Analyzing 2011 NFL Rookie Wide Receivers
What to expect from the rookie WRs in terms of production and playing time. There will be more updates, rankings, sleepers, and busts as we get closer to the season.
Julio Jones: Clearly Atlanta wanted him and he will make their offense more explosive. Atlanta has been a run-first team for the last few years and it remains to be seen if that will change. When teams try to cheat against the run or double Roddy, Jones should be able to take advantage of his matchup. Still, he is the offenses fourth option behind White, Turner, and Gonzalez. While I like Green more for the long-term, not this season. Jones will face #2 cbs with a veteran QB, while Green probably won’t.
A.J. Green: The top wideout in the draft enters a rebuilding Bengals franchise that might have to throw Andy Dalton into the fire. It appears Palmer and Chad could be done, putting the Bengals at the bottom of the league. He is a game-changer, but there is only so much a rookie can in that situation. Because I’m not a Dalton guy, my expectations for him this season aren’t great. Projects as a WR #3, but do not reach for him.
Greg Little: My favorite sleeper at WR before the draft walks into an attractive situation where he could be the #1 in a West Coast offense. His greatest strength is his feet with good agility for his size and excellent run after the catch. He hasn’t been a receiver for long, converting for running back at UNC, but there’s a ton of upside with Little. My comparison to Mike Williams is being echoed more than ever, although many didn’t have him ranked highly.
Leonard Hankerson: He could end up being the #1 option for John Beck and the Redskins. I doubt it plays out like that, but the Redskins don’t have Grossman or Santana Moss signed (they should sign both in my opinion). Hankerson is a rangy receiver who was being overrated by some, #3 WR in the 2011 class. Nevertheless, with or without Moss they have a huge hole there and like him or not, he could be in line for lots of targets and opportunities.
Jonathan Baldwin: He should start day 1 opposite of Bowe. Haley has an excellent track record developing receivers. KC should remain a run-first offense, especially with the departure of Weis. Nevertheless, while he might not get a ton of yards, he should score a handful of touchdowns as Bowe and Charles draw the attention of defenders.
Titus Young: He has already been working out with Matt Stafford and is penciled in the be a speedy slot receiver for the Lions. He will probably be fourth or fifth in the pecking order for targets behind Calvin, Burleson, and Pettigrew. Outstanding speed, could also be the punt returner.
Austin Pettis & Greg Salas: Selected in back to back rounds, the Rams added two receivers with sure hands. Pettis is the more likely of the two to see time on the outside this year, while Salas could see more time on the slot but Amendola is a reliable target there. The way Sam Bradford spreads the ball around, I wouldn’t look for big production out of either. If Clayton is healthy, he should be targeted and I love Kendricks after watching Sam and Gresham work so well for years.
Edmond Gates: Drafted to be the speed receiver that Ginn could never be in the offense. Wtih Bess owning the underneath and Marshall drawing coverage, Gates could fit in nicely with Henne’s (or even McNabb’s) strong arm. Could return.
Torrey Smith: Don’t expect much from Smith this season, even though his speed is much needed n Baltimore. He needs time to develop his game. While he is raw, his straight-line speed is outstanding which could lead Flacco to taking a couple of shots down-field with him. Flacco has a great arm, but Smith’s production will be so sporadic that I don’t think he is worth owning.
Dwayne Harris: Feel all the way to the sixth round out of East Carolina and drafted by the Cowboys. Had 101 catches last year! Could immediately play in the slot between Austin and Bryant. Witten isn’t getting any younger and Bennett has been a disappointment, perhaps leaving room over the middle for the savvy Harris. Seems like a nice sleeper since Roy Williams is pretty much out the door. Also a returner.
Randall Cobb: An exciting player who could excel from the slot position. If James Jones is not re-signed, which seems likely, he will start as the #4 WR. Green Bay likes to put Jennings in the slot on 3rd down and such, so he won’t have as many opportunities as one may hope. Should return. Don’t see him producing much this year.
Jerrel Jernigan: Depending on Smith’s status, Jernigan could fit right in as the slot receiver between Nicks and Manningham/Smith. Great speed.
- Aldrick Robinson: if Moss doesn’t return, he has the speed.
- Denarus Moore: impressive WR from Tenn, could end up the best all-around WR on the team.
- Vincent Brown: Depending on status of Jackson and Floyd, could be ready to contribute immediately.
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