What Happened to the 1st-Round Rookie Wide Receivers?

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IOctober 9, 2012

Oct 7, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) watches the jumbotron during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Early in the 2011 season, it was clear that at least two first-round receivers were going to be impact players at the NFL level. Through five games in 2012, the same can't be said about the 2012 class. 

The four first-round receivers—Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and A.J. Jenkins—have yet to make their mark in 2012 after seeing A.J. Green and Julio Jones start hot out of the gates last year. 

With five games in the books last season, both Green and Jones had two games of 100 yards receiving. There hasn't been a 100-yard game from any of the four first rounders so far. 

What is wrong with this year's group?

For starters, both Green and Jones came into the NFL in better situations with better overall skill sets.

Green entered the league with a rookie quarterback ready to produce right away, and Jones was gifted a spot on an offense blessed with an above average quarterback, running back, receiver and tight end. 

Both Green and Jones would have been drafted ahead of the four receivers selected in 2012 had they entered the draft one year later. 

That said, the production level from the four players has been below what even the most pessimistic observer could have predicted. 

Here's a quick break down of each first-round receiver through five games:

Note: All snap counts courtesy of Pro Football Focus.


Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars

Blackmon leads the Jaguars receivers in total snaps by over 100, but the production simply hasn't followed.

He has just 13 catches for 119 yards and zero touchdowns, with a long reception of 19 yards. In three games, Blackmon finished with a receiving average of under 10 yards.

The Jaguars were certainly expecting more from the No. 5 overall pick and top overall receiver.

A big part of the problem has been the Jaguars' passing offense, which continues to be a disaster all-around. Jacksonville also continues to run its offense through Maurice Jones-Drew and the run game.

Eventually, Blackmon has to make more of his opportunities. As the team's No. 1 receiver, 13 catches on 33 targets isn't good enough. 


Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

Floyd remains the Cardinals' fourth most-used receiver in 2012, behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Early Doucet. But his snap totals are starting to go up, with Floyd getting 30 or more snaps in three straight games. 

That said, production has been lacking for the first-round receiver. Floyd has just six catches for 60 yards and a score in five games. His longest reception is only 17 yards.

With Fitzgerald and Roberts cemented into starting roles, Floyd may not make a large impact on the Cardinals' 2012 season. His targets will likely remain low. 


Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

Wright has clearly been the best among the first-round receivers so far. His 240 snaps lead the first-rounders. 

With starting snaps in hand, Wright has produced 27 catches for 214 yards (7.9-yard average) and two touchdowns. His targets (39) lead all rookie receivers. 

Wright has made his biggest impact in the slot, catching passes underneath coverages and in the middle of the field. The result has been a lot of receptions but low yardage totals.

Still, Wright has showed an ability to make plays from the slot, and the targets should continue regardless of who is playing quarterback. In Matt Hasselbeck's first start in Minnesota, Wright received 10 targets. 

If any receiver is going to produce the numbers expected of a first-rounder, it's Wright. 


A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers

Jenkins has been the ghost of the group. Drafted at the end of the first round, Jenkins has been active for just one game but he hasn't seen the field. 

Without playing time, Jenkins stat-line is predictable: 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns. 

The 49ers have established players ahead of Jenkins, including Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn. Considering that depth, it may be difficult for Jenkins to see many snaps this season.