The Top Five Up and Coming WR's in the NFL
Over the last few years many of the dominant receiving names in the NFL have come and gone in one way or another. The departure of names like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison and so on, have left room for the up and coming young talent to come to the forefront.
The following is a list of five young receivers with two years experience or less in the league that are poised to make a big impact in 2010 and beyond.
5. Julian Edelman- New England Patriots
The Pats drafted Edelman in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of Kent State, where he played quarterback for the Golden Flashes. Edelman broke Joshua Cribbs’ total offense record set in 2003 when he threw for 1,820 yards and 13 touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 1, 551 yards and another 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Edelman’s running and kick return ability made him an extremely interesting prospect for the Patriots, and Bill Belichick who love versatile offensive players. The Patriots undoubtedly saw what they saw in Wes Welker when they traded for him several years ago. Edelman possesses the same quickness, run and catch ability, and on the field smarts that Welker does, but has the added ability to throw the ball.
In 11 games with the Patriots last season Edelman had 37 receptions for 359 yards and a touchdown in limited action. He also returned kicks and punts, and started for the injured Wes Welker after he tore ligaments in his knee.
While he may not get a chance to start with Moss and Welker ahead of him, Welker’s knee is still in question and this looks to be Moss’ last season with the team. Edelman fits nicely into the Patriots offense, and should see a more substantial role this coming season. That role should increase as the aging veterans fade.
4. Mike Sims-Walker- Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Sims-Walker was a pleasant surprises on a lackluster Jacksonville team last season. With the loss of Matt Jones and Reggie Williams, both first round picks with enormous talent and unfortunate drug affiliations, Sims-Walker stepped up big to surpass Torry Holt as the number one guy in Jacksonville.
Sims-Walker made good on the team’s third round investment in 2007 by coming to the forefront during the 2009 campaign. He finished the season with 63 receptions for 869 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the team. While the Jacksonville offense doesn’t look like they are going to be much improved, Sims-Walker has the potential to have a breakout season as the featured receiver in the Jaguars offense.
3. Austin Collie/Pierre Garcon- Indianapolis Colts
Why two players?
Simply put this is the receiving tandem Peyton Manning will be throwing the ball to until he decides to hang up his jock strap.
While Wayne is the undoubted leader and number one receiver in Manning’s arsenal and Dallas Clark remains his favorite target, the Collie/Garcon tandem have yet to really come into their own.
Garcon, a Division III “super-stud” out of Mount Union was drafted in 2008 in the sixth round. Had he not been from a small school many scouts said he had the physical ability of a first or second round pick.
He is definitely the yard-munching receiver that does more with less catches. While he only had 47 receptions last year, he was able to amass 765 yards and four touchdowns. Garcon proved to be the guy who came up big late in the season.
Collie on the other hand made the most of his rookie season after being a fourth round pick out of BYU. While he did not have the yards that Garcon did (676) he proved to have a nose for the endzone—scoring seven times.
At 6’1”, 200 pounds, Collie is the big physical receiver that has the ability to get down field, and is a true force in the red-zone.
After nine years in the league, Wayne may only have a few years left in the tank. Regardless of how long Wayne and Clark stick around the high-octane passing attack in Indy, there are sure to be plenty of passes to go around as Collie and Garcon develop. It may not be a stretch to have three 1,000-yard receivers in Indy within the next two years, and for years to come.
2. Michael Crabtree- San Francisco 49ers
After missing training camp and only playing in 11 games last season after a long, drawn out contract dispute Crabtree still managed to be the second leading receiver for the 49ers.
Crabtree is an impressive physical specimen that has excellent size, hands, and speed. With a full off-season and training camp under his belt to better grasp the 49ers system and a full 16 game schedule to play, Crabtree should be able to improve on his 48 reception, 625-yard performance from last season with little problem.
Look for Crabtree to make good on the tenth overall pick spent by the 49ers in 2009 with a breakout season under Coach Mike Singletary.
1. Mike Wallace- Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year the rookie out of Ole Miss burst onto the scene and surprised everyone with his blazing speed and knack for the big play.
While playing third fiddle to the likes of two Super Bowl MVP’s in Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, Wallace managed to accumulate 39 receptions for 756 yards, and six touchdowns.
With a 6’0” frame that still has room to mature, the Steelers third round pick of a year ago only seems to have one knock against him—He might be too fast. There was at least one example per game in 2009 that Wallace had multiple steps of separation between he and the defender, but the ball was under-thrown.
The team’s confidence in Wallace’s abilities are evident in their willingness to trade their leading receiver Santonio Holmes to the Jets in the off-season for little return. Having a burner on the outside to compliment the aging Hines Ward will allow the Steelers to continue with their aerial assault in 2010. With the departure of Holmes, Wallace will have his opportunity to step into a more regular role in the Steelers’ offense. Expect to see Wallace’s numbers increase significantly with his increase in playing time in 2010.