A Look Back at the 2014 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Class

Who did well, who didn't?
Nov 23, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) catches a touchdown pass over Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 wide receiver class is the greatest for the skill position in recent history, maybe even of all-time, and now that four full seasons have passed we can look back and see what this group of incredible players has accomplished. I didn’t include every wide receiver taken. I only wrote about the ones that I felt had put up significant stat lines or are still in the league. Obviously writing about a guy who was out of the league after two years isn’t very interesting. Nonetheless, there were still a lot of players to discuss.

Sammy Watkins Round 1 Pick 4 Buffalo Bills

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52 games, 192 receptions, 3,052 yards, 25 touchdowns

Watkins seems to always be one play away from another injury. Despite being the first receiver off of the board in 2014, he has never elevated to the Pro Bowl level people envisioned him reaching.

Mike Evans Round 1 Pick 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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61 games, 309 receptions, 4,579 yards, 32 touchdowns, 1 Pro Bowl

About this time last year there was discussion that Evans might be the fifth best receiver in the league, that talk has ended but it doesn’t change just how great he is.

Odell Beckham Jr. Round 1 Pick 12 New York Giants

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47 games, 313 receptions, 4,424 yards, 38 touchdowns, 3 Pro Bowls, 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year

Beckham has catapulted into NFL stardom. His incredible one handed catches are fan favorites and have made him one of the league’s five best receivers.

Brandin Cooks Round 1 Pick 20 New Orleans Saints

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58 games, 280 receptions, 3,943 yards, 27 touchdowns

Cooks has caught 1,000 yards worth of passes or more in each of the last three seasons. For some reason the talented speedy receiver has been changing hands a lot recently. He was traded from the Saints to the Patriots last year and was sent to the Rams this offseason.

Kelvin Benjamin Round 1 Pick 28 Carolina Panthers

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46 games, 184 receptions, 2,641 yards, 19 touchdowns

Benjamin, like Watkins, is all to often injured. The big target has proved he can put up a 1,000 yard season his rookie year, but his numbers have steadily declined since then. This last year was by far his worst performance.

Marqise Lee Round 2 Pick 39 Jacksonville Jaguars

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53 games, 171 receptions, 2,166 yards, 8 touchdowns

Lee had a slow start to his career, but really started to put up better numbers over the last two seasons.

Jordan Matthews Round 2 Pick 42 Philadelphia Eagles

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56 games, 250 receptions, 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns

Matthews had three solid years with the Eagles before being traded to Buffalo, where he virtually disappeared from the offense. Now that he’s with the Patriots, I think he’ll see more targets and reemerge in 2018.

Paul Richardson Round 2 Pick 45 Seattle Seahawks

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47 games, 95 receptions, 1,302 yards, 8 touchdowns

2017 was Richardson’s breakout year where he set personal bests in every major receiving category. His work was enough to earn himself a deal with the Redskins.

Davante Adams Round 2 Pick 53 Green Bay Packers

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59 games, 237 receptions, 2,811 yards, 26 touchdowns, 1 Pro Bowl

Adams quietly waited behind Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson for the first two years of his career but emerged in 2016 as a legitimate threat. He’s averaged roughly 62.5 yards per game in the last two years of his career.

Cody Latimer Round 2 Pick 56 Denver Broncos

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45 games, 23 receptions, 445 yards, 3 touchdowns

While he had his best year in 2017, Latimer failed to ever live up to the Broncos expectations, which is why they drafted two new receivers this year.

Allen Robinson Round 2 Pick 61 Jacksonville Jaguars

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43 games, 202 receptions, 2,848 yards, 22 touchdowns, 1 Pro Bowl

In 2015 Robinson put up terrific numbers and went to the Pro Bowl, but his production dropped off the next year because of poor quarterback play. He missed almost all of the 2017 season with an injury and will start 2018 as the primary weapon on the rebuilding Bears offense.

Jarvis Landry Round 2 Pick 63 Miami Dolphins

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64 games, 400 receptions, 4,038 yards, 22 touchdowns, 3 Pro Bowls

Landry is one of the best short to mid-range game receivers in the league, that’s why he’s averaged 100 receptions per year through the first four years of his career and set all kinds of records. At pick 63 he was a steal for the Dolphins, now that he’s in Cleveland he should play a huge role in trying to finally fox that offense.

Josh Huff Round 3 Pick 86 Philadelphia Eagles

37 games, 51 receptions, 523 yards, 4 touchdowns

He’s been a disappointment and is currently suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He did not record any stats in 2017.

Donte Moncrief Round 3 Pick 90 Indianapolis Colts

53 games, 152 receptions, 1,875 yards, 18 touchdowns

His best season came in 2015, when he started ten games. Since then he has been widely inconsistent and has not even approached replicating his 2015 stats. It will be interesting to see what he will do now that he’s signed with the Jaguars.

John Brown Round 3 Pick 91 Arizona Cardinals

56 games, 173 receptions, 2,515 yards, 17 touchdowns

Everyone seems to talk highly about Brown since he had a 1,000 yard season in 2015, but like Moncrief, he has been widely inconsistent since that point and didn’t even have 300 receiving yards in 2017. Brown joined the Ravens this offseason.

Bruce Ellington Round 4 Pick 106 San Francisco 49ers

37 games, 48 receptions, 545 yards, 4 touchdowns

There’s not much to say about Ellington. He’s a career backup, but he did have his best season in 2017 with the Texans when he recorded 330 receiving yards. Maybe things are trending up for him.

Martavis Bryant Round 4 Pick 118 Pittsburgh Steelers

36 games, 126 receptions, 1,917 yards, 17 touchdowns

Bryant proved his skill in 2015, catching 50 passes for 765 yards, but he missed all of 2016 because of a suspension for substance abuse. He then spent 2017 complaining about his role on the Steelers who ended up trading him to the Raiders this offseason.

Ryan Grant Round 5 Pick 142 Washington Redskins

64 games, 84 receptions, 985 yards, 6 touchdowns

It’s hard to say how good Grant is. He’s had fewer than 100 receiving yards in two of his NFL seasons, but caught 45 passes for 573 yards in 2017. That performance earned him a contract with the Colts in free agency.

T.J. Jones Round 6 Pick 189 Detroit Lions

27 games, 45 receptions, 624 yards, 2 touchdowns

Jones also had his best season in 2017 when he recorded 30 receptions for 399 yards. With that showing, Jones likely increased the length of his NFL career.

Quincy Enunwa Round 6 Pick 209 New York Jets

29 games, 80 receptions, 1,172 yards, 4 touchdowns

He missed all of 2017 with an injury but will be one of the Jets top playmakers in 2018. In 2016 he had over 850 receiving yards, showing just how effective he can be. Enunwa is a late round gem that the Jets were lucky to find.

Michael Campanaro Round 7 Pick 218 Baltimore Ravens

24 games, 31 receptions, 310 yards, 2 touchdowns

His best season came in 2017, but he still only recorded 173 receiving yards. He was lucky enough to land a one year deal with the Titans in free agency.

Jeff Janis Round 7 Pick 236 Green Bay Packers

51 games, 17 receptions, 200 yards, 1 touchdown

For a seventh round pick these stats aren’t surprising. Janis has never recorded 100 receiving yards in a single season, but still landed a one year deal with the Browns in free agency.

Allen Hurns Undrafted

52 games, 189 receptions, 2,669 yards, 21 touchdowns

Someone should be fired for letting Hurns go undrafted. His 2017 and 2016 seasons have been the worst of his career since having over 1,000 yards in 2015 and over 600 in his rookie season (all four years spent with the Jaguars), but now he’ll get a chance to return to form on the Cowboys roster in 2018.

Corey “Philly” Brown Undrafted

43 games, 79 receptions, 1,019 yards, 7 touchdowns

While he’s out of the league and didn’t play in 2017, he’s had a better career so far than most undrafted players ever have. Besides being a receiver, he also acted as a return man for the Panthers in 2014.

Willie Snead Undrafted

41 games, 149 receptions, 1,971 yards, 7 touchdowns

Snead has been with the Saints for the last three years after a short stint with the Panthers his rookie year. Snead was great in 2015 and 2016, averaging over 900 yards and 70 receptions in those two years, but he got into trouble in 2017. As a result, he had only eight receptions and 92 yards with zero touchdowns. He signed a two year deal with the Ravens this offseason.

Final Review

Looking back, there aren’t as many award winning guys in this group as I feel like we always think there are. Only Beckham, Evans, and Landry have really established themselves as consistent high tier receivers. Robinson, Adams, and Cooks have also established a line of credit but just aren’t on the same level and sometimes struggle with consistency.

What this class should be remembered for is that it repopulated the receiver ranks in the NFL with a ton of new talent. Even if not every one of them became Pro Bowlers, the receivers from the 2014 class stepped into key roles around the league as first, second, third, and even fourth stringers that have remained the quiet contributors to offenses for the last four years.

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