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A brief history of first-round WRs: The ultimate BPA move

Should the Falcons add to an already impressive wide receiver group?

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

This has the potential to be one of the more unpredictable, whilst also interesting offseason for the Atlanta Falcons in quite some time. The organization currently hold the No. 4 overall selection, and has many paths they can take in this year’s draft. Will they go quarterback? Will they trade down and collect more picks? Maybe they will go best player available and take someone unexpected?

Whatever the case, there’s several options on the board and we’re taking a look at the recent history of specific positions that have been selected in round one. We’ve already looked at how quarterbacks, running backs, offensive tackles and tight ends have fared. It’s time to take a look at the wide receiver position.

Below is every wide receiver taken in the first round since 2011:

2011:

2012:

2013:

2014:

2015:

2016:

  • Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns (15)
  • Will Fuller, Houston Texans (21)
  • Josh Doctson, Washington (22)
  • Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings (23)

2017:

  • Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (5)
  • Mike Williams San Diego Chargers (7)
  • John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals (9)

2018:

  • D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers (24)
  • Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (26)

2019:

2020:


We’re now brought to the present. The list above shows that, like other positions, wide receiver is a hit-and-miss selection in the first round recently. Although for us, the Falcons have luckily been on the “hit” side with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. This brings us to the question, should the Falcons take a wide receiver in the first round?

The quick answer is definitely no. Wide receiver is arguably the Falcons strongest position group with Jones and Ridley leading the way, Russell Gage continuing to impress, and Olamide Zaccheaus and Christian Blake showing promise behind them. As fun as it is to think of another top-flight receiving option being in the lineup, the Falcons just have other pressing needs that can be addressed early in the draft. Although I do believe they will take a wide receiver in the draft, and likely earlier than most people expect.

The argument for drafting a wide receiver is most notably general manager Terry Fontenot’s apparent draft strategy, which was mentioned in his first press conference with the Falcons. “In the draft, you need to take the best player,” Fontenot said. “At every position. You should never say “oh we’re good there”, and refuse to draft someone.” In this upcoming draft, there’s several stud wide receivers who are expected to go in the first round, such as Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle with the possibility that others such as Kadarius Toney and Terrace Marshall Jr. could sneak in.

I don’t expect it but to be honest, this new regime is difficult to make predictions on. Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith have said all of the right things while also not tipping their hands to what their exact outlook is. Being at pick No. 4, you’d expect them to use that rare opportunity to take a quarterback of the future, but we still don’t really know much. Taking a wide receiver is possible of course, especially if they’re serious about going BPA, but I wouldn’t bank on it.