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NFL Draft 2022: What kind of receivers has the second round produced in recent years?

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
April 15, 2022

We are two weeks away from the Bears being on the clock for Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s if Ryan Poles doesn’t trade up to the first round, of course. 

But given all the holes on the roster, there is more of a chance the first-year general manager would trade back to accumulate more than the six picks the Bears currently have at the moment. 

One area Bears fans desperately want Poles to address is the wide receiver room and to do so by drafting a receiver in the second round. The Bears expect quarterback Justin Fields to take a jump in Year 2, but to increase the likelihood of that happening, the receiver room needs more talent.

The organization can help Fields if they take a wide receiver with one of their two second-round picks (No. 39 or 48).

Since everyone and their grandmother wants a wide receiver in round two, let’s take a look at the pass catchers who have been selected in the previous five drafts. 

2021 Round 2 WRs

  • Pick 34 – NYJ – Elijah Moore (Mississippi)
  • Pick 49 – ARI – Rondale Moore (Purdue)
  • Pick 56 – SEA – D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)
  • Pick 57 – LAR – Tutu Atwell (Louisville)
  • Pick 59 – CAR – Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU)

These receivers just finished their rookie seasons, so it’s too early to make any definitive conclusions. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I was concerned with a few of these players. 

For starters, Eskridge and Atwell have already dealt with injuries since entering the league. Eskridge first had a head injury that forced him to miss the start of the season, and he also had a foot injury he had to overcome. Atwell — who is listed at 5-foot-9, 156 pounds — suffered a shoulder injury in the Week 8 game against Houston and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery. 

Plus, Eskridge is on a team that currently has Drew Lock pegged as the starting quarterback. Marshall isn’t in a much better situation with Sam Darnold as the signal caller for now. 

Despite Elijah Moore working with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, he still had the most productive season out of this group of receivers. Moore finished with 538 receiving yards on 43 receptions and added six total touchdowns (five receiving and one rushing). 

Rondale Moore also had a decent first season, and he benefited from a good supporting cast. He caught 54 passes for 435 yards and a touchdown last year for the Cardinals. 

2020 Round 2 WRs

  • Pick 33 – CIN – Tee Higgins (Clemson)
  • Pick 34 – IND – Michael Pittman Jr. (USC)
  • Pick 42 – JAX – Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado)
  • Pick 46 – DEN – K.J. Hamler (Penn State)
  • Pick 49 – PIT – Chase Claypool (Notre Dame)
  • Pick 57 – LAR – Van Jefferson (Florida)
  • Pick 59 – NYJ – Denzel Mims (Baylor)

This was a good group of wide receivers, especially since four of the players took a jump in receiving yards in Year 2. Higgins caught 74 passes for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns and played in the Super Bowl for the Bengals last season. Pittman went from 503 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown to 1,082 yards and six touchdowns in his second season. 

Jefferson had the biggest jump in receiving yardage, going from 220 to 802. Plus, Jefferson caught 15 passes in the playoffs for 148 yards and a touchdown this past season, which helped his Rams win a Super Bowl. Shenault also improved slightly, going from 600 to 619 receiving yards.

Claypool has also been productive in his first two seasons in the league. However, he did take a step back in receiving yards and touchdowns from his rookie season: 873 yards to 860 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 compared to two in 2021. 

For the most part this group has stayed healthy, except for Hamler. The former Penn State Nittany Lion tore his ACL in the Week 3 game against the Jets. 

Overall, these second-round draft picks have the potential to become mainstays for their respective teams and to earn themselves a big second contract.  

2019 Round 2 WRs

  • Pick 36 – SFO – Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)
  • Pick 51 – TEN – A.J. Brown (Mississippi)
  • Pick 56 – KAN – Mecole Hardman (Georgia)
  • Pick 57 – PHI – JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Stanford)
  • Pick 59 – IND – Paris Campbell (Ohio State)
  • Pick 62 – ARI – Andy Isabella (Massachusetts)
  • Pick 64 – SEA – DK Metcalf (Mississippi) 

There are some legitimate playmakers and also some question marks in this group. The first two receivers drafted, Samuel and Brown, both have proven to be go-to targets for their respective teams. Last season, Samuel finished first-team All-Pro for his 77 receptions, 1,405 yards and six receiving touchdowns and added 59 rushing attempts for 365 yards and eight scores. 

Brown started his NFL career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl in Year 2. Then there is Metcalf – the last pick in the second round – who has been a touchdown machine since entering the league. The past two seasons, Metcalf has 22 receiving touchdowns and was named a second-team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in his second season.

Samuel, Brown and Metcalf are clearly the top three receivers from the 2019 second-round class. And Hardman has been ascending in the right direction since his rookie season. However, Arcega-Whiteside — who was drafted right after Hardman — is leaning towards being a bust for the Eagles. In three seasons, he has caught just 16 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown. 

Campbell and Isabella have both been fairly disappointing as well. Campbell has 34 career receptions, 360 yards and a touchdown. He was also limited to just six games last season due to a broken foot. Isabella has also dealt with some injuries, but he has had a tough go at getting playing time behind Kirk, Rondale Moore and DeAndre Hopkins. In three seasons, he has 31 receptions, 426 yards and three touchdowns. 

2018 Round 2 WRs

  • Pick 40 – DEN – Courtland Sutton (SMU)
  • Pick 44 – SFO – Dante Pettis (Washington)
  • Pick 47 – ARI – Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
  • Pick 51 – CHI – Anthony Miller (Memphis)
  • Pick 60 – PIT – James Washington (Oklahoma State)
  • Pick 61 – JAX – DJ Chark (LSU)

The Bears have tried in the past to select a playmaking wide receiver in the second round. Former general manager Ryan Pace moved up to select Miller and traded away the 105th pick in 2018 and the 56th overall pick in the 2019 draft. 

Miller had a career-high seven touchdowns in his rookie season, and the third-most receptions on the team in Year 2 with 52 catches for 656 yards. But injuries, inconsistent quarterback play and his own wrongdoings (like punching safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the wild-card loss to the Saints in 2019) led him to be traded to the Houston Texans. (Miller caught five passes for 23 yards and a touchdown before being cut in favor of Danny Amendola. He now plays for the Steelers.)

Kirk has been the most productive out of this group of receivers. In the last four seasons, the former Cardinals and now Jaguars receiver has 236 receptions, 2,902 yards and 17 touchdowns — all the most of the second-round wide outs. 

Although Kirk has been the most productive, Sutton and Chark have gone over 1,000 yards in a season. Both exceeded the mark in 2019: Sutton finished with 72 receptions for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns while Chark caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight scores. 

2017 Round 2 WRs

  • Pick 37 – BUF – Zay Jones (East Carolina)
  • Pick 40 – CAR – Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
  • Pick 62 – PIT – JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)

Each one of these receivers are now on to their second (or in Jones’ case third) team. Smith-Schuster has had the most success out of the three players, and has had the most productive receiving season out of any of the second-round receivers in the last five years. The former Steelers and now Chiefs receiver caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns and earned himself a spot at the Pro Bowl for his 2018 season.

Jones and Samuel on the other hand have yet to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in one season. For Jones, he earned himself a decent three-year, $24 million contract with the Jaguars after only catching two touchdowns in the last three seasons with the Raiders.  

Bears fan no doubt want a wide receiver drafted and the preferred consensus seems to be in the second round.

In the previous five drafts, there have been some hits and misses, which is expected. Some times drafting a wide receiver or any position of that matter takes a bit of luck.

But if Poles’ big board has a receiver as his highest-graded player when the Bears are on the clock, then he has to take that chance to potentially give Fields another weapon to work with moving forward.

Additional Takeaways

  • There have been 28 wide receivers taken in the second round since 2017
  • On average 5.6 wide receivers have been drafted in the second round 
  • The 2017 draft had the fewest number of wide receivers taken in the second round with just three.
  • Every class has had at least one receiver from the second round eclipse 1,000 yards receiving and make the Pro Bowl in Year 2. 
  • Six of the 28 receivers are now on different teams
  • Mississippi had the most receivers drafted (3)

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