Through the first six games of their sophomore seasons, many of the top players from the 2022 wide receiver class find themselves held back by the performance of their quarterbacks. A glance at the receivers selected in the first couple of rounds of that draft reveals that, with some exceptions, they are attached to quarterbacks and offenses that are struggling, hovering around the bottom of the league.
The first receiver selected in the 2022 draft was Drake London. Unfortunately, the Falcons have been utilizing a run-heavy offensive scheme, and Desmond Ridder, the rookie quarterback, has been targeting wide receivers on just 37.9% of his passes, which stands as the lowest rate among 33 qualified quarterbacks. For context, the next-closest quarterback is Justin Fields, who targets wide receivers at a rate of 46.9%.
Next in the draft came Garrett Wilson, paired with Zach Wilson. The struggles of Zach Wilson have been widely documented, and they continue to affect the performance of Garrett Wilson. Chris Olave has been dealing with Derek Carr, who is currently having his worst season in the NFL. Jameson Williams has been hampered by injuries and a suspension, while Treylon Burks has also been battling injuries but still operates with Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback.
Jahan Dotson is targeted by Sam Howell, who has been under constant pressure, being sacked on nearly 14% of his dropbacks. Christian Watson catches passes from Jordan Love, who has the worst off-target throw rate in the NFL. Wan’Dale Robinson has Daniel Jones throwing to him, a quarterback facing his own struggles, with a sack rate even higher than Howell’s. George Pickens’ quarterback is Kenny Pickett, who also has one of the worst off-target rates among NFL quarterbacks.
While there are other early-drafted wide receivers in the 2022 class, not many of them are contributing significantly, and those often find themselves tied to quarterbacks who are not taking them to the next level.
Comparing the quarterbacks attached to the top receivers from the 2022 class to those from the 2021 and 2023 classes highlights a stark difference:
- Ja’Marr Chase: Joe Burrow
- Jaylen Waddle: Tua Tagovailoa
- DeVonta Smith: Jalen Hurts
- Kadarius Toney: Daniel Jones
- Rashod Bateman: Lamar Jackson
- Nico Collins: C.J. Stroud
- Amon-Ra St. Brown: Jared Goff
- Drake London: Desmond Ridder
- Garrett Wilson: Zach Wilson (Aaron Rodgers injured)
- Chris Olave: Derek Carr
- Jameson Williams*: Jared Goff (injured/suspended)
- Jahan Dotson: Sam Howell
- Treylon Burks*: Ryan Tannehill
- Christian Watson: Jordan Love
- Wan’Dale Robinson: Daniel Jones
- George Pickens: Kenny Pickett
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Geno Smith
- Quentin Johnston: Justin Herbert
- Zay Flowers: Lamar Jackson
- Jordan Addison: Kirk Cousins
- Rashee Rice: Patrick Mahomes
- Tank Dell: C.J. Stroud
- Josh Downs: Anthony Richardson* (injured)
Whether this disparity is merely a correlation or has, a causative element is open to debate. What’s evident is that the two draft classes surrounding the 2022 receivers appear to have more favorable quarterback situations.
It is hoped that, in the future, teams like the Falcons, Jets, Saints, Commanders, Titans, Packers, Giants, and Steelers (among others) will elevate their quarterback play, preventing these talented young receivers from being constrained by subpar passing offenses. Watching these players struggle due to poor quarterback performance is a situation that fans and players alike hope to see improved.