"I get excited about a young man that was a rookie who played as much as he did, had as much success as he did," Rivera told Redskins.com during Super Bowl week in Miami. "Now you go, 'OK, it's not too big for him.'"
The advanced statistics agree with Rivera and seemingly anyone else who followed McLaurin's first NFL season. Using its wins above replacement (WAR) metric, Pro Football Focus determined the most valuable offseason additions at each position. No wide receiver had a higher WAR than the Redskins' third-round selection.
"A third-round rookie, it was immediately apparent that McLaurin was a steal after flashing his ability to get open at all levels of the field in Week 1," PFF's Steve Palazzolo wrote. "McLaurin finished with the No. 6 receiving grade among wide receivers despite uneven quarterback play from both Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins. McLaurin's route-running and big-play ability made him an instant star to build around in Washington."
McLaurin, who finished with a WAR of 0.60, is coming off one of the best seasons by a rookie wide receiver in Redskins history. Despite missing two games due to injury, McLaurin finished second behind Gary Clark with 919 receiving yards, second behind Charlie Taylor with seven touchdowns and tied for third with 58 receptions.
Among NFL rookies in 2019, McLaurin was tied for second in receptions, second in yards and tied for third in touchdowns.
The only newcomers to have a better WAR than McLaurin were Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- the NFL Comeback Player of the Year -- and Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston. McLaurin was one of two rookies to make the list, joining New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (0.25 WAR).
"I'm just looking forward to the next season. I'm itching to get back to playing football," McLaurin told Redskins.com during Super Bowl week in Miami. "The first thing I said when I landed here when I saw all of the banners and the setting, I'm like, 'I've got to play in this game. I'm so hungry to play in this game.'"