Now that the entire world knows what great hands Odell Beckham Jr. has, how good is he overall compared to the rest of his rookie class?
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Going into the 2014 NFL draft, many analysts considered it to be the most receiver-rich draft in nearly 20 years – and after only 12 weeks of the 2014 season, it’s clear that they were right on the money. With nearly every week bringing a new highlight reel or record-setting performance from one of the league’s rookie receivers, it’s clear that this group has set the bar incredibly high for years to come.
And consider this: All five of the wide receivers taken in the first round have over 500 yards already. Now that’s an impressive group of receivers.
Here are the five best rookie receivers of the 2014 season through Week 12:
Honorable Mention – Brandin Cooks, Saints – The Saints are sincerely going to miss Cooks, who suffered a season ending injury last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. The speedy 1st-round draft pick for the Saints leads all NFL rookies in catch % with at least 500 receiving yards – at a catching rate of an astounding 76.8%.
5. Jordan Matthews, Eagles – In Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense, Jordan Matthews has absolutely thrived, ranking 4th among all rookies with 635 receiving yards and 3rd among rookies with 6 TDs. He has played especially well in the last three weeks, averaging over 100 yards per game with QB Mark Sanchez and 17.9 yards/catch. Matthews is also the only player on this list not drafted in the 1st round.
4. Sammy Watkins, Bills – The top WR pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Watkins more than earned his draft spot with three games this season of over 100 yards receiving, including a 3 catch, 157 yard game against the New York Jets. Watkins is third among all rookie receivers with 684 receiving yards and tied for 5th in receptions.
3. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants – While his numbers don’t reflect it because of the games he missed due to injury, Odell Beckham Jr. currently leads all rookie WRs with 87.0 yards/game, and is 9th in the league in the same category. His 69.5 catch% is the second highest among rookies – only Brandin Cooks had higher prior to his injury. And his 14.9 yards/reception is the third highest among rookies with at least 50 catches this season. And of course, there is his absolutely epic catch from this past Sunday.
2. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers – With 8 TD catches on the season and 768 receiving yards through 11 games, Kelvin Benjamin has been one of the absolute surprises of the 2014 draft. Benjamin is currently tied for the lead among rookies with 8 TD catches, and has been putting on some amazing performances this year, with four games of 90 yards or more and four games of 20.0 yards/catch or more.
1. Mike Evans, Buccaneers – As good as Beckham Jr. and Benjamin have been this year, Mike Evans has been an absolute world beater. In a three week span between the Weeks 9 and 11, Evans recorded 458 receiving yards, 21.8 yards/reception and 5 TDs, including a 2o9 yard receiving performance against Washington. He leads all NFL rookies in receiving yards with 841, 2nd in receiving yards/game and is tied for 1st with 8 TDs – and all of that has been done with a QB combination of Mike Glennon and Josh McCown on one of the worst teams in football.