Getting a #1 Receiver

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.

Team Playoffs (if ending today) #1WR Girth's Fantasy League Where Drafted The Other Guys (cut off at top 60)
1 Detroit Lions * Calvin Johnson 1 #2, 2007, Georgia Tech
2 Cincinnati Bengals * AJ Green 2 #4, 2011, Georgia Marvin Jones (20)
3 Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones Injured #6, 2011, Alabama Roddy White (IR), Harry Douglas (22)
4 Philadelphia Eagles * DeSean Jackson 3 Rd2, #49, 2008, CAL Riley Cooper (16)
5 Denver Broncos * Demaryius Thomas 4 #22, 2010, Georgia Tech Wes Welker (11), Eric Decker (19)
6 Chicago Bears Brandon Marshall 5 Rd4, #120, 2006, UCF Alshon Jeffery (12)
7 Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown 6 Rd6, #195, 2010, C Mich Jerricho Cotchery (23), Emmanuel Sanders (40)
8 Houston Texans Andre Johnson 7 #3, 2003, Miami DeAndre Hopkins (51)
9 Indianapolis Colts * Reggie Wayne Injured #30, 2001, Miami TY Hilton (15)
10 San Francisco 49ers * Michael Crabtree Injured #10, 2009, Tx Tech Anquan Boldin (27)
11 Green Bay Packers Jordy Nelson 8 Rd2, #36, 2008, Kan St James Jones (55), Randall Cobb (IR)
12 Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant 9 #24, 2010, OK St Terrance Williams (28)
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vincent Jackson 10 Rd2, #61, 2005, N Col
14 Washington Redskins Pierre Garcon 13 Rd6, #205, 2008, Mt Union Leonard Hankerson (57)
15 Cleveland Browns Josh Gordon 17 Rd2, 2012 Suplemental
16 Baltimore Ravens Torrey Smith 18 Rd2, #58, 2011, Maryland Marlon Brown (53)
17 Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald 21 #3, 2004, Pitt Michael Floyd (24)
18 Oakland Raiders Denarius Moore 26 Rod Streater (45)
19 Carolina Panthers * Steve Smith 38 Brandon LaFell (39), Ted Ginn Jr. (56)
20 Buffalo Bills Stevie Johnson 41
21 Miami Dolphins Mike Wallace 44 Brian Hartline (36)
22 New York Giants Hakeen Nicks 49 Victor Cruz (14), Rueben Randle (33)
23 Kansas City Chiefs * Dwayne Bowe 54
24 Minnesota Vikings Greg Jennings 58 Jerome Simpson (60)
25 Jacksonville Jaguars Justin Blackmon Rehab Cecil Shorts III (37)
26 New Orleans Saints * QB: Drew Brees Kenny Stills (42), Marques Colston (48)
27 New England Patriots * QB: Tom Brady Danny Amendola (IR), Aaron Dobson (34), Julian Edelman (43), Kenbrell Thompkins (52)
28 San Diego Chargers 4-6 QB: Phillip Rivers Keenan Allen (29), Eddie Royal (32)
29 Seattle Seahawks * QB: Russel Wilson Golden Tate (25), Doug Baldwin (30)
30 Tennessee Titans 4-6 Kendall Wright (31), Nate Washington (46)
31 New York Jets *
32 St. Louis Rams 4-6 Tavon Austin (47), Austin Pettis (59)

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?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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