Rookie Expectations for Jordan Matthews: A Historical Perspective on 2nd-Round Receivers

Posted on May 20, 2014


By Allen Rodriguez

Much of the intrigue surrounding any new draft class revolves around the mystery of how good the players will turn out to be. The Eagles seem very high on Jordan Matthews, and GJ Kinne has told us he’s special.

Recently, Tommy Lawlor and Brent Cohen both speculated about what type of impact he’ll have in his first year, so I became very curious about what expectations for Matthews are reasonable. Last year, Noah Becker was very good about tempering expectations for Zach Ertz, so ignoring the hype, what should we expect from Matthews in Year 1?

Below is a graph of all 2nd-round1 rookie receiver outputs from 1994-20132 (80 players). The Y-axis shows yardage, and the X-axis3 tells us what percentage of the sample exceeded that output. So, roughly 33% of rookie 2nd-round receivers exceed 400 yards.


The high mark on that graph is Anquan Boldin (1377 yards). DeSean Jackson (912 yards) was third.

Now, of course there are reasons to suspect Matthews is more likely to end up on the better-than-average end of the scale. For one, he has no injury history. But more so, he figures to have a good opportunity to earn playing time, is smart enough to learn the offense and earn the trust of the coaches quickly, has an excellent quarterback, plays in an era where teams pass more than ever, etc.

So, what are your expectations for Matthews in his rookie campaign?

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1- I defined 2nd round as picks 33-64. P-F-R’s Player Season finder was being glitchy and this search seemed to work better. I still actually had to filter out a bunch of undrafted guys that somehow ended up in the results. Here‘s the query I used.

2 – I chose this range to balance wanting a big sample with wanting to minimize the effect of relatively less potent passing offenses from earlier years. Ideally, I’d adjust the stats, similar to what Chase Stuart did here.

3 – Yes, I considered flipping the axes, but Excel was being goofy about that so I just left it.

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