Starting Slow – A Look at Unproductive Early Round Receivers
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When one talks about great draft classes in NFL history, there are a few years that spring automatically to mind. In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers draft included four players who would eventually be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, namely Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster. There is the 1983 draft that gave us John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino. The first three signal callers from the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, have four Super Bowl rings between them and have amassed more than 153,000 yards and 1,010 touchdowns. It is still early, but it’s possible that one day the wide receivers taken in the 2014 draft could be viewed in such glowing terms. Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin all posted 1,000 yards in their rookie seasons, and this success has ruined the WR scape for quite some time. They encouraged the tendency to expect this type of production from first-year players, rather than be pleasantly surprised by it. Of course, early success is important. Long-term success is less likely without early production.