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How does Doug Baldwin stack up against other undrafted wide receivers?

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks
I remember thinking it was weird that the Seahawks were using Seneca Wallace on kick returns, especially since I was pretty sure Wallace had signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks were expecting the release of Kam Chancellor, which had become nothing more than a formality following the neck injury he suffered in Week 10 of 2017 that led to the end of his playing career. However, when the team also announced that they were releasing wide receiver Doug Baldwin, that caught the majority of fans off guard, and the responses and emotions were strong.

However, Baldwin enjoyed a fantastic eight year career with the Hawks, and while he’ll never make the Hall of Fame, his performance will go down as one of the greatest careers in NFL history for an undrafted receiver.

Those are pretty impressive for a receiver that zero teams felt strong enough about to use even a late Day 3 pick on during the 2011 NFL Draft. That said, let’s go ahead and take a look at where exactly his production falls in relation to other undrafted receivers.

Top twenty undrafted wide receivers by career receiving yards

Player Rookie Season Receptions Receiving Yards Yards Per Reception Touchdowns
Player Rookie Season Receptions Receiving Yards Yards Per Reception Touchdowns
Rod Smith 1995 849 11389 13.4 68
Wes Welker 2004 903 9924 11.0 50
Drew Pearson 1973 489 7822 16.0 48
Wayne Chrebet 1995 580 7365 12.7 41
Reggie Rucker 1970 447 7065 15.8 44
J.T. Smith 1978 544 6974 12.8 35
Nate Washington 2005 458 6954 15.2 44
Doug Baldwin 2011 493 6563 13.3 49
Stephone Paige 1983 377 6341 16.8 49
Alfred Jenkins 1975 360 6267 17.4 40
Steve Watson 1979 353 6112 17.3 36
Malcom Floyd 2004 321 5550 17.3 34
Miles Austin 2006 361 5273 14.6 37
Lance Moore 2006 389 4816 12.4 44
David Patten 1997 324 4715 14.6 24
Danny Amendola 2009 485 4684 9.7 20
Jeff Chadwick 1983 292 4549 15.6 27
Victor Cruz 2010 303 4549 15.0 25
Willie Davis 1991 286 4503 15.7 33
James Jett 1993 256 4417 17.3 30

Just to put into perspective how rare it is for an undrafted wide receiver to put up the type of production that Baldwin did during his career, consider for a moment that former Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse is 28th all time since the merger in receiving yards by an undrafted receiver.

Looking at it from another perspective, since the merger in 1970, an undrafted wide receiver has been selected to the Pro Bowl only 33 times. Further, of the 33 times a receiver who had gone undrafted made the Pro Bowl, ten of those were by players who were primarily special teams players and not receiving threats. Players like Josh Cribbs and Kassim Osgood each made three Pro Bowls during their careers, but they combined for only 1,941 receiving yards during their 22 seasons in the league. Once eliminating special teamers from the list of receivers that made the Pro Bowl, there are only 23 appearances by undrafted wide receivers in the past 49 seasons, and Baldwin has two of those. He is one of just eight receivers in NFL history to have made multiple Pro Bowls after going undrafted.

In short, Baldwin far exceeded what can reasonably expected from an undrafted wide receiver. Just as Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman likely helped create unrealistic expectations for late round defensive backs among Seahawks fans, it is also likely just as true that Baldwin may have forged unrealistic expectations for undrafted players at the position.