Doug Baldwin – Fluke or Legitimate #1 Receiver?
Over the second half of the NFL season, Doug Baldwin averaged just over 90 yards and 1.5 touchdowns a game (all statistics in this article came from profootballreference.com). It was, to say the least, an unexpected explosion of production from the 5th year receiver. Inevitably, almost as soon as the season was over, speculation began on whether it was an actual breakout season or simply a flash in the pan. So, can Doug Baldwin sustain that level of production next season and beyond?
The short answer is that yard-wise, he should be around the 1,000 yard mark again, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Baldwin has always been pretty productive on limited targets, and his yards per catch were not significantly different than in previous seasons. In fact, if you average out his 5 seasons, last year’s yards per catch are almost exactly the same (13.7) as his 5-year average (13.98). His targets were up due to a variety of factors: Jimmy Graham’s injury, injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, and ever-improving chemistry with Russell Wilson. The place where we will see a drop-off is in touchdowns. Baldwin had 14 last year, 12 of which came in the last 8 weeks. It stands to reason that he will not keep up such a torrid pace; after all, his previous season high for TD receptions was 5.
So yes, Baldwin is a better receiver than he’s gotten credit for; however, he’ll probably have about half the TD receptions he had in 2015 while hovering around the 80 catch, 1,000 yard mark.