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When teams select quarterbacks high in the draft, they are looking for a new face of the franchise who can make an immediate impact on the field. A talented leader who will come in, get the most out of his weapons and lead his club to victory. We have seen this numerous times, whether it was Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 or C.J. Stroud in 2023.

Who were the wide receivers who most benefitted from their rookie quarterbacks? Below, we will break down the top 10 seasons for a receiver catching passes from a first-year quarterback.

RankDuoTeamYearWR receiving yards

Vincent Jackson with Mike Glennon




A.J. Green with Andy Dalton




Derrick Mason with Joe Flacco




Isaac Bruce with Tony Banks




Brian Hartline with Ryan Tannehill



5. Mike Evans with Jameis Winston (2015)

Evans' statline: 74 receptions, 1,206 yards, 3 TDs

The Buccaneers selected Winston No. 1 overall in 2015, and he broke numerous franchise rookie passing records. In fact, he was even selected to his lone Pro Bowl as an alternate that first season. Winston walked into Tampa Bay with an established No. 1 wideout in Evans, who caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. In his second season, with Winston as his quarterback, Evans caught 74 passes for 1,206 yards and three touchdowns in just 15 games played. Despite the low touchdown number, Evans' 1,206 receiving yards rank fourth-best in his 10 NFL seasons. Evans has recorded at least 1,000 receiving yards in all 10 seasons. That's the second-longest streak ever behind Jerry Rice's 11. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers never made the playoffs with Winston as quarterback. But lucky for Evans, some guy named Tom Brady moved to Tampa in 2020. 

4. Nico Collins with C.J. Stroud (2023)

Collins' statline: 80 receptions, 1,297 yards, 8 TDs

It took a new quarterback to unlock the big-bodied Collins, as he put up career numbers across the board with 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 receptions. Previously, Collins hadn't crossed 500 yards in a single season, or caught more than two touchdowns. 

Collins became the third player in Houston Texans history to record 1,200 receiving yards in a season and averaged the second-most yards per route run in the NFL (3.1) while Houston went from worst to first in the AFC South. Houston also kicked the snot out of the Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round, winning 45-14. In that contest, Collins caught six passes for a game-leading 96 yards and one touchdown. Collins was rewarded for his big season last month, as he signed a three-year, $72.75 million extension. 

3. Reggie Wayne with Andrew Luck (2012)

Wayne's statline: 106 receptions, 1,355 yards, 5 TDs

The Indianapolis Colts were hoping to find their Peyton Manning replacement with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and they landed on the 6-foot-4 gunslinger out of Stanford. Luck made an immediate impact for Indy, and set an NFL record with 4,374 passing yards in his first season. A total of 1,355 of those yards went to Wayne, which matched his total from his final season with Manning. The Colts improved from 2-14 to 11-5 in Luck's first season, but were quickly ousted from the postseason by the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens. Luck made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors were reserved for Robert Griffin III

Wayne played just three seasons with Luck before retiring. His best NFL season came in 2007, when he caught 104 passes for a league-leading 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

2. Roddy White with Matt Ryan (2008)

White's statline: 88 receptions, 1,382 yards, 7 TDs

The Atlanta Falcons selected Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Boston College, and he took Atlanta from 4-12 to 11-5 in his first NFL season, which earned him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Ryan threw for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and White was his No. 1 wideout, as he caught 88 passes for 1,382 yards and seven touchdowns. The Falcons were kicked out of the playoffs that year by the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, but White caught a whopping 11 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown in what was his first playoff game. 

That 2008 campaign was White's second-best NFL season, as two years later, he caught a league-leading 115 passes for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. He made four straight Pro Bowls starting in 2008.

1. Steve Smith with Cam Newton (2011)

Smith's statline: 79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 TDs

Our No. 1 "rookie-QB" duo. Eventual NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and No. 1 overall pic Cam Newton completed 79 passes to Smith in his first NFL season, and the star wideout turned those receptions into 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns. While the Carolina Panthers went 6-10 that year, Newton established himself as a legitimate star. He set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback at the time, with 14 trips to the end zone, and became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards. Newton also became just the second player in NFL history to record three or more passing touchdowns and three or more rushing touchdowns in his first four career games. In all, he threw for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and rushed for 706 yards and 14 scores. 

Smith was a well-known wideout by 2011, and his 1,394-yard campaign wasn't even his best. In 2005, he caught 103 passes for 1,563 yards and a league-leading 12 touchdowns, and had a 1,421-yard season in 2008 despite missing two games. Smith would record just one more 1,000-yard season with Newton before being released by Carolina.