A look at some young receivers around the league.
- Andre Holmes flashed some of his skills last season, hauling in sideline grabs and going up for jump balls. This season with a rookie franchise quarterback, David Carr, Holmes earned a starting role by beating out Denarius Moore. Right now you might look at the veteran James Jones as the #1 target. He’s certainly been the possession receiver, a stable threat to move the chains.
- Holmes is the apple of Carr’s eyes. Carr keeps his head downfield with a good feel for pocket pressure. He looks more poised than a rookie and squeezes the ball in tight spots. Holmes has been the intermediate and downfield threat coming up with big plays. He’s big at 6’4 and I’ve seen him hold onto some passes that looked uncatchable.
- Carr came from a spread offense so he likes to sling it around, and now Holmes runs good routes to use his size against corners. Oakland is quietly forming an offensive foundation since drafting Carr, the re-emergence of Darren McFadden, and starting Holmes alongside Jones.
- Rookie Jarvis Landry broke out in a heartbreaking loss at the end of the game to the Cheese Heads. He came through on his usual return duties, and had his best game as a receiver with Brandon Gibson More opportunities in the slot and the kid flourished.
- Mike Wallace is a deep threat that always seems to get questioned by teammates. He’s fast and runs decent enough routes, but hasn’t connected on many deep balls with Ryan Tannehill. That’s probably more Tannehill’s fault at this point.
- Brian Hartline is more of a possession receiver, but his route running this season hasn’t gained him much separation to make the impact he did with a 1,000 yard receiving year in 2013.
- Gibson has bounced around a few teams and developed into a bigger slot receiver, always getting banged up in the process though. His job is in serious jeopardy with the rookie beginning to break out. After all, they were splitting time inside. Next to be put on notice, Hartline’s snaps.
- Miami has to move on form Knowshon Moreno after just a few games, now the sophomore Lamar Miller gets the backfield to himself. Combining Coach Joe Philbin’s Packers-style offense with offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, and his Eagles-tempo all point to Landry becoming more involved.
- Mohammed Sanu just won himself a starting gig in the NFL. He’s been the #3 receiver for the Bengals, and kind of a utility man. The former quarterback gets a play call here and there, to throw a pass on a trick play. He also gets his number called for a reverse from time to time. All he’s done this year is lead Cincy in receiving in the absence of #2 Marvin Jones. Taking advantage of J. Green on the other side, he also relished the #1 duties when Green missed week 6 to a toe injury. The only notable receiver at Andy Dalton’s disposal, Sanu popped off for over 100 yards and a score.
- No, he won’t take over Green’s top spot, that guy is elite in every sense of the word. He did supplant the injured Jones as the new starter in town for the foreseeable future. There is nothing wrong with having a trio of good receivers, just look at the Packers, Falcons, and Broncos.
New York Giants
- Sad to see Victor Cruz go down but great to see the opposing coach, Chip Kelly, visited the good-spirited receiver in the hospital the next morning.
- Everyone I’m watching and reading has got it all wrong. They’re saying that special teamer and slot receiver, Preston Parker, is one of the guys that has to fill Cruz’s shoes. Or that newly signed Kevin Ogletree will be key because the G-Men play Dallas, his former team. Look, Ogletree had some success in the slot for the Cowboys, but what about his days in Tampa Bay and Detroit? Parker had a chance to play more, the first round pick Odell Beckham got healthy enough to play.
- Hello, Beckham is the man that will start, keeping Rueben Randle in his possession receiver role. Beckham made some eye-popping catches in his debut before the team melted down against Philly on prime time. The Giants always seem to bounce back to respectability, and Beckham will be featured in the passing game slowly but surely. It should start out trying to get the more experienced Randle the ball for rhythm, but Beckham’s talent will be too hard for Eli Manning to ignore.
Green Bay Packers
- Jordy Nelson is Aaron Rodgers’s go-to guy, that’s why he got that contract extension and deservedly so, he’s leading the league in a few receiving categories.
- Jarrett Boykin filled in for Randall Cobb when he went down a year ago. Boykin did a solid job and came into the season the favorite for #3 and slot duties.
- Rookie Davante Adams was also expected to receive slot work, and he’s been taking advantage of Boykin’s injury. Rodgers publicized how Adams stood out on game film with is route running, which resulted in a (short) career-best performance.
- Cobb is healthy and playing very well again for the Pack. Nelson and Cobb form a dynamic duo, probably top-5. What’s interesting is that Cobb looks better suited to kick into the slot for a change of pace, that is where he usually gets behind the defense for a big play.
- Adams showed off his route running and hands, working inside and out. Don’t be surprised if by late this season or next season, Adams is challenging Cobb for the #2 spot in the frequent-passing offense.
- Aside from a couple of kick returns did you really even notice Percy Harvin? The threat was undeniable, catching a screen and turning it into a big gain, much like a reverse or straight hand-off. During Harvin’s healthy days Seattle just didn’t use him right. The anger management issues with teammates are obviously bigger than that, but it sounds like frustrations hit a boiling point so it’s good that both sides moved on.
- Doug Baldwin has been a vocal player, maybe he really does step his game up. During last year’s Super Bowl run, he was the starter with Golden Tate, and they formed an under-the-radar tandem that made things work. Some of the blame should go to Russell Wilson, he doesn’t get asked to throw much and it shows when they play from behind. Smart quarterback, still growing.
- I think we know what Baldwin is all about. He is a possession receiver, when he gets open. He might make a play downfield once awhile, but nothing defenses should worry about.
- Jermaine Kearse is the guy I like a lot to benefit with more snaps. The Seahawks will get back to running with Marshawn Lynch, but I’ve absolutely loved watching Kearse work the slot and burn secondaries. Before the Harvin trade, I had been hoping to see him play more on the outside to see what he’s got. He’s a speed guy that makes big plays, he has been Wilson’s favorite deep target and he made big plays in the playoffs too.
- Rookie Paul Richardson has played limited snaps and asserted himself a little bit. He’s made a couple intermediate and deep plays on the ball, small sample size to really elaborate on but he will get more reps now.