NFL Rookie Rankings Part Three: The Wide Receivers
While most people consider this year’s rookie wide receiver class one of the deepest positions in terms of fantasy, I completely disagree. There is a good amount of potential in this class, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
I feel that all of the receivers have questions, and that is why I only did my top five. I feel that a lot of guys could switch by one to four positions very easily.
My No. 1 rookie wide receiver is Brian Robiskie of the Cleveland Browns.
Robiskie is considered the most pro-ready wide receiver from this year's draft class. He has very good hands and is a great route-runner.
He is in a great position to make an impact this season. He has very little competition and will most likely start alongside Braylon Edwards.
Last season the Browns were 31st in the league in passing yards, but don't let that prevent you from believing in Robiskie. In 2007 the Browns were 12th in the league in passing yards.
This past season the Browns were a mess. I'd expect something closer to the 2007 passing game than last season's. If that's the case, Robiskie could be a great pickup in fantasy leagues.
He will also be helped by Cleveland's lack of other talent. The Browns' second-leading receiver last season was Kellen Winslow. He has since moved on to Tampa Bay, and that leaves a lot of passes that someone will get, and a decent amount of those passes will go to Robiskie.
During his career at Ohio State, he had 127 receptions and 1,866 yards. He also had a very impressive 24 touchdowns during his collegiate career.
His best season was in his junior year. He had 55 catches for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns. His senior year was not as impressive due to the Buckeyes changing their offensive system to accommodate Terrelle Pryor.
With Edwards taking the pressure off the rookie, Robiskie has a great opportunity to put up some big numbers. He’s definitely a rookie to keep an eye on, and is a great pick in the later rounds.
My No. 2 rookie wide receiver is Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.
Nicks is a guy who was drafted in the right place at the right time. When Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg, he opened up the Giants No. 1 wide receiver spot.
With no true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster, the Giants tried to find one through the draft. Nicks is the early favorite to step into the role which would make him a great fantasy option.
I am by no means saying Nicks will put up Plaxico-type numbers, but he should make an impact from Day One. He is much smaller than Plaxico, so the biggest difference between the two will be red zone touchdowns.
The Giants also lost Amani Toomer this offseason, which opens up more receptions and yards for the taking. Without a doubt Hakeem Nicks will take advantage of these losses.
He had a good 2007 with 986 yards and five touchdowns, but he exploded in 2008. He had over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His best game of the season was North Carolina’s bowl game against West Virginia. He had eight receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. This really helped his draft stock and made everybody keep an eye out for him.
While we all know college success does not equal NFL success, Nicks has excellent potential. He could end up as the No. 1 rookie wide receiver if he steps up and gets the Giants' No. 1 wide receiver job. Either way Nicks should produce this season.
My No. 3 rookie wide receiver is Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings.
Harvin was one of the best college players in the nation last season. His main question coming into the draft was whether he was a running back or a wide receiver.
Last season at Florida, Harvin led the team in receptions and was second in receiving yards. He was also fourth on the team in carries and second in rushing yards.
His upside on the field is huge, but he does have some problems off the field.
He tested positive for marijuana at the combine. Knowing he would be tested at the combine he still did it anyways, which really makes a lot of people question his character. If he can keep his head on straight he should have a great year.
One thing Harvin does have going for him is versatility. He can line up at as many as three offensive positions. Wide receiver will be his main position, but he may also play some quarterback and running back. If he plays quarterback it will be in a Wildcat formation.
After testing positive for drugs at the combine, his value has risen. The addition of Brett Favre could really help him as a wide receiver. Favre has no problem going downfield which will work great with Harvin’s speed.
With Harvin’s versatility, he should have no problem making an impact in his rookie season.
My No. 4 rookie wide receiver is Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles traded up in the draft to get Maclin with the 19th overall pick. This shows that they believe in him and like something about him.
Maclin will most likely see time as the kick returner and as a wide receiver. He will be used as the returner so that DeSean Jackson can focus on his wide receiver role.
I personally think Maclin will start the season as the third wide receiver behind both Jackson and Kevin Curtis. Others think Maclin will be ahead of Curtis. Either way, Maclin will have pretty good value.
Maclin has great speed and is very quick in the open field. He will have plenty of weapons around him taking all of the pressure off of him.
Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy will take the pressure off through the ground game. With a successful ground game the Eagles wide receivers will be able to get open easier.
Maclin will also be helped by his fellow wide receivers taking the pressure off of him. Jackson will be the receiver the defenses pay the most attention to, and if Maclin is the No. 3 wide receiver, Curtis will also be watched closer than him. This could make it very easy for Maclin to become a relevant fantasy option.
Maclin is almost like a bigger version of Jackson and is definitely a player worth risking a pick on.
My No. 5 rookie wide receiver is Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Oakland Raiders.
Heyward-Bey is a very intriguing prospect. He was the first wide receiver taken in the draft, but was not the No. 1 wide receiver in most people’s minds.
As everybody knows Al Davis loves speed, and that’s exactly why his Oakland Raiders drafted Darrius. He is the most likely candidate to be a bust, but he has just as much upside.
Heyward-Bey was the fastest wide receiver at the combine with a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash. It takes more than speed to be a good wide receiver, but that won’t hurt his chances of succeeding.
His size will also help him in the NFL. At 6’2”, Heyward-Bey has great size to go with his speed. He will have a height advantage over anyone who will be covering him.
He has great speed and height, but he does have some negatives. He has never really used his size and speed effectively. Last season he had 609 receiving yards and only five touchdowns. He struggles with route-running and isn’t as effective on “jump balls” as a receiver of his stature should be.
Heyward-Bey is far from reaching his potential, and will need very good coaching to get remotely close to his potential. With his size and speed he could be an excellent receiver, but someone has to help him get to his potential. He is a risky pick that could pay huge dividends for your fantasy team.
As I said before I don’t have a lot of confidence in this class of rookie wide receivers. Maybe you do, and if so feel free to share your opinions. I would be more than glad to hear them.
Not only does this conclude my wide receivers, but this is the end of my rookie rankings series. It took a lot of research, but it is finally complete. Thanks to everyone for reading it and hope you enjoyed it.
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