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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

April 4, 2011 at 1:21 PM

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Part 2 of Golden Tate: By the numbers

Posted by Danny O'Neil

The "Golden Tate Debate" began last Thursday here on the blog. Exept it wasn't really a debate, more like a discussion about everything from the expectations he carried into his rookie year to the realities of his performance in 2010 to what can be expected going forward to next season.

Because once training camp begins -- whenever that is -- the Tate turnaround story is going to become an oft-repeated line of inquiry.

And while showing that Tate's rookie performance wasn't all that far below average for previous second-round picks, that doesn't really tell us much about what may be a more important question for Seattle going forward, and that's, 'What can you realistically project for Tate in 2011?'

To try and provide some parameters for expected improvement, I started out by listing every wide receiver chosen in the second round of the NFL draft from 2000 to 2009. Turns out there were 45 of them. Then, I looked up the season totals from their first two years in the league.

Of the 45 players drafted in the second round, 23 improved their reception totals in the second season, two logged the same number of catches and 20 declined.

On average, those wide receivers chosen in the second round improved by 2.4 catches and 49 receiving yards in their second season.

On the high end were the Giants' Steve Smith and Bengals' Chad Johnson Ochocinco. Each improved their reception total by more than 40. On the low end was the Broncos' Eddie Royal, who went from catching 91 passes as a rookie in 2008 to 37 receptions in 2009.

But let's narrow the field a little bit, and look specifically at those receivers drafted in the second round who caught about the same number of passes as Tate in their rookie season.

There were seven second-round choices who caught between 15 and 30 passes as rookies:

Name Rec. Yards Avg. TD Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Chad Johnson, Bengals
2001 2nd rd. (No. 36 overall)
28 329 11.8 1 69 1,166 16.9 5
Reche Caldwell, Chargers
2002 2nd rd. (No. 48 overall)
22 208 9.5 3 8 80 10 0
Golden Tate, Seahawks
2010 2nd rd. (No. 60 overall)
21 227 10.8 0
Mark Bradley, Bears
2005 2nd rd. (No. 39 overall)
18 230 12.8 0 14 282 20.1 3
Tyrone Calico, Tennessee
2003 2nd rd. (No. 60 overall)
18 297 16.5 4 2 13 6.5 0
Bethel Johnson, Patriots
2003 2nd rd. (No. 45 overall)
16 209 13.1 2 10 174 17.4 1
Devin Thomas, Washington
2008 2nd rd. (No. 34 overall)
15 120 8 0 25 325 13 3
Roscoe Parrish, Bills
2005 2nd rd. (No. 55 overall)
15 148 9.9 1 23 320 13.9 2

So what does history tell us? It's not unprecedented for a receiver to take a huge jump in his second season. Johnson and Smith are proof of that. In fact, of the 45 receivers chosen in the second round from 2000 to 2009, 11 of them increased their receptions by 20 or more catches in their second season.

But that upward progression is hardly a sure thing. Just look at the above list for proof that for some second-round picks, a mediocre rookie season foreshadows an unremarkable sophomore season, too.

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