Which Wide Receivers Are the Real Deal?

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Pierre Garcon of the Washington Redskins

Garcon immediately too a backseat to DeSean Jackson, just like I thought would happen. Of course, he has a better connection with Robert Griffin under center, but the other two quarterbacks that played found success going to Jackson. Even with that said, Jackson wasn’t targeted enough and still racked up 1,100 yards, six 100-yard games, and six touchdowns. It was clear to see that head coach, Jay Gruden, was going to find a way to get the speedster involved downfield. Garcon was the number one receiver before Jackson’s arrival, coming over after breaking out with the Indianapolis Colts, but he recorded under 800 yards with only one triple-digit game and three scores.

To say it was a down year for the veteran would be an understatement, I mean, Jackson also played with three different QBs in 2014’s dismal season for the Redskins. I never thought of Garcon as a true top target to begin with, but a good “#2” as Dr. Evil would say. Supposedly, there will be talks about restructuring his contract, and if he stick around this could be a lethal tandem with more stability at the helm.

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Free Agent Michael Crabtree

For being a former 10th pick in the first round of the 2009 draft, Crabtree certainly hasn’t lived up to that value and hype. I can’t point fingers at the 49ers offense, although predicated on the ground attack, because veteran Anquan Boldin has topped 1,000 yards in both seasons with San Francisco. Durability and lack of separation are the two main concerns, but some team will be attracted to a high draft pick with potential and he may just need the ride fit to excel. So far, he only one 1,000-yard season in six years. I bet against Crabtree and how good he really is, because nothing jumps out at me saying that he’s starter material based on what he’s put on display so far. There are plenty of receivers that can make an occasional play.

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Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals

Just when the majority of people thought he had grabbed the torch from Larry Fitzgerald in the desert, Fitzgerald accumulated more yards, triple-digit efforts and touchdowns. In 2013 Floyd earned his first 1,000-yard season. Entering his 4th year in the league, a lot of their production depends on a healthy Carson Palmer. Although Fitz hasn’t recorded over 1,000 yards since 2011, the production is too similar to say that one stands out over the other in this point in time. Floyd looks like a good player that can run different routes and haul in some tough grabs in traffic. He can sneak by corners down the sideline for a big play too. I would say he’s a good receiver that is still growing into his own, and is one of many victims suffering from quarterback issues.

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Terrance Williams of the Dallas Cowboys

I’ll come straight with it on Williams, he sure did make some crucial plays down the stretch for the Cowboys in their playoff run, but by no means do I see him as standout playmaker. At least not yet. Hats off to the guy for being there when his team needed a play the most. Dez Bryant is a top-notch receiver in this league and he draws a lot of attention. Bryant may be opening things up for Williams, at least pulling a safety away and giving him one on one opportunities, and he’s taken advantage a handful of times. I don’t like his inconsistency, for half of the season he’s nowhere to be found. Williams struggles to gain separation. He definitely cashed in on a few broken coverages, as opposed to running a route and breaking free. He has better speed with the ball than without, and is a borderline 2/3 heading into 2015. Meaning, if Dallas brought in another starting caliber receiver, I see Williams being the 3rd wide out on the totem pole. Again, I’m speaking on the receiver as a whole, not trying to diminish the clutch plays he was a part of in 2014, because he does desirable features.

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Kendall Wright of the Tennessee Titans

Similar to Garcon, the speedy Wright is more of a #2 and there’s nothing wrong with that. Tennessee got a 1,000-yard season out of him in 2013. Wright is shifty and gets involved in the short and intermediate passing game. I like his route-running ability and he has the breakaway speed, but he’s another guy without an established quarterback. He might not be a mismatch nightmare or anything like that, but he’s all-around solid and can win matchups from the slot, so he’s got some grit over the middle. This is a tough receiver to grade because of his situation. Picturing him with an improved Zach Mettenberger, or on another team with a decent quarterback, I really would say that Wright is a good starter than not.

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Rueben Randle of the New York Giants

Randle would obviously drop to #3 if Victor Cruz can regain his form to join Odell Beckham Jr. Randle has had his run-ins with head coach, Tom Coughlin, and has played like Terrance Williams of his division rival. He’s a notch down on the receiver scale from where Williams is, because of the touchdowns, and Randle goes through strings of games where he is basically invisible. The volume of targets he got in 2014 is part of a passer-friendly offense installed for Eli Manning, so even his 900 yards are a little inflated than how he really grades out.

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Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs

The former first round pic hasn’t really lived up to it, just like the aforementioned Crabtree. Well, that’s what people think on th surface, but Bowe does have three 1,000-yard seasons, and nearly missed the mark in another season. The team calls him unselfish for dedicating himself to blocking for the run game. How much can you expect from a #1 receiver playing with Alex Smith? A heady quarterback that doesn’t take many chances. Bowe has his moments as a possession receiver with a sideline snatch here and there, but he hasn’t topped 1,000 yards since 2011 like Fitzgerald. He is said to either agree to restructuring his contract, or possibly get released. I would call him a borderline 1/2, but a high reward steal if another team can bring him in as their #2.

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Andrew Hawkins of the Cleveland Browns

All I hear when it comes to Hawkins, is that he a terrific small receiver out of the slot. Answer me this, how has he been so productive without Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in the mix? Cleveland doesn’t even know who is going to start at quarterback next season, and they just lost their offensive coordinator. I see upside with Hawkins, who just grabbed over 800 yards in an extremely limited offense. Maybe, he’s not quite Kendall Wright, maybe he is but that’s not something we have enough evidence for. If you want to keep him categorized as a slot receiver, he’s definitely better than Wes Welker nowadays. Come to think of it, there aren’t too many slot demons in the league and it’s a passing league. No, I’m not talking about the number ones that rotate inside on 3rd downs. He’s not on the Julian Edelman level, or at least from what I’ve seen, and probably not on Wright’s level either to be labeled a starter in this league. But, he’s producing where many would fail.