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Terry McLaurin is on pace for WFT franchise-best season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Through his first two seasons in the NFL, Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin quickly established himself as one of the better young receivers in the league.
However, while McLaurin's talents have never been never undermined locally, those across the country have largely failed to recognize the 26-year-old in the top tier of wide receivers. Despite putting up similar statistics to fellow 2019 draftees DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown, McLaurin always seemed to be grouped in the tier below them.
This year is different though. Washington's standout pass-catcher can no longer be grouped in the 'good but not great' tier. He's simply producing like an elite wide receiver, which is exactly what he's been for quite some time.
"For anyone saying that he's not a No. 1 receiver, I don't know what kind of film they're watching," quarterback Taylor Heinicke said on Wednesday. "The guy's fast, the guy runs great routes. And then, [when] the balls in his hand, he makes things happen. You guys [have] seen that throughout this year and hopefully he just keeps playing at that level.”
Thus far in 2021, McLaurin is enjoying a true breakout season. He's among the league leaders in yards (354) and is just one touchdown away from matching his year-long total from last season.
Should McLaurin continue on his current pace, he's in line for roughly 106 catches, 1,504 yards and 13 touchdowns. To put that into perspective, no Washington wideout has ever accomplished that feat in franchise history.
Let's take it a step further and compare McLaurin's current pace to some of the best seasons by Washington wideouts ever.
Statistically speaking, the best single-season by a Washington pass-catcher came from Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell in 1963. In just 14 games, Mitchell caught 69 balls for 1,436 yards and seven touchdowns.
Had the NFL season been 17 games back in 1963, Mitchell was on pace for 1,744 yards on 84 receptions with roughly eight touchdowns. However, if McLaurin continues on his current trajectory, he'll finish with more receptions and touchdowns than Mitchell would have in the same number of games.
The next best season from a Washington wideout came in 2005, courtesy of franchise icon Santana Moss. The former Miami Hurricanes star finished with a franchise-record 1,483 receiving yards on 84 receptions to go with nine touchdowns. Moss played in all 16 games that season.
If Moss had an extra game in 2005 the way McLaurin has in 2021, No. 89 would have finished the year with more yards than No. 17 is currently on pace for. But once again, McLaurin is projected to finish the season with more catches and touchdowns than Moss did 16 years ago.
Below are the six best receiving seasons by a Washington wide receiver, along with McLaurin's current pace for the 2021 season.
Terry McLaurin, 2021 (trajectory): 106 receptions, 1,504 yards, 13 touchdowns
Bobby Mitchell, 1963: 69 receptions, 1,436 yards, seven touchdowns
Santana Moss, 2005: 84 receptions, 1,483 yards, nine touchdowns
Henry Ellard, 1994: 74 receptions, 1,397 yards , six touchdowns
Art Monk, 1984: 106 receptions, 1,372 yards, seven touchdowns
Pierre Garcon, 2013: 113 receptions, 1,346 yards, five touchdowns
Gary Clark, 1991: 70 receptions, 1,340 yards, 10 touchdowns
Wow. That's some elite company.
Even if the 2021 season was 16 games as it was in years past, McLaurin would still be on pace for 100 catches, 1,416 yards and 12 touchdowns. That alone would still be the best overall campaign by a Washington wideout ever.
Should McLaurin finish the 2021 season with over 100 receptions, he'll be just the third Washington wideout to do so, joining Monk in 1984 and Garcon in 2013. However, neither one of them came close to double-digit scores. Monk finished with seven touchdowns while Garcon notched just five.
In his first two years with Washington, McLaurin has already come close to breaking franchise records. In 2019, McLaurin's 919 receiving yards were just eight short of breaking Clark's rookie record in 1985. Then last year, McLaurin's 87 receptions were the fifth-most in a single season by a Washington player.
Somehow, through it all, McLaurin has managed to stay underrated. Just take a look at what ESPN's Dan Orlovsky tweeted earlier this week.
The NFL world doesn’t truly appreciate how good @TheTerry_25 is
I will use this app to make sure he gets talked about properly. He is a top tier WR and a #1 unquestionably.
If he played with an elite QB many would see him differently/properly
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 6, 2021
Then on Wednesday, Ron Rivera was asked if he feels that his star wideout was underrated. The Washington head coach had the perfect response.
“I hope that's how people approach him," Rivera said. "Because as far as I'm concerned, he's a starting wide receiver in this league is what he is. He's the kind of guy that you can count on to do the things that need to be done and done the right way."
Rivera wasn't done raving about the second-year captain, either, saying McLaurin's preparation and work ethic is similar to one of his former Hall of Fame teammates.
"I used to watch [Hall of Fame Linebacker] Mike Singletary all the time, the way he prepped, the way he practiced, the way he played everything matched," Rivera said. "And I see that from young men like Terry, and that's very impressive.”
While McLaurin is approaching unprecedented success in a Washington uniform, the third-year wideout isn't letting his rise to stardom impact his play.
"I'm continuing to gain more and more trust from our coaches and teammates," McLaurin said Sunday following Washington's Week 4 win. "I'm coming out and just trying to make plays for us each and every week."