We’ve seen good things from the class of 2022 NFL rookie wide receivers, but we haven’t seen much press about it. Week 12 is a good reminder that this class has a lot of talent and deserves more press.
2022 NFL Rookie Wide Receivers Went Off in Week 12
Garrett Wilson went off for 95 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions for the Jets, while Tennessee’s Treylon Burks racked up 70 yards and also happened to fall on Derrick Henry’s fumble for a touchdown.
Christian Watson, meanwhile, has been on a redemption tour after a rough start to the season for the Packers and finished Week 12 against the Eagles with 110 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Olave — who seems to be the best of the group — didn’t have a game-breaking performance for the Saints, with just 62 yards on five catches. However, his yardage total was stymied by a 30-yard catch that was overturned on a challenge, seemingly for a rule that is no longer on the books.
On top of that, we saw some great moments from Atlanta’s Drake London, Indianapolis’ Alec Pierce, and Washington’s Jahan Dotson.
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After 2020 and 2021 both featured all-time receiver classes, it was easy to believe that the NFL would continue to produce rookie receivers who would turn into elite players right away. It’s tough to look past seasons where players like Tee Higgins and DeVonta Smith, with 900+ yards each, were the third or fourth-most productive players in their class.
But this year, we’re seeing an incredible WR group whose top end isn’t hitting the heights that Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase did, but nevertheless, puts many pre-2020 classes to shame.
One of the reasons that Mike White’s return to the starting lineup looked so good for the Jets was Wilson’s presence, New York’s first-round pick from Ohio State. This year, Wilson joins London, Olave, Pierce, and Burks in having incredible seasons.
That doesn’t even include the late emergence of Watson or of the Giants’ Wan’Dale Robinson. After all of those players is the Steelers’ George Pickens, who ranks the lowest among all of them in yards per route run but has the most memorable highlights.
More Rookie Wide Receivers Could Make Their Mark
There are additional players poised to make splashes late in the season. Skyy Moore has been a disappointment as a returner for the Chiefs, but he’s shown a lot of juice as a receiver. He had a big reception taken away from an offensive penalty this week.
Olave’s teammate, Rashid Shaheed, earned 53 yards and could produce down the stretch.
Khalil Shakir has been buried on a strong Buffalo Bills depth chart but has shined in his moments on offense.
Romeo Doubs started out with some splash plays for the Packers but has faded. He could, however, see a resurgence with Jordan Love potentially starting for the Packers. Likewise, David Bell might benefit from the return of Deshaun Watson in Cleveland.
Additionally, we could see further growth from Tyquan Thornton in New England and Kyle Philips in Tennessee.
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If some of those receivers make waves in the final weeks of the season, that could overcome the relative quiet this class has been treated with. Contributing to the difficulty of seeing the 2022 group in the right light is the eventual emergence of the strong 2019 class — DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel all highlight that draft.
But despite the strong high-end talent and overall depth of the 2019 class, 2022 could turn out to be better. For now, the 2022 class ranks 12th in total receiving yards since 2000 produced through 12 weeks and eighth in receiving yards produced by their top five rookie receivers.
But the late performances from Burks, Watson, and Robinson could mean this class surpasses 2019, even if it won’t touch the heights of the 2011, 2014, 2020, and 2021 seasons.
Certainly, Olave and Wilson look like stars in the making, and there could be more on the way. There has been a lot of ink spilled over why we might be seeing more high-quality receivers entering the NFL than ever before, and some of it could be true.
But for now, we should appreciate the fact that this rookie crop is still among the best ones we’ve seen in a decade. It just comes after the two best classes we’ve seen in ages.