MIN 3 3 18 282 15.67 2 94
5 Harlon Hill 1954 22 CHI 12 12 45 1124 24.98 12 93.7
6 Anquan Boldin 2003 23 ARI 16 16 101 1377 13.63 8 86.1
7 Al Williams 1987 26 SDG 3 3 12 247 20.58 1 82.3
8 Randy Moss* 1998 21 MIN 16 11 69 1313 19.03 17 82.1
9 Adrian Arrington 2010 25 NOR 1 0 7 79 11.29 0 79
10 Bob Hayes* 1965 23 DAL 13 13 46 1003 21.8 12 77.2

Andy Isabella, the 2019 rookie leader in college receiving yards, is also the rookie leader in receiving yards per game. Here are the top ten 2019 rookies for college receiving yards per game in a season.

Rk Player Year Class School 2019 Team G Rec Yds Avg TD Yds / game
6 Andy Isabella 2018 SR Massachusetts ARI 12 102 1698 16.6 13 141.5
29 Antoine Wesley 2018 JR Texas Tech BAL 12 88 1410 16 9 117.5
65 A.J. Brown 2017 SO Mississippi TEN 11 75 1252 16.7 11 113.8
37 Anthony Johnson 2017 JR Buffalo TAM 12 76 1356 17.8 14 113.0
39 Preston Williams 2018 JR Colorado State MIA 12 96 1345 14 14 112.1
653 John Ursua 2017 SO Hawaii SEA 6 47 667 14.2 5 111.2
45 A.J. Brown 2018 JR Mississippi TEN 12 85 1320 15.5 6 110.0
47 Marquise Brown 2018 JR Oklahoma BAL 12 75 1318 17.6 10 109.8
95 Scott Miller 2018 SR Bowling Green State TAM 11 71 1148 16.2 9 104.4
345 Emanuel Hall 2018 SR Missouri CHI 8 37 828 22.4 6 103.5
40 John Ursua 2018 JR Hawaii SEA 13 89 1343 15.1 16 103.3
48 Hakeem Butler 2018 JR Iowa State ARI 13 60 1318 22 9 101.4

Catch Rate

The top three rookies all-time for catch rate are Kevin Norwood and Trey Quinn tied at 90% but for only 10 targets. They are followed by Antonio Brown at 84% on 19 targets. Here are the top ten rookies for catch rate with a minimum 10 targets.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 Kevin Norwood 2014 25 SEA 9 2 10 9 102 11.33 0 11.3 90.0% 10.2
2 Trey Quinn 2018 23 WAS 3 2 10 9 75 8.33 1 25 90.0% 7.5
3 Antonio Brown 2010 22 PIT 9 0 19 16 167 10.44 0 18.6 84.2% 8.79
4 Tanner McEvoy 2016 23 SEA 14 0 11 9 140 15.56 2 10 81.8% 12.73
5 Randall Cobb 2011 21 GNB 15 0 31 25 375 15 1 25 80.6% 12.1
6 Patrick Crayton 2004 25 DAL 8 0 15 12 162 13.5 1 20.3 80.0% 10.8
7 Mike Thomas 2009 22 JAX 14 4 62 48 453 9.44 1 32.4 77.4% 7.31
8 Brandin Cooks 2014 21 NOR 10 7 69 53 550 10.38 3 55 76.8% 7.97
9 Russell Copeland 1993 22 BUF 16 2 17 13 242 18.62 0 15.1 76.5% 14.24
10 Michael Thomas 2016 23 NOR 15 12 121 92 1137 12.36 9 75.8 76.0% 9.4

The top 2019 rookie for college catch rate in 2018 was Parris Campbell with an 83% catch rate and 90 receptions. Campbell had the eighth most receptions (90) and the 25th most yards (1,063). His 11.8 yards per reception was 54th out of 74 players with a minimum 60 receptions. Nevertheless half of his receptions resulted in a first down.

Campbell’s 11.8 yard average would fall right in the middle of the top ten rookies for yards per reception. He can be a valuable short yardage receiver that can move the sticks. The Colts are excited about what Campbell has shown in training camp. Quarterback Andrew Luck had the 11th best completion percentage (67.3%)  among quarterbacks with 8+ starts and the 22nd yards per attempt (7.19 yards). Colts receiver Chester Rogers had the ninth highest catch percentage (73.6%) among receivers with a minimum 32 targets. Out of the nine Rogers had the third lowest yards per reception (9.15). Campbell could easily fall into the same role. He is a good candidate to be the top rookie receiver in catch percentage. I can see him cracking the lower half of the top ten rookies of all-time for catch percentage.

Receiving Yards Per Target

The rookie leader for yards per target is Kenny Stills. In 2013 on the Saints Stills had a 12.82 yards per target average on fifty targets. The last two years rookies have come close to this record with Bills rookie Robert Foster with 12.3 in 2018 and Steelers rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster with 11.61 in 2017. Here are the top ten rookie records for yards per target.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 Kenny Stills 2013 21 NOR 16 10 50 32 641 20.03 5 40.1 64.0% 12.82
2 Robert Foster 2018 24 BUF 13 3 44 27 541 20.04 3 41.6 61.4% 12.3
3 JuJu Smith-Schuster 2017 21 PIT 14 7 79 58 917 15.81 7 65.5 73.4% 11.61
4 Martavis Bryant 2014 23 PIT 10 3 48 26 549 21.12 8 54.9 54.2% 11.44
5 Lee Evans 2004 23 BUF 16 11 74 48 843 17.56 9 52.7 64.9% 11.39
6 Anthony Gonzalez 2007 23 IND 13 9 51 37 576 15.57 3 44.3 72.5% 11.29
7 Hank Baskett 2006 24 PHI 16 5 42 22 464 21.09 2 29 52.4% 11.05
8 Marc Boerigter 2002 24 KAN 16 2 38 20 420 21 8 26.3 52.6% 11.05
9 Arthur Marshall 1992 23 DEN 16 1 45 26 493 18.96 1 30.8 57.8% 10.96
10 Hakeem Nicks 2009 21 NYG 14 6 74 47 790 16.81 6 56.4 63.5% 10.68

The 2019 rookie leader for college yards per target is Terry McLaurin. However the numbers on the top three are very close. D.K Metcalf is third with 14.225 yards per target. Metcalf averaged 4.9 yards per target more than his teammates. Metcalf is on the Seahawks who have a much more stable quarterback situation than McLaurin will see on Washington. Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson will push the ball downfield as I detail above under Yards Per Reception. Seahawk receiver Tyler Lockett had 13.79 yards per target last year. Metcalf’s 21.9 yards per reception in 2018 was fourth in the FBS. I see Metcalf as the top candidate for taking the rookie record of yards per target from Kenny Stills.  He should at a minimum crack the top ten. Here are the top ten 2019 rookies for 2018 college yards per target.

WR School 2019 Team Targets Yards Yds / Tar
Terry McLaurin Ohio State WAS 49 701 14.306
Emanuel Hall Missouri CHI 58 828 14.276
D.K. Metcalf Ole Miss SEA 40 569 14.225
Xavier Ubosi UAB TAM 64 837 13.078
Gary Jennings West Virginia SEA 74 917 12.392
Marquise Brown Oklahoma BAL 107 1318 12.318
Hakeem Butler Iowa State ARI 111 1314 11.838
Andy Isabella UMASS ARI 148 1698 11.473
Antoine Wesley Texas Tech BAL 124 1404 11.323
JJ Arcega-Whiteside Stanford PHI 95 1059 11.147

In Summary

Here is a table summary of the receiver projections relative to rookie statistical records.

Statistic Record Record Holder Year Set Team Top 2019 Rookie Candidate Team Projection
Targets 167 Terry Glenn 1996 NWE Andy Isabella ARI Top Ten
Receptions 101 Anquan Boldin 2003 ARI Marquise Brown BAL No Change
Receiving Yards 1473 Bill Groman 1960 HOU Andy Isabella ARI Top Five
Yards Per Reception 31.44 Bucky Pope 1964 RAM D.K. Metcalf SEA No Change
Receiving Touchdowns 17 Randy Moss 1998 MIN JJ Arcega-Whiteside PHI Top Ten
Rec Yards Per Game 109 Odell Beckham 2014 NYG Andy Isabella ARI Top Ten
Catch Rate 90.00% Kevin Norwood 2014 SEA Parris Campbell IND Top Ten
Receiving Yards Per Target 12.82 Kenny Stills 2013 NOR D.K. Metcalf SEA New Record

I give D.K. Metcalf the best chance to create a new rookie record in receiving yards per target. Andy Isabella with a strong rookie season by Kyler Murray could break into the top five of rookie receiver yards. Then multiple potential new top ten rookie receiver lists .

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