In any professional sport, it’s easy to judge a prospect or rookie based on one performance. Most recently, Bengals then rookie Ja’Marr Chase dropped a significant amount of passes during the 2021 preseason. Fantasy owners were in shambles, with many trying to trade him off or even just flat out dropping him.
Chase proved every doubter wrong in quick fashion, putting up the second most receiving yards for a rookie in NFL history. Simply put, some guys have it all together by the time the regular season rolls around.
Here is the list of wide receivers who had the best rookie campaigns in NFL history.
1.) Bill Groman: 1,473 yards
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Houston Oilers (1960)
No rookie wide receiver in the history of football has put together a campaign like Bill Groman did in 1960. He attended Heidelberg University where his true aspirations were becoming a teacher. Groman would teach science for 8th graders until a former NFL coach discovered the talent Groman had and called the Houston Oilers. In his rookie year, Groman put up an NFL record 1,473 yards on 72 caught passes, an average of 20 yards per catch. This is one of the longest standing records, with Groman holding the honor for over 60 years.
7.) Billy Howton: 1,231 yards
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Green Bay Packers (1952)
Billy Howton may be a name that doesn’t ring a bell, but he remains one of the most important early figures in the history of football. Howton would be taken in the second round of the 1952 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. He led the league in receiving yards and receiving yards per game his rookie year. In the last three games of his rookie campaign, Howton put up 100+ yards in each contest, reaching 200 yards in one of those games. By the time he retired Howton ranked first all-time in receptions and yardage.
8.) Michael Clayton: 1,193 yards
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004)
What’s even more puzzling about a prospect or rookie not living up to their hype, is one that has a record breaking season and never reaches that potential again. Michael Clayton pulled in 1,193 yards his rookie season, and finished his 8 year NFL career with only 2,955 total yards. He would reach the 90+ yard mark in five games his rookie year. Clayton built his rookie resume on consistently putting up 60-90 yards a game, opposed to having a handful of games with 100+ receiving yards.