There are plenty of great wide receivers in the NFC East, but according to Pro Football Focus, Terry McLaurin stands out among all of them.
PFF's George Chahrouri said on a July episode of the "PFF Forecast" podcast that McLaurin was the most valuable receiver in the division based on his 0.6 Win Above Replacement (WAR), which is the best among all NFC East receivers. PFF also ranked McLaurin 13th in its recent list of top 25 receivers heading into the 2020 season.
"This guy can go downfield. He can catch and run with it," Chahrouri said. "He was the highest-graded rookie last year, better than [Tennessee Titans receiver] A.J. Brown."
McLaurin also had the sixth-highest separation rate on targets of 10-plus yards downfield last year, according to PFF. He averaged 2.05 yards per route run, which ranked 14th in the league. McLaurin, who caught 58 passes for 919 yards and seven touchdowns last year, had one of the most successful seasons for a rookie receiver in franchise history. He averaged 15.8 yards per reception and accounted for almost as many yards as the other receivers on the roster (1,156) combined.
Other receivers in the NFL may have comparable or even better numbers than McLaurin, but it's clear he is among the best receivers in the division. Here is how he stacks up against the receiving leaders for the other NFC East teams.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
Catch percentage: 58.9
Alshon Jeffery has been Philadelphia's primary receiver since he signed with the team in 2017. He has led the position in receiving yards for the past three seasons, and he did so last year with 43 receptions for 490 yards and four touchdowns.
Jeffery's best season with Philadelphia came in 2018 when he caught 70.7% of his targets for 843 yards and six touchdowns. His PFF grade of 78.3 was the third-highest of his career, and he was second on the team in yards, receptions (65) and touchdowns (six).
While Jeffery is the team's most productive wide receiver, he wasn't quarterback Carson Wentz's primary target in 2019. That honor went to tight end Zach Ertz, who had 88 receptions on 135 targets for 916 yards.
McLaurin was the primary target for Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins Jr., and he had the most receiving yards on the team by a wide margin. Washington's second-most productive pass-catcher was running back Chris Thompson, who had 378 yards.
Football Outsiders also backs up McLaurin's value over Jeffery. According to the site's defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR), which rates a player's value to a team, McLaurin ranked 13th among all receivers in the NFL last year while Jeffrey ranked 54th.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants
Catch percentage: 57.1
There are several comparisons that exist between McLaurin and Darius Slayton. Both were Day 3 picks in the 2019 draft (McLaurin was drafted in the third round; New York picked Slayton in the fifth), and both became staples of their teams' receiving corps.
Slayton, who started nine games last year, was fifth among rookies receivers with 740 yards and second among all rookies, regardless of position, in touchdowns. He was also one of quarterback Daniel Jones' favorite targets with 48 receptions on 84 targets. He only trailed Golden Tate, who caught 49 passes and 85 targets.
The key differences between Slayton and McLaurin are catch percentage and time on the field. Slayton had a catch rate of 57.1%, which is lower than that of McLaurin, who caught 62.4% of his targets in 14 games. Slayton had eight games in which he caught at least 60% of his targets, but McLaurin was more consistent as his catch percentage only dipped below 50% twice last year.
Additionally, Slayton did not become a consistent starter until Week 6 against New England. McLaurin was a Day 1 starter and played at least 90% of the offensive snaps in 11 out of 13 games and started every game he played in.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Catch percentage: 66.4
Amari Cooper is one of the few NFC East receivers who had a statistically better season than McLaurin. He had 21 more receptions, 270 more yards and was a more efficient pass catcher. His 2019 PFF grade of 84.1 was the highest of his career.
Football Outsiders also shows that Cooper, who racked up his fourth 1,000-yard season, was the tenth-most productive receiver in the NFL last year with a defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) of 22.3%, placing him two spots ahead of McLaurin, who had a DVOA of 18.9%.
By most counts, Cooper had a more successful season than McLaurin, and yet PFF placed McLaurin's value higher than Cooper's. One factor to consider is how pivotal McLaurin was to Washington's offense; his 919 receiving yards accounted for 19% of the team's total yards. Cooper, while reaching a career-high in receiving yards, accounted for 16.8%.
Cooper was part of the league's best offense that also featured quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Michael Gallup. There were times last season (Week 11 against Detroit and Week 15 against Los Angeles) where Cooper recorded fewer than 40 yards and Dallas still managed to win because of the other offensive weapons.
McLaurin only missed two games last year, but Washington's offense struggled without him. The offense only mustered 176 yards in Week 4 against the Giants, including 121 yards through the air, and 271 yards in the regular season finale against Dallas.
McLaurin is not satisfied with last year's numbers. He wants to build upon them, which is why he and Haskins have been working together this offseason. Many expect McLaurin to have another standout season as Washington's No. 1 receiver, and Chahrouri said he will be elevated to an even higher status in his career.
"Terry McLaurin is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL."