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Finding That Third Year “Breakout” Receiver Has Been Difficult For the St. Louis Rams

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Torry Holt did it. Vincent Jackson did it. What third year Rams’ receiver can eclipse 1,000 yards?

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

You’ve probably heard it before..."Player X is due to have a breakout, Vincent Jackson-like, third year as a receiver in the NFL."  Jackson, drafted by the Chargers in 2005, only played half the season in his rookie year, but eclipsed 1,000 yards [with 7 touchdowns] in his third full season in the league.  And he’s proven the ability to maintain similar, if not better, stats since [with the exception of an injured year in 2010, and a quiet 2014 season].

If you’re a St. Louis Rams’ fan, you’ve probably also heard "_____ hasn’t been done since Torry Holt."  And whether it’s receptions, yards, or touchdowns, it's all true.  Holt, like Jackson, wasted no time establishing himself as a legitimate threat in the league.  He amassed nearly 800 yards in his rookie year [1999], and surpassed 1,000 yards in just his second year.

Both had stellar seasons in their third year in the NFL, and continued to do so for the remainder of their careers.  But replicating that kind of production - and finding that potential breakout candidate/consistent deep threat - has been a struggle for the Rams ever since...

Player
Draft Yr
Pick
3rd Yr
Recs
Yards
TDs
Torry Holt
1999
1 [6]
2001
81
1,363
7
Milton Wynn
2001
4 [21]
2003
-
-
-
Francis S. Paul
2001
6 [34]
2003
-
-
-
Eric Crouch
2002
3 [30]
2004
-
-
-
Kevin Curtis
2003
3 [10]
2005
60
801
6
Shaun McDonald
2003
4 [9]
2005
46
523
0
Dante Ridgeway
2005
6 [18]
2007
-
-
-
Marques Hagans*
2006
5 [11]
2008
1
7
0
Derek Stanley
2007
7 [39]
2009
-
-
-
Donnie Avery+
2008
2 [2]
2010
-
-
-
Keenan Burton
2008
4 [29]
2010
-
-
-
Brooks Foster
2009
5 [24]
2011
-
-
-
Mardy Gilyard*
2010
4 [1]
2012
2
15
0
Austin Pettis
2011
3 [14]
2013
38
399
4
Greg Salas*
2011
4 [15]
2013
8
143
0
Brian Quick+
2012
2 [1]
2014
25
375
3
Chris Givens
2012
4 [1]
2014
11
159
1
Tavon Austin
2013
1 [8]
2015
?
?
?
Stedman Bailey
2013
3 [30]
2015
?
?
?
* indicates stats acquired w/ different team. + indicates injury

- The Rams have drafted 19 wide receivers since 1999.  Eight of them either weren’t in the league three years later, or didn’t tally a single reception in their third year.

- Only three of the 19 have surpassed 500 yards. Only one, Holt, has eclipsed 1,000.

- They've drafted eleven receivers between 2005 and 2012.  They combined [third year only] for 85 receptions, 1,098 yards, and 8 touchdowns.  Four of the eleven [excluding Avery; injury] didn’t catch a football in their third year.  Two of them, Gilyard and Salas, had already found new homes before the onset of their third season.

-  This year’s eligible third year breakout candidates consist of the Mountaineer duo, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.  Austin has 71 catches for 660 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons.  Bailey, who missed two games in 2014, has tallied 47 catches, 661 yards, and one touchdown heading into his third season.  Brian Quick, who draws the VJAX reference more than most, is also in consideration having missed nine games last season due to injury.

If you didn’t catch it in this morning’s Random Ramsdom, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has pegged Tavon Austin [along with Nick Foles] as one of the league's potential "Heavyweight Hookup" duos for the 2015 season.

Can Austin have that oft-referenced third year breakout season?  Or did Brooks pick the wrong receiver?  Will any Rams’ receiver be able compile stats similar to that of Holt and Jackson in their third year?