By Joe Landers
Click Here if you missed the Introduction to the Series
Like cornerbacks, the average wide receiver peaks in Year 2. An average of 6.2 receivers experience their career year in Year 2. With a population size of 259, the numbers allowing us to arrive at 6.2 far exceed the names you’ll see below. Unlike corners, Years 1 through 3 are fairly smooth moving from 5.8 to 6.2 to 5.0. The propensity drops a bit into Year 4 and 5 before it drops to nearly nothing from Year 6 through Year 10.
If the trend continues, we’ll see six 2015 rookies who will never have a better season than they had in 2015. There will be another six 2015 rookies who will have the best year of their career next year in 2016. Also in 2016, five 2014 rookies will have their best season, no matter how long they play. Four from the class of 2013, three from the class of 2012, one from the class of 2011, and one from the class of 2007 will also have their career years in 2016. Who will it be? Take a look below to see names, past and present.
Some of these ten are still playing, but they all appear to adhere to the Year 2 trend having had the best year of their career in their 2nd season. Could Wallace, Cruz, Tate, Colston, Caldwell, Britt, and Nicks have a season that surpasses their 2nd season? Take a peek at what they did in Year 2 of their careers and then decide for yourself. Yes, anything can happen. In this case, highly unlikely.
The Norm – WRs Who Peaked in Year Two of Their Career
|Devin Hester||Marques Colston|
|Koren Robinson||Andre Caldwell|
|Brandon Tate||Hakeem Nicks|
|Mike Wallace||Kenny Britt|
|Victor Cruz||Antwaan Randle El|
Here’s a list of ten wide receivers, despite some long and prolific careers, peaked as rookies. Their on-field productivity never again matched (and is unlikely to do so in the future) what they accomplished in their rookie seasons.
Rookie Peaks – WRs Who Peaked in Year One of Their Career
|Santonio Holmes||Ted Ginn|
|Chris Chambers||Johnnie Lee Higgins|
|Eddie Royal||Percy Harvin|
|Johnny Knox||Jacoby Ford|
|Anquan Boldin||Wes Welker|
Bucking the trend, this list of ten receivers represents those who had their peak season beyond Year 5 of their career. It is possible, but the above chart illustrates how uncommon it is.
Late-Peakers – WRs Who Peaked After Year 5 of Their Career
|Randy Moss (10)||Malcolm Floyd (11)|
|Pierre Garcon (6)||Jeremy Maclin (6)|
|Roddy White (6)||Brandon Stokley (6)|
|Calvin Johnson (7)||Vincent Jackson (8)|
|Donald Driver (8)||Brandon Marshall (10)|
These ten big-name wide receivers seem to have their best season not only behind them, but they achieved it in the first four years – adhering to the same axiom applicable to running backs and cornerbacks. The prediction isn’t that they’re in terminal decline, but based on the odds and how prolific their peak season was (in parentheses), it’s highly unlikely that their career year is ahead of them.
Big Names Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Four Years
|Danny Amendola (3)||Darrius Heyward-Bey (3)|
|DeSean Jackson (1)||Louis Murphy (1)|
|Andre Johnson (3)||Eric Decker (3)|
|Jason Avant (4)||Dwayne Bowe (4)|
|Michael Crabtree (4)||Golden Tate (4)|
These ten players didn’t qualify for the study as they’re in the 2011 or later classes. However, they do have three years of productivity. Based on their career trajectory and what they’ve achieved thus far, it appears their best season (in parentheses) might be in the rearview mirror.
Current Players Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Four Years
|Kenny Stills (2)||Keshawn Martin (2)|
|Mohamed Sanu (3)||Josh Gordon (2)|
|Cecil Shorts (2)||Alshon Jeffery (2)|
|Randall Cobb (2)||Cordarelle Patterson (1)|
|Torrey Smith (4)||Rueben Randle (4)|
Based on career trajectories, these ten wide receivers seem as though their best season is ahead of them in the next 1-3 years.
Peak Coming 1-3 Years
|Sammy Watkins||Marlon Brown|
|Markus Wheaton||Martavis Bryant|
|Donte Moncrief||Jordan Matthews|
|Jeff Janis||Kelvin Benjamin|
|Brandin Cooks||Bennie Fowler|
Next up – Linebackers