NFL

Positional Power Rankings: WR/TE packages

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Some are ballhogs, others are attention whores and then there are those who seem a few cards short of a full deck. But never before have wide receivers been in such demand in the NFL. Today's "no touchy-feely" pass coverage rules sure help. Guys get open more easily, and with more spread-style, pass-happy sets creeping their way into the league wideouts have more chances to bend their QB's ears in the huddle. It was in 2007 when offseason acquisitions Randy Moss and Wes Welker lifted the Patriots to record heights. From the following offseason until now, teams are less prone to stick solely with their young WRs — instead looking for that home-run threat to open up their offenses, regardless of any off-field issues involved. Even long-time WR snob Andy Reid in Philly has finally broken down and started chasing wideouts in both the draft and free agency the past two offseasons.

Which teams are loaded with WR/TE targets in 2009? For our rankings, the model combines size, strength and speed — balancing quick, reliable route-runners inside with game-breaking deep-ball threats outside. And including the tight ends, quality run and downfield blocking skills earn extra credit. *NOTE: This list is for the 2009 season only.

RANKING THE NFL'S WR/TE PACKAGES
No.
Team
Depth chart
Breakdown
1.
CARDINALS
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin
Steve Breaston
Early Doucet
Jerheme Urban
Lance Long
Sean Morey
Justin Brown
Shane Morales
Edward Gant
TE: Leonard Pope
Ben Patrick
Anthony Becht
Dominique Byrd
Steven Spach
Alex Schor
Only one team sported three different 1,000-yard receivers last season: Your NFC champion Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald may be the best receiver on the planet, especially after an other-worldly playoff run. Anquan Boldin (if he's still around) is one of the NFL's best targets over the middle and a guaranteed 1,000-yard contributor annually. The young Breaston made former Cards' first-round pick Bryant Johnson expendable, and Breaston busted out 1,006 yards last year. Tight ends may have caught next to nothing in Arizona last season, but in this offense with Kurt Warner looking downfield with these targets, they don't need a big-time TE.
2.
PATRIOTS
WR: Randy Moss
Wesley Welker
Joey Galloway
Greg Lewis
Brandon Tate
Sam Aiken
Julian Edelman
Terrence Nunn
TE: Ben Watson
Chris Baker
Alex Smith
David Thomas
Tyson DeVree
Now with Tom Brady back this season, the combo plate of Moss and Welker should elevate the Pats to elite status in the NFL once again. While Welker's numbers in the short game were unaffected minus Brady in '08, Moss should go back to the top five in catches and yards once again — remember 2007? Let 98 catches for 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 TDs ring your bells. And if former Tampa No. 1 WR Joey Galloway is 100% this fall, this group might be downright scary. Team insiders are trying not to brag about draft pick Brandon Tate, whom they think could be one of the big draft steals of 2009.
3.
BILLS
WR: Terrell Owens
Lee Evans
Josh Reed
Roscoe Parrish
Steve Johnson
James Hardy
Justin Jenkins
Felton Huggins
C.J. Hawthorne
TE: Derek Schouman
Shawn Nelson
Derek Fine
Jonathan Stupar
Travis McCall
T.O. should, I repeat should, be happy in Buffalo this season — at least in this offense and opposite home-run hitter Lee Evans. Why? Because there's no tight end rooming with his QB talented enough to get in Owens' way of catching eight balls per game. T.O. should be the one moving the chains for Trent Edwards, which means if Owens doesn't drop the ball too much the Bills should be potent. Adding T.O. moves Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish down a notch each to more suitable spots on the depth chart. Sure, in a normal world Edwards could use a tight end aerial outlet ... but don't make T.O. angry, you wouldn't like him if he's angry.
4.
SAINTS
WR: Marques Colston
Lance Moore
Devery Henderson
Adrian Arrington
Robert Meachem
Skyler Green
Courtney Roby
Paris Warren
D'Juan Woods
Kenneth Harris
Chris Vaughn
TE: Jeremy Shockey
Billy Miller
Dan Campbell
Darnell Dinkins
Buck Ortega
Do you get the feeling you could give Drew Brees a couple undrafted free agents, the waterboy and a pair of parking attendants and the guy would still throw for 4,000 yards? The question when analyzing a group like this is to ask if they would still be running up the same numbers with a different QB? Of course not, but at the same time don't discount what the Colston/Moore/Henderson trio has done. Sure, Colston has to stay healthy this year and yeah, Henderson wishes he could wear Stick 'Um like the 1970s Raiders. But this is still a quality group, one who could become special if the lights go on for draft bust Robert Meachum and talented diva tight end Jeremy Shockey.
5.
CHARGERS
WR: Chris Chambers
Vincent Jackson
Malcom Floyd
Craig Davis
Legedu Naanee
Kassim Osgood
Demetrius Byrd
Gary Banks
Charles Martin
Greg Carr
Rodriqus Smith
TE: Antonio Gates
Brandon Manumaleuna
Kris Wilson
Kory Sperry
Jerimiah Wurzbacher
Chambers may be listed as the team's No. 1 receiver, but last year the talented Jackson enjoyed his breakthrough season while picking up the slack from injured stars RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates — arguably the best in the NFL at their respective positions. Jackson's first career 1,000-yard season won't be his last. The same can't be said for Malcolm Floyd, who turns 28 in September and for whom it seems the team has been waiting forever to take the next step. Between Floyd and 2007 first-round pick Craig Davis, the Chargers could use a dependable No. 3 WR to step forward.
6.
TEXANS
WR: Andre Johnson
Kevin Walter
David Anderson
Andre Davis
Jacoby Jones
Darnell Jenkins
Glenn Martinez
Mark Simmons
Mike Jones
Aubrey Bell
TE: Owen Daniels
Joel Dreessen
James Casey
Anthony Hill
Clark Harris
The Texans have the best unnoticed receiving corps in the league. They have the talented big dude (NFL receiving leader Andre Johnson), the steady No. 2 scoring threat (Kevin Walter, a yard shy of 990 yards in '08 with eight TDs) and a skilled receiving tight end (Owen Daniels, 70 catches for 862 yards last season). When injuries have occurred, other guys like Andre Davis or Jacoby Jones have filled the void. This unit is deep and versatile, and one reason you should gear up for plenty of "Texans are sleepers" article this summer.
7.
BRONCOS
WR: Brandon Marshall
Eddie Royal
Brandon Stokley
Jabar Gaffney
Brandon Lloyd
Kenny McKinley
Chad Jackson
Matt Willis
C.J. Jones
Nate Swift
Lucas Taylor
David Grimes
TE: Daniel Graham
Tony Scheffler
Richard Quinn
Jeb Putzier
Marquez Branson
Will Brandon Marshall be a Bronco? Will he be suspended? Will he be in jail? The world only knows, not us. But going off today's depth chart, Denver is definitely not rocky at receiver. Marshall and Royal could match up with about any starting WR tandem in football, and Josh McDaniels has three solid veterans filling the backup spots. The Broncos also have a stable (sorry, easy horse-related metaphor could not be avoided) of terrific tight ends to choose from. The group of targets is probably the top asset on the team full of question marks, if Marshall is not traded.
8.
PACKERS
WR: Greg Jennings
Donald Driver
Jordy Nelson
James Jones
Ruvell Martin
Brett Swain
Jamarko Simmons
Kole Heckendorf
JaRon Harris
Patrick Williams
TE: Donald Lee
Tory Humphrey
Jermichael Finley
Evan Moore
Carson Butler
Travis Dekker
Devin Frischknecht
Maybe Brett Favre should have stuck around Green Bay after all? Instead, his former backup Aaron Rodgers enjoys a vast receiving menu for the Packers. Expect to hear "Rodgers to Jennings" about 80-90 times per year for the next half-decade or so, especially now that the Packers' leading receiver is proud owner of a new contract extension. Favre's old buddy Donald Driver still has life in his legs, and plenty in his big-game heart. And "A-Rodge" has excellent young backup targets in Nelson, Jones and Martin. Pencil Rodgers in for several more 4,000-yard seasons with this group.
9.
FALCONS
WR: Roddy White
Michael Jenkins
Harry Douglas
Brian Finneran
Aaron Kelly
Troy Bergeron
Eric Weems
Chandler Williams
Bradon Godfrey
Darren Mougey
TE: Tony Gonzalez
Justin Peelle
Jason Rader
Ben Hartsock
Keith Zinger
Here's a package worth unwrapping, finally. Remember all those years when Michael Vick had nobody except Alge Crumpler to throw to? Now the Falcons have a star at every skill position on offense, with QB Matt Ryan either handing off to RB Michael Turner or throwing to Pro Bowlers Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez — two of the NFL's top pass-catchers in '08. Atlanta could use some improved depth at both WR and TE, but the addition of the future Hall-of-Famer Gonzalez will do wonders for this offense.
10.
EAGLES
WR: DeSean Jackson
Kevin Curtis
Jeremy Maclin
Reggie Brown
Jason Avant
Hank Baskett
Brandon Gibson
Brandon Robinson
TE: Brent Celek
Matt Schobel
Cornelius Ingram
Eugene Bright
The excitable Adam Schein wrote recently that surprisingly, the Eagles had the best group of WRs in the NFC East. Believe it. While they tried in vain to add a game-breaking All-Pro stud in each of the past few offseasons, whiffing in attempts to land Randy Moss and Anquan Boldin, Reid has scored big points in the draft with DeSean Jackson in '08 (62 catches, 912 yards as rookie) and potential impact player Jeremy Maclin this April. Last summer's No. 1 Reggie Brown is now fighting for the fourth or fifth spots in a group that goes six deep. And while the Birds lost starting TE L.J. Smith in free agency, young Brett Celek seems poised to step up after a great postseason. And watch for sleeper rookie Cornelius Ingram, a tight end who turned many heads in spring OTAs.
11.
BENGALS
WR: Chad Ochocinco
Laveranues Coles
Chris Henry
Jerome Simpson
Andre Caldwell
Antonio Chatman
Quan Cosby
Maurice Purify
David Richmond TE: Reggie Kelly
Ben Utecht
Chase Coffman
Darius Hill
Carson Palmer is healthy again, Chad (enter last name here) is motivated and focused on helping his team win instead of choreographing TD dances or trades out of town, and even without T.J. "Who's Your Mamma?" the Bengals' receiving package should be a gift this season. Granted, this is based on assumptions that No. 85 is back with his past production. But also on the premise that ex-Jets standout and stand-up dude Laveranues Coles (the anti attention-starved Ochocinco) can be as much or more as Houshmandzadeh, now in Seattle. No. 3 man Chris Henry seems to be done with his past off-field issues, and poised to be Palmer's secret long-ball weapon again. Sure, no tight end scored for Cincy in '08, but some of that was due to a series of sorry subs at QB.
12.
STEELERS
WR: Hines Ward
Santonio Holmes
Limas Sweed
Mike Wallace
Shaun McDonald
Dallas Baker
Martin Nance
Brandon Williams
Tyler Grisham
Steven Black
TE: Heath Miller
Matt Spaeth
David Johnson
Sean McHugh
Dezmond Sherrod
Coming off a Super Bowl win with one of their starters sporting the title game's MVP trophy, this group's on a roll. The tough and borderline dirty (if you asked opponents) Hines Ward remains at the top of his game as arguably the most complete receiver in football as pass-catcher and blocker. Santonio Holmes appears ready to fulfill his first-round destiny, and hopes some added offseason muscle will help even more in his weekly one-on-one battles on the edges. Doing what they do, the Steelers feel the developing Limas Sweed is ready to make up for losing Nate Washington's catches, and the team added decent slot veteran Shaun McDonald. Along with tight end Heath Miller, the Steelers are solid in the passing game.
13.
BUCCANEERS
WR: Antonio Bryant
Michael Clayton
Dexter Jackson
Maurice Stovall
Sammie Stroughter
Cortez Hankton
Amarri Jackson
Pat Carter
TE: Kellen Winslow Jr.
Jerramy Stevens
John Gilmore
Ryan Purvis
Joey Galloway is gone, which hurts — but he was the one who was hurt last year. Meanwhile, former troubled talent Antonio Bryant recussitated his career with a 1,248-yard season. If fellow '09 starter Michael Clayton has ever re-capture his rookie-year grooves, Tampa is stacked at starting wideout. Dexter Jackson and Maurice Stovall are both youngsters with potential. But Tampa's big offseason upgrade comes at tight end, thanks to the trade for Cleveland's Kellen Winslow Jr. He will transform this offense, if they find a QB who can take advantage of the targets.
14.
COWBOYS
WR: Roy Williams
Patrick Crayton
Miles Austin
Sam Hurd
Kevin Ogletree
Isaiah Stanback
Manuel Johnson
Travis Wilson
Willie Reid
Julian Hawkins
TE: Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips
Rodney Hannah
Jerry Jones had better be right about Roy Williams, because the cost for the ex-Lion was massive, both in the price of last season's trade and however Williams' presence may have influenced Jones in his decision to cut Terrell Owens. If Williams can produce outside of a Mike Martz offense, Jones is a genius. Still, Williams has struggled to recreate his Pro Bowl season in 2006, and recorded just 36 catches and two TDs in '08. The 'Boys are high on youngsters Crayton, Austin and Hurd and hope the lack of T.O.'s presence will allow them to mature with age. Tight end Jason Witten is QB Tony Romo's road roommate, and most-trusted target in the passing game. Without T.O., Witten has an outside shot at catching 90 passes this season.
15.
COLTS
WR: Reggie Wayne
Anthony Gonzalez
Pierre Garcon
Austin Collie
Roy Hall
Taj Smith
Sam Giguere
John Matthews
Brett McDermott
TE: Dallas Clark
Gijon Robinson
Tom Santi
Jacob Tamme
Justin Snow
Jamie Petrowski
Colin Cloherty
Where were you in 1995? Rockin' the grunge flannel, or in your Swingers heyday? That was also the last year the Colts put out a depth chart without Marvin Harrison. So what to make of Indy's receiving corps sans the future HOFer? Still solid, especially with Harrison's long-time dance partner Reggie Wayne in his athletic prime, coming off five straight 1,000-yard seasons and three Pro Bowls. Maybe Anthony Gonzalez can be Wayne's sidekick, but he doesn't have to be with tight end Dallas Clark already Peyton Manning's right-hand man. I'm not big on Indy's depth this year, but they have talent to develop eventually.
16.
PANTHERS
WR: Steve Smith
Muhsin Muhammad
Dwayne Jarrett
Kenneth Moore
Ryne Robinson
Marcus Monk
Larry Beavers
TE: Dante Rosario
Jeff King
Gary Barnidge
Andrew Davie
Carolina has one of the NFC's strongest pair of starting WR tandems with the perennial Pro Bowler Steve Smith and veteran Muhsin Muhammad, who almost notched 1,000 yards last year as Jake Delhomme's second option. But the rest of the Carolina wideouts caught just 25 passes combined in 2008, a figure which must double or triple. Granted, the Panthers are a run-first team, one of the few left in the modern NFL. But don't assume both Smith and the 36-year-old Muhammad to stay healthy, and at the very least Delhomme needs someone else to depend on. That means you, Dwayne Jarrett. Panthers receivers and tight ends do a solid job blocking downfield, fulfilling head coach John Fox's mandate. But the Cats desperately need another downfield target ASAP.
17.
SEAHAWKS
WR: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Nate Burleson
Deion Branch
Deon Butler
Jordan Kent
Ben Obomanu
Logan Payne
TE: John Carlson
Cameron Morrah
John Owens
The biggest strength of the Seahawks is in the passing game, especially if starting QB Matt Hasselbeck is fit enough to chuck it 35 times/game. Adding T.J. Houshmandzadeh solidifies Seattle's top three wideouts, although he's paired with brittle bodies Burleson and Branch. Former Penn State star Deon Butler may have been one of the better draft sleepers this April, and John Carlson is very apt running routes. Is this group ready to match up with Arizona's? Nyet, but the Seahawks have good enough bodies to compete.
18.
VIKINGS
WR: Bernard Berrian
Sidney Rice
Percy Harvin
Bobby Wade
Aundrae Allison
Glenn Holt
Darius Reynaud
Jaymar Johnson
Bobby X. Williams
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe
Jim Kleinsasser
Garrett Mills
Jeff Dugan
Adrian Peterson gets all the attention on Minnesota's offense, and rightfully so. But it's easy to see why Brett Favre was itching to don the purple, because this group has mad skills. Top receiver Bernard Berrian was one of just two receivers to average 20 yards per catch, and is one good QB away from his first 1,000-yard season and a Pro Bowl berth. Sidney Rice was a camp darling last summer and has much more to give. But the real treat this season will be rookie Percy Harvin, arguably the most talented player in this year's draft. The Vikes have big plans for the former Florida standout, both receiving and rushing. Add in two rock-solid tight ends (including Shiancoe, coming off a 596-yard, 7-TD season) and the Vikings are set at every position ... well, except quarterback.
19.
REDSKINS
WR: Santana Moss
Antwaan Randle El
Devin Thomas
Malcolm Kelly
Marko Mitchell
Marques Hagans
Roydell Williams
Jaison Williams
Trent Shelton
Keith Eloi
TE: Chris Cooley
Fred Davis
Todd Yoder
Eddie Williams
Robbie Agnone
The Redskins drafted in 2008 in hopes that by 2009 they gave their franchise QB some Grade A weapons. After last season's late fade, the whole offense is littered with questions, including at quarterback. It comes down to '08 draft darlings Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, as one of them must become the next big thing in Washington. Perennial 1,000-yard star Santana Moss could use someone to take some of the heat away, as Antwaan Randle El is more the perfect No. 3 instead of a week in, week out starter. Plus, Moss isn't getting any younger. Blogmeister Chris Cooley is great as a chains mover, but the 'Skins lack a dominant red-zone threat and go-to guy to finish off drives, turning FGs into TDs.
20.
LIONS
WR: Calvin Johnson
Bryant Johnson
Dennis Northcutt
Ronald Curry
Derrick Williams
Keary Colbert
John Standeford
Adam Jennings, Chris Hannon
D.J. Boldin
Eric Fowler
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
Casey Fitzsimmons
Will Heller
Dan Gronkowski
Jake Nordin
This is a group on the climb. Bryant Johnson is one of the best young receivers in football, and he'll be paired with one of three veteran options who should stabilize the position. Rookie Derrick Williams, whose draft stock temporarily slipped after a flu-ridden combine, could be a real steal. But the Lions are abuzz over their tight end of today and tomorrow, first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew, who is already meshing well with No. 1 overall pick QB Matt Stafford. There may actually be better days ahead for Detroit fans, thopugh we can't blame them for wanting to believe it when they see it on the field.
21.
49ERS
WR: Michael Crabtree
Isaac Bruce
Josh Morgan
Brandon Jones
Jason Hill
Arnaz Battle
Dominique Zeigler
Dobson Collins
TE: Vernon Davis
Delanie Walker
Bear Pascoe
Brian Jennings
If the Niners can get some hot quarterback action this season, their underrated and unknown group of WRs could become household names. San Francisco may have lucked into the best WR in the draft in Crabtree, who slipped to No. 10 due to injury and attitude concerns. Veterans Isaac Bruce, Arnaz Battle and ex-Titan Brandon Jones still have plenty of game. But the San Francisco treat this season could become Josh Morgan, who team officials think could hit it big in '09. Plus, if the talented Vernon Davis ever fulfills his former first-round potential, the Niners' offense may be in for a big turnaround.
22.
RAVENS
WR: Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Demetrius Williams
Marcus Smith
Yamon Figurs
Kelley Washington
Justin Harper
Ernie Wheelright
Edward Williams
Eron Riley
Isaiah Williams
TE: Todd Heap
L.J. Smith
Davon Drew
Quinn Sypniewski
Edgar Jones
Isaac Smolko
There's a reason the Ravens are mentioned immediately with every potential big-name receiver trade rumor. Now they are supposedly hurting even more with the recent shocking "retirement" of perennial 1,000-yard WR Derrick Mason — who may still come back depending on who is talking. So for now, until he is 100% retired instead of his quoted "99%" gone, we're including him in the Ravens' mix. Even with Mason, the Ravens are desperate for anyone to help take attention away from the lone wolf. In a best-case scenario, Mason would be the No. 1-A or 2 WR, with Mark Clayton slotted at the No. 3. GM Ozzie Newsome seems to be hedging bets on his tight ends, a pair of skilled, yet injury-prone former stars Todd Heap and L.J. Smith. But if there's any team who could use Brandon Marshall for that missing link, it's Baltimore.
23.
CHIEFS
WR: Dwayne Bowe
Mark Bradley
Bobby Engram
Devard Darling
Jeff Webb
Quinten Lawrence
Terrance Copper
Taurus Johnson
Rodney Wright
TE: Brad Cottam
Sean Ryan
Jake O'Connell
Tony Curtis
Jed Collins
The great Gonzo is gone, but the cupboard's not completely bare in Kansas City. Dwayne Bowe is a legit No. 1 WR, but what can he work off? GM Scott Pioli added savvy veteran Bobby Engram from Seattle as a great third-down option in clutch situations. Mark Bradley has done nothing yet to make anyone think he's ready to become a big-time option, and he's entering his fifth season. Good luck to Brad Cottom for having to deal with questions on how he matches up with Tony Gonzalez (Answer: Not real well, sorry). Overall, Pioli is continuing the rebuilding project that Herman Edwards and Carl Peterson began in K.C.
24.
BROWNS
WR: Braylon Edwards
Brian Robiskie
Mohamed Massoquoi
David Patten
Josh Cribbs
Syndric Steptoe
Mike Furrey
Jordan Norwood
Paul Hubbar
Lance Leggett
Brent Casteel
Donte Stallworth
TE: Robert Royal
Steve Heiden
Martin Rucker
Brad Cieslak
John Madsen
Mike Massey
For now, it appears the Browns are staying put with Braylon Edwards. So unless some 13th-hour offer blows away the front office, Edwards will have to cure his dropsies himself. But the potential offseason Edwards trade influenced the draft selections of Brian Robiskie (often said the most NFL-ready WR in the draft buildup) and Mohamed Massoquoi. While it needs to be seen on the field this fall, early reports are glowing for each. Head coach Eric Mangini hopes there are a few routes left in David Patten's iffy legs, at least enough as a potential third-down option ... especially since Cleveland's best first, second and third down option (TE Kellen Winslow Jr.) was traded to Tampa Bay this winter. A lot depends on the Browns' rookies and Braylon's iffy hands.
25.
JETS
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
Chansi Stuckey
Brad Smith
David Clowney
Wallace Wright
Marcus Henry
Mario Urrutia
Huey Whittaker
Britt Davis
TE: Dustin Keller
Bubba Franks
Kareem Brown
J'Nathan Bullock
Jack Simmons
This is a big transition year for the Jets at wideout, with long-time leader Laveranues Coles taking flight to Cincinnati via free agency. That means Jerricho Cotchery, one of Brett Favre's favorite targets last season, is now the lead dog. Can he handle it? Can Chansi Stuckey or Brad Smith emerge opposite Cotchery? That's certainly no given. The Jets do have an excellent young tight end in Dustin Keller, who may end up leading this team in catches if Stuckey and Smith can't keep double coverage away from Cotchery.
26.
TITANS
WR: Justin Gage
Nate Washington
Kenny Britt
Lavelle Hawkins
Justin McCareins
Chris Davis
Mark Jones
Paul Williams
Dominique Edison
Dudley Guice
Phillip Morris
TE: Bo Scaife
Alge Crumpler
Jared Cook
Craig Stevens
Matthew Mulligan
Wide receiver has been a sore spot in the Titans' offense the past few years, and last season's top wideout (Brandon Jones) ranked third on the team in catches behind a tight end and running back. And now Jones is gone, leaving Justin Gage (34 catches in '08) and the team's top returning receiver — hence Tennessee going wideout in the first round with Rutgers talent Kenny Britt, who has the potential to be a beast in the red zone. But what they lack at receiver, the Titans more than make up at tight end, where they may have the league's deepest crop. Scaife's 58 catches led Tennessee last season, Crumpler is a strong veteran backup, but the most exciting option might eventually be rookie Jared Cook — who drew raves in OTAs.
27.
BEARS
WR: Devin Hester
Earl Bennett
Johnny Knox
Juaquin Iglesias
Rashied Davis
Brandon Rideau
Derek Kinder
Eric Peterman
TE: Greg Olsen
Desmond Clark
Michael Gaines
Kellen Davis
The Bears expect much better production from their WR/TE group this season, for no other reason than adding QB Jay Cutler. And they're right, to a point. But they still are banking on a lot of unknowns and youth. The team continues trying to convince everyone that kick return star Devin Hester is ready to be the No. 1 receiver in town and upgrade from his career-high 51 catches last season. But Chicago's current Nos. 2-4 guys combined for as many catches and your un-esteemed author — nada, zilch, zippo. Still, some of the young kids have promise — but promise alone is not enough, and why even Jay Cutler has admitted he's up for the Bears trading for his former teammate Brandon Marshall. The real star could be tight end Greg Olsen, who could upgrade from the 50-catch range to the 70 or 80 neighborhood with Cutler aboard.
28.
GIANTS
WR: Domenik Hixon
Steve Smith
Mario Manningham
Hakeem Nicks
Ramses Barden
Sinorice Moss
David Tyree
Derek Hagan
Taye Biddle
Shaun Bodiford
TE: Kevin Boss
Travis Beckum
Michael Matthews
Darcy Johnson
Lee Vickers
Gone are Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. General manager Jerry Reese sure has given Eli Manning some prospects to work with. High draft picks from every recent draft class go seven-deep at receiver, with David Tyree the elder statesman at 29. The Giants drafted two Plax wannabes in April, first-rounder Hakeem Nicks and 6-foot-6 third-rounder Ramses Barden. The man to watch this year might be Steve Smith, who if healthy could became Eli's top target. But until one of these prodigies emerges, this group gets downgraded minus Burress, warts and all.
29.
DOLPHINS
WR: Ted Ginn
Greg Camarillo
Davone Bess
Patrick Turner
Brandon London
Ernest Wilford
Brian Hartline
Anthony Armstrong
Chris Williams
Brennan Martin
TE: Anthony Fasano
David Martin
John Nalbone
Joey Haynos
Jared Bronson
Sir'Vincent Rogers
Somewhere, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton have to be shaking their heads. For those of you born after Dan Marino was breaking passing records weekly in the '80s, Duper and Clayton formed football's most exciting WR duo. Last year's Miami receiving leader was Ted Ginn, who ranked outside the NFL's top 40 in both catches and yards. Mark this down as a make-or-break year for Ginn, the former top 10 pick and the only game-breaking talent at WR on the team. Davone Bess was a surprise as a rookie in '08, and the team hopes he can build on his success (54 catches, 554 yards). But this group is grimm unless Ginn takes a big step forward.
30.
JAGUARS
WR: Torry Holt
Mike Walker
Jarett Dillard
Mike Thomas
Troy Williamson
Tiquan Underwood
Jason English
Nate Hughes
TE: Marcedes Lewis
Greg Estandia
Richard Angulo
Zach Miller
Charles Davis
Tyler Lorenzen
This offseason, Jaguars management overhauled a wretched receiver group than was in need of a makeover. But was it enough? Likely not, although adding Torry Holt was a decent start. Even if his game is shot, his mind is not and he can at least impart some of his wisdom to younger Jags. Other than Holt, returning Jacksonville receivers mustered up a mere 247 yards combined in 2008. Marcedes Lewis is decent a tight end, but no Mercedes. Expect RB Maurice Jones-Drew to help this passing game out of necessity.
31.
RAMS
WR: Donnie Avery
Keenan Burton
Laurent Robinson
Derek Stanley
Brooks Foster
Travis Brown
Tim Carter
Joel Filani
Chad Lucas
Nate Jones
Horace Gant
Sean Walker
Jarrett Byers
Quentin Chaney
TE: Randy McMichael
Joe Klopfenstein
Daniel Fells
Billy Bajema
Eric Butler
On a team admittedly in rebuilding mode, would you expect a group of veteran wide receivers? Of course not. But the Rams had better be certain that perrennial Pro Bowl stud Torry Holt is finished at age 33, because if not then Marc Bulger is going to be dumping off the ball to Steven Jackson or tight end Randy McMichael on every dropback. The team does have high hopes for Donnie Avery, the top wideout drafted in '08 whose coming off a solid rookie year. But there is no tangible body around to support his growth, and it sure wouldn't have been a bad thing for Avery to grow with Holt in his ear every day.
32.
RAIDERS
WR: Javon Walker
Chaz Schilens
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Johnnie Lee Higgins
Louis Murphy
Todd Watkins
Arman Shields
Will Franklin
Jonathan Holland
Shawn Bayes
Nick Miller
TE: Zach Miller
Tony Stewart
Brandon Myers
Darrell Strong
Chris O'Neill
Hmm, the team's No. 1 receiver is merely a shadow due to knee injuries with kept him to 15 catches last year. The No. 2 guy is someone named Chaz Schilens, who also had 15 catches in '08. The No. 3 WR is a top-10 pick who was the biggest reach in the draft who should have gone in the second or third, and who couldn't stay healthy on the field during May minicamps, in shorts with no contact. No wonder Al Davis is desperate for a wideout, but this group would a little better if he'd have taken Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin in April instead of gambling on combine wonder Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Raiders have a dependable tight end in Miller (56 catches, 778 yards last year), but that's it. A far cry from the days of Branch and Biletnikoff.
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