Tempering Expectations: A look At Wide Receivers

Tempering Expectations: A look At Wide Receivers

Why teams mostly come away with what they invest at this position
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The past two years, we’ve been spoiled by riches at wide receiver position. Two of the best receiver classes in the past 20 years have given us a false expectation of what a team can come away with in the draft. Odell Beckham, Sammy Watkins, and Amari Cooper already look to have the makings of superstar talents. Mike Evans, Kevin White, and Kelvin Benjamin should be dynamic players for the next 10 years. Even guys like Tyler Lockett, Martavis Bryant, and John Brown, who have been mid-round steals, have already found ways to make an impact at the next level. It could be five years before that many quality receivers come into the league again.

Of course, the position is more important than ever. With the ways the rules are set up right now, teams can dominate by building a high-powered passing attack more easily than they ever could before. This places elite receivers at a premium. In the past few years, we’ve seen the absence of top flight receivers like Julio Jones and A.J. Green have just as much of an impact on their respective offenses as it would if their starting quarterback were injured. Outside of a few upper echelon talents, quarterbacks are made and broken by the quality of their surrounding talent, particularly at the receiver position. Last year, Andy Dalton enjoyed a career year bolstered by one of the best receiving corps in the league. On the other side of the spectrum, we saw how much the absence of Jordy Nelson impacted the league's best quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, last season.

Game changing talents at the position don’t hit the open market, period. The only way to obtain a dominant presence at receiver is through investing in them in the draft. In this edition, we’ll take a look at the real-world value of receivers in the draft, particularly at what qualities translate to success and what can be expected at each point in the draft by looking at some examples from recent history.

First Round (2009-2013)

Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, A.J. Jenkins, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jonathan Baldwin, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt.

The first round is not a place to take a chance on physically gifted but raw players. Of the players that were drafted this high but haven’t worked out, a high majority of them were players that seduced teams with supposedly game changing speed. Although Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Percy Harvin have been productive in spurts, they haven’t done enough to justify a first round selection. Outside of that, this group looks relatively strong compared to the first round at the other glamour positions.

Besides a few depressing busts and Justin Blackmon, there is a roughly 50-50 split between true number one receivers and strong starting options. In this five-year span, about half of the ten best wideouts in the league were selected in this group. Others, like Michael Crabtree, Kendall Wright, and Michael Floyd, have been above average starters for years. As long as teams avoid being tempted by players with obvious red flags, they can expect to land a better than average player here.

Second Round

Justin Hunter, Robert Woods, Aaron Dobson, Brian Quick, Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Ryan Broyles, Rueben Randle, Titus Young, Torrey Smith, Greg Little, Randall Cobb, Arrelious Benn, Golden Tate, Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi.

Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and now Davante Adams. The Green Bay Packers have built one of the league's better receiving tandems swearing by drafting them almost exclusively in the second round. With the amount of them being taken here, perhaps other teams have decided to follow suit. If the past five years are any indications, that might not be such a good idea. Hunter, Woods, Jeffrey, Smith, Cobb, and Tate are the only players of this depressing group that have lived up to their draft position.

The thing that these players have in common, outside of perhaps Smith, is that they landed here because of a lack of either ideal size or speed. This suggests that players that are flawed in a traditional sense but otherwise strong players may be ideal selections here. Outside of Jeffery, however, none of these players present viable options as number one receivers. Other players in this group, however, have busted in horrible fashion; Robiskie, Broyles, Young, and Massaquoi are already out of the league.

Middle Rounds (3rd and 4th)

Terrance Williams, Keenan Allen, Marquise Goodwin, Markus Wheaton, Stedman Bailey, Ace Sanders, Josh Boyce, Chris Harper, Quinton Patton, Devier Posey, T.J. Graham, Mohamed Sanu, T.Y. Hilton, Chris Givens, Travis Benjamin, Joe Adams, Devon Wylie, Jarius Wright, James Michael-Johnson, Nick Toon, Greg Childs, Austin Pettis, Leonard Hankerson, Vincent Brown, Jerrel Jennigan, Kris Durham, Edmond Gates, Greg Salas, Cecil Shorts, Tandon Doss, Damian Williams, Brandon LaFell, Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Roberts, Armante Edwards, Marty Gilliard, Mike Williams, Marcus Easley, Jacoby Ford, Derrick Williams, Brandon Tate, Ramses Barden, Patrick Turner, Deon Butler, Mike Thomas, Brian Hartline, Louis Murphy, Austin Collie.

Receivers drop off the board like flies at this point in the draft. Teams are far more willing to take risks in the middle rounds because the consequence of missing on a pick here isn’t nearly as high as in the first two rounds. This isn’t the place to find number one receivers; Emmanuel Sanders and T.Y. Hilton look like outliers in this largely anonymous group of players. Although many picks here go on to do very little in the league, this is an ideal place to take a swing at a complementary piece at receiver.

Terrance Williams, Brandon LaFell, and Mohamed Sanu are good examples of what teams should be looking for in this area of the draft; solid, but unspectacular players that can make moderate contributions on game day. This is also a better place to take a swing at a potential deep threat than in the earlier rounds, although drafting a player that is just fast like Jacoby Ford or Marquis Goodwin rarely works out for anyone.

Obviously, the potential for a bust is high here, with many players not going on to do anything in the league. Ace Sanders sounds like a sidekick out of a children's superhero novel. Quinton Patton would be a more fitting name for someone born before the Baby Boom. I believe Tandon Doss was the name of my middle school gym teacher. Ramses Barden may or may not have been the name of a Aztec War General.

Later Rounds

Forget Antonio Brown. Landing him in the sixth round of the 2010 Draft lies in the same vein as with Brady and the Patriots; a once in a generation outlier that isn’t happening again any time soon. The pickings are extremely thin at this point in the draft. Most of the players selected in this range won’t be on an NFL roster within three years. The hope here is to find players that can excel as role players or provide depth.

Landing a player like Kenny Stills or Riley Cooper in this range can be seen as a huge success. Smart teams sometimes invest late round picks on receivers to primarily work in the return game, like Mark Mariani.

Takeaways

Drafting receivers is far more predictable than the two other positions we’ve looked at so far. A good rule of thumb for the position is that whatever round the player is selected in is what place on the depth chart you can expect them to fill; if a player is taken in the second round, a team can expect them to be an ideal option as a number two receiver. The most important rule to not busting on picks at the position is to avoid players with question marks. Drafting players at this position with character concerns rarely ends well for either party. Players gifted with impressive height-weight-speed combinations don’t succeed unless they come into the league with strong route running skills as well. Teams can’t expect to find anything in the back three rounds other than camp bodies.
Cover Image Credit: Bleacher Report

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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