Ranking NFL's Top Rookie WRs at Season's Quarter Mark

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVOctober 7, 2022

Ranking NFL's Top Rookie WRs at Season's Quarter Mark

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    ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 11: Chris Olave #12 of the New Orleans Saints warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
    Chris Olave | Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    While the 2022 wave of rookie receivers adjusts to the NFL, three first-round selections have quickly emerged as the headliners.

    Four games into the 2022 season, Drake London, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are already key contributors. Each one is leading his respective team—the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets—in targets, along with receptions and yards in some cases.

    At this point, eight rookie wideouts have topped 100 receiving yards. And, naturally, it's time to rank 'em.

    Rest-of-season and long-term projections are not considered. The focus is entirely on production and team impact so far.

8. Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

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    NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25: Maxx Crosby #98 of the Las Vegas Raiders tackles Treylon Burks #16 of the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game at Nissan Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
    Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    Based on the opener, Treylon Burks looked destined for a pretty notable debut campaign. He logged only 24 snaps yet reeled in three passes for 55 yards against the New York Giants.

    Despite a steadily growing role since then, his production has cooled. And now a turf toe injury will sideline him for a few weeks.

    Burks managed four receptions for 47 yards in Tennessee's blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. During the next two games combined, the Arkansas product had just three catches for 27 yards and two rushes for 12 yards. Burks hasn't scored a touchdown, although the Las Vegas Raiders stopped him about a half-yard shy of the end zone.

    Tennessee is counting on Burks to become a fixture of the offense, so he should again have a regular presence once healthy.

7. George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) makes a one-handed catch with Cleveland Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. (23) defending during the first half of an NFL football game in Cleveland, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/David Richard)
    AP Photo/David Richard

    George Pickens looks primed for a dramatic rise.

    After making a Catch of the Year candidate—I mean, seriously, look at that picture—on the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, Pickens put together his strongest game of the season in Week 4. He notched six catches for 102 yards in the Pittsburgh Steelers' loss to the New York Jets.

    But there is a particular note of importance to discuss. Once the Steelers benched Mitch Trubisky in favor of Kenny Pickett, the rookie duo connected four times for 71 yards.

    Check back in a month or two; it's perfectly reasonable that Pickens may be pushing for a top-three position on the list.

6. Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 02: Fans celebrate with Romeo Doubs #87 of the Green Bay Packers after his touchdown 
during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field on October 02, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Romeo Doubs is an ideal example of taking the good with the bad from a rookie receiver.

    Promising stuff: Doubs has soared to nearly an every-down role. He attracted eight targets opposite both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, totaling 13 catches for 120 yards and two scores in those victories for the Green Bay Packers.

    Not-so-great stuff: Doubs fumbled in those games, losing one against the Patriots. Also, he dropped a perfectly thrown ball that probably would've helped the Packers avoid overtime against New England.

    Doubs, a fourth-round selection, has significantly outplayed second-round teammate Christian Watson.

5. Alec Pierce, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 02: Alec Pierce #14 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a pass in front of Terrance Mitchell #39 of the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    Alec Pierce had zero catches in his debut, and the former Cincinnati standout missed Week 2 with a concussion.

    But now, he's starting to shine.

    During the past two games, Pierce notched seven receptions for 141 yards on 11 targets while playing less than 50 percent of snaps. He made a clutch 14-yard catch on the game-winning drive against the Kansas City Chiefs and a much-needed 44-yard grab opposite the Titans.

    Whether the Indianapolis Colts can recover from a rough start is a fair question, but Pierce should be a top contributor along the way.

4. Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Washington Commanders Wide Receiver Jahan Dotson (1) makes a touchdown reception during the game between the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.  (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    All he does is catch touchdowns.

    That's certainly not a bad early reputation for Jahan Dotson, who leads all NFL receivers—not simply rookies—with four trips to the end zone. He scored twice in the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars and once each opposite the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.

    To date, Dotson has 12 catches for 152 yards on 22 targets. Also, he's been credited with two tackles, both of which happened after Carson Wentz interceptions. So, you know, that's something.

    Unfortunately for the Washington Commanders, Dotson exited the Dallas loss with hamstring tightness. He's expected to miss a week or two, according to Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington.

    When healthy, though, Doston is a terrific complement to Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.

3. Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

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    CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Garrett Wilson #17 of the New York Jets carries the ball during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
    Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    Garrett Wilson entered a quality situation in New York, joining a group that Elijah Moore was expected to lead. Instead, the rookie has emerged as the favored option to this point.

    While second-year quarterback Zach Wilson sat with a knee injury, veteran Joe Flacco constantly looked the wideout Wilson's way. He responded with 18 catches for 214 yards and two scores—including a last-minute winner at Cleveland—on 33 targets during the Jets' first three games.

    Moving forward, the outlook is uncertain. Wilson (the QB) is back, and Wilson (the WR) managed two receptions for 41 yards on six targets in the loss to Pittsburgh.

    But there's no question that Wilson will be holding a major role within New York's promising cast of receivers.

2. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

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    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave (12) catches a pass against Carolina Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson (24) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
    AP Photo/Rusty Jones

    Solely from a production view, Chris Olave tops the chart.

    Both his 21 receptions and 335 yards lead all rookie wideouts. Plus, the Ohio State grad boasts single-game highs of nine catches and 147 yards, which are unmatched in his class.

    The slightest knock compared to London—and, look, we're absolutely splitting hairs—is Olave has drawn slightly more favorable assignments thanks to star teammate Michael Thomas. Still, this total production from Olave is impossible to ignore.

    New Orleans paid a considerable price to move up and draft Olave, but he's been worth the cost.

1. Drake London, Atlanta Falcons

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jalen Ramsey #5 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Drake London #5 of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
    John McCoy/Getty Images

    The moment the Atlanta Falcons picked him, Drake London assumed the responsibility of leading a depleted receiving corps.

    So far, he's handled that responsibility well.

    Although he managed just two receptions in Week 4, it was London's first quiet game of the year. He tallied five catches for 74 yards against the Saints in Week 1 then collected eight receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown with a two-point conversion in Atlanta's loss to the Los Angeles Rams. London had three catches for 54 yards and a score at the Seattle Seahawks, too.

    Given the context of the team—Marcus Mariota at quarterback with Kyle Pitts searching for a larger impact after his 1,000-yard rookie year—London's presence has been especially vital in Atlanta.