The 5: Last NFL Drafts that had wide receivers selected in the top-10
Could the Arizona Cardinals shock everyone in the 2020 NFL Draft and load up their offensive aresenal even further?
After the Cardinals traded for All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, that would lead you to believe they skip out on taking CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III with the No. 8 overall selection.
But with Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense, how much 10 personnel he ran with Kyler Murray early in the season and Larry Fitzgerald entering season number 17, we can’t completely rule it out.
For reference on the type of value Arizona could get in this spot, and how much a pass-catcher going this high fluctuates, here are the last five years that a wide receiver went top-10.
It’s not pretty!
2017: Corey Davis (fifth, Titans), Mike Williams (seventh, Chargers) and John Ross (ninth, Bengals)
Our most recent class to feature wideout selections this high has three going in the top-10.
Davis has grown into a serviceable wide receiver but just not close to anything that warrants where he was selected.
Through three seasons, he’s got 142 catches for 1,867 yards and six touchdowns.
In what will become a theme here, the recent history has shown that there’s far more value in the second and third rounds for wideouts.
Tennessee took A.J. Brown 51st overall in last year’s draft and he instantly jumped Davis as the Titans’ best receiver with 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns.
As expected with that outlook and the salary Davis commands as a top-five pick, the Titans are not expected to pick up his fifth-year option for 2021.
Williams was one of the league’s skill position players slated for a breakout 2019 but it never quite got there for him.
After 10 touchdowns on limited volume in 2018, Williams only had two in 2019. With that in mind, he led the league in yards per catch at 20.4 off 49 catches for 1,001 yards. Expect big things from him in year four.
Ross has had an up-and-down three seasons. He was buried on the depth chart in his rookie season and played in only three games before a season-ending shoulder injury.
He had seven touchdowns in 2018, and in the first two weeks of last season, posted 11 catches for 270 yards and five touchdowns.
Another shoulder injury halted his season, and he returned for six more games. If Ross can stay healthy, he’s trending toward a breakout fourth season.
2015: Amari Cooper (fourth, Raiders) and Kevin White (seventh, Bears)
Cooper is the last Pro Bowl wide receiver to be taken in the first round. Seriously. In the last five drafts, he’s the most recent one.
Cooper, White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross, D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown and N’Keal Harry are the first-round receivers from the last five drafts.
Now, that’s quite the mix, to be fair. The likes of Williams, Moore, Ridley and Brown range from solid to potentially future Pro Bowlers.
But if you look at all the busts, that’s the risk in play here.
Cooper reached 1,000 yards receiving in three of his first four seasons with the Raiders. He was unhappy and wanted out of Oakland, getting his wish after the Dallas Cowboys sent a first-round pick in exchange for him in October 2018.
He proved worthy of that request. Cooper caught 78 balls for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns in his first full season as a Cowboy last year, which earned him a fourth Pro Bowl nod.
White is our saddest entry on the list. He played in 14 total games over four seasons, having season-ending injuries in each of his first three seasons that resulted in him playing only four games in 2016 and from 2015-17 as a whole.
The Arizona Cardinals gave White a look in 2019, only to release him before the season in late August.
2014: Sammy Watkins (fourth, Bills) and Mike Evans (seventh, Buccaneers)
Watkins has proven to be an impact wideout when he is healthy and consistent. The problem for the 26-year-old is that he has yet to do that over multiple seasons, and instead, grades out as someone decent who should be great.
After combining in his first two seasons for 125 catches, 2,029 yards and 15 touchdowns with Buffalo, he only played eight games in his third season after missing three in 2015.
In the summer of 2017, Watkins was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams, where he again flashed his potential with decent numbers of 593 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed him and his last season was a nice summation of his career. Tyreek Hill went down and missed half the season, lining up Watkins to be Patrick Mahomes’ number one target, and that was after he had nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1.
Watkins followed up by not reaching 70 yards receiving in a game the rest of the season. Entering the final season of his three-year deal, Watkins had his contract restructured to a new one-year deal that saved the Chiefs $5 million.
Evans is arguably the best receiver we will cover. The three-time Pro Bowler has reached 1,000 yards receiving in all six of his seasons and has 48 touchdowns to boot.
One of the best jump-ball targets in the game, Evans signed a five-year, $82.5 million extension in March of 2018.
Expect him to have more fun this upcoming season going from Jameis Winston to Tom Brady as his quarterback.
2013: Tavon Austin (eighth, Rams)
Austin was undeniably electric at West Virginia. Despite being way undersized, he looked like a player in the mold of Reggie Bush where if you just got him the ball with some space, good things were going to happen.
The Rams used Austin in a variety of ways but were never able to fully tap into his potential as a playmaker. He reached over 700 all-purpose yards in only one of his five seasons with the Rams before going to the Cowboys for the last two seasons.
Austin didn’t do a ton in the return game, either, where he amounted to three total touchdowns over seven years. He currently remains a free agent.
2012: Justin Blackmon (fifth, Jaguars)
Again, I feel the need to preface that Blackmon was a monster in college. He had 38 receiving touchdowns over his last two seasons with Oklahoma State.
As a rookie, it’s easy to forget that Blackmon had a strong 64 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns. That’s because his off-the-field issues were far more prevalent.
Blackmon got a DUI in June of 2012 before his rookie year.
To open his second season, Blackmon was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That was in April of 2013 before the season, and in November, he was suspended indefinitely after violating the policy again.
Blackmon was arrested in July of 2014 for possession of marijuana. He was denied reinstatement in May the following year despite completing a 90-day program that he did voluntarily.
He got his second DUI in 2015 and hasn’t played in the NFL since 2013.