NFL Draft – Why Teams Should Avoid WR in Round One

Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday April 25. In the first 32 picks, how many teams will take a wide receiver? Is that really the best use of a first round draft pick?

History suggests that drafting a WR in the first round may not be the wisest decision. It certainly suggests that any form of success is far from guaranteed.

Proving the theory:

  • Over the past decade, only THREE teams have won a Super Bowl with a WR that they drafted in the first round on their roster – Nelson Agholor on 2017 Eagles, Demaryius Thomas on 2015 Broncos, Hakeem Nicks on 2011 Giants
  • None of these WRs were taken in round 1 – Michael Thomas, Adam Thielen, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill (plus Antonio Brown, Doug Baldwin)
  • These guys were all top 10 picks – John Ross, Justin Blackmon, Kevin White, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tavon Austin

Now, let’s get even deeper into proving this idea that drafting a WR in the first round would be a mistake. Here’s a look at each first round WR class of the past decade.


First round – DJ Moore (24), Calvin Ridley (26)
Non-first round picks – Courtland Sutton (40, Christian Kirk (47), DJ Chark (61), Anthony Miller (51), Michael Gallup (81)

Sample size is way too small after one year, but both first rounders were productive in 2018 and look to have potential heading into year two.


First round – Corey Davis (5), Mike Williams (7), John Ross (9)
Non-first round – Curtis Samuel (40), Juju Smith Schuster (62), Cooper Kupp (69), Chris Godwin (84), Kenny Golladay (96), Dede Westbrook (110)

The three first round picks have combined for 2,235 yards in two seasons. Juju Smith-Schuster, drafted at the end of round two, has 2,343 yards on his own.


First round – Corey Coleman (15), Will Fuller (21), Josh Doctson (22), Laquon Treadwell (23)
Non-first round – Sterling Shepard (40), Michael Thomas (47), Tyreek Hill (165), Robby Anderson (UDFA)

Thomas and Hill have each caught 32 career touchdowns, through 4 seasons. The four first round WRs have combined to catch 31 touchdowns.


First round – Amari Cooper (4), Kevin White (7), DeVante Parker (14), Nelson Agholor (20), Breshad Perriman (26), Phillip Dorsett (29)
Non-first round – Devin Funchess (41), Tyler Lockett (69), Jamison Crowder (105), Stefon Diggs (146), Tyrell Williams (UDFA)

Amari Cooper is a very good WR. Nelson Agholor has been reliable and solid, not a #1 option, but a dependable role player. Everyone else on this list stinks. Quite simply, none have lived up to the hype. I would take Lockett, Crowder, Diggs over any WR not named Cooper (and Diggs vs Cooper would be debatable).


First round – Sammy Watkins (4), Mike Evans (7), Odell Beckham Jr (12), Brandin Cooks (20), Kelvin Benjamin (28)
Non-first round – Marquise Lee (39), Davante Adams (53), Allen Robinson (61), Jarvis Landry (63), John Brown (91), Quincy Enunwa (209)

This draft is both and exception and proof. Evans and Beckham are superstars and Cooks is very good. However Adams, Robinson, Landry, Brown, Enunwa have all been considered #1 WRs for their respective teams at one point, or another.


First round – Tavon Austin (8), DeAndre Hopkins (27), Cordarrelle Patterson (29)
Non-first round – Robert Woods (41), Keenan Allen (76), Marquise Goodwin (78), Kenny Stills (144), Adam Thielen (UDFA)

26 teams passed on Hopkins, one of the best WRs in football. Austin and Patterson have been used as gadget players and sometimes even as running backs. Woods, Allen, Goodwin, Thielen were all #1 WRs in 2018.


First round – Justin Blackmon (5), Michael Floyd (13), Kendall Wright (20), AJ Jenkins (30)
Non-first round – Alshon Jeffery (45), TY Hilton (92), Travis Benjamin (100), Marvin Jones (166), Cole Beasley (UDFA)

There’s not much to say in defense of these first rounders, while the notably non-first round WRs are all still having a large impact on their respective teams.


First round – AJ Green (4), Julio Jones (8), Jonathan Baldwin (26)
Non-first round – Torrey Smith (58) Randall Cobb (64)

Like 2014, this draft is an exception as Green and Jones are among the best WRs in football. But Smith and Cobb have long been reliable and Baldwin was a mega-bust at the end of the first round.


First round – Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24)
Non-first round – Golden Tate (60), Emmanuel Sanders (82), Antonio Brown (195)

Bryant and Thomas were both great WRs for a while, but Bryant has fallen off a cliff and may never play again, after being released by the Cowboys last off-season and Thomas is recovering from a major injury. Sanders essentially supplanted Thomas in Denver, Brown has long been considered the best WR in football and Tate has always been a very solid contributor.


First round – Darrius Heyward-Bey (7), Michael Crabtree (10), Jeremy Maclin (19), Percy Harvin (22), Hakeem Nicks (29), Kenny Britt (30)
Non-first round – Mike Wallace (84), Julian Edelman (232)

Edelman, the 232nd pick, won Super Bowl XLIII MVP. If that isn’t enough proof….


For more NFL talk, you can follow me on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports 

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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