The NFL Draft is the most important part of the team-building process, as the young influx of talent provides hope for every single organization. However, most of these rookie wide receivers aren’t ready to make a Day 1 impact, as there is nothing that can truly prepare you for life in the NFL. That being said, these five players need to become contributors right out of the gate if their teams want to succeed.
Note: This list does not include Jaxon Smith-Njigba because, even though he was the first wide receiver selected, the run-heavy Seattle Seahawks already have Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. The team can afford to bring him along slowly, which is something that cannot be said of the other rookie wide receivers on this list.
The 5 Rookie Wide Receivers Set to Make A Day 1 Impact
1. Jordan Addison
The Minnesota Vikings have an unquestioned superstar wide receiver in Justin Jefferson, and not much else on the offensive side of the ball. T.J. Hockenson is a fine tight end and K.J. Osborn is a solid depth receiver, but the Vikings desperately need a more reliable second option in this passing attack. Jordan Addison has the potential to start right away, and while he’ll never be good enough to usurp Jefferson in this passing attack, he should be able to start and become a reliable second option on all three levels of the field. In a wide-open NFC, Addison’s success could be the difference between a quick playoff exit and a deep playoff push.
2. Jonathan Mingo
The Carolina Panthers put the fate of their franchise in the hands of Bryce Young when they selected him with the first-overall pick. If they want him to succeed, then they’ll need to hope that Jonathan Mingo is ready to go in Week 1.
The Carolina Panthers might just have the worst group of wide receivers in the entire NFL. After trading D.J. Moore for the right to select Young, the Panthers now have an over-30 Adam Thielen and journeyman DJ Chark as the top two options in the passing attack. Mingo has the clearest path to the field of all the rookie wide receivers, and for the sake of Young’s development, Carolina better hope that Mingo is up for the challenge.
For what it’s worth, both players have reportedly impressed at the Panthers rookie minicamp.
Bryce Young 🤝 Jonathan Mingo pic.twitter.com/awMY3eXzgz
— Michael Rimmer (@avl_mike) May 12, 2023
3. Quentin Johnston
Rookie Quentin Johnston will begin his career as the third option on the Chargers wide receiver depth chart, which normally means that he’d have time to slowly develop and learn the offense. However, when you play in the same division at Patrick Mahomes and the same conference as Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Lamar Jackson, and Aaron Rodgers, you need as much offensive firepower as you can get.
Johnston has the size and speed combination to be a lethal downfield threat and red zone nightmare. If the TCU product can hit the ground running, then this offense has the talent to keep up with any offense in the league.
4. Rashee Rice
As long as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are in Kansas City, the Chiefs will have a great offense. However, right now it’s hard to see the team getting much of anything out of their wide receivers. The oft-injured Kadarius Toney is probably the top option, and everyone else behind him leaves a lot to be desired.
Rashee Rice will probably never be an All Pro, but he’s a perfect replacement for Juju Smith-Schuster. The SMU product is a target machine that can do some nice things after the catch, and Kansas Chiefs desperately needs that reliable underneath presence in their offense. If he can develop chemistry with Mahomes, then he could just lead all rookie wide receivers in receiving yards.
5. Zay Flowers
If Odell Beckham can play like he did with the Rams and Rashod Bateman can stay healthy, then the Baltimore Ravens can afford to take their time with Zay Flowers. However, both of those scenarios are anything but certain, and if either veteran fails to meet expectations, then Flowers will suddenly be a huge part of this offense.
The Boston College product is a lot like both Beckham and Bateman in that he’s pretty dangerous at all three levels of the field. Of course, he played at a smaller school and he is a late declare, so only time will tell if he’s ready for the NFL stage.
Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports