Strength in Numbers: The 1991 WR Class
As we’ve seen, position specific draft classes come in all variations. Some are top heavy and others are near complete flops except for one standout. Others, like the WR Class of 1991 (and 2008) produce a whole bunch of guys who are “pretty good” and kick around the league for years.
The first round was a mixed bag:
Herman Moore was the first WR selected and went on to live up to his expectations before injuries derailed his career. He was a 1st team All Pro for three consecutive seasons between 1995-1997 racking up 333 catches, 4275 yards and 31 TD’s over that period. Harper, best known for his 45 yard TD catch that put Super Bowl XXVII out of reach, never amounted to much despite yearly proclamations that he was about to become the next great WR. Pritchard got off to a great start in the Falcons’ Run-and-Shoot offense of the early 1990’s before fading quickly after leaving Atlanta. Randal Hill was traded to the Cardinals just one game into his career, netting the Dolphins the 1992 1st rounder used on long time CB Troy Vincent. Hill himself didn’t turn out too well, putting up only 2 years with 50+ catches in a 7 year career.
The 2nd and 3rd rounds produced a few flops:
Carroll, Thomas, Barrett, Daniels and Barnett were all out of the league by 1994. Graham was a quality journeyman, catching 45+ passes for each of the 5 teams he played for over an 11 year career. Dawsey flashed some promise early but never could put it all together consistently. Jake Reed was a late bloomer – he had 11 catches his first 3 years and 297 over the next 4 years (all of which were 1000+ yard years). Mills played for 9 years as a #3/#4 WR. McCaffrey had an excellent career, finishing up with 565 receptions and 7,422 yards.
Between rounds 4-12, 28 more receivers came off the board:
4th rounders Yancey Thigpen and Rocket Ismail (once Ismail came back from the CFL) each ended up with over 300 catches and 5,000 yards receiving. Late rounders Michael Jackson (353 receptions, 5,393 yards, 46 TD) and Shawn Jefferson (470 receptions, 7,023 yards, 29 TD) were both productive receivers. And the best was nearly the last, as 326th overall Keenan McCardell ended up as a fringe Hall of Famer. He ended up with 883 catches for 11,373 yards and 63 TD spread over 16 seasons and 5 teams – including 7 seasons with 70+ receptions.
Overall the class of 1991 accumulated 2,425 games played, 6,478 receptions for 92,285 yards and 503 TD.
13 times, a Class of 1991 WR accounted for more than 25% of his team’s total receptions, making it the 5th best draft class since the 1970 merger in that respect:
The Class Of 1991 may not be the best WR class of all time (with only 1 borderline Hall Of Fame talent, it’s tough to make that claim) but it was book-ended by two of the better WR’s of the late 90’s/early 00’s and had a lot of depth in between.