After months of media hype, the NFL draft is over, and fans finally have new members of their team to welcome to town.
Expectations for draft picks are high, but are they too high?
Over the course of the next few weeks, "What to Expect" will examine every draft pick from the AFC South in its historical context. Using past performances from similarly drafted players and by examining the way in which each team develops certain positions, I will create a realistic baseline by which to judge the performance of each pick.
Readers should be aware that rookies historically perform much, much worse than fan expectations.
Also keep in mind that I am not saying the player will perform to these expectations, but rather anything better than the results should be considered a successful rookie year, and anything worse would be a disappointment.
These are not predictions. They are baselines.
Today, we move on to the late-round wideouts. The Texans took wideout/kick returner Keshawn Martin in the late fourth round, and Indianapolis added LaVon Brazill in the sixth. Despite nearly 80 picks between them, the profile for both players is similar.
Since 2005, there have been 86 wideouts taken in rounds four through six. Fifteen of them (17%) never played a down in the NFL. The best of the bunch was Mike Williams of Tampa, who posted 65 catches for 964 yards and 11 scores his rookie year. He is a huge outlier, however.
- Only four players had at least 40 catches. Only 19 had at least 20. The odds of a guy not making the roster at all are close to the odds that he'll have a 20-catch season.
- Only 10 receivers had more than two touchdowns.
- Of the 86 players taken, 44 had two or fewer catches in their rookie year.
- Roughly half of the players taken ran back kicks at some point. Players like Steve Breaston, Johnny Knox and Pierre Garcon were in this category. Many of the returners were very successful, and ten of them ran back kicks for scores in their first year.
Both the Texans and Colts have had recent success with wideouts and returners in the middle rounds. Indianapolis snagged Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon there recently, and if you go way back, Indianapolis legend Bill Brooks was a fourth-round pick. Jerome Mathis made a Pro Bowl for the Texans as a returner after being selected in round four.
When a team takes a receiver/returner in the middle-to-late rounds, there is a good chance the player isn't going to make the team. The "bust factor" is extraordinarily high for players in this range.
That's not to say there aren't some big names on this list. Austin Collie, Brandon Marshall, Mike Thomas, Pierre Garcon and Johnny Knox all came from this range. In all, there have been five Pro Bowlers taken in this range since 2005, mostly kick returners.
If Brazill or Martin become full-time kick returners, they have a chance to do very well. As wideouts, if either one of them winds up with a 20-catch, 300-yard, 1 touchdown season, they'll be in the upper quarter of players taken in that range.
A more realistic expectation would be 10 catches, 100 yards, and no scores. Even those modest numbers put them in the top half of mid-to-late-round wideouts.