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- Wide Receiver Rankings: NFC's Depths

Chris Pokorny August 3, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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Now that the AFC Rankings have been finalized, it's time to look at the NFC. There aren't as many good receivers in the NFC as there are in the AFC, but the talent is still there. Remember that these rankings are based on how I feel they will perform this season.

NFC East - T.O. Division
Until last year, there wasn't a receiver that could go into a game and dominate against a defense in this division. That changed last year with Terrell Owens joining the Philadelphia Eagles, but he suddenly has some new competition in the division.

1. Terrell Owens - Philadelphia Eagles - Without a doubt, he's the best receiver in the division. With Randy Moss gone from the Vikings, Torry Holt may be the only person who can have a better season that Owens. Owens missed the last two games of the season last year and still put up amazing numbers.

2. Keyshawn Johnson - Dallas Cowboys - Keyshawn was able to manage 981 yards and six touchdowns with Vinny Testaverde as his QB. Drew Bledsoe will be much better than Vinny was, and we be able to get the ball to Keyshawn on a more consistent basis. This could be Johnson's best season in his career.

3. Plaxico Burress - New York Giants - Eli Manning will enjoy having a big target down the field in Burress. Burress' production dropped last year with the Steelers, but that won't be the case this year. Manning will be a better quarterback in his second year while Burress doesn't have to be the second man behind Hines Ward anymore. Now, he just needs to make sure he doesn't drop the ball as often.

4. Amani Toomer - New York Giants - Now that Toomer won't have the pressure of being the only wide receiver that's a threat, his production will pick up. Not necessarily in yardage so much, but he will finally record some touchdowns again after catching zero last year.

5. Santana Moss - Washington Redskins - Two years ago, it seemed like a good move to make Santana Moss the No.1 receiver last year. Well, Moss is now with the Redskins because things didn't work out as the Jets had hoped. Moss did not thrive with being the go-to-guy, and he won't have a great season with someone like Patrick Ramsey quarterbacking.

6. Terry Glenn - Dallas Cowboys - Glenn was injured for the season after playing in just six games last year. He's a veteran and will make the plays that Parcells asks him to make. If he stays healthy this year, he'll have an average type of season, which makes you wonder about the guys ranked below now.

7. Greg Lewis - Philadelphia Eagles - With the departure of Freddie Mitchell and the playmaking ability that Lewis has shown, he will get his opportunities this season. He won't be the starter (at least to start the season), but he's more of a threat to make plays than Pinkston is.

8. David Patten - Washington Redskins - Patten joins Moss as the new guy on the block. Patten had a good season with the Patriots last season, but his production will decline on the Redskins offense.

9. Quincy Morgan - Dallas Cowboys - Morgan was acquired in the Antonio Bryant trade last year, but didn't do anything special. He's known for making deep catches down the field, which could get him some long yardage receptions.

10. Todd Pinkston - Philadelphia Eagles - Pinkston is ranked very low on my list despite being a starter. The past two seasons, he's averaging about 625 yards receiving and only 1.5 touchdowns. I'll take my chances that Greg Lewis steps up better than that.

The Rest(in order): Tim Carter, Reggie Brown, James Thrash, Patrick Crayton, Taylor Jacobs, Billy McMullen, Jamaar Taylor, Terrance Copper, David Tyree, Darnerien McCants, Willie Ponder

NFC North - Three No.1s on One Team
In 2003, WR Charles Rodgers was taken in the first round of the draft. In 2004, WR Roy Williams was taken in the first round of the draft. This year, WR Mike Williams was taken during the first round of the draft. All three of those picks were made by the Detroit Lions, making three viable No.1 receivers on one team. But, does that hurt their production?

1. Javon Walker - Green Bay Packers - Even though Randy Moss came down with an injury last year with the Vikings, Walker solidified himself as the best receiver in the division. He has gradually improved since his rookie season, and will look to do the same this year. It'll be tough with Brett Favre getting older, but the Favre just keeps on producing.

2. Roy Williams - Detroit Lions - Roy was only able to start 12 games last year, but he made some outstanding catches and is the only one to actually be able to produce in the NFL so far between the Lions three draft picks. He has to be the teams number one guy to go to after what they saw from his last year.

3. Nate Burleson - Minnesota Vikings - Burleson was one of the "surprise" receivers in the NFL. He got his chance to shine when Randy Moss went down, and he took advantage of it. Now, he enters this season as the Vikings No.1 receiver with an outstanding QB throwing to him.

4. Muhsin Muhammad - Chicago Bears - Muhammad had one of the best seasons a receiver could ask for with the Carolina Panthers last year. He was the only guy Jake Delhomme could really go to after Steve Smith went down. On the Bears, Muhammad will have the same exact situation - no other threats besides him. Rex Grossman is not as experienced as Delhomme was, the Bears offense is always known to do poorly. Despite that fact, Muhsin will still have a good season, just no where near the caliber of last year.

5. Donald Driver - Green Bay Packers - Being a No.2 receiver last year, Driver caught over 1,200 yards and had nine TDs. His connection with Favre is back, but it won't be as strong this year. Robert Ferguson will get a little more involved, but it shouldn't harm Driver's production too much.

6. Charles Rogers - Detroit Lions - Rogers can be considered a three-year veteran now, but he's only played in six games over his first two years due to injury. The talent is there without a doubt, but the injury bug is the only thing that's kept him from performing. He will still be a starter to begin the season among the Lions dangerous corps.

7. Mike Williams - Detroit Lions - Never playing a down in the NFL, Williams will be utilized as much as Rogers is. With this type of depth, the Lions would be crazy not to line up the rookie on at least half of the teams plays. It will create a ton of mismatches for opposing secondaries.

8. Troy Williamson - Minnesota Vikings - I predicted Williamson would do good this year, and here he is ranked eighth. I could see Williamson recording an 800-yard receiving season, yet still produce less than the receivers listed above. Williamson is good at the deep ball, and Culpepper is one of the best "heavers" from mid-field.

9. Marcus Robinson - Minnesota Vikings - Eventually, I see Robinson being demoted to the third receiver on the Vikings. Nonetheless, he is another guy who can catch the ball well deep down the field. Every team in this division has good receivers in depth except the Bears.

10. Robert Ferguson - Green Bay Packers - Ferguson will get a little more involved in the offense this year, but still won't be near the production of Driver and Walker.

11. Bobby Wade - Chicago Bears - Wade did catch over 400 yards last season, which is actually "good" in my terms for the Bears offense. I thought about not ranking any of the Bears receivers past Muhammad in top ten...oh wait, Wade is ranked at 11.

Just a note as to how deep this division is, Kevin Johnson, Kelly Campbell and Travis Taylor couldn't even make my list of comments. They fall in, the rest...

The rest(in order): Kevin Johnson, Travis Taylor, Antonio Chatman, Kelly Campbell, Mark Bradley, Eddie Berlin, Bernard Berrian, Terrence Murphy, Justin Gage, David Kircus, Keenan Howry

NFC South - Production Decline
After looking at the NFC North, the NFC South doesn't look nearly as good. Even though the Falcons were one of the NFL's best teams last year, even they don't have a receiver that's overpowering.

1. Joe Horn - New Orleans Saints - Horn has been the consistent every year with the Saints, and is currently the best receiver in the division. He's done with his cellular phone antics, and he nearly got a taste of the playoffs last year.

2. Steve Smith - Carolina Panthers - After getting injured during Week 1 of the season last year, Smith is ready for a comeback as the teams No.1 receiver. With Muhammad gone, Smith only has the young Keary Colbert opposite him. Delhomme, who will turn into one of the league's best QBs, will make sure Smith has a big season.

3. Michael Clayton - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Clayton really shined for the Buccaneers last year in a disappointing season for the club. He had one of the best seasons for a rookie and is not only the future for the team, but the present.

4. Keary Colbert - Carolina Panthers - Like Clayton, Colbert stepped up as a rookie. Colbert came through for an offense which suffered a lot of injuries, in which he gained a whole seasons worth of experience. With that experience, he could even challenge Steve Smith as the teams No.1.

5. Donte Stallworth - New Orleans Saints - Year by year, Stallworth is getting better. He was healthy all of last year and was finally able to show that he is a consistent starting receiver.

6. Michael Jenkins - Atlanta Falcons - I hesitate ranking Jenkins this high because I still don't think Vick will throw the ball very well unless it's to Crumpler. Jenkins has won the starting position over Peerless Price for the moment, and will get his first chance to produce.

7. Joey Galloway - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Galloway's production continued to drop with his first season with the Buccaneers. If the team keeps him as a starter in front of Ike Hilliard, he'll at least begin the season with a stable QB in Brian Griese.

8. Rod Gardner - Carolina Panthers - Recently traded to the Panthers, Gardner gives the Panthers more depth after losing Muhammad. Gardner was a starter in Washington, so he will be able to produce as the teams slot receiver.

9. Roddy White - Atlanta Falcons - Drafted in the first round, the Falcons need to use White and forget about Peerless Price and Dez White. They haven't worked with Vick, so it's time to see what the young guys have.

10. Az-Zahir Hakim - New Orleans Saints - After leaving the Detroit Lions, Hakim will try to win the slot receiver position on the Saints. He's quick enough to make some plays in the position and take the place of Jerome Pathon.

11. Ike Hilliard - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Hilliard has underachieved with the Giants the past few years, and will be the third man for the Buccaneers. I still don't expect too much production from him though.

The Rest(in order): Peerless Price, Devery Henderson, Dez White, Brian Finneran, Michael Lewis, Larry Brackins, Karl Hankton, Talman Gardner, J.R. Russell, Edell Sheperd

NFC West - Young Ones, Droppers, Veterans, Nobodies
Each team in the NFC West has something unique. It's time to find out exactly what that is...

1. Torry Holt - St. Louis Rams - It's hard to imagine a Rams offense that doesn't produce. One of the reasons for the Rams' success is Holt, who has dominated this division for years. Holt has Bruce on the other side of the field to keep defenses off of him at times, which only allows him to do more.

2. Darrell Jackson - Seattle Seahawks - Although he's been considered the Seahawks' No.1 receiver the past two years, losing Koren Robinson will help his production. The Seahawks have added two new receivers in hope that the "dropped passes curse" will come to an end. If there are less dropped passes, the Seahawks' drives will be prolonged. Longer time of possessions for a team equals more chances for Jackson.

3. Anquan Boldin - Arizona Cardinals - Healthy again, Boldin will return to his Pro Bowl form of two years ago. He will thrive under new quarterback Kurt Warner and appreciate the fact that he has two more talented receivers to keep defenses off of him at times.

4. Issac Bruce - St. Louis Rams - Spending his long career with the Rams, Bruce is still putting up 1,000 yard seasons. The veteran remains as the perfect combination to go along with Holt, and puts up comparable statistics to a No.1 on most teams.

5. Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals - Fitzgerald in my opinion should have had a better rookie season since Boldin was out awhile, but he did well anyway. Now that he has NFL experience and a healthy Boldin in front of him, he'll have less pressure on him.

6. Kevin Curtis - St. Louis Rams - Curtis is established as the teams slot receiver. Bulger and Mike Martz love to utilize the passing game, and Curtis could have one of the surprise seasons around the league.

7. Bryant Johnson - Arizona Cardinals - Johnson has been decent for the Cardinals, and his depth provides the team with similar situations that the Rams, Colts, and Lions have.

8. Joe Jurevicius - Seattle Seahawks - Plagued by injuries the past few years, Jurevicius may finally have the opportunity to produce with Seattle. As long as he doesn't drop passes often, Hasselbeck will love to throw the ball to him.

9. Brandon Lloyd - San Francisco 49'ers - Does my low ranking of Lloyd, the first 49'ers' receiver that I've listed, mean that I don't think the team will do well? Of course that's what it means. There are no stars on this team yet. Lloyd was able to make six TD catches last year which is excellent considering the team he played for.

10. Jerome Pathon - Seattle Seahawks - Pathon is a very smart pickup for the Seahawks. He was a good slot receiver for the Saints, and the Seahawks need someone who can make catches - plain and simple.

11. Arnaz Battle - San Francisco 49'ers - I think the 49'ers will give Battle a shot, and he'll step up and make the few plays that the team does make this year.

The Rest(in order): Johnnie Morton, Bobby Engram, Shaun McDonald, Dane Looker, Alex Bannister, Rasheed Marshall, Taco Wallace, Reggie Newhouse, LeRon McCoy

And that's it for the NFC WR rankings. The NFC is full of teams with depth, including the Cardinals, Lions, Packers, Vikings, and Rams. One of the top stories in this conference has to be how well the Lions wideouts will do, and if they will make it through the season injury free for once. Next up will be the tight end rankings, which will be less involved than the receivers column, since most teams only have one threat.

-Chris Pokorny

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