Four rookie pass-catchers shine in their NFL debuts

Traditionally, rookie pass-catchers struggle transitioning from college to the pros.

The differing speeds, more nuanced routes, better defenders, have made the transition difficult throughout history.

Four 2019 rookies launched that notion into the star-soaked heavens in Week 1.

Baltimore Ravens receiver Marquise Brown blasted off for 147 yards and two touchdowns on four catches, Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson gobbled up 131 and a TD on six snags, Washington Redskins WR Terry McLaurin dashed for 125 yards on 5 snatches with a score, and Tennessee Titans wideout A.J. Brown galloped for 100 yards on three catches.

The combined performances were the first time in NFL history three or more rookies recorded 100-plus receiving yards in their debuts, per NFL Research.

Hockenson's 131-yard performance surpassed Monty Stickles (!) -- 123 yards on Sept. 25, 1960 -- for most receiving yards by a tight end in his debut in NFL history. At a position that historically has taken rookies a full year or two to completely get up to speed, Hockenson's performance portends to a big role in the Detroit offense. The rookie displayed an ability to find open grass, make tough catches in the red zone and burn linebackers in apace.

As for the wideouts, all three displayed a penchant for big plays.

Marquise Brown housed two perfectly thrown balls from Lamar Jackson flashing stellar route running and blazing speed in space.

McLaurin flashed deep burners torturing Eagles DBs who weren't ready for his speed -- he should have had another long TD, but Case Keenum missed him wide open -- and showed great ball skills on a difficult sideline catch.

And A.J. Brown displayed stellar route running and the potential to be a YAC demon this season in Tennessee.

Even with the new-age pass-happy offenses, rookies just don't go off often in their debuts like this quartet of pass-catchers. Last year's top two receivers taken in the draft, D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley both put up goose-eggs in their debuts. Top wideouts like Julio Jones (5/71), Odell Beckham (4/44/1), A.J. Green (1/41), Michael Thomas (6/58), DeAndre Hopkins (5/66), and Mike Evans (5/37) all had solid days in their debuts, but not to the level we saw Sunday.

Even if you go back to some of the all-time greats, you won't find many 100-yard receiving days off the bat. Jerry Rice: 4 catches, 67 yards; Randy Moss: 4/95/2; Terrell Owens: 2/6; Steve Largent: 5/86; Larry Fitzgerald: 4/70; Calvin Johnson: 4/70/1. And then, of course, there was Anquan Boldin's outrageously ridiculous debut: 10 receptions, 217 yards, 2 TDs.

The point is whether you want to suggest college pass-catchers are entering the pros with better conceptual understanding, the talent is better prepared to produce from Day 1, or any of numerous other reasons, the rookies showed this week they can have massive impacts week to week this season.

The foursome won't have big days every week. There will be struggles to come, be assured. But the promise is bright with this rookie class. And that's without even discussing D.K. Metcalf in Seattle (4/89), who almost made this quartet a quintet.

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