Wide Receiver takes cneter stage in our continuing break down of what Scouts, Inc. thinks of each roster in the National Football League. For those of you just joining us, I am averaging out the rankings Scouts, Inc is giving to each position to come to an overall ranking. Sure, I won't win any math achievement awards but it's fun nonetheless.
Here are the Receivers --
7. Denver Broncos
There is a noticeable drop-off after the top six receiver groups. Rod Smith has been a rock of consistency for Mike Shanahan over the past decade or so, but the veteran is beginning to show signs of slipping. Jay Cutler still will look his way when the chips are down, but Brandon Marshall should surpass Smith as the starter opposite Javon Walker. Marshall is a budding star with great tools. He will see a lot of single coverage next year and could make himself a household name in this offense. Walker is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver who possesses an outstanding combination of size, explosiveness and deep speed. Expect an even better season from Walker in 2007 now that he is a year removed from his knee injury.
My Take - I have to be honest, I was a bit surprised at this ranking, though I can definitely see the promise this group holds. Obviously Walker is a stud, and he appears, at least on the outside, to be dealing with the Darrent Williams tragedy as well as to be expected. He'll have to address it publicly at some point but I expect Walker to use the situation as a motivation which should be a scary thing to opposing defenses. Marshall does have all the tools, but he has yet to remain healthy during off-season workouts which is a bit of a red-flag to me. Behind those two are a host of questions. I've talked at lengths about "ifs" and there are several ifs in the wide receiving corps. Maybe I live in a fantasy land, but I have a feeling Brandon Stokley is going to have a solid year.
23. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers recognized their weakness at wide receiver and were aggressive in their selection of Craig Davis in the first round of this year's draft. Davis brings something that this great offense was lacking -- speed on the edge. Obviously, Antonio Gates is the featured receiver in San Diego's offense. But Davis' deep speed will force defenses to stay honest, which should open up room for both Gates in the middle of the field and for LaDainian Tomlinson in the run game. Eric Parker has great hands and good quickness. He will play a valuable role and should begin the season as a starter. The Chargers have a rare bird in Vincent Jackson, who is a massive wideout with impressive physical tools. This could be his breakout season. Jackson has become an effective blocker as well and can be key in springing Tomlinson on long runs. Keenan McCardell's stay in San Diego is over and this is now a young group on the rise.
My Take -- If one area has kept the Chargers from being even better on offense it is the receiver position. I am not sold on Davis, however, and will be interested to see how he performs as a rookie. They say Eric Parker has great hands, and that might be the case, but it certainly didn't appear that way when the Chargers lost to New England in the playoffs. Drop after drop. The featured receivers are still Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson, which is a pretty good problem to have. If the Chargers are going to take that next step someone in the receiving corp is going to have to step up. Otherwise it will be another lost year in SD.
27. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders passed on Calvin Johnson in the draft and dealt Randy Moss to the Patriots. Without those two immensely talented receivers, they still could get adequate production from their current stable of receivers. Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry will start. Neither can be considered reliable, but both are capable of being very productive. Curry just needs to stay healthy. The Raiders took a chance on draft day by trading for former USC star Mike Williams, who be reunited with former Trojans assistant Lane Kiffin -- now the Raiders head coach. Williams was a very high draft pick by the Lions for a reason -- he is massive and was a matchup nightmare in college -- but he did little to speak of in Detroit. Doug Gabriel, Travis Taylor, Alvis Whitted, Johnnie Morant and rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins provide good depth, but there probably isn't enough room on the roster to keep all of them. There is a lot of uncertainty with this group.
My Take -- A lot of talent, yes, but alot of questions as well. The bigger problem might be production at the quarterback position. Jerry Porter has all the tools but is a head case. We have seen first hand what Ronald Curry can do when he is actually on the field, which hasn't been that often of late. Lane Kiffin is hoping he can re-create magic with Mike Williams, but the NFL game IS NOT the college game. Guys are bigger and faster in the NFL and Williams has struggled to find a happy place. The rest of the Raiders receivers are what they are. I do like Doug Gabriel, though he seems to disappear at times, taking series', quarters, and halves off.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
With tight end Tony Gonzalez as their top receiving target, the Chiefs have gotten by with Eddie Kennison as their No. 1 wide receiver. But he simply is not good enough for such a role. Kansas City finally addressed this problem by selecting Dwayne Bowe in this year's draft. Although he might never be a true No. 1 receiver, Bowe is super tough, big and strong. He will help the running game and should quickly become a starter. Samie Parker has not developed into a quality starter, but should be adequate out of the slot in subpackages. Bowe has promise, but overall, there isn't a lot to get excited about here.
My Take -- I have been tough on the Chiefs all off-season. They need to begin a full rebuilding and one need look no further than this receiving corp to know why. I do like Bowe, and feel he can be a solid possession receiver in the NFL. He's not a #1 receiver, however, and it seems receivers just take longer to become productive than other positions. That leaves old friend Eddie Kennison as the Chiefs top wide-out. Ugh. Samie Parker, double-ugh. After that, the Chiefs really don't have a thing, other than Tony Gonzalez of course. Gonzalez can still get it done, but quarterback questions will hurt his productivity. This offense will be run-first, if Larry Johnson doesn't hold out. The Chiefs are just a mess.
Let's take a look at the tally --
San Diego Chargers - 30 (10.0)
Denver Broncos - 35 (11.6)
Kansas City Chiefs - 63 (21.0)
Oakland Raiders - 64 (21.3)
Even early on it is easy to see the Chiefs are alot closer to the Raiders...errr....the bottom of the division than they are to the top.
Up next, Tight End.