SI.com’s Andrew Perloff ranks the wide receiving corps in the NFL three deep:
- Cincinnati - Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry – Henry is suspended for half the season, but Johnson and Houshmandzadeh are good enough to carry this offense.
- Indianapolis - Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez – Lots of early buzz on Gonzalez, the rookie out of Ohio State, who should excel in the Brandon Stokley role.
- Arizona - Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Bryant Johnson – This group should get better as Matt Leinart becomes more comfortable.
- Detroit - Roy Williams, Mike Furrey, Calvin Johnson – This may seem high, but Williams is a Pro Bolwer and Johnson is going to be special.
- St. Louis – Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett – Holt is still one of the best, Bruce is dependable in a complementary role and Bennett will do well here.
- New England - Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney – This unit could move up to top three or fall off the map. It will be interesting to see how Tom Brady spreads the ball around.
- Dallas – Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton – If T.O. has as many drops as last year, this group falls out of the top 10.
- Denver - Javon Walker, Rod Smith, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Stokley – Smith and Stokley are coming off injuries, but at least one of the two should be productive. And Marshall has a lot of upside.
- Carolina - Steve Smith – Yes, there's only one guy here, but he's good enough to carry whoever the Panthers line up on the other side.
- Pittsburgh - Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Cedrick Wilson, Nate Washington — Ward is as solid as any other receiver in the NFL and Holmes is on his way up. The Steeles may open up their offense a bit this year, which would help these wideouts.
It’s an interesting list. The rookies are a the real X factor, as nobody knows how well those guys will perform. I’m especially dubious about Detroit’s high ranking since, despite their high draft status, none of these guys has exactly excelled.
As to the Cowboys, we’ll see how a healthy T.O. performs. He had a great year in 2006 in terms of yardage and TDs but key drops really hurt him. Hopefully, with his fingers healed, that won’t be a problem anymore.
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