Last season, Rams fans watched as fourth-round rookie Chris Givens produced 698 yards and three touchdowns in limited playing time, while the more hyped rookie—second-round pick Brian Quick—watched from the sidelines for the majority of the year.
There was some confusion as to why a fourth-round gem was able to immediately contribute while the No. 33 overall pick (one pick away from being a first-rounder) was lucky to see the field.
Meanwhile, 2011 third-round pick Austin Pettis was immediately outplayed by fourth-round pick Greg Salas. And while Salas is gone, fans have grown impatient with the development of Pettis and have basically brushed him aside.
Why are these high draft picks getting outplayed by their mid-round counterparts?
Some players are able to contribute immediately, but overall, players need time to develop.
Quick and Pettis aren't alone when it comes to second- and third-round picks who need a few seasons to adjust. Here's a look at some of the more well-known second- and third-round receivers from recent drafts and what they were able to accomplish in their first three years:
2007: 31 Receptions, 396 Yards, Four Touchdowns
2008: 15 Receptions 141 Yards, Four Touchdowns
2009: 83 Receptions, 1,312 Yards, Eight Touchdowns
2007: Eight Receptions, 63 Yards, Zero Touchdowns
2008: 57 Receptions, 574 Yards, One Touchdowns
2009: 107 Receptions, 1220 Yards, Seven Touchdowns
2008: 33 Receptions, 366 Yards, Two Touchdowns
2009: 22 Receptions, 320 Yards, Two Touchdowns
2010: 45 Receptions, 582 Yards, Two Touchdowns
2008: 62 Receptions, 912 Yards, Two Touchdowns
2009: 62 Receptions, 1,156 Yards, Nine Touchdowns
2010: 47 Receptions, 1,056 Yards, Six Touchdowns
2008: Four Receptions, 26 Yards, Zero Touchdowns
2009: 57 Receptions, 822 Yards, Five Touchdowns
2010: 60 Receptions, 944 Yards, Nine Touchdowns
2009: 39 Receptions, 756 Yards, Six Touchdowns
2010: 60 Receptions, 1,257 Yards, 10 Touchdowns
2011: 72 Receptions, 1,193 Yards, Eight Touchdowns
Notice a trend? None of them was a 1,000-yard receiver right out of the gate. In fact, besides Wallace and Jackson, none was productive in the first year whatsoever.
Now here's what Quick and Pettis have done since entering the NFL.
2012: 11 Receptions, 156 Yards, Two Touchdowns
2011: 27 Receptions, 256 Yards, Zero Touchdowns
2012: 30 Receptions, 261 Yards, Four Touchdowns
They haven't been able to produce eye-popping numbers, but we can take solace in the fact that second- and third-round receivers seldom do.
Both Quick and Pettis stand at 6'3" and over 200 pounds, while both player run the 40-yard dash in approximately 4.55 to 4.60 seconds. They're similar players in that both have great hands and very promising physical traits.
They haven't done much in this league, but that doesn't mean they won't step up their games in the near future.
In fact, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been impressed with what Pettis has been able to do on the practice field this offseason.
“Quite honestly, he’s probably having the best camp of all the skill players,” Schottenheimer explained at a media session. “He’s just a tireless worker. Very competitive. He’s having a tremendous spring.”
The Rams have plenty of speed at wide receiver, but they don't have a sizable possession receiver who can consistently move the chains and get open in the red zone.
If Schottenheimer's comments are accurate, they may be getting just that.
Between Quick and Pettis, if either player emerges, it will provide a boost to the offense and allow Sam Bradford to choose between a variety of targets.