I have already wrote about how great the 2020 NFL Draft was when it came to the receiver position. A record 13 wide receivers were taken in the first two rounds of the draft. And over the course of this 2020 it is easy to recognize why. Rookie wideouts have been balling out left and right, helping their respective teams win game after game.
HENRY RUGGS TOUCHDOWN!
The most Jets thing possible.. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/gh9AwEDX4Q
— Sporting Minute (@sportingminute) December 6, 2020
At the same time, some rookies have been better than others. There are first-year receivers like Michael Pittman of the Indianapolis Colts and Henry Ruggs III of the Las Vegas Raiders who have been good, not great. And sure, that may have to do with the injury issues they’ve dealt with this year, but it shouldn’t take away from how much better the other pass catchers from the 2020 draft have been.
So which guys stood out above the rest you ask? Well here you are: the top five rookie receivers of the 2020 NFL season…
1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
Good ol’ Justin Jefferson is an easy choice to top the list. In his first year with the Vikings he hasn’t been anything short of electric, making play after play. He seamlessly filled the role Stefon Diggs left when Minnesota decided to ship him off to Buffalo.
I don’t say this lightly, but Justin Jefferson’s short-range route-running is legit Michael Thomas-esque.
He uses 5 quick steps in 3 vertical yards to win immediate separation from one of the NFL’s top cover-corners (Marshon Lattimore). The kid does not play like a rookie. pic.twitter.com/h03MyAs8M1
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) December 28, 2020
The former LSU Tiger has been a playmaker for the Vikings offense, catching 79 passes for 1,267 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jefferson also made the Pro Bowl (whatever that’s worth) and broke multiple rookie records along the way. His route running and speed make him a difficult receiver to cover, and I am sure the other NFC North teams are pretty unhappy the Vikings were able to snatch up this type of player. Jefferson is going to be a top NFL wideout in no time, if you don’t already believe he is.
Justin Jefferson is the first rookie WR with 1,200 yards and 7 Rec TD since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.
The only other rookies to do that in the last 60 years are Anquan Boldin (2003) and Randy Moss (1998), who also did it with the Vikings. pic.twitter.com/kdPnRs9HKu
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 25, 2020
2. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb may have ended up at the top of this list if Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott was able to stay healthy, but here we are at number three.
Despite missing Prescott, Lamb was still able to show off his game breaking after the catch skills that he showed at the University of Oklahoma. Lamb has also been able to show off how sticky his hand really are.
CeeDee Lamb’s UNREAL TD catch 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 22, 2020
Being on the field for only about 64% of the offensive snaps this year makes what Lamb did all the more impressive. A line of 69/892/5 while being on the field just a little over half the time? Unreal. But what is even more unbelievable is that this is just the beginning for the Cowboys new star.
3. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
This is where the list starts to get tricky, but the third spot goes to 49ers pass-catcher Brandon Aiyuk.
Kyle Shanahan LOVED Brandon Aiyuk during the draft process. Here’s why: #AirAiyuk
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 5, 2020
Due to injuries completely ravaging their roster, the 49ers and their fans may think about 2020 as a lost season. Still, that is not the case because San Fran was able to figure out how much of a player their first round wideout really is.
Without any other real weapon for the majority of the season, the 49ers led on Aiyuk to help move their offense. He did not disappoint, putting together a stat-line of 60/748/5. He also did that despite missing two games due to the COVID-19 protocols, and with a backup quarterback a majority of the time.
But with Aiyuk’s performance in 2020, it makes the outlook on the 49ers 2021 season that much better. Aiyuk, combined with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, will make it tough for opposing defensive coordinators to sleep at night.
4. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
You know what they say in Cincinnati, 85 is always open. Joking aside, Tee Higgins is looking very deserving of wearing that striped 85 jersey that was made famous by Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
Is that OchoCinco or Tee Higgins? @teehiggins5 | @ochocinco | @Bengals
— Green Light with Chris Long (@ChalkNetwork) December 27, 2020
Higgins, like Lamb and Aiyuk, has been missing his starting quarterback Joe Burrow. Not as long as Lamb has been without Prescott, but it is worth mentioning considering Higgins has ignored all that and is just 92 yards short of 1,000.
The 6’4″ receiver from Clemson looks the part like he did in college. His catch radius and size make him a very difficult deep threat to cover, and it will be interesting to see how him and Burrow grow together.
5. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
Expected Claypool to be higher? Maybe he should be, but if you take away his four touchdown performance Claypool has been plagued by inconsistency. Could it be because of the play of Ben Roethlisberger? Possibly, but should not really matter considering three of the guys above Claypool on this list have been missing their starting signal callers for some part of the year.
Either way, Claypool has been a great weapon for Pittsburgh that will most assuredly wreak havoc on the NFL for years to come. His physicality and size make him a big-time red zone threat that not many teams can stop (whether that be rushing or receiving).
.@ChaseClaypool‘s second rushing touchdown of the season!
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 18, 2020
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Featured image courtesy of Twitter / @BleacherReport