Things are really quiet right now in the NFL as the labor issues are discussed and teams prepare for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. As we roll through the offseason I thought it would be beneficial to do some position-by-position comparisons between the various teams. There will be a lot of changes at various positions in the draft and any eventual free agency, but I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at the positions heading into the draft and free agency. We won't necessarily be able to predict who will be doing what, but we might be able to at least make some inferences about NFC West draft plans.
I've posted the NFC West wide receivers after the jump. If I've missed anybody significant, please let me know and I'll add them in. We've discussed the 49ers ad nauseum so I won't focus too much on them. I don't have Vernon Davis included since he's a tight end, but tight ends really do fill a big role in some of these NFC West offenses. However, we'll cover tight ends separately.
As I look through the rosters, it seems easy to vote Arizona as having the best 1-2 combination. While Steve Breaston is a very solid receiver, you could stick me out there with Larry Fitzgerald and we'd have a better 1-2 than a lot of teams. The Cardinals saw Breaston's receptions decline but his yards actually increased as he averaged 15.3 yards per reception. The Cardinals have been hoping Early Doucet would turn into a viable number three but he's dealt with injuries and inconsistency.
The Seahawks and Rams both benefitted from guys coming out of nowhere to put up big years. Mike Williams of the Seahawks had fallen off the map for several years but he managed to explode for 65 receptions and 751 yards. Danny Amendola of the Rams built on his rookie momentum (when he had 43 receptions, 326 yards) to finish with 85 receptions for 689 yards. I'd have to imagine once Sam Bradford locked in on him he became his favorite receiver. That might explain the large number of receptions but relatively low number of yards.
While the teams will add wide receivers through the draft and/or free agency, if they're going to improve in 2011, they'll likely need somebody to step up with some solid numbers. As you go through each teams' receivers, do you see a sleeper in the mix?
49ers: Can Dominique Zeigler qualify as a sleeper among 49ers fans? Outside the 49ers fan base he would, but among fans there are a lot of folks who've been waiting for big things from him for quite some time. I'd actually go with Kyle Williams as the 2011 sleeper. It's hard to tell what will happen given the new head coach, new offense, etc, but I'll stick with Williams in his second year.
Cardinals: How about Andre Roberts? He finished his rookie season with 24 receptions for 307 yards. The Cardinals have a whole lot of question marks, so why not the second year receiver from The Citadel stepping up to take the job Early Doucet could never fully grasp?
Seahawks: I'll follow the third year wide receivers rule (or is it just a guideline?) and go with Deon Butler. After 15 catches as a rookie, Butler grabbed 36 receptions for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns. People talk about how wide receivers can often blow up in their third year in the NFL. Maybe Butler will be the next case study.
Rams: I'm going to go with second year wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. He racked up 81 and 87 receptions his last two years in college and I'm going to predict he benefits from the new Josh McDaniels offense. At least one receiver on this team will have a big year courtesy of the McDaniels offense. It's just a matter of who.
San Francisco 49ers
Ted Ginn Jr.
St. Louis Rams