If the St. Louis Rams were to take a wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft, what is a reasonable set of expectations for that player? Fans and pundits are hoping for a just-add-water solution to the problem fter watching last season's hum drum passing game. However, receivers typically take some time to learn the ins and outs of the NFL game and establish a connection with their quarterback.
The best rookie season for a Rams receiver belongs to Eddie Kennison, a first-round pick in 1996. The beneficiary of all the attention paid to Isaac Bruce by opposing defenses, Kennison set franchise highs with 54 receptions and 924 yards. His 9 TDs were the best since Bukcy Pope's 10 in 1964.
Torry Holt had a pretty good rookie season himself, during the Rams' amazing 1999 season. Holt caught 52 passes for 788 yards and 6 scores. With so many offensive weapons, there were only so many touches to go around, but that was an auspicious debut for the quality seasons that followed.
It's been easy to overlook Donnie Avery, especially since he didn't play last season, but his rookie debut was notable. His 53 receptions were the second-best mark of any Rams receiver. He had 674 yards and 3 TDs to go with it in 2008, part of a moribund Rams offense that didn't do much scoring in their two-win season.
Exploring the factors that could help/hurt a Rams rookie receiver in 2011 after the jump.
Obviously, results from any rookie receiver in 2011 depend on the player himself. You should expect a better debut from, say, Julio Jones than a fourth round pick. That's not say it couldn't happen, just look at Mike Williams' rookie season last year.
There are a few other factors to think about. One thing that's sure to benefit a rookie receiver is the presence of a very talented quarterback in Sam Bradford. Eddie Kennison did well with Tony Banks at the helm, and Anquan Boldin had 101 receptions for 1300+ yards in his rookie year with a Josh McCown and Jeff Blake passing him the ball...and not much receiving help around him either.
Perhaps the biggest wild card for a Rams rookie this year is the talent around him at WR. There isn't really anyone on the roster now that will command double teams. However, Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola, perhaps Brandon Gibson and Donnie Avery, can be enough of a threat to free up a rookie to make plays.
McDaniels' offensive system is known to be a benefit to receivers, but he hasn't worked with a ton of rookies during his stops in New England and Denver. Last year, Demaryius Thomas spent the better part of his rookie season dealing with injuries. He had a big splash in his week 2 debut with 8 catches for 97 yards and a TD, but managed just 14 in 8 other games. Still, with Eddie Royal and a resurgent Brandon Lloyd, he was a third man when he was healthy.