Ranking SEC’s first-round WRs in past 10 NFL Drafts (and will we have another in 2018?)
As we chronicled yesterday, the SEC doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to first-round running backs.
The conference has fared much better with receivers, as six of the eight first-rounders from 2008-2017 have had very productive careers in the NFL.
As you can see in the rankings below, there are as many as five future Hall of Famers in this group. (This group includes only those who played in the SEC, so Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, a first-round pick in 2009, isn’t eligible.)
And, as we approach the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft tonight, as many as three more SEC receivers could join this list and become stars in their own right (see below).
Here’s how each of the eight SEC first-round receivers from the past 10 years stacks up:
1. Julio Jones, Alabama — No. 6, 2011
Jones is often in the conversation with Antonio Brown and a couple of other players on this list as one of the best receivers in the NFL, and it’s easy to see why. He has 585 catches for 9,054 yards and 43 touchdowns (and five Pro Bowl appearances) in seven seasons. He is impossible to defend when he’s fully healthy and makes the Atlanta Falcons’ offense one of the NFL’s best.
2. A.J. Green, Georgia — No. 4, 2011
Green has been much more consistent than Jones, but his numbers for the Cincinnati Bengals (556 catches and 8,213 yards) check in just a notch below Jones’s. His 57 touchdowns and seven Pro Bowls, though, have Jones beat. You can’t go wrong with either guy, but it seems Jones is a bit more dynamic when he’s 100-percent healthy.
3. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU — No. 12, 2014
If Beckham had been in the 2011 draft class with Green and Jones, he’d probably be the No. 1 player on this list. In his four seasons (during which he only played four games in 2017), he already has 38 touchdowns to go with 313 catches for 4,424 yards. If he comes back at 100 percent this fall, he should resume his domination of NFL defenses.
4. Mike Evans, Texas A&M — No. 7, 2014
The fact that Evans has only received one Pro Bowl nomination is insane when you consider that he’s gone over 1,000 yards in each of his four pro seasons. He also has an impressive 32 touchdowns and has built a great chemistry with Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. Look for him to continue putting up big numbers in 2018 and beyond.
5. Amari Cooper, Alabama — No. 4, 2015
Cooper being all the way down at No. 5 on this list shows just how many incredible receivers the SEC has produced in recent years. He started his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Oakland Raiders, and even though he slowed down a bit in 2017, he still grabbed a career-high seven touchdowns.
6. Percy Harvin, Florida — No. 22, 2009
Watching Harvin at Florida, you would have thought the sky was the limit, as his athleticism was unmatched at the college level. However, in the NFL, migraines and other injuries hampered him constantly, and he only appeared in a full 16 games once in his eight-year NFL career. He did manage to amass 4,953 yards from scrimmage and 27 total touchdowns, so his time as a pro wasn’t a total loss.
7. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee — No. 29, 2013
Patterson has turned himself into one of the best kickoff returners in the NFL, earning two Pro Bowl berths at the position, but his receiving career hasn’t been so great. In five years, he’s put up 2,079 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns — not bad, but not what was expected when the Minnesota Vikings selected him in the first round back in 2013.
8. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss — No. 23, 2016
Speaking of the Vikings, maybe they should just avoid drafting first-round receivers from the SEC altogether. Treadwell was their pick two years ago, and in his two NFL campaigns, he’s put up 21 catches for 215 yards and is still awaiting his first NFL touchdown. Obviously, he’s only entering his third year in the NFL, so there’s still time for him to turn things around, but it isn’t looking good for the former Rebel.
Will we have another first-round SEC WR in 2018?
That answer is, almost certainly, yes. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is considered by most analysts to be the top receiver in the class, and he could go in the top 15 if all goes well for him. But he could have some company, too.
Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk is also generating some first-round buzz, and LSU’s DJ Chark has had a great offseason and is a dark-horse first-round candidate. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a team trade into the bottom part of the first round to draft Kirk or Chark, so expect the nine receivers above to have some company next year.