Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - WRs

The fourth position being examined will be WRs. WRs are viewed in the exact opposite fashion of FBs - the last position looked at. While there may be only four FBs taken in any draft, we can so more than eight times that amount when it comes to wide receivers. It makes sense. While a team may only carry one FB on their roster, they carry at least five and sometimes even six WRs. Teams may even take two in a single draft.

Of late, receivers have taken a dip in their perceived need. The success of mid- to late-round picks as well as the impact of undrafted players has something to do with it but perhaps the biggest reason is the time it takes a WR to adjust to the NFL. Generally collegiate receivers rely too much on athleticism and speed and tend to have bad mechanics, especially blocking and route running. It is widely accepted that it won't be until a receiver's third year in the league that he will break out and live up to his potential. These factors have caused teams to be wary in WR weak classes. Teams are less and less likely to reach to fill a WR need. Now there are still some perceived strong WR classes - such as 2004, 2005, and 2007 - when a handful or more will go early. But when a class is seen as mediocre in terms of upper tier talent, expect more and more first rounds to be devoid of WRs.

What about 2009? How does the class stack up versus the recent history of the position? Below are the statistics for the last 10 drafts (1999 through 2008).

Draft trends for WRs (1999-2008).

The most common drafted position by far. There have been 330 WRs drafted since 1999, an average if 33 per year. There have been two players to go at pick #2, another four between picks three and five, and eleven more between picks six and ten. The data shows that the position is in high demand no matter what round of the draft. You'll usually see four or five receivers taken in each round until a spike in seventh, when teams are searching for that last player for depth and special teams. In the last 10 years there has not been less than 30 WRs drafted (1999, 2006). This is our lowest threshold which will determine my predicted "safe" picks this year. The average (33) designates that three more players have a high probability to be selected, though not guaranteed. The 10-year maximum is 36, which will add another three prospects to the "borderline" category.

So who is on this massive list of prospects? Who is safe and shouldn't fret come April 25 and 26 and who may be glued to the sofa all weekend hoping to hear their name? The list below was determined using Michael Abromowitz's positional rankings and supplemented by the lists at NFL Draft Scout.

Will Be Picked

Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech

Jeremy Maclin, Missouri

Percy Harvin, Florida

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland

Derrick Williams, Penn State

Kenny Britt, Rutgers

Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina

Brian Robiskie, Ohio State

Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma

Louis Murphy, Florida

Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State

Brandon Tate, North Carolina

Mark Mitchell, Nevada

Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia

Kevin Ogletree, Virginia

Demetrius Byrd, LSU

Quan Cosby, Texas

Aaron Kelly, Clemson

Brooks Foster, North Carolina

Jarett Dillard, Rice

Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers

Ramses Barden, Cal Poly

Pat White, West Virginia

Austin Collie, BYU

Jaison Williams, Oregon

Kenny McKinley, South Carolina

Brandon Gibson, Washington State

Brian Hartline, Ohio State

Mike Thomas, Arizona

Patrick Turner, USC

Should Be Picked

Johnny Knox, Abilene Christian

Mike Wallace, Mississippi

Darius Passmore, Marshall


Dominique Edison, Stephen F. Austin

Deon Butler, Penn State

David Richmond, San Jose State


Jamarko Simmons, Western Michigan

Jeremy Childs, Boise State

Greg Orton, Purdue

Manuel Johnson, Oklahoma

So there ya go. What do you think? There are wide and varying views on this position. I have seen some experts predict a "borderline" or "unlikely" player or two going as high as the third round. But that's just how it goes in the extremely variable positional rankings. One' man's bust is another man's sleeper. And with WRs, you never know quite what you're gonna get.

MY PREDICTION: I think the 2009 draft has a stronger contingent of WRs that 2006 and 2008, two weak years. Crabtree and Maclin are first rounders for sure. Teams seem high on Harvin and Heyward-Bey, and now Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks are creeping intothe first round in many mocks. I think we see five WRs go in round one this season, with another four in round two. I think the overall number drafted will be slightly above normal based on the depth of the class.

UP NEXT: Yeah I was supposed to do TEs first. Well they'll be coming this afternoon. People care more about WRs anyway. But TEs will get their due. Brandon Pettigrew is the big name but the class is solid and has a large contingent that will go late on day one and early on day two.

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