It hasn’t been quite the start the Washington Football Team envisioned for Ron Rivera’s tenure, but I suppose things could certainly be worse, too.
Though situations and results haven’t exactly worked out with former first-round pick quarterback Dwayne Haskins, so Rivera turned to his insurance policy of Kyle Allen a few weeks ago. On Sunday, competent play against an incompetent divisional foe gave Washington its second victory of the season in Week 7. They now sit at 2-5.
In the game, Washington’s defense really stepped up. They were all over the Cowboys’ potent offensive weapons and held Dallas to just three points. On defense, Chase Young led the team in tackles, Landon Collins had a sack-fumble that led to a safety, and Montez Sweat recorded two more sacks on the season. On the offensive side of the ball, Allen played well enough for them to win, going 15-for-25 with 194 passing yards and two touchdowns, while rookie running back Antonio Gibson had a career game with 128 rushing yards.
There was another player on the stat sheet who clearly stood out, but we almost forget to mention him. The reason for this is because, win or lose, good day or bad day for the team as a whole, this guy is a standout—on the stat sheet, on the film, and in the locker room.
That player is wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
McLaurin, the second-year, third-round pick out of Ohio State, finished Sunday’s game against Dallas with 90 receiving yards on seven catches coming from 11 targets while hauling in a touchdown, too. All of those numbers were team highs, a common occurrence.
Going into the game, McLaurin was already one of the top receivers in the NFL production-wise. His 487 receiving yards, 58 targets, 36 receptions, and eight catches of 20 yards or more were all top 10 in the league. After today’s numbers, they’ll remain in that top 10, and are likely to ascend in the rankings.
When it comes to some more advanced analytics, those are favorable for McLaurin, as well. McLaurin accounting for 45.38% of his team’s air yards is the second-highest rate in the league, meaning his market share of what the team wants to do on offense is extremely high. His 260 yards after the catch are tied for the most in the league for a receiver with DeAndre Hopkins.
McLaurin nearly reached the 1,000-yard milestone in his rookie season last year, so his production continuing into 2020 should be no surprise. But I often get asked where I would rate McLaurin versus the other wide receivers in the league. Is he top 20? Top 15? Top 10?
For as good as his numbers are, I wouldn’t say he’s top 10. DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas, Adam Thielen, Keenan Allen, and Allen Robinson are all receivers off the top of my head I’d still have over a guy like McLaurin, and that’s 12 right there.
The fact of the matter is, for as much of a passing league as the NFL has become, there are just so many good wide receivers. So to say that a receiver is top 20 in the league might sound insulting to some, but in reality, it’s still really damn impressive.
Quantifying where I’d place McLaurin, who I really do like, among the rest of his peers in the NFL was tough for me to do. And then I saw this video.
That’s McLaurin breaking down the locker room after the team’s big divisional win at home. That’s 25-year-old, second-year player McLaurin doing that. The wisdom in his words and the command of respect for the rest of the room tells you everything you need to know about McLaurin. That, to me, speaks louder than some stats for others that might be better than what he currently has right now. That kind of presence, especially for a player that young, is something immeasurable that is special.
The words he said, and the smile after he said it. You have to love it.
So when it comes to where you might have McLaurin ranked in terms of receivers in this league, I really don’t care where he ends up on your list. All I know is that dude is a player you can build a passing attack around—on and off the field. And the number of receivers you can say that about in this league are but a handful.