NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dorial Green-Beckham was the eighth receiver taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Yet as a rookie, the Titans receiver finished the year with more catches, yards and touchdowns than six of the seven receivers selected in front of him, with the lone exception being Oakland's Amari Cooper, the fourth overall pick of the draft.
"I feel like overall I had a good rookie year,'' said Green-Beckham, who finished the year with 32 catches for 549 yards and four touchdowns. "I feel like I've become one of the top rookies to perform, and it's been a good experience. I have my rookie year under my belt, and now I know what to expect coming into Year Two."
Cooper, who played at Alabama, led all rookies with 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns.
The receivers taken behind him – and in front of Green-Beckham -- didn't fare nearly as well.
Kevin White, selected 7th overall by the Bears, spent the year on Injured Reserve, as did Breshad Perriman, the 26th overall pick by the Ravens.
DeVante Parker, selected 14th overall by the Dolphins, had 26 catches for 494 yards in 2015, while Nelson Agholor, taken 20th overall by the Eagles, finished with 23 catches for 283 yards. Phillip Dorsett, another first round pick (29th overall) by the Colts, had 18 catches for 225 yards, and Devin Smith, taken 37th overall (2nd round) by the Jets, finished with nine catches for 115 yards.
Down the stretch, Green-Beckham became one of the go-to receivers for the Titans. In fact, he led all NFL receivers in percentage of catches that resulted in a first down (93.8%). Of Green-Beckham's 32 catches, 30 resulted in a first down. Tampa Bay's Mike Evans finished second on the list (85.1%).
Green-Beckham racked up 445 receiving yards from Week 9-Week 17, starting with his 77-yard performance against the Saints. It was Mike Mularkey's first game as interim coach. Cooper had 505 receiving yards during that stretch.
"I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, and a lot of focus, and I knew it was definitely going to be a grind,'' Green-Beckham said. "I knew that from the get-go. But I knew I had to get connected with veteran guys, who could guide me and make my rookie year easier.
"Just getting thrown in there with all the different plays – remembering where to line up, where the defense is going to be, the depth. … All of it was an adjustment because in college you just go out there and do this and, "Boom!" You are just running routes and catching balls. So there's a big mental part to the game I had to adjust to."
Several receivers taken behind Green-Beckham in the draft also fared well.
Tyler Lockett, a third round pick by the Seahawks, had 51 catches for 664 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. Jamison Crowder, a fourth round pick by the Redskins, had 59 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns. Stefon Diggs, a fifth round pick (146th overall) by the Vikings, racked up 720 yards on 52 catches.
Titans receiver Kendall Wright believes Green-Beckham can be as good as any of them.
"He has matured a lot, and the main thing for him is to stay out of trouble and keep his weight down,'' Wright said of Green-Beckham. "If he does that, I really don't see too many people being able to stop him."
Green-Beckham said he wants to play faster – and make even more of an impact -- in 2016.
The clock started the day the season ended.
"I want to do better than I did this year,'' he said. "I want to eliminate the mental mistakes I made as a rookie, and come in as a Year 2 player and be a guy the team can depend on."
"I feel like the team will count on me next year because I am not a rookie any more, I just got my rookie year under my belt. I want to be able to come out and play fast and prove I know what I am doing."