NFL rookie WR prospects: Drake London, Garrett Wilson and others are already the No. 1 receiving option?

The NFL has embraced its transition to a more passable bout. The league’s receiving leaders are littered with first- and second-year players like Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Amon-Ra St. Brown and others. A year ago, Chase became the first wide receiver to win the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.

Across two games of the 2022 regular season, it looks like the youth movement is continuing with some highly talented pass receivers, though Lions’ Jameson Williams remains sidelined due to injury sustained during the College Football playoffs.

CBSSports.com examines the early season production of the rookie wide receivers and their places in their respective lists:

Atlanta’s passing game boils down to two players: tight end Kyle Pitts and London. Each has huge size, exposure to play the border and production. A year ago, Pitts became the second tight end in NFL history to exceed 1,000 yards on reception as a rookie, as well as breaking Julio Jones’ franchise receiving record. Through two games, he only has four receptions for 38 yards. Meanwhile, London has clearly established itself as the best receiving option for quarterback Marcus Mariota.

London was targeted 19 of Mariota’s 59 attempts to pass (32.2% of target share). He has 13 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. The USC product was CBSSports.com’s third highest-rated wide receiving talent available in the 2022 NFL Draft and No. 12 overall perspectives. If the Falcons manage to get a potential best quarterback and wide receiver Calvin Ridley joins the equation again, Atlanta could present one of the most promising skill groups in the NFC.

Verdict: Main goal

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At the start of the season, many expected second-year wide receiver Elijah Moore to explode and emerge as the team’s main outlet. Moore’s numbers to open the season are respectable, but the rookie may have hindered him in the eyes of veteran quarterback Joe Flacco. Wilson was the target of 22 of Flacco’s 103 pass attempts (21.4%) and leads the team in touchdown receptions (two). His footwork to create separation quickly made it difficult for him to defend in the red zone. There were some opportunities to improve his stats, but Flacco was on a different page.

The potential Chin in the Coke bottle could come within weeks when Zach Wilson is expected to return. Will the second-year quarterback continue to favor the rookie, or will his relationship with Moore lead to an increase in the latter’s target odds? At the end of the day, Wilson’s confidence and footwork will ensure he’s the second best option for the AFC East franchise at worst. He was CBSSports.com’s highest rated wide receiver in the draft and the No. 7 overall perspectives.

Verdict: main goal

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New Orleans has given up a lot to make Olave’s selection possible, but how would that work with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry? Veterans made a living by capturing inclinations and sitting in zones. By necessity, Olave should almost be the vertical option. The hypothesis turned out to be correct, as the rookie has an average of 15.13 yards per catch, which ranks n. 20 between all passing receivers with at least four touches. Landry (12.64) and Thomas (11.09) rank lower. Despite a clear role, the goals are relatively even among those three players. Everyone has between 14-17 goals from quarterback James Winston.

The most likely outcome is that Thomas and, to a slightly lesser extent, Landry, are Winston’s primary targets for most of the season. Olave’s great works will be scattered along the way.

Verdict: secondary objective

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Target altitude has been a defining statistic used in the article up to this point, but visceral instinct comes into play with commanders. A healthy Curtis Samuel was targeted on 20 of Carson Wentz’s 87 passing attempts. Five other players have between 10-12 targets, with Dotson being one of them.

Three of Dotson’s seven receptions have gone into touchdowns. Strong hands and a large catch range were two notes taken while studying the Penn State product prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s safe to say that both translated professionally.

Verdict: secondary objective

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AJ Brown’s exchange raised high expectations of Burks before he set foot in the team headquarters. It was a bit of a rough start for the rookie during training camp, but Tennessee force-fed him with touches earlier in the season. He leads the team with 11 goals and seven of those have been converted to 102 yards. In the year, quarterback Ryan Tannehill only attempted 53 passes. The team’s identity revolves around the game of running, but Burks is responsible for keeping defenses honest. It is the best receiving option in Tennessee. He must be. Who else would take on that role: fellow rookie Kyle Phillips or Robert Woods? Dotson and Wilson do a better job of creating opportunities for themselves, but Burks will have the chances of him.

Verdict: main goal

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