Baylor standout and 1st round hopeful Kendall Wright is an impressive wide receiver prospect. However, listed at (a generous?) 5'10 190, Wright is smaller than most potential 1st round WR's . While he might be the most exciting of all the top players in the 2012 WR class, Wright is looking to become just the 15th WR shorter than 6'0 selected in the top 20 picks since 1980. Not only is it unusal for a WR of Wright's stature to go early in the draft, but it's becoming increasingly rare. Take a look at these numbers:
As you can see, it's not exactly a list littered with future Hall Of Famers. In fact, most of those guys are considered to be huge disappointments. In the same time span, there were 58 6'0+ WR's selected in the top 20.
Outside of the top 20, there have been 37 WR's selected in the 1st round since 1980 - 14 (37.8%) of whom have been shorter than 6'0. Like the others, the list is mostly comprised of mediocrities (with a few notable exceptions):
As with the first list, the bulk of these guys were drafted before 2000. Between 2000-2011 there were 48 WR's selected in the 1st round, only 9 of whom (18.8%) were shorter than 6'0. While smaller, more agile WR's are becoming en vogue (e.g. Antonio Brown, DeSean Jackson) and increasingly coveted, the league's drafting tendencies haven't caught up to the trend quite yet.
Despite the success of recent draftees like Brown and Jackson, the league is still dominated by 6'0 or taller receivers. In 2011, there were 184 wide receivers who caught at least one pass - 130 (70.6%) of whom were 6'0 or taller. In total, there were 5884 passes caught by WR's league-wide. Only 1510 (25.6%) of those receptions came from WR's shorter than 6'0. Of the 1089 Games Started by WR's, only 231 (21.2%) were by < 6'0 receivers.
All of this is not to suggest that shorter receivers can't succeed or that Wright has a higher chance of busting than a taller receiver would. After all, two of the game's best receivers are shorter than Wright's listed height: Carolina's Steve Smith and New England's Wes Welker. Unlike Wright, neither of those guys were highly regarded coming out of school. Smith was a 3rd round pick of the Panthers, and Welker was an undrafted free agent signed by the Chargers. That said, there is some reason to think that while he is rumored to be shooting up draft boards, the chances are slim that Wright's draft stock rises above the middle of the first round.
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