Arizona Cardinals: Michael Wilson is in prime position to exceed expectations in 2023

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson (14) during minicamp at the Cardinals Dignity Health
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson (14) during minicamp at the Cardinals Dignity Health / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

You may look at Michael Wilson’s college numbers and scoff, given his injury history. But the Arizona Cardinals need the big target to replace DeAndre Hopkins.

It was easy to celebrate when the Arizona Cardinals turned in their draft card with Michael Wilson’s name on it on April 28th. Despite the fact Wilson saw a lot of time in the trainer’s room, he was still one of college football’s most productive receivers when healthy, and you can only wonder what his numbers would have looked like had he been able to play an entire season between 2020 and 2022. 

Despite his injury history, when SB Nation’s Revenge of the Birds asked fans which rookie they thought would best impact the team in 2023, 30% answered with Wilson, who finished in second next to Paris Johnson. Yet unlike Johnson, Wilson has some encouraging history on his side regarding the way rookie receivers have performed in the desert since 1999. 

History shows Wilson can create an immediate impact with Arizona Cardinals

In 1999, David Boston enjoyed a moderately productive rookie year in the desert, catching 40 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns. Fast-forward to 2003, and Anquan Boldin took the league by storm with 101 catches, 1,377 yards, and eight touchdowns. Oh, and Boldin did this when the Cards were in an eerily similar position that they’re in today. 

We all knew Larry Fitzgerald would be a game breaking receiver, and he didn’t disappoint, amassing 58 catches, 780 yards, and eight touchdowns as a rookie in 2004. Although Michael Floyd never lived to expectations, even he put together a serviceable year in 2012, with 45 catches, 562 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. 

Christian Kirk has since developed into one of the NFL’s better receivers, and as a rookie in 2018, he snagged 43 catches in just 12 games for 590 yards, and three touchdowns. Sure, we saw our fair share of busts with early to mid-round picks, like Andy Isabella, but for the most part, success has been attainable for rookie receivers in the desert regardless of the team’s situation.

In a previous article, I projected Wilson to become the WR2 in 2023, and it’s something I stand by. So to the 30% of fans who voted for Wilson in SB Nation’s poll, I agree-I also expect quite the impact from Wilson. 

Source: SB Nation Reacts: Arizona Cardinals fans have high hopes for Paris Johnson Jr. and Michael Wilson by Seth Cox,


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)