I am sooooo tired of hearing about how we should have gotten Josh Gordon. Would we be better off with someone of his caliber? Of course, but at what cost? That is the part of the conversation that we're missing. Until we know what the Browns were asking for we can't make an assessment. Maybe we should have pulled the trigger, but maybe it would have been too expensive. The fact that no one traded for him makes me think that Lombardi (Brown GM) was really just trolling the other front offices.
Anyway, this notion of just going and getting a #1 receiver got me thinking, how hard is it? We had over 11 wide receivers in camp and virtually none were worth keeping around. So, I looked around, and #1 receivers are rare. Sure, every team has 2 starters and a 3rd receiver that gets a decent number of snaps, but if you look at top receivers that must be accounted for on every play, only about 2/3 of the teams even have a guy that meets that criteria.
Here is a quick snapshot of all 32 teams and their receiving situation. Receivers are ranked by how they are doing in my PPR fantasy league (had to pick something), with me slotting in injured guys where I think they fit. For the top guys, I also looked up their draft credentials.
What jumped out at me?
1) There are 7 teams, 8 if you include us, where I had a hard time calling out the #1 receiver. 5 of the 8 teams are currently tracking for the playoffs. The other three are all 4-6, and two of them lost their QBs for the season. Teams with great defense and/or great QBs can be competitive without that dominant #1.
2) Most teams with a top 10 #1 receivers will either make the playoffs this year or make them last year. The exceptions are Chicago and Pittsburg, and Phili still has a lot of work to do.
3) The top WR free agents from last season (Wallace, Jennings, Bowe) do not appear to be worth the money.
4) 14 of the top 17 #1WRs were drafted in the first or second round
So, nothing revolutionary here, but the idea of slamming our FO for not replacing Crabtree when he got hurt is a bit unfair. There just aren't many people in the world that can do what he can do at the level he can do it. If our QB was a top 5 guy it wouldn't have mattered, but as we now know, he's not there yet.
Also, if last years free agency was any indication, not all receivers can replicate their production at a new club. Vincent Jackson seems to have buc'd this trend (sorry for the pun, I couldn't help it), but last year's top guys may end up crippling their new teams if they don't start producing.
We really don't know how well MC15 is going to recover from his injuries, so if we really think we need a #1 receiver, we need to think draft. This means using our first round pick, and maybe even trading up. Patton may end up being a great receiver for us, but its pretty clear to me that WR's are just hard to evaluate. It's not just a 49er issue, it's a league issue. You need one of the top guys in any draft to increase your chances of hitting that home run.
This brings me back to what prompted this post in the first place, Josh Gordon. I truly think he wasn't available, but if he was and we could have gotten him for a first and our KC 2nd, we probably should have pulled the trigger. Even with the risk of suspension, the numbers speak for themselves.
In the meantime, we probably need to figure out how the Jets won 5 games. Whatever they are doing we have to be able to leverage, right?