There is probably no trio of players in Green Bay under more scrutiny this preseason than the three rookie wide receivers drafted by the Packers in the most recent draft: J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
It will be interesting to see which of these three ends up getting significant playing time in 2018 and if any, or all three, will have any impact on the Packers offense as rookie receivers.
Looking back at rookie receivers in Green Bay’s long history, there have been some that made big contributions… Sterling Sharpe, James Jones and James Lofton. But if you were to select the greatest rookie receivers in Packers history, you have to start with Billy Howton.
A graduate of Rice University, Howton was a second round pick of the Packers in the 1952 NFL Draft. What Howton accomplished in his first season in Green Bay is pretty impressive: He led the league (not just the team, but the entire league!) with 1,231 receiving yards and had a rookie record 13 TD receptions. Howton spent seven seasons with the Pack and in 1974 was elected to the Packers Hall of Fame.
Here’s a look at the rookie players for the Packers who had the most catches, most TD receptions, and most receiving yards in their rookie campaign in Green Bay.
Most receptions by a rookie-Packers
Sterling Sharpe, 55, 1988
Billy Howton, 53, 1952
Gerry Ellis, 48, 1980
James Jones, 47, 2007
James Lofton, 46, 1978
Most TD receptions by a rookie-Packers
Billy Howton, 13, 1952
Max McGee, 9, 1954
Don Hutson, 6, 1935
James Lofton, 6, 1978
Carl Elliott, 5, 1951
Ray Pelfrey, 5, 1951
Most receiving yards by a rookie-Packers
Billy Howton, 1231, 1952
James Lofton, 818, 1978
Sterling Sharpe, 791, 1988
James Jones, 676, 2007
Greg Jennings, 632, 2006
Is it possible that more than one receiver could rack up some impressive numbers in their first year with the Packers? Consider this:
- There have been only two pair of rookies to catch 30 or more passes in the same season for the Packers: Keith Woodside (39) and Sterling Sharpe (55) in 1988 and Ryan Grant 930) and James Jones (47) in 2007.
- There has been only one pair of Green Bay rookies to have three or more TD receptions in the same season: Davante Adams (3) and Richard Rodgers (2) in 2014.
- There has been only one pair of Packers rookies to each have 300 or more receiving yards in the same season: Greg Jennings 9632) and Ruvell Martin (358) in 2006.
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Green Bay receiver James Jones jumped to the head of the list of receivers with the most TD receptions in 2012 with a three-TD performance in yesterday’s win over the Bears. (He now has 12 TD receptions for the season.)
Jones became the sixth receiver this season (and second Packers receiver) to catch three touchdown passes in a game. Jordy Nelson had a three-TD pass reception game in October against the Houston Texans.
Jones’ three TD game also put the Packers in a tie for most games with three TD receptions by a receiver since 1966. The Packers have had 15 such games, which now ties them with the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. Here’s a look at how many games since 1966 each team has had where one receiver caught three or more TD passes.
Games with a player with three-plus TD receptions, teams
15: Green Bay, New York Jets, San Francisco
14: Dallas, Indianapolis, Oakland
13: Minnesota, San Diego, St. Louis, Washington
11: Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Tennessee
10: Denver, New England, New York Giants, Pittsburgh
9: Arizona, Buffalo
7: Chicago, Detroit
6: Atlanta, Cleveland, Kansas City
5: Baltimore, Seattle
4: Carolina, New Orleans
2: Tampa Bay
Looking at the league totals since 1966, it’s no surprise that Jerry Rice leads the league with 11 games with three or more TD receptions. He is followed by Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss (nine each), Wesley Walker and Terrell Owens (five each) and Kellen Winslow and Carl Pickens (four each).
Here’s another interesting stat from Jones’ game yesterday: Jones had three TDs but only 60 yards total in receiving yards. This was the 25th time since 1966 that a player had 60 or less receiving yards with three or more receiving TDs. Fewest yards receiving in a game with three receiving touchdowns? Houston Oiler Mack Alston had three receptions, all for touchdowns and only 22 yards receiving in a game versus the Cleveland Browns on October 12, 1975.
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