Over the years, the NFL has moved from a ground and pound mentality that has ruled the league for many years, to a more pass-happy model. Mostly gone are the days of a workhorse running back carrying the ball 30+ times, in the process beating a defense into submission. The game has changed in that much more emphasis has been put on the passing game and now running backs must be dual-threats if they hope to remain relevant.
Just ask Adrian Peterson - an eventual first-ballot Hall-of-Famer that, because of age and limitations in the passing game, is having trouble finding work. Nobody doubts his running ability, but the game commands more from the position than it used to.
As a result of the shift in offensive philosophies, more teams are drafting wide receivers today than ever before. They have replaced running backs high atop draft boards and are now viewed as the marquee playmakers in football. Antonio Brown, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. - those are but a few of today's top pass-catchers... oh, I almost forgot DeAndre Hopkins. The game has never featured such a plethora of talent at the position. However, for all the HITS come draft time, there have been just as many if not more MISSES...
Teams, in an attempt to position themselves for offensive success, will reach for receivers -- thrown off by outlier college seasons. Or bogus combine statistics. When will teams finally learn the majority of combine performances mean absolutely nothing?
Here are 20 of the worst WR draft picks since 2010, along with after-the-fact draft prescriptions... hindsight is always 20/20!
20 Chicago Bears draft Kevin White (with Stefon Diggs available)
The Chicago Bears took Kevin White 7th overall in 2015. Oddly enough, he was the second wide receiver selected in the draft - Amari Cooper went 4th overall to Oakland.
White has had a hard time staying healthy, having played only five games in his first two seasons. With each passing day, week, and year, White is looking more and more like a bust. Certainly not for a lack of talent, but instead he's simply been snake-bitten by injuries. Some guys are just unlucky...
Much later on, in the fifth round, the Bears' division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, selected wide-receiver Stefon Diggs out of Maryland.
The Bears are spotlighted in this case, but every team missed out on Diggs, who has quickly become one of the league's best pass-catchers.
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft Arrelious Benn (with Rob Gronkowski available)
Arrelious Benn was chosen 39th overall in 2010 and was thought to be the missing piece for a Bucs passing game that, a season ago, had failed to produce a 1,000-yard receiver -- Kellen Winslow led the team in receptions (77), yards (884), and touchdowns (5). Most recently, Benn played with the Jacksonville Jaguars and for his career has caught only 65 balls for fewer than 1,000 yards.
Not exactly great value for a second-round pick...
Today, the Buccaneers continue to struggle offensively and have not had a top-10 offense in terms of points for since 2000. A team more known for its defensive dominance over the years has seen its offense perpetually struggle season-after-season. Meanwhile, with the 42nd selection in 2010, the New England Patriots took Rob Gronkowski... Ouch!
18 St. Louis Rams draft Tavon Austin (with DeAndre Hopkins available)
Tavon Austin, if you can believe it, was a top-10 draft pick, selected 8th overall by the Rams formerly of St. Louis.
Austin was a dynamic playmaker in college but his inability to master NFL playbooks and wide receiver route trees has resulted in him not seeing much playing time. While he's undoubtedly a threat every time he touches the ball, getting the ball in his hands has not been easy, due to Austin's poor route running.
Perhaps if the Rams got to do it all over again, they may have opted to draft DeAndre Hopkins, who was selected by Houston at the end of the first round (27th overall).
Imagine a three-headed offensive monster, featuring Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and DeAndre Hopkins...
17 Minnesota Vikings draft Cordarrelle Patterson (with Robert Woods available)
The 2013 draft saw the Vikings select Sharrif Floyd 23rd overall, Xavier Rhodes 25th overall, and then trade back into the first-round to take Cordarrelle Patterson 29th overall. While Rhodes has become an elite defensive back since being selected out of Florida State, both Floyd (injuries) and Patterson (lack of intangibles) have been busts.
In Patterson's case, he's been little else besides a dynamic kick returner. With five return touchdowns in his career, nobody doubts Flash's ability on special teams. But first-round picks are supposed to do more than that...
Perhaps a better, more safer pick would've been Robert Woods? Selected 41st overall, Woods has been a steady receiver thus far in his career. Last season specifically, he showed great chemistry with Rams quarterback, Jared Goff.
16 Buffalo Bills draft Sammy Watkins (with Odell Beckham Jr. available)
Sammy Watkins' inclusion on this list may seem a bit harsh to some, but look at the numbers - he's done very little to justify going fourth overall.
The Clemson product's last two seasons have been utter disappointments, with him unable to eclipse 1,000 yards in either -- he barely has 1,000 yards combined.
Injuries have hampered Watkins leading some to question his durability and toughness. Not even a trade to Los Angeles was enough to spur him on to greatness. Perhaps he'll have better luck in 2018-19, as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
As for those who still feel I'm being too harsh on Sammy? Please know that Buffalo could have had Odell Beckham Jr, who went 12th overall. Mike Evans was also available!
15 Los Angeles Chargers draft Mike Williams (with JuJu Smith-Schuster available)
The Chargers are the NFL's perennial underachievers. They go 8-8 or 9-7 every year. When they need a win, we all know the inevitable outcome...
Last off-season, in an effort to give Keenan Allen a partner-in-crime, the Chargers took Mike Williams seventh overall, out of Clemson. I'm sensing a trend...
Williams played 10 games before going down with a knee injury. Even when healthy he failed to impress, catching only 11 passes for 95 yards -- just over one catch per game, to go along with nine and a half yards per contest. Yikes...who could they have had?
Similar to Stefon Diggs, the entire league missed out on JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had to wait until the end of the second round to hear his name called. The Steelers took "The Celly King" 62nd overall.
14 New England Patriots draft Aaron Dobson (with Keenan Allen available)
The New England Patriots have always had a knack for identifying talent in the later rounds of drafts. Remember, they took a guy named Tom Brady in the sixth round. In the case of Aaron Dobson, they swung and missed...
Selected 59th overall in 2013, Dobson has tallied only 53 receptions and four touchdowns in his career. And he hasn't played a game since 2015, having been waived by the Detroit Lions (twice) and the Arizona Cardinals once since spending his first three seasons in Foxboro.
Oddly enough, the guy New England should have drafted in Dobson's place was mentioned in the previous entry: Keenan Allen. The Cal product was taken 76th overall by San Diego (now Los Angeles).
Allen has been a steady and reliable receiver since entering the league, compiling over 4,000-yards and 22 touchdowns along the way.
13 Denver Broncos draft Cody Latimer (with Jarvis Landry available)
Latimer vaulted up draft boards with a strong junior season at Indiana -- as such, the Denver Broncos opted to draft him in the second round, 56th overall.
Fast-forward to today...he's only caught 35 balls in 45 career games. Not surprisingly, the Broncos have since cut ties with Latimer, who is now vying for the No.3 WR spot with the Giants having signed with them this off-season.
What makes this an even tougher pill to swallow for Denver is the reality of who was still available at the time they tabbed Latimer as their guy...
With the 63rd pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins took Jarvis Landry. For his career, the former LSU star has racked up over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Safe to say he's outperforming Cody to this point.
12 San Francisco 49ers draft AJ Jenkins (with T.Y. Hilton still available)
After posting a 90 catch, nearly 1,300-yard senior season at Illinois, AJ Jenkins was thought to profile as an NFL ready receiver, but turns out he was anything but ready.
Jenkins was drafted 30th overall in 2012. His last game action came in 2014. All things told, Jenkins, for his career, caught 17 passes for 223 yards. It's not uncommon to hear Niners fans refer to him as their team's biggest draft bust in the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, there were numerous receivers available who have more than succeeded at making the transition to the pro level. To avoid spoiling later entries, I will refrain from listing all of them here. The one guy I will focus on though is T.Y. Hilton...
Hilton was drafted 92nd overall in the 2012 draft and has rather quietly put together an impressive NFL career so far; in 95 games, Hilton has amassed over 6,000 yards to go along with 34 touchdowns and has been selected to the Pro-Bowl four times. (Sorry about your luck, San Fran).
11 Minnesota Vikings draft Laquon Treadwell (with Michael Thomas available)
This upcoming season is Treadwell's final shot in Minnesota.
The Vikings released Jarius Wright which seemingly opened the door for Treadwell to move into the No.3 spot. However, general manager Rick Spielman quickly signed Kendall Wright; perhaps an indication of the organization's feelings towards Treadwell's (lack of) progress?
An impressive junior season at Ole Miss caused Treadwell to vault up draft boards, but so far at the pro level, he has failed to impress. His lack of speed was always going to be a concern but scouts figured his physicality and strength would offset any quickness issues. Not the case.
In 25 games, he has caught only 21 balls for just north of 200 yards. And has yet to score a touchdown. Tick-tock...
Give the Vikings a mulligan...? Knowing what they know today, perhaps they may have opted to take Michael Thomas out of THE Ohio State University. Catching passes from future Hall-of-Famer, Drew Brees, Thomas has already surpassed 2,000 receiving yards for his career.
Thomas is a beast. Treadwell is dangling by a thread.
10 Kansas City Chiefs draft Jonathan Baldwin (with Randall Cobb available)
Jonathan Baldwin had the physical makeup to be a monster in the NFL. Standing six-foot-four, weighing 225 lbs, with deceptive speed, he had the makings of something special. Instead, he turned out to be nothing but a BIG bust. An inability to run crisp routes, an unwillingness to run block and an overall laughable work ethic resulted in Baldwin being traded only two years into his NFL career.
Drafted 26th overall by the Chiefs in 2011, Baldwin would find himself traded to San Francisco (for AJ Jenkins oddly enough), but would only last a season before being waived. From there he would sign with the Detroit Lions but was released the next day following a failed physical.
Baldwin has not played since 2013.
Perhaps the Chiefs may have been better off drafting Randall Cobb, who went with the final pick of the second round (64th overall).
9 Kansas City Chiefs draft Dexter McCluster (with Golden Tate available)
Dexter McCluster was, by no means, a total bust as the 36th selection in 2010...however he just never did anything great.
The Chiefs used McCluster as both a runner and a catcher, as well as a returner. He was undeniably effective in spurts but never really unlocked his true potential.
His last season came in 2016, with the Chargers where he played in six games before getting injured.
At the end of the second round, with the 60th pick, the Seattle Seahawks took Golden Tate who, since his move to Detroit, has been one of the league's most dynamic playmakers. With over 500 career receptions and approaching 6,500 yards receiving, Tate would have undoubtedly been an upgrade here.
8 St. Louis Rams draft Brian Quick (with Mohamed Sanu available)
With the 33rd pick in 2012, the Rams took Brian Quick out of Appalachian State...
In 78 games played in the NFL, Quick has 111 receptions for 1,575 yards and 10 touchdowns. Good receivers do that in a single season. Quick is not a good receiver. That, my friends, is 'Deductive Reasoning 101'.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Sanu -- the 83rd pick of the same draft -- has been a steady receiver since entering the league and would've been a better pick here when you look at the numbers.
Sanu has compiled over 3,000 yards and scored 20 touchdowns thus far in his career.
7 Cincinnati Bengals draft John Ross (with Cooper Kupp available)
John Ross fooled everybody at the annual gimmick combine when he ran the fastest 40-yard time ever clocked: 4.22 seconds. Perhaps teams should've taken the hint when, immediately after clocking the time, Ross crumpled in discomfort grabbing his leg.
When you run that fast, I can't help but think your muscles are more prone to strains and tears...Ross proved me right when he played in only 3 games of his rookie season.
The NFL's ninth overall pick of the 2017 draft had one run for 12 yards last season. Great yards-per-carry...
Still, perhaps if the Bengals were looking for a reliable receiver who can stay healthy and be productive week in and week out, they may have wanted to draft Cooper Kupp who wound up being taken 69th overall by...you guessed it! The Los Angeles Rams!
6 Baltimore Ravens draft Breshad Perriman (with Jamison Crowder available)
Breshad Perriman, since entering the league, has had major issues with dropping the football. Isn't that, when you break it down, a receiver's MAIN responsibility?
Sure, we can talk about route running and run blocking, both important elements of the game. But at the end of the day, a receiver's main job is to catch passes thrown to him.
Perriman simply hasn't been able to do that. His catch percentages, through two seasons, have been downright awful -- 50-percent, followed by a porous 28-percent a season ago.
Alternatively, Jamison Crowder (selected 105th overall, whereas Perriman went 26th) has been a consistent threat for three seasons...
5 New York Jets draft Devin Smith (with Tyler Lockett available)
With the 37th overall selection in 2015, the New York Jets took Devin Smith out of Ohio State. Smith was coming off a four-year collegiate career that saw him score 30 touchdowns along the way.
So far, in the NFL, Smith has 10 catches. Yikes.
To be somewhat fair to him, Smith did suffer a torn ACL last year and is in the midst of rehab. Perhaps, when healthy, he will round into form.
A potentially better pick would have come in the form of Tyler Lockett...
By no means is Lockett a franchise-altering talent, but he has produced at least 60 catches and 550 yards in each of his first three seasons. Coaches adore consistency, and if nothing else Lockett has been just that. Can't say the same about Devin Smith...
4 Seattle Seahawks draft Paul Richardson (with Davante Adams available)
Paul Richardson (45th overall in 2014) has amassed 95 receptions in 47 career games so far in his career, which works out to just over two catches per contest.
Last season did see Richardson post far and away his best season as a pro -- targeted 80 times, hauling in 44 receptions for 703 yards and six touchdowns. Before last season, Richardson struggled to even see the field on gameday.
Despite the upward swing we are seeing from P-Rich, the Seahawks could've had Davante Adams, which would have been a significant upgrade in my humble opinion.
Adams, largely thanks to Aaron Rodgers, has caught 237 passes and scored 26 touchdowns already in this career. He does have a tendency to drop the odd easy one, but hey, nobody's perfect.
3 Detroit Lions draft Ryan Broyles (with Rueben Randle available)
In 2012, Oklahoma product Ryan Broyles was drafted in the second round (54th overall) by the Detroit Lions. Is there a team with a worse wide-receiver track record than the Detroit Lions? Excluding Calvin Johnson of course...
Broyles' professional career lasted only 21 games, which was shocking considering all the accolades he received in college.
Given the chance at a do-over, Rueben Randle may have been a better pick. Certainly not a No.1 receiver at this point, Randle has still produced modest numbers when given the opportunity.
When all is said and done, outdoing Broyles' production isn't exactly setting a high bar.
2 Dallas Cowboys draft Danny Coale (with Marvin Jones available)
Danny Coale was drafted in the fifth round (152nd overall). I know, it's a late-round pick, and who knows what value draft picks hold at that point. But I thought teams employed highly intelligent executives who're tasked with NOT botching draft picks?
Perhaps Coale had the potential to develop into a reliable possession receiver - you know the guys I'm talking about: catch everything thrown their way and are forever forcing the chain gang to run up the field.
A torn-ACL would derail and ultimately end Coale's career before he ever played a single game.
Marvin Jones, who to date has caught 250 passes and 28 touchdowns while racking up just shy of 4,000-yards receiving would be the next receiver taken, going 166th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.
1 Jacksonville Jaguars draft Justin Blackmon (with Alshon Jeffery available)
Back in 2012, there was a consensus No.1 wide receiver and his name was Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars made him the fifth overall selection as a result of his Can't-Miss label.
Blackmon, playing at Oklahoma State, was a monster -- compiling over 3,500 yards and touching paydirt 40 times in three college seasons.
Little did anybody know what a complete and total trainwreck he would turn into at the pro level -- Blackmon played a total of 20 games in the NFL, and may have been drunk for every one of them.
The Jaguars, clearly looking for a big, physically imposing wide-receiver, would have been better served to draft Alshon Jeffery. By now, we all know the type of threat he can be...and to think he wasn't taken until the second round, 45th overall.
Justin Blackmon might very well be the biggest bust at the wide receiver position since Charles Rogers.
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