Over the offseason we took a peek at the 2012 Draft’s top receivers during mini-camps. With five weeks of NFL action behind us we can now look at the players who are catching balls for their teams in a more enlightened way. We aren’t as reliant on coach-speak and can actually look at solid numbers to see just how the teams have done at feeding their new weapons. We will once again look at the eight wideouts selected in the first three rounds of the draft. Four were first round selections, three were second round selection, and Mohamed Sanu was the lone third round wide receiver pick. We will look at them in the order they were drafted.
- Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars - Being considered the consensus top receiver in the draft can add some unneeded pressure to a young player. After being picked, Blackmon became the longest rookie holdout. He didn’t even participate in team play until the third preseason game. This hurt him early as he has been shut out in two games. His hands have been less impressive during he regular season but he has still managed to catch 13 balls for 119 yards. The Jags would like to get him more involved but he often looks like he is overmatched and can’t seem to beat man coverage consistently.
- Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals - Through five games Floyd has yet to start, but who can blame him behind some very talented receivers in Arizona. Getting help from the legendary Larry Fitzgerald will undoubtedly help Floyd’s development. Right now he is sitting in the middle of the depth chart and has appeared in every game. He has six catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns. For being a first round selection the Cardinals probably want to get him more involved. It’s difficult to do with shaky quarterback play though.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans - One of the more prolific receivers from the 2012 class thus far, Wright is geting his share of action. He has started four of the five first games for Tennessee. He has 27 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He has shown an ability to be explosive and has been forced to fill in for Kenny Britt on occasion. While the offense as a whole sputters, Wright will continue to get more looks with Tennessee unable to move the ball on the ground.
- Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams - Quick has only made an appearance in three games this season. A popular selection in the draft, Quick has struggled to get things going in St. Louis. He has one reception for 19 yards. With Danny Amendola injured the Rams could try to get Quick more involved moving forward. You’ve got to wonder if they’re happy with their third round selection though.
- Stephen Hill, New York Jets - Hill showed early that he can be an effective wide receiver. Then he disappeared, was limited due to injury, and now he’s back. The speedy receiver could be a popular target in any scheme, but the Jets simply don’t have a quarterback good enough to get him the ball. Hill has started all three games he has been in and has five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a threat whenever he gets the ball in his hands.
- Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears - Jeffery has started to games for the Bears and has looked better each game. He has been active in all five games and has 14 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. Jeffery presents a big red zone threat and draws attention from Brandon Marshall. The impact for Jeffery goes well beyond his reception numbers as he is a big-bodied receiver that must be respected by the defense.
- Rueben Randle, New York Giants - Having appeared in every game but not started due to the depth at the position, Randle is in a prime position to learn from some very good receivers and to be an effective piece of the New York Giants puzzle when called upon. Randle currently has seven receptions for 86 yards. He is filling the role that Tom Coughlin wants: more depth that can be relied upon.
- Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals - A curious note on Sanu is his lack of use with the Bengals. Sanu has only been active for three games with the Bengals, starting one…to throw the ball. Sanu has no catches to his name thus far but does have a perfect passer rating with one pass for 73 yards and a touchdown. At this point I wonder if the Bengals are keeping his receiving skills quiet simply because they want to use his pure athleticism at a later point in the season. It’ll work, especially if the other team is worried that he can continue to pass or be effective in other ways whenever he is on the field.
As it all starts to shape up you’ve got to wonder about who really is the best receiver to come out of the draft. With the Jake Locker injury in Tennessee you can expect some drop-off for Wright’s numbers, but he’s looking like a very good receiver at this point. A lot of these players are buried on teams that need help right now, but it appears the rookie receivers aren’t bailing out their struggling quarterbacks as much as the team would like. We’ll continue to observe the progress here at B&T as the season progresses.
- Luke N. Sims