There was a time in the NFL where teams expected to wait a couple of years before their rookies were ready to make on-field contributions. Veterans would earn the bulk of the snaps since they knew what they were doing and had an understanding of the speed of the game at the highest level. That development track has changed drastically over the last couple of decades, however.
At this point and time, it is a major surprise if rookies drafted in the third round or higher are not immediately on the field. One of the positions that has experienced the highest and immediate return on investment has been wide receiver. The offenses that college football teams run are now extremely similar to the schemes NFL teams deploy, which reduces the learning curve notably.
The 2022 crop of rookie wide receivers selected in the first round are as electric as ever and are fun to include in prop football bets. Let’s take a look at each talented pass catcher and determine which player has been the most impressive so far in their inaugural professional campaign.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
Coming into the 2022 NFL Draft, there were many evaluators who believed that Jameson Williams from the University Of Alabama was the best receiver in the class. The pedigree of wide receivers coming out of the Crimson Tide program is extremely impressive, and Williams might soon star in the NFL just like fellow alumni Amari Cooper, Julio Jones and Jaylen Waddle have.
Williams will make his NFL debut at some point during the season, as he is still recovering from a torn ALC he suffered towards the end of his final college campaign.
Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans
The Titans took a huge gamble when they decided to part ways with Pro-Bowler A.J. Brown. They traded their best pass catcher to the Philadelphia Eagles and drafted what many felt was his direct replacement shortly thereafter in Treylon Burks.
Tennessee is not a team that throws the ball with a great amount of volume, which makes Burks’ presence more of a complimentary one in his first year in the NFL. He had some difficulty getting up to speed in the preseason, but it looks like the coaching staff wants to get him more involved in the coming weeks.
Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders
One of the biggest unknowns with regards to role in the offense was Jahan Dotson’s place in the Washington pecking order. The Commanders signed incumbent wide receiver Terry McLaurin to a well-deserved extension, and still had hopes of integrating Curtis Samuel into the mix after an injury plagued 2021 season.
Dotson has done a lot more a lot sooner than anyone expected, as quarterback Carson Wentz has developed a solid rapport with the former Penn State star. The team will likely be cautious with him as he deals with a hamstring injury.
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were the first team to take a receiver off the board in last April’s draft and made USC’s Drake London the primary candidate to take Calvin Ridley’s role this year. Immediately thrust into an offense where targets were there for the taking, London has thrived as one of Marcus Mariota’s go-to options.
There will be up and down weeks for Atlanta’s passing offense as a whole and it stands to reason that the franchise might give rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder a chance to start later in the year. Regardless of who is under center, London should get a bunch of chances to make plays.
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
The Jets made a concerted effort to increase the amount of talent around second year quarterback Zach Wilson in the offseason. One of the main pieces New York brought in to increase the playmaking ability of their offense was Garrett Wilson (no relation) from Ohio State University.
While many predicted a breakout from second year wide receiver Elijah Moore, it has been Garrett Wilson who has been the apple of Jets fans’ eyes. He had a coming out party against Cleveland in Week 2, catching eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. If he can stay healthy, Wilson’s ceiling would appear to be massive.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
Another Ohio State Buckeye tops our list, as Chris Olave has been nothing short of sensational in a crowded wide receiver room for the New Orleans Saints. He was not expected to be a featured player in the offense, considering the return of Michael Thomas and the signing of reliable receiver Jarvis Landry.
However, the Saints have dealt with injuries throughout their offense, and Olave has been the preferred downfield target of whoever is under center. Even with Thomas and Landry healthy, Olave has earned a role, which is a notable accomplishment this early in his career.