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5 Best Rookie Wide Receivers in NFL History

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals
Matthew Wear

It seems the NFL is becoming a more offensive league with every year that passes. Wide receiver talent is being drafted earlier and earlier each year, marking the trend of stocking up at the position.

Some receivers were drafted with high expectations but failed to live up to the hype, but plenty of receivers have come straight out of college and taken the league by storm.

Here are five of the best rookie wide receivers in NFL history.

Rams v Cardinals
Rams v Cardinals

#5 - Anquan Boldin

Anquan Boldin posted a below-average 4.7 40-yard dash prior to the 2003 NFL Draft, which saw his stock take a tumble. He fell to the Arizona Cardinals in the second-round. In his first career game, Boldin set an NFL record of the most receiving yards by a player in their first career game, with a whooping 217 yards in a loss to the Detroit Lions. He also had two touchdown catches in that incredible game.

Boldin’s rookie season carried on from there as on the year he recorded 101 receptions, 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns. He was the only rookie selected to the 2004 Pro Bowl, taking home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants

#4 - Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. has been an outstanding receiver throughout his career for the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and L.A. Rams. His rookie season was a sign of things to come for Beckham Jr.

Coming out of LSU, he had 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, becoming an instant sensation in the NFL. His 12 touchdowns were only bettered by veterans Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson. The rookie receiver was awarded for his efforts, taking home the 2014 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Throwback to @obj's incredible rookie season!(via @nflthrowback) https://t.co/ToE2o86DM9
Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings
Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings

#3 - Justin Jefferson

Another LSU wide receiver talent to take the league by storm in recent years is Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson. Jefferson didn’t start for the Vikings until week three of his rookie year after bit-part appearances in week 1 and 2 of 2019. He exploded against the Tennessee Titans, going for 175 yards and a touchdown, where fans across the NFL saw his famous ‘Griddy’ celebration for the first time.

Jefferson finished the year with 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 15.9 yards per reception. He was voted into the 2020 Pro Bowl and narrowly missed out on Offensive Rookie of the Year honors to Justin Herbert.

Randy Moss as a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings
Randy Moss as a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings

#2 - Randy Moss

Arguably the best wide receiver ever to play in the NFL, Randy Moss wasted no time after he was drafted in 1998. Moss led the league in receiving touchdowns as a rookie with 17, a record which still stands today. What made this stat even more remarkable was the fact that Moss achieved this and 1,313 receiving yards on only 69 receptions, immediately becoming one of the biggest deep threats in the league.

Moss’ dominance during his rookie campaign was encapsulated by his Thanksgiving Day performance against the Dallas Cowboys, who passed on him in the 1998 draft. He had three catches, three touchdowns and 163 yards.

Randy Moss on Thanksgiving as a rookie in 1998.Forever iconic. https://t.co/NxwtjMZhRY
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals

#1 - Ja’Marr Chase

Pipping Randy Moss to the top of this list is the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase, who in 2021 had a rookie season that could rival any receiver in NFL history.

In 17 games, Chase had 1,455 receiving yards, the most in the Super Bowl era by any rookie, and the most by any player in Bengals franchise history. He also set the record for receiving yards in a game by a rookie, going 266 yards in a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ja'Marr Chase appreciation post.▪️ Offensive Rookie of the Year▪️ Selected to Pro Bowl▪️ Most regular season rec yards by a rookie in Super Bowl era (1,455)▪️ Most postseason rec yards by a rookie (368)▪️ Most rec yards in a game by a rookie (266)The @Bengals have a stud. https://t.co/EPDVX3zeFB

His connection with former LSU teammate Joe Burrow was evident from the start of a journey which saw the Bengals make the Super Bowl. Chase also set the record for most postseason receiving yards by a rookie with 368.

Chase had 13 receiving touchdowns, was voted to the Pro Bowl, and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Who had the better rookie season?

Randy Moss

Ja'Marr Chase

Edited by John Maxwell

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