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Why Terry McLaurin Could Have An All-Pro Season In 2022

With the NFL season fast approaching, it’s time to take a closer look at just what type of year Terry McLaurin is capable of having in 2022.

Many in the Commanders community were ecstatic that the front office was finally able to land a capable starting quarterback. However, it’s likely not possible for anyone to be as excited as Commanders receiver, Terry McLaurin. Terry has spent the first three seasons of his NFL career catching passes from eight different starting quarterbacks.

Terry McLaurin has now caught a pass from 8 different people. It’s year 3. — Eric Sully (@CommandersRealm) December 22, 2021

McLaurin hasn’t let the team’s lack of quarterback production interfere with his mission to establish himself as one of the league’s best receivers. This is evident with the Commanders giving him a well-deserved, three-year deal worth potentially $71 million. According to Kevin Tame of Sports Illustrated, Terry has registered nine games with 100 plus receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown since the beginning of the 2019 season (fourth most in the NFL).

While those numbers are great, especially from someone who hasn’t had a franchise quarterback, they’re not nearly reflective of Terry’s overall abilities. This is where new Commanders quarterback, Carson Wentz, comes into play.

New Commander In Town

The statement can be made that Wentz is the best quarterback ‘Scary Terry’ has played with so far in his career. A similar statement can also be made by saying that McLaurin is the best receiver that Wentz has played with in his career as well. That says a lot considering Wentz has been in the league since 2016 and has played with several.

Here's the first Carson Wentz to Terry McLaurin completion — Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_Cadeaux) August 13, 2022

Since Terry’s rookie debut, he’s dreamed of playing with a quarterback that could make the throws Carson can. Wentz said the “feeling was mutual” after he watched Terry take a slant 75 yards for a touchdown during their second matchup.

In fact, the most productive receiver Wentz has ever played with was Michael Pittman last season. Pittman finished with career highs in receptions with 88, yards with 1082, and touchdowns with six.

That stat line is nearly identical to each of Terry’s first three seasons, keep in mind that he was doing that with Kyle Allen, Case Keenum, and Taylor Heinicke. Mind you, all eight of the quarterbacks that McLaurin has played with have had their moments, but none are anywhere near the level Wentz is.

With all that said, what does 2022 look like for Terry stat-wise?

Insight On Potential Commanders Offense in 2022

First, let’s take a look at how the offense has been run so far in Washington under Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner.

In 2020 under Turner, the Commanders ran 1051 plays. 651 of those plays were passing situations, which accounted for 62% of their offense. In 2021, Washington ran 1070 offensive plays. They had 593 drop-backs, meaning they passed on 55.4% of their plays.

This is considerably less than the previous season, as they decided to run the ball nearly 7% more of the time. With Wentz in 2021, the Colts passed 52.6% of the time, which is noticeably less than Washington. Wentz was still able to target his number one guy 129 times.

The bottom line is that it appears Turner and the Commanders are trending towards running the ball more. Not meaning they should necessarily look for them to be a run-oriented team, but plan to see a more balanced unit, and for that pass selection percentage to drop again. The selection of Brian Robinson Jr. in the third round of this year’s draft confirmed that. The Commanders plan to run the ball more in between the numbers, and we saw glimpses of that in the team’s first preseason game against the Panthers.

Here are all 6 of Brian Robinson's carries from yesterday, in order. Picked up 26 yards and a TD. — Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) August 14, 2022

This season the Commanders offense welcomes new additions in Jahan Dotson, Cole Turner, and Robinson. The team also looks to get Logan Thomas, J.D. McKissic, and Curtis Samuel back after missing time in 2021 due to injury. All three are game-changing playmakers when healthy. Factor those players in along with Dyami Brown, Antonio Gibson, and Cam Sims, and you’ll see there will be plenty of mouths for Carson to feed this year.

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Terry’s Target Projections

Reasonably, Terry could see somewhere around 120 targets. With his current career catch rate of 62.2%, and 13.9 yards per catch, that would give him 72 catches and 991 yards. Of course, you can’t stress enough that those catch rates were with subpar quarterback play.

“That in all honesty, you would have to ask the quarterbacks. Because, again, you gotta understand every one of our routes, all of our offensive plays, all have specific starting points based on what the quarterbacks see. Would I like to see Terry targeted a little bit more because of who he is? Yes. But again, that’s a better question for the quarterbacks to be fair.” – Coach Ron Rivera in response to Terry’s lack of usage following the loss to the Eagles in Week 15

According to PFF, of those 130 targets last season, 49 (37.3%) were deemed uncatchable. That’s the highest number of uncatchable targets any receiver with a minimum of 100 targets saw during the 2021 season. With an NFL-caliber quarterback, Terry’s catch rate will likely increase to around 70%, which is where the majority of the top receivers in the league check in at.

With a catch rate of 70% and 120 targets, Terry should be able to pull in about 84 catches.

Just throw it up to Terry McLaurin🗣 — PFF (@PFF) April 19, 2022

Yards Per Catch (YPC) Projection

As of right now, McLaurin has a career yards-per-catch average of 13.9. That number dropped slightly in 2021, which doesn’t fully reflect his ability to stretch the field. Heinicke didn’t exactly have the strongest arm, which hindered Washington’s ability to take shots with him downfield last season.

Despite not being able to consistently get him those looks, Terry finished with 15 catches of 20-plus yards, which was the fourth highest in the league. Wentz loves to take shots downfield and does so at a much more efficient rate.

Terry is without a doubt capable of becoming a 17-plus yards per catch receiver. He showed glimpses of that in his rookie season averaging 16 yards per catch.

At 17 yards per catch, and an estimated 84 catches, that brings Terry’s projections for 2022 to 84 receptions for 1428 yards on 120 targets.

Carson Wentz vs Taylor Heinicke when throwing 20+ yards downfield Wentz: 0.66 EPA/att (7th), 42% success (9th), 14.5 YPA (6th), 3.5% sack/int (7th) 75% accuracy (13th) Heinicke: 0.13 EPA/att (29th), 33% success (26th), 10.2 YPA (30th), 9.4% sack/int (33rd), 67% accuracy (26th) — Sharp Football Analysis (@SharpFBAnalysis) August 10, 2022

How Often Will Terry See Pay Dirt This Year?

It should be no surprise that your best offensive player should be your go-to guy in the redzone. However, last season Terry only saw nine targets inside the 20-yard line. This ranked 52nd among receivers across the league. That’s unacceptable, yet still surprising that Terry was able to see the end zone five times. To be fair, with Logan Thomas’ situation and the other injuries at tight end, there was really no one else to take the attention away from McLaurin.

With Thomas back, and Cole Turner showcasing his ability to be another redzone threat, it should take some heat away from Terry. But then you also have to factor in Brian Robinson, who’s a huge threat to receive goalline carries.

One thing to remember, even with Jonathan Taylor amassing a ridiculous 20 touchdowns, Wentz was still able to find Pittman in the endzone on six of his 27 passing touchdowns.

In 2017, we saw Wentz throw Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey eight and nine touchdown passes, respectively, in 16-game seasons. While that was five years ago, that was the last time that Wentz had something resembling at the very least, a mid-tier receiver corps. It should be no surprise to see Terry with 10 plus touchdowns this season.

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Final Stat-Line Projection For Terry In 2022

After factoring in the Commanders offensive system and mission, looking at Carson’s arsenal, and seeing what Terry has done with limited help, don’t be shocked if McLaurin has a career year. If McLaurin comes anywhere close to those estimates of 84 catches on 120 targets, 1428 yards, and 10 touchdowns, he’ll have an excellent case for not only the Pro Bowl but a pretty solid case for an All-Pro selection as well.

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