Great Expectations: Thomas & Decker & the passing game

Now that a new #15 has replaced the old one and a bulk of the future WR stats have moved to Miami, I turned my attention to the new "young guns" which we have re-loaded in the offense.

We have gotten great info on our #1 draft pick Demaryius Thomas in the recent post by ejruiz Let Me Introduce: Demaryius Thomas.  We have also been given various breakdowns from different sources about the already-fan-favorite Eric Decker.  These two WRs have already provided the hope for the future of our receiving offense...and maybe our present.

I decided to see how the 2008 and 2009 WRs drafted in the 1st three rounds have fared and how their production might shed some light as to what we can expect from our rookie WRs. 


This comparison/analysis/projection will assume both Thomas and Decker will heal properly and be available to play in 2010; and therefore, I have omitted 1) the injured players and 2) those that played but averaged 5 catches or less in a season from both 2008 and 2009 drafts.

The available data shows (stats reflected are REC/YDS/TD):

2009 - 1st rd WRs


1st rd
Heyword-Bey (Oak) 9 124 1
Crabtree (SF) 48 625 2
Maclin (Phi) 56 773 4
Harvin (Min) 60 790 6
Nicks (NYG) 47 790 6
Britt (Ten) 42 701 3
TOTAL 262 3803 22
AVG 37 543 3

 Obviously, DHB ruins the avg here (go figure, a Raider), but interestingly Crabtree doesnt.  The above bodes well for the potential of solid #'s from Thomas - especially the Maclin production if Thomas is able to be on the field as much as he was in Philly's pass-heavy offense.


2009 - 2nd rd WR


Robiskie (Cle) 7 106 0

 Not much information from this player to gain insight from.  His offense was miserable, but the lack of WR talent on Cleveland would make you wonder why he wasnt much a part of the offense (bust alert, but maybe he was hurt).


2009 - 3rd rd WRs


D Williams (Det) 6 52 0
M Wallace (Pit) 39 756 6
Butler (Sea) 15 175 0
TOTAL 60 983 6
AVG 20 328 2

Wallace makes this WR group noticeable.  Wallace was the #3 WR for the Steelers and could make a good comparable for what Decker could provide stats-wise.


2008 - 1st rd WRs - NONE


2008 - 2nd rd WRs


           2009            2008
Avery (STL) 47 589 5 53 674 3
D Thomas (Was) 25 325 3 15 120 0
Nelson (GB) 22 320 2 33 366 2
Royal (Den) 37 345 0 91 980 5
D Jackson (Phi) 62 1156 9 62 912 2
Kelly (Was) 25 347 0 3 18 0
TOTAL 218 3082 19 257 3070 12
AVG 36 514 3 43 512 2



The big guns here are DeSean, Avery and Royal in their rookie years - interestingly, none improved except DeSean and Kelly.  These averages could be more along the line of what a healthy Decker could be expected to produce as the probable 2nd rounder he should have been - his injury making him drop a round.


2008 - 3rd rd WRs


             2009           2008
Bennett (Chi) 54 717 2 0 0 0
Doucet (Ari) 17 214 1 14 90 0
Douglas (Atl) 0 0 0 23 320 0
Manningham (NYG) 57 822 5 4 26 0
Caldwell (Cin) 51 432 3 11 78 0
TOTAL 179 2185 11 52 514 0
AVG 36 437 2 10 103 0

Nice improvement from several of these WRs from their lackluster rookie years. Not much info here.  Decker should make these stats look very weak (rookie yr).


It must be understood that these WRs have much different circumstance from each other - from the offense scheme to the players that are ahead of them on the team. 

Generally, it appears:

  • 1st rd WRs are given the nod to start from the beginning (Nicks and Britt eventually became integral parts of the offense towards the end of the season and got significant PT).
  • 2nd rd WRs may have an opportunity to eventually start. 
  • And 3rd rd WRs seldom get to start/contribute in their rookie years (wallace exception)

With this in mind I decided to evaluate what would be my expectations from our rookies Thomas & Decker.  But first, I needed to project the offense: 

We know our offense is leaning to implementing even more of a "spread" element and will be looking to throw a bit more this year (IMO).  Our efficiency in passing was lacking in 2009, from my perspective, because:

a) the timing with WRs wasnt always there (whether QB fault or WR disengaging, both could have attributed to it)

b) Offensive line (our Oline did a fair job overall but Orton found himself under pressure quite often)

c) running game (it's been beaten to death why)

d) playcalling (running the same plays at the same time became an issue - could be due to familiarity and coach hesitancy to use more of the playbook).

With depth added to the O-line (run-blocking upgrades too) and another year for the team to digest the playbook, I feel the team will be much more effective in the passing game (if Tebow or Quinn starts, it's because it will be a better QB for the system therefore better results).


As a result, the assumptions for the passing offense I used were:

  • 15% more passing attempts (more conversions on 3rd down; '09 = 558 to '10 = 614)
  • 5% increase in completion % ('09 = 61.1% to '10 = 64.2%)
  • 5% increase in yds per attempt ('09 = 6.86yds to '10 = 7.2yds)
  • 15% increase in TDs ('09 = 21 to '10 = 24)

Projections for the 2010 passing game:

394 for 614   4,420 yds and 24 TDs

Please note: these numbers are equal to or less than the Patriots and Eagles '09 stats and therefore I feel could be attainable, if not exceeded.

Back to Thomas & Decker.  Spreading this offense around will be made easier by them and their abilities. Mismatches will be had often and their ability to learn to use their measurables for the benefit of getting postition or blowing by players at the NFL level will be key.  However, based on the production of other recently drafted players I see this as very likely.

Thomas (starts Day 1):                                 55-60 rec 800 yds 5 TDs

Decker (#3 WR after Game 4):                    35-40 rec  650 yds 5 TDs

So we get a combined effort of 90-100 rec 1450 yds 10 TDs  (not too bad considering they are only rookies!! and the numbers remind me of someone...I forget, never mind)

With Moreno, Royal, Gaffney, Stokely and a few others getting the remaining receiving stats, I feel we can expect big things this year and beyond from our new "young guns".


Now let's get them healthy.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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