Breakout Player Recap: Wide Receivers

Like running backs, wide receiver is a position where a good amount of player’s breakout each and every year. The past couple of draft classes have been very strong in regards to the position so a good amount of players I wrote about did have breakout campaigns and could be on the verge of great things. However, this did not come without what I feel was one of my biggest misses ever.

Mike Wallace, Steelers: After a season where he averaged 21 yards a catch, Wallace has established himself as arguably the best deep threat in the league. For the year he had 1257 yards and ten touchdowns and should become an even more complete receiver in his third year. This past year even with those numbers he didn’t make the Pro Bowl or the NFL Network top 100 list that had 18 other receivers. He won’t be out of the spotlight for much longer.

Hit or miss: Hit

Michael Crabtree, 49ers: Considering the constant shuffling at the quarterback position, Crabtree had a pretty solid season with 741 yards and six touchdowns. While he should develop into a very good NFL receiver, up to this point he has not lived up to his top ten pick status in 2009. Some of the receivers taken after him (Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Wallace, etc) don’t exactly help his cause either. As of now, the jury is still out.

Hit or miss: Push

Hakeem Nicks, Giants: I was very high on Nicks going into the season and he definitely showed what he is capable of in his second season. Even though he missed three games, Nicks recorded 79 catches for 1052 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his third season, a 100 catch campaign and a Pro Bowl appearance are definitely obtainable.

Hit or miss: Hit

Johnny Knox, Bears: Knox did very well in his first season as a starter recording 960 yards and five touchdowns while averaging almost 19 yards a catch. One thing that he needs to develop is consistency as he had two games where his yardage total was in the teens and another where he didn’t catch a pass. If he does that, he could develop into the number one receiver the Bears have been looking for.

Hit or miss: Push

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles: Maclin doesn’t get all of the attention or accolades that DeSean Jackson receives but he is developing into a very good player regardless. In his second season, he had 70 catches for 964 yards to go along with ten touchdowns. The Eagles offense is arguably the best in the league and Maclin should be one of their most valuable contributors for years to come. A Pro Bowl appearance isn’t out of the question as he enters year three.

Hit or miss: Hit

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: After spending more time perfecting his craft this past offseason, Bowe’s 2010 campaign put him on the map. He had a league leading 15 touchdowns on the year and also had career highs in yards and yards per catch. To top it all off, Bowe also made his first Pro Bowl appearance as well. While it will be hard to put up those kinds of numbers again, another strong year should put him among the league’s elite.

Hit or miss: Hit

Jacoby Jones, Texans: Like his team has been for the past three or four years, Jones was a trendy breakout pick entering the season. While he did set career highs in receptions and yards, Jones was not used in the way that many expected as his yards per catch dropped over five yards from his 2009 numbers and also had three touchdowns in 2010 compared to six the year before. As a player entering his fifth year who is still a bit raw, Jones should command some attention in the free agency market whenever it starts.

Hit or miss: Miss

Chaz Schilens, Raiders: The main question with Schilens the past two years has always been if he can stay on the field. As of now, the answer to that question is a definite “no”. Schilens only played in five games in 2010 where he averaged a catch a game, had 40 yards on the year and a touchdown. He has all the potential to become a very good NFL receiver but it is hard to do when you aren’t on the field.

Hit or miss: Miss

Devin Thomas, Redskins: I would like to formally introduce you to my worst breakout prediction ever. After showing flashes in his second season, Thomas seemed likely to breakout for a Redskins team in desperate need of receivers. However, he entered Mike Shanahan’s doghouse almost immediately after his arrival and was released by the Redskins after appearing in four games. He was then signed by the Panthers where he appeared in only one game and was later released. Thomas then finished the year with the Giants where he played in four games and helped on special teams.

However, he went the whole year without recording a single catch. Yes, you read that correctly. Thomas finished the year with the same amount of receptions as I did. With all this being said, I still feel that he wasn’t exactly given a fair shake by the Redskins this past year and he could still contribute on an NFL roster. At least he can say that he has the best jersey collection of everyone on this list.

Hit or miss: Miss

Early Doucet, Cardinals: After a good showing in the 2009 playoffs and the departure of Anquan Boldin, it appeared that Doucet was set for a big role entering the 2010 season. However, he was on a team that was consistently rotating quarterbacks and when passing ran the “throw it up for Larry Fitzgerald, either or he will catch it or prey for a pass interference call” offense. For the season, Doucet had 26 catches, 291 yards and a touchdown which isn’t terrible considering the situation and that he missed six games.

Doucet could still develop into a serviceable NFL receiver but it looks like he would most likely have more success outside of Arizona.

Hit or miss: Miss

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