In the NFL, wide receivers can be hard to predicate on a yearly basis. Wide receivers are often the most athletic guys on the team. When their athletic advantage starts to slip, the great ones will often figure out new ways to be effective.
Receivers can also be divas from time to time. Either getting in trouble off the field or relaxing in their workouts can cause problems for a receiver.
I'm going to list three wide receivers I think could disappoint in 2012.
Calvin Johnson is arguably the most physically gifted wide receiver to ever play in the NFL. He came into the league in 2007 as physically gifted as we had ever seen.
The problem with Johnson coming into the league was his rawness. In the five years that he has been in the league he has polished his receiver skills and became one of the best receivers in the game.
Johnson signed an extension to stay in Detroit this offseason that is reportedly for five years and worth over $78 million.
NFL players seem to relax after they get their big contract. The most recent example is Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. He went from being one of the most explosive backs in the NFL to an extremely average one.
Calvin Johnson could become a little more relaxed in his out workouts. That alone could cause him to lose some of his advantage over corners.
Johnson is going to continue to see double coverages and the Lions have yet to get a player to pair with Johnson; which they have failed at doing during his career.
Defenses have seen what Johnson can do in his first five seasons. If the Lions don't figure out a way to get someone opposite of Johnson then we could see his numbers drop.
Vincent Jackson is another big wide receiver that can be a game-changer. Jackson, while in San Diego, was one of the most explosive wide receivers in the league.
Jackson, on paper, is going to make Tampa Bay much better at wide receiver; good NFL wide receivers often don’t transition well.
One example of a player switching teams is Braylon Edwards. He was a solid No. 2 wide receiver for the New York Jets in 2010. He averaged 56 yards a game and was the team’s primary deep threat.
In 2011, Edwards went to the San Francisco 49ers and averaged just over 20 yards a game in nine games.
To go with the problems of learning a new offense and going from Philip Rivers to Josh Freeman; Jackson also has to figure out a way to stay out of trouble. If Jackson wants to make the going from the Changers to Buccaneers a smooth one, he needs to be able keep his nose clean.
Some people think Jackson is going to make the Bucs a real threat. When you combine a lesser quarterback, a new system and the chances of off-the-field problems; Jackson could very easily disappoint in 2012.
Steve Smith, in 2010, had one of the worst statistical years of his careers. In 2011, Smith had a really nice bounce-back year by putting up the second-best yardage numbers of his career.
Last year, Smith and Cam Newton caught the league by surprise. The two of them played a major role in taking the Carolina Panthers from the worst ranked passing attack in 2010 to the 13th ranked passing game in 2011.
Defenses are not going to be caught by surprise in 2012.
Smith is currently 32 years old and will turn 33 in May of this year. His age is also a concern when you talk about guys underachieving this year.
Defenses will be able to scheme against Smith and make Newton go through all of his reads. Mixing Smith’s age and defenses' ability to scheme against the Newton and Smith combination will make Smith’s 2012 season a disappointment.