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Can Wide Recievers Catch A  Break?

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When you consider the title, and then take a look at the career of Jerry Rice, the answer is a resounding yes! This statement from Wiki about Jerry says it all.

On November 4, 2010, Rice was chosen by NFL Network's NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players as the greatest player in NFL history.

A twenty year career in the NFL is rare, but when it is done by Jerry Rice he makes it look easy. Holding the all time records for receptions at 1,549, recieving yards at 22,895 & touchdowns at 208, it seems that he was an easy selection as the greatest ever, but is anyone close to breaking any of those records?

RECEPTIONS:

NAME................RECEPTIONS....YEARS PLAYED

Jerry Rice....................1,549.....................20
Tony Gonzalez...........1,149.....................15

Tony Gonzalez signed a 1 year $7 million contract extension with the Falcons on January 1, 2012 indicating his intent to return for at least one season. He would need a 400 catch season just to tie Jerry this year. In 15 years he has averaged 76.6. If he matches Jerry's 20 years in the league, and continues his average, he will come up short by 17 receptions.

At 28 years old, and 8 years in the league, Larry Fitzgerald has 693 receptions, an 86 per year average, and will need to continue that average for ten more years to beat Jerry's record by 4 receptions. Jerry averaged 77.5 per year.

RECEIVING YARDS:

NAME........................YARDS....YEARS PLAYED

Jerry Rice.................. 22,895................20
Terrell Owens............15,934................15
Isaac Bruce................15,208................16

This record looks to be the most difficult to break. Tony Gonzalez needs 9,557 yards, and Hines Ward needs 10,812. Jerry was the best there was at gaining yards after the catch, and averaged 1145 yards per year. Larry Fitzgerald is averaging 1202! Can he take care of his body as well as Jerry did? In 2006, Fitzgerald was injured and missed part of the 2006 season but still produced 69 receptions for 946 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Jerry also missed a year (all but 1 game) due to injury. Fitzgerald also set a single postseason record with 546 receiving yards, 30 receptions, and 7 touchdown receptions, surpassing Jerry Rice's records of the 1988-89 NFL playoffs. If anyone has the tools to break some of Jerry's records it just may be Larry. Jerry & Larry sounds rather nice together doesn't it?

TOUCHDOWNS:

NAME................................TD's.....YEARS PLAYED

Jerry Rice.............................208..............20
Emmitt Smith.......................175..............15
LaDainian Tomlinson........162..............11 (LaDainian Tomlinson announced his retirement following the 2011 season.)

The active player closest to the record is Tony Gonzalez, 95 TD's, but at age 35 after 14 years in the league he is still less than half way there. Then there's Hines Ward (also 35 years old) with 86, and Antonio Gates (31y) with 76 TD's.

Perhaps Maurice Jones-Drew at age 26 and 74 TD's is the next man with the best chance. If he can extend his career another 11 years, and average the 12.33 TD's he's averaged to date, then he will break the record by 1 TD. We know from what we learned in the running backs longevity study that with a 17 year career he would set records for that group. If he can somehow improve his annual output he may have a chance.

So that brings us back to Larry Fitzgerald with 73 TD's. Jerry averaged 10.4/year, and Larry is averaging 9.1. Not to far off. If Larry can continue at the pace that he is, and match Jerry's longevity, then he could indeed break many, if not all of Jerry's records! That's a pretty big IF, but Larry Fitzgerald already has 4) 1,400 yard receiving seasons, just two shy of Jerry's record in that category.

Jerry Rice is without question a class act. He is willing to give back to the young guys who are chasing his records, as is shown by this article here.

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JERRY & LARRY

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via broncotalk.net

ROD SMITH

The Broncos have drafted many great receivers, and since this longevity study is on the wide receivers who've been drafted, I would like to take this moment to focus the spot light on the greatest UDFA in Broncos history, perhaps even the greatest in NFL history.

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via www.bestsportsphotos.com


Rod Smith is the Denver Broncos' Jerry Rice. He holds all of those records for our team. Rod proved to everyone that hard work pays off when a bad work ethic coupled with great talent fails. He admits that he wasn't the most talented receiver, and that's why he knew that he would need extra effort to succeed, and succeed he did!

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via cdn.bleacherreport.net

Rod is the Broncos all time leader in catches (849), receiving yards (11,389) and touchdown receptions (68) and also leads the NFL in those categories for all non drafted receiver's. He is also the only non drafted player to reach 10,000 receiving yards, and the 24th in history to eclipse that figure. He also ranks first on Denver's all-time yards from scrimmage list. Rod is only the sixth player in NFL history to have 100 receptions against at least 3 teams.

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When looking at the 11 year period from 1997 - 2007, we discover that the Wide Receiver's group are perhaps the largest single group that is selected in the 6th and 7th rounds. The other 4 rounds are fairly equal in the number of selections. It is a pretty good guarantee that a WR will be taken early in the first and very late in the last round. Here is the break down.

Round......Qty Selected.....CUT in Camp

1st....................47....................00
2nd...................43....................00
3rd....................45....................02 (04%)
4th....................43....................04 (09%)
5th....................43....................09 (21%)
6th....................52....................13 (25%)
7th....................69....................25 (36%)

An unusually high percentage of WR's get cut without ever making a team. This is surprising to me since it seems to be a group that receives a great deal of focus by the scouts. Apparently the competition is fierce for the position, which certainly affects a players longevity. With the constant influx of fresh new talent, the veterans must always continue to work hard to keep their starting role. If you read the article linked above, you know that Larry Fitzgerald doesn't take his position lightly.

A total of 342 receivers were selected during this 11 year period, with the longest tenured at 15 years. The list below shows the number of those players based upon how many years they played. Of these 342 players, 64 (19%) were still playing last year.

Years Played......# of Players.....% of total

00 year........................53..................15 %
01 year........................27..................08 %
02 year........................34..................10 %
03 year........................42..................12 %
04 year........................29..................09 %
05 year........................46..................13 %
06 year........................26..................08 %
07 year........................21..................06 %
08 year........................27..................08 %
09 year........................15..................04 %
10 year........................08..................02 %
11 year........................07..................02 %
12 year........................02..................<1 %
13 year........................03..................<1 %
14 year........................01..................<1 %
15 year........................01..................<1 %

The 00 - 04 year group are already out of the league. They represent 54% of the total drafted. This trend just continues over and over throughout each position. Approximately 50% or more of all drafted players never get to their 5th year of employment in this business.

The 05 - 09 year group (134 players = 39% of all players drafted) are a mixture of players who are gone (81) or were still on a roster last year (53). These two groups represent 93% of the entire draft.Of the 7% who made the 10 year + mark, only 12 were still playing last year.

To finish up, here is the comparison of the player longevity in this group based upon the rounds in which they were selected. (AVGY = the total years played averaged out amongst the players selected in that round.)

Round.....# Drafted......%@ 5+years.....%@ 8+years....%@ 11+years...........AVGY

1st.................47...............(37) 79%...........(17) 36%..........(06) 13%.............6.5 years (306 total years)
2nd...............43...............(36) 84%............(22) 51%..........(02) 05%.............6.4 years (277 total years)
3rd................45...............(26) 58%...........(10) 22%..........(03) 07%.............5.1 years (231 total years)
4th.................43...............(19) 44%...........(09) 21%..........(02) 05%.............4.7 years (202 total years)
5th.................43...............(13) 30%...........(04) 09%..........(00) 00%.............3.2 years (139 total years)
6th.................52...............(12) 23%...........(01) 02%..........(00) 00%.............2.7 years (138 total years)
7th.................69...............(15) 22%...........(06) 09%..........(02) 03%.............2.6 years (178 total years)

It appears that if you don't have a high pick to spend in the first round on a Jerry Rice type wide receiver, you may as well wait for the second round. The success rate is actually a bit better than the first through the first ten years. It is a very similar situation to the DB's from the last study. I will wrap this up with the list of players below who managed to reach or surpass the ten year tenure mark.

1997 (Round Selected / Name / Last Year Played)

1 Ike Hilliard...............2008 12y
4 Derrick Mason....... 2011* 15y
4 Marcus Robinson.. 2006 10y

1998

1 Randy Moss........... 2010 13y
2 Joe Jurevicius........2007 10y
3 Hines Ward............2011* 14y
4 Tim Dwight.............2007 10y

1999

1 Torry Holt.................2009 11y
3 Marty Booker..........2009 11y
4 Brandon Stokley.....2011* 13y
7 Donald Driver.........2011* 13y
7 Sean Morey............2009 11y

2000

1 Plaxico Burress..... 2011* 12y
2 Dennis Northcutt.... 2009 10y
3 Laveranues Coles. 2009 10y

2001

1 Santana Moss........2011* 11y
1 Reggie Wayne........2011* 11y
2 Chad Ochocinco....2011* 11y
2 Chris Chambers.... 2010 10y
3 Steve Smith............2011* 11y

2002

1 Donte Stallworth.... 2011* 10y
2 Jabar Gaffney.........2011* 10y
2 Deion Branch.........2011* 10y

As you can see, if it weren't for Donald Driver and Sean Morey selected from the 7th round in 1999, the 11+ category for that round would have matched the 5th and 6th. Sometimes you just get lucky!

My appreciation to http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/ for providing the source for most of this information.

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

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