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Cowboys Play the Odds at Wideout

We're hit that moment of post-draft joissance where every team loves its starting lineup.  But are some lineups more set than others?

Let's look at the wide receiver turnover in our own NFC East.   Every team shuffled its receiver deck.  The Cowboys, of course, cut T.O. and slotted Roy WIlliams into the top spot. 

The Giants went one better, dropping both of their '08 starters.  New York's current plan has top pick Hakeem Nicks replacing Plaxico Burress.

The Eagles are hoping lightning strikes twice.  Second-round rookie DeSean Jackson nearly hit 1000 receiving yards as a rookie, ranking second to Denver's Eddie Royal in a ten-deep, second-round class.  This year, they're hoping for similar production from top pick Jeremy Maclin

I've noted in the past that first round receivers are a 50/50 proposition.  They've busted out roughly half the time this decade, the lowest success rate for any position. Even if a receiver turns into a top player, the odds are significantly lower that he will be a top producer right away.

This decade there have been only THREE rookie first-round wideouts who matched Jackson's rookie production.

That's right.  Only three 1st-round rookies drafted since 2000 topped 900 yards.   Can you name them? 

Since 2000, 53 receivers have heard their names called in round one.  Only Tampa Bay's Michael Clayton produced a 1000 yard season out of the box. (And Clayton has been a bust ever since, never coming close to repeating those numbers)   Most big names never came close to 500 rookie yards, much less 1000. Many of them have turned into quality receivers, but it has taken two to three years before they've put their games together.

This means New York is taking a big risk with Nicks.  The Giants are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but the odds are very low that Nicks can approach the 1000 yards Burress averaged for them.  If New York wants to put much of its post-season hopes on Nick's green shoulders, that's fine with me.

The same is true with the Eagles.  Maclin looks like a great pick, but the Eagles have already defied the odds with Jackson's instant impact.  Joe Banner and Andy Reid should catch the first red eye to Vegas if Maclin can match it. 

I'll take Dallas' plan.  Williams was awful last year, but I have more faith in his chances for a strong '09 than I do in any rookie's. 

Got those three rookie standouts? 

You've got Clayton.   Andre Johnson (976 yards in '03) and Dwayne Bowe (995 in '07) also did the trick.  That's it.


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