McCloughan: Buyer beware on first-round WRs

Brian Tinsman
February 28, 2019 - 9:29 pm

For the second year in a row, it's possible that no wide receivers will come off the board at the NFL Draft in the top-20 picks. According to former Washington Redskins general manager and scouting guru Scot McCloughan, that's a sound drafting strategy.

106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen caught up with McCloughan from the Scouting Combine, where McCloughan is gathering information for the third-party scouting service that he runs ever since being fired by the Redskins.

While quarterbacks get all of the attention for booms and busts in the first round, receivers can be the trickiest position to assess. Even after you select a receiver, that player likely won't develop until two or three years down the line. Here's how McCloughan figured that out:

"I learned it early when I went to Seattle the first time," he said. "We took a guy named Koren Robinson from N.C. State (9th overall pick), and Mike Holmgren sat me down and said, 'Understand this: he will not have success early, especially his first year. The receiver position, with the systems that they run, compared to what the college systems run, are so different. Now, they're trying to think about the route instead of just running the route. They're thinking instead of reacting...Just pay attention to it.'"

That was in 2001, and Holmgren's words couldn't be any truer today. 

"When you look back at it, how many rookie receivers have there been that have been really dominant?" McCloughan asked. "I'm not saying they won't become good players, there's no doubt about that. But every year, everybody likes them because they're flashy. Everybody gets excited about them, but just watch. The first year, and even in the second year, it's tough sometimes. 

"You've gotta play. You've gotta get used to it and understand...you've gotta just play football."

According to Will Brinson of CBSSports.com's research, there are just 13 receivers with 1,000 yards receiving in their rookie season. Of those, only a handful were taken in the first round, including Randy Moss, A.J. Green and Michael Clayton. In the article, former NFL receiver Ricky Prohl, who now works with NFL receiver prospects before the Draft, called the situation of NFL receiver preparedness "a crisis."

This has given McCloughan more than enough fodder to advise against taking a receiver in the first round. If you need an Day 1, impact player, you're better off looking elsewhere and finding a development receiver later in the draft.

"The receiver position is very unique," McCloughan reiterated. "I'm to the point now where I don't even know if I'd take one early, because there's so many of them in the draft."

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