Curb Your Expectations: Aaron Dobson

USA Today Sports

Aaron Dobson will enter the season with a lot of pressure to produce at a high level. In reality, we should set the bar low. Very. Very. Low.

It seems unfair, really. Patriots second round pick Aaron Dobson is supposed to take the Patriots offense to the next level, and he needs to do it right now. After the likes of Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate, and Taylor Price, Patriots fans will leave no room for error; Dobson needs to play like a starter from day 1, or there will be calls for his head.

And to be fair, how big are the shoes he's really filling? He's expected to come in and play at the same level of the departed veteran Brandon Lloyd, who let the fans down with a "pedestrian" 74 receptions, 911 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Lloyd was supposed to come into the Josh McDaniels' offense and churn out another 1,000+ season [something he'd only done once in his career, but whatever. We're Patriots fans who expect perfection, right?]

Strawman aside, think about what you would be happy with.

If Dobson turns in a 1,000 yard season, would you be ecstatic?

What about a 800 yard season? Is that what you're expecting?

If Dobson comes out and puts up 500 yards, would you consider it a disappointing year?

The baseline for Dobson's success is directly linked to Lloyd's production. If Dobson can match Lloyd's production of last season, then the Patriots didn't lose anything by cutting Lloyd free and going for youth. If Dobson doesn't beat Lloyd's production, well, then the Patriots didn't use Brady's "final years" as well as they could have.

But let's put that production into some perspective. Over the past five seasons, there have been 48 receivers drafted in the first two rounds. Brandon Lloyd's 2012 season?

#2 in Receptions [74] - Eddie Royal led rookies with 91 in 2008. Dwayne Bowe is 3rd with 70.

#6 in Yards [911] - DeSean Jackson posted 912.Justin Blackmon is next with 865.

#11 in Touchdowns [4] - Tied with Calvin Johnson and Sidney Rice.

So what does that mean? It means that if Dobson put up Lloyd's numbers as a rookie, he would have had one of the top five or six rookie seasons by a first or second round receiver of the past five years.

Think about that. If Dobson replaces Lloyd's production, he'll be amongst the likes of A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Percy Harvin, and Dwayne Bowe. Players that were drafted well within the first round.

Here are some other stats:

A.J. Green is the only rookie first/second rounder since 2007 to produce over 1000 yards. Calvin Johnson "only" produced 756.

Only 12 rookies (top 25%) produced over 50 receptions.

Only 7 rookies ( ~14%) produced 6 or more touchdowns.

So where should we be putting our expectations for Dobson? Players drafted in the 50s include Torrey Smith and Greg Little, two players with very successful first campaigns. It also includes Limas Sweed and Dexter Jackson, players so bad that they make Chad Jackson look like a quality draft pick.

So to project our hopes and aspirations for Dobson, please throw Lloyd's production out of the conversation; it's just not fair to him. It's not fair to yourself since you'll inevitable be let down.

So let's take a step back, watch how he performs during camp, and then set our goals for Dobson because until then, expecting Dobson to produce as one of the best rookie receivers of recent is unreasonable for a 59th overall pick.

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Instead, let's look at some more fair predictions:

Let's remove player drafted in the top half of the first round; they're the elite candidates and should rightfully produce well above the next tier of rookie receivers. [This leaves 40 receivers for comparison]

25% - If Dobson is to produce like a top 25% rookie (Tier I), he'll produce 50-60 receptions for 700-750 yards and around 4 touchdowns.

50% - If Dobson is to produce like a top 25-50% rookie (Tier II), he'll produce 40-50 receptions for 550-600 yards and around 3 touchdowns.

75% - If Dobson is to produce like a top 50-75% rookie (Tier III), he'll produce 20-30 receptions for 250-300 yards and around 2 touchdowns.

100% - If Dobson is to produce like a top 75-100% rookie (Tier IV), he'll produce 5-10 receptions for 50-100 yards and maybe 1 touchdown.

If he's an average rookie first/second round receiver, he should produce 30-35 receptions for 400-450 yards and 2-3 touchdowns.

As Patriots fans, it's alright to hope that he'll exceed everyone's expectations. Just keep in mind that everything is in perspective; Dobson's production can't be compared to Brandon Lloyd's or even A.J. Green's.

That's setting yourself up to be let down.

Instead, let's expect a more reasonable level of production and hope for better.

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