Let’s play a word association game. If I say ‘Peanut Butter,’ you say ______. If I say ‘Salt,’ you say _______. If I say ‘Pac 12 wide receivers,’ you say ______.
For Pac-12 wide receivers, did you think of adjectives like fast, athletic, or explosive? Maybe you did. And maybe, as evidence, you would point to DeSean Jackson. But if I really pushed you on it, what other Pac 12 wide receivers could you say are making a difference in the NFL?
If you had trouble with that exercise, it’s probably because Pac-12 wide receivers are going extinct. Like the blue whale and the polar bear, Pac-12 receivers in the NFL are having RFID chips implanted in them to keep track of their vanishing population. How bad is it? Consider the top 100 wide receivers of 2012 in terms of yards per game (grouped by conference)
During the 2012 season, only FOUR Pac-12 wide receivers were in the top 100 of receiving yards/game. And, in reality, it’s more like three wide receivers in the top 100:
- DeSean Jackson, Eagles (25th)
- Brandon Gibson, Rams (58th)
- Greg Camarillo, Saints (62nd) *played in one game
- Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (100th)
For comparison, consider that the Big 12 had four wide receivers in the top 19!
And it’s not just that the Pac-12 is producing fewer NFL wide receivers, overall they’re producing lower quality receivers. Consider where the conferences’ best wide receiver prospect ranked in their respective draft class (2008-2012 via NFLDraftScout)
Average Rank of Top Receiver Prospect (By Conference)
Big 12: 4
Big Ten: 5.6
Big East: 9.2
In an average year, the best Pac-12 wide receiver isn’t in the top 10 of his position rankings. How could this be? Is it that the schemes have become so good that the talent doesn’t matter? Have the defenses become so poor? Has the coaching failed to cultivate NFL-ready prospects?
I’m not sure if I have an answer. If you do, please comment below. Either way, stay tuned for part 2 of this article to see what this means for Pac 12 receiver Keenan Allen, who is considered by some to be the #1 wide receiver prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.
(Conduct your own Wide Receiver research with this awesome app)