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Saturday, May 11, 2013

2011:Year of the Receiver

Wild on Sports
2011: Year of the Receiver
By Wild on Sports Analyst Justin Davis

From year to year we see a strength of at least one position in the draft and in 2011 it was wide receivers. In 2011 3 guys were taken who have already made names for themselves as top tier players at their position and each has put up numbers as well as highlights that are remarkable.

A.J. Green was the first receiver taken off the board at number 4 overall to the Bengals and has since put on a show. Paired up with a second round quarterback in the same draft Green wasn’t supposed to be as good as he is as early as he is. Since being drafted the two time pro bowler has caught 162 balls for 2,407 yards and 18 TD’s. Green was impressive as a rookie going over 1000 yards and making a name as a spectacular hands receiver for his roll of highlight catches but last year was even better when he caught almost 100 passes for 1350 yards and 11 scores. So much for the sophomore slump. Green should continue to get better and as long as he does, he has potential to be one of the most prolific receivers in the history of the NFL.

Julio Jones was the next receiver taken at number 6 when the Falcons traded five picks to the Browns, jumping all the way from the 27th spot, and Jones as been worth it ever since. In Julio’s two seasons he has caught 133 balls for 2,157 yards and 18 TD’s. In his rookie year Jones lead all rookie receivers in touchdowns with 8 and finished second in yards behind A.J. Green with 959. Jones would have had even better numbers but he only played in 13 games his rookie season which makes his numbers even more impressive for a rookie. Last year Jones played in all 16 games and caught 79 passes for just under 1200 yards and 10 scores while earning his first pro-bowl nod. The difference in Green in Jones is that Green takes on the bulk of the load while Julio shares the glory with another pro bowl receiver in Roddy White and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales. When Jones puts up these numbers with the other receiving talent on his team, there’s no telling what he will do in the future when he’s the number one guy.

Torrey Smith was the 5th receiver taken in the draft when the Baltimore Ravens selected him 58th overall in the second round. The two guys taken between Jones and Smith have combined for 12 touchdowns and about 1500 yards (Jonathan Baldwin and Titus Young) which is less than what Torrey has done in his short career. Torrey has made a name for himself as a speedy sideline receiver who can blow the tops off of the defense and doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. Torrey has been the number two receiver on the Ravens for the last two years but has still caught 99 passes for 1,696 yards and 15 scores averaging a ridiculous 17.1 yards per reception. Smith has been consistent in his two years catching 50 passes for 841 yards and 7 touchdowns as a rookie and 49 passes for 855 yards and 8 touchdowns in his second year. Smith should become even more of an impact this year with the loss of Boldin to the Niners but regardless who is playing with him, he will be a burner. Torrey also gains a little extra of an advantage since he has already won a Super Bowl.

All three of these guys already have played in the playoffs in both of their first two years and have already made an impact for their teams. Julio Jones has appeared in 3 playoff games catching 24 passes for 305 yards and 2 scores including a breakout performance last year in the NFC Championship where he caught 11 passes for 182 yards and both of his scores. A.J. Green has appeared in 2 playoff games catching 10 passes for 127 yards while losing to the Texans both years. Torrey Smith has the most experience playing in 6 career playoff games including a Super Bowl. In his 6 postseason games Smith has caught 15 passes for 324 yards and 3 scores. These three receivers have combined for 49 catches for 756 yards and 5 touchdowns in the playoffs in only two years which only helps in my argument of what I think of these three receivers.

I believe the 2011 draft will go down in history as one of the greatest receiving drafts of all time. There are a few good receivers outside of these guys that were drafted the same year but these guys alone make it what it is. If these three guys continue to play the way they are now, for 10 more years, we are looking at 3 Hall of Famers at the same position in the same draft class. Obviously they are not the 3 single best receivers in the league right now, but I would put all of them in the top 15 in the league and all of them are only entering their 3rd year. Don’t be surprised if these 3 guys slip into the top 10 at their position this year and don’t be surprised to see them continue to improve.


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