I can remember when I first began watching the NFL and learning the game, that one of the rookie adages that got tossed out a lot was that for wide receivers "it takes three seasons for receivers to adjust to the league."
Wide receivers had such a huge jump to make from the college level to the pros in routes that it wasn't until their third season that they were completely adjusted to the speed, the routes and the defenses.
Recent trends seem to be bucking that old adage, though. Last season was a historic year for rookie receivers. Three of the five receivers drafted in the first round had 1,000 yard seasons, and a fourth finished just shy of the mark. Two of those three also had double-digit TDs.
That sort of performance is rare for rookie receivers, though.
Here is a list, courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, of every rookie receiver and tight end that has reached the 1,000 yard mark in their first season. It isn't very long, it's only happened 20 times; however, it is becoming more frequent. The feat has been accomplished 11 times in the past 20 years after happening only nine times in the previous 50 years.
So what does that mean for Bears rookie Kevin White?
The odds are he will not reach that plateau, especially making the jump from a spread offense where he ran a limited route tree and only one receiver position. White has a lot of natural ability and certainly seems to be putting in the hard work to be great, but it is still a big transition.
The nice thing about White is that he doesn't have to be a 1,000 yard WR in order for the Bears to be improved on offense. He simply needs to compliment Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal. White will bring a dynamic speed element, as well as a nice endzone target for Jay Cutler, but Jeffery will be the 1A playmaker. White is in a good position to be successful without having to shoulder the load. I think a realistic stat line for White would be around 50 catches for 825 yards. While that would give him a pretty high yards-per-reception, I believe that his speed element will be what is most often utilized by Adam Gase and he therefore will see a fair amount of deep balls.
What are your expectations for Kevin White?