Redskins

Expectations for Terry McLaurin are very high, but recent history says they shouldn't be

Redskins

By cutting Josh Doctson over the weekend, the Redskins made one thing very obvious: They expect a lot from Terry McLaurin as a rookie.

The third-round wide receiver out of Ohio State arrived in Washington labeled as a speed guy who excels on special teams. But throughout the offseason and at training camp, McLaurin showed off some really good route running as well as a terrific set of hands. 

While he didn't see the field much at all in the preseason, he figures to receive a starter-like amount of playing time in 2019. His potential is enticing, as he'll combine a ton of athleticism and strength with a surplus of football IQ.

Still, it's a risk for an offense to put so much stock in a Day 2 selection. And if you look back at recent history, that risk becomes even clearer.

From 2014 to 2018, 20 wideouts were selected in the third round of the NFL draft, like McLaurin was in 2019. One of them never suited up in the league, but the other 19 were given chances to contribute as first-year pros. Unfortunately, not many proved to be huge difference makers early in their careers.

To see each player's rookie stats, scroll down to the bottom of the story. Here are some key takeaways from averaging all of their numbers together, however, none of which are especially encouraging for the Redskins or McLaurin:

 
  • Over the past five seasons, the average debut campaign for a third-round receiver is: 13.1 games, 22.2 catches, 303 yards and 2.05 touchdowns.
  • Over the past five seasons, the most yards recorded by a third-round receiver is 869, by Cooper Kupp in 2017. Furthermore, only Kupp, Tyler Lockett and John Brown exceeded 600 yards as rookies.
  • Over the past five seasons, 12 third-round receivers finished with fewer than 30 grabs, while just seven topped 30.   

Of course, this isn't to say McLaurin is doomed. Guys like Kupp, Lockett and Brown did help out their respective teams and if McLaurin is able to approach what they did, then Jay Gruden will likely be pleased.

Also, some of those pass catchers entered situations where they didn't have much opportunity or weren't relied on too heavily as they transitioned from college to the pros. McLaurin, on the other hand, should see plenty of targets from Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins.

However, it's hard to look at that data and those averages and come away feeling really confident about McLaurin's next four months. His coaching staff and teammates believe he has the ability to be special, but so did most, if not all, of the coaching staffs and teammates of the other third-round WRs to play since 2014. 

Excitement about Terry McLaurin's Redskins career is allowed. Perhaps, though, excitement about Terry McLaurin's rookie season should be tempered a bit.

Stats (games, catches, yards, TDs)

2018

  • Michael Gallup - 16/33/507/2
  • Tre'Quan Smith - 15/28/427/5

2017

  • Cooper Kupp - 15/62/869/5
  • Taywan Taylor - 16/16/231/1
  • ArDarius Stewart - 15/6/82/0
  • Carlos Henderson - never played
  • Chris Godwin - 16/34/525/1
  • Kenny Golladay - 11/28/477/3
  • Chad Williams - 6/3/31/0
  • Amara Darboh - 16/8/71/0

2016

  • Braxton Miller - 16/15/99/1
  • Leonte Carroo - 14/3/29/1

2015

  • Tyler Lockett - 16/51/664/6
  • Jaelen Strong - 10/14/161/3
  • Chris Conley - 16/17/199/1
  • Sammie Coates - 7/1/11/0
  • Ty Montgomery - 6/15/136/2

2014

  • Josh Huff - 12/8/98/0
  • Donte Moncrief - 16/32/444/3
  • John Brown - 16/48/696/5

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