Ranking the NFL’s WR Cores.

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(Image by USATSI)

By: Zack Hochrien

It’s been a while as we all have been on a bit of a hiatus from IES due to our busy schedules and working on a new site. But as promised we do plan to occasionally post on here from time to time and that’s exactly what I’m here to do today. Here is our latest post by Zack as he takes a look at each of the WR units in the NFL and ranks them. Hope you all enjoy it. 

 

Best Pass Catching cores in the NFL +-suspended *-injured/holdout
32. St. Louis Rams- Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey and Jared Cook.
The Rams core is full of talented players with problems of cohesion with Sam Bradford. They all have underperformed their value of where they were drafted.
31. Cleveland Browns- Josh Gordon+, Nate Burleson*, Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin and Jordan Cameron.
This unit would be higher if Josh Gordon wasn’t suspended and Nate Burleson wasn’t injured. Miles Austin hasn’t been the same since the plaguing hammy injury. Andrew Hawkins is coming off a season ending injury from last year. When this group is completely healthy and has a set starter at QB, it will have chance to move up in the ranking.
30. Carolina Panthers- Jason Avant, Kelvin Benjamin, Jericho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Greg Olsen and Ed Dickson.
This team is also depleted or inexperienced at this position. Its not going to be the worst PCC because the QB threat in Cam Newton. Avant, Olsen and Dickson will be the true reliable options while rookie Kelvin Benjamin develops a connection with Cam.

 


29. Buffalo Bills- Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, TJ Graham, Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki.
The Bills are very young at WR. They are projected to lean on a rookie and 2nd year player for the majority of EJ Manuel’s completions. Mike Williams and TJ Graham are players that are middling and do enough to take some pressure off Manuel. The dependency on the TEs Chandler and Moeaki will be heavy for Manuel as they are the true veterans of the group.
28. Tennessee Titans- Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Dexter McCluster, Marc Mariani and Delanie Walker.
Whoever is the starter at QB will have a dependable trio in Wright, Hunter and Washington. Those WRs are very good at the point of attack to make catches in tons. The backend/depth of the core isn’t particularly strong in terms of catch dependability, but they have some speed. Delanie Walker is the Flex TE that would be creatively used in the core.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars- Allen Robinson, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marquise Lee, Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor.
This WR core could rise or fall depending who actually gets most of the starts at QB between Henne or Bortles. Allen Robinson as a rookie reminds me of a throwback to Jimmy Smith of the great late 90s Jaguars teams. Cecil Shorts and Marquise Lee play will be vying for receptions as deep threats and YAC machines. Ace Sanders is the budding Wes Welker of the group. Marcedes Lewis is trying to bring back 2010 numbers that landed him a huge contract.Clay Harbor was known to be big contributor last year in this type of offense.

26. Oakland Raiders- Andre Holmes, James Jones, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Greg Little and David Ausberry.
This group has more upside cause of the veteran QB that will be under center. Andre Holmes, Rod Streater and Greg Little get to grow with a vet QB for a season or two until Derek Carr comes in. James Jones is the apparent dependable wily veteran that was signed for the vet QB. Denarius Moore will thrive out of the slot for his speed, he just need to get the ball and run for TDs and YAC. David Ausberry is the big TE that the vet QB can throw redzone TDs to.
25. New York Jets- Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Jace Amaro, Jalen Sauders, Stephen Hill and Jeff Cumberland.
The Jets went out and got 3 new receivers for Geno Smith or Mike Vick to use. They got 2 rookies(Jace Amaro and Jalen Saunders) who will need adjustments to NFL CB play. They went out and sign Eric Decker a dependable possession PC. Jeremy Kerley has been the PC to break out as a slot position. Stephen Hill and Jeff Cumberland have struggled developing as PCs.
24. Kansas City Chiefs- Dwayne Bowe, AJ Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce.
Dwayne Bowe is a WR that helps a PC core in its ranking with his overall elite abilities and adaptability to QB play. After Bowe the WR part of this PCC is very prone to make mistakes, each of 3 other WRs fit the system that HC Andy Reid runs which maximizes their abilities. TEs in this PC will thrive for the offensive system.
23. New England Patriots- Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski. Josh Boyce, Kenbral Thompkins and Brandon LaFell.
The top 3 choices in this receivers unit are dependable with their abilities, its all of the matter them being healthy enough to be on the field at the same time. Josh Boyce and Kenbral Thompkins are budding PCs that have started to develop to the ability that is useful for the QB, Tom Brady, for their 2nd year… they certainly had growing pains as rookies. Brandon LaFell has had a hard time adjusting to the idea of competent #2 PC moving to a team that has several options already should maximize his abilities.
22. Houston Texans- Andre Johnson*, Nuke Hopkins, Deviar Posey, Mike Thomas, Keshawn Martin, Garrett Graham and CJ Fierdorwicz.
The Texans have some great talent at the top of the core. A detracting factor is the fact that the QB named starter is not dependable. After the top 2 options the WR area is muddled because if one of the 2 top options goes out for an extended period of time the talent has a huge drop off( Mike Thomas is the only PC with extended experience). The TE options will be heavily used as a crutch for their independable QB, it will still be a wary use because of the inexperience in the NFL.
21. Miami Dolphins- Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, Dion Sims and Arthur Lynch.
The top PC in this core is Mike Wallace, he is of elite caliber in his overall play at WR. Jarvis Landry and Arthur Lynch are the rookies that were brought in to help maximize the QB’s play, the projection isn’t enough to allow MIA to hop in the top 20 cores. Brian Hartline is the dependable WR workhorse. Charles Clay and Dion Sims are the flex TEs that are becoming NFL norms.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Antonio Brown, Lance Moore, Markus Wheaton, Martayvious Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Heath Miller.
This unit is very good at the point of attack to make catches. It has very diverse skills throughout it. The main PCs to watch is the speedy Antonio Brown,  Markus Wheaton and dependable Miller. Moore is the newcomer but was very reliable WR where he was originally. The Wild Cards are incumbent offseason addition Heyward Bey and rookie Bryant.
19. New York Giants- Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Mario Manningham and Adrien Robinson.
Victor Cruz is the elite talent of this bunch. Odell Becham(rookie) and Rueben Randle (2nd year) are the youngsters with the huge upside that allowed the Giants to move on from Hakeen Nicks. Jerrell Jernigan and Adrien Robinson add some mystery to the mix as they haven’t fully developed and will be asked to take on bigger roles. The incumbent of the group is Mario Manningham.
18. Dallas Cowboys- Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar.
The top options here are stud receivers Bryant, Williams and the wily vet Witten. Bryant and Witten are the most talented and experienced PC. Williams and Harris have huge upside. Hanna is the mystery to the PCC. Escobar is a 2nd year TE expected to take leap of dependability.
17. Tampa Bay Bucs- Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Austin Seferian Jenkins, Robert Herron, Luke Stocker and Chris Osuwu.
This ranking has to do with the impact the rookies will make which will help out Vincent Jackson in the end. Mike Evans and Austin Seferian Jenkins have huge impact potential and the makings of an elite duo for the QB to lean on in future seasons. Robert Herron is the slot WR that will use his speed to get up and go. Luke Stocker is the wild card redzone threat. Chris Osuwu is the mystery.


16. Minnesota Vikings- Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Randolph, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Joe Webb.
The Vikings have a great talent in terms of their top 3. Patterson has easily replaced Percy in every sense of a Vikings #1 WR and he was just a rookie last year with 2 incumbent QBs at the helm. Greg Jennings has taken the Anquan Boldin role in the PCC. Kyle Randolph and Jerome Simpson are two big rangy receivers that catch everything in their wingspan. The mystery depth is Jarius Wright and reconverted QB Joe Webb, these 2 haven’t done much in the past.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Floyd, Troy Niklas, John Carlson, Rob Housler, and John Brown.

Larry Fitzgerald has been a stalwart of Arizona Cardinal football. He has seen the peak and the valley of it. The Cardinals GM and HC have tried to surround him with the right personnel. Mike Floyd has developed into very good #2 in a pairing with Fitzgerald. Niklas and Brown are the rookies that were added to the core to bring youth to Arians system. Housler and Carlson are tall vet TE’s that know their place in the system.
14. Baltimore Ravens- Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, Marlon Brown, Owen Daniels and Crockett Gilmore.
The Ravens 2014 PC is way better than 2013. They added 2 veterans(Steve Smith and Owen Daniels) who catch basically everything when they are on the field. Torrey Smith has slowly become a reliable PC. The complete return of Pitta gives Flacco his security blanket. Marlon Brown and Crockett Gilmore, the youngsters who will be called upon if need be and will also have the chance to learn under Smith and Daniels.
13. Seattle Seahawks- Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Kevin Norwood, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse and Zach Miller.
All the WR in this PCC are known for 2 things: route running and speed. They fit the Seahawks offensive scheme to a T. Kearse and Miller are the 2 receivers that are on the possession side and don’t have great body control. The problem is there is no true elite overall WR, yet it is a deep unit.
12. Cincinnati Bengals- AJ Green, Mohamed Sanu, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, Dane Sanzenbacher and Marvin Jones.
The Bengals have a budding elite WR and TE in Green and Eifert. Sanu, Sanzenbacher and Jones are all potential #2’s, but aren’t anything special. Gresham is a great PC but doesn’t have the deceptiveness like Eifert.
11. Philadelphia Eagles- Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Brad Smith, Brent Celek and Josh Huff.
This is a Chip Kelly PCC to the T. Cooper is the veteran possession WR that will be paired with youngster possession PCs Matthews and Ertz. Celek is the old veteran TE that has been around the block and knows how to lead the receivers. Smith and Huff are the two speeders that will be used and DeAnthony Thomas will man the slot.
10. San Diego Chargers- Keenan Allen, Ladarius Green, Antonio Gates, Vincent Bown, Eddie Royal and Malcolm Floyd.
The Chargers built a #1 WR in one year with Allen. Ladarius Green is the heir apparent to Gates TE crown on this offense. V. Brown is everything a #2 WR should be. Royal and Floyd provide the veteran depth you should see in a top 10 PCC.
9. New Orleans Saints- Kenny Stills, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Brandin Cooks and Nick Toon.
This group as whole works well and thrives in the passenger seat to Drew Brees driving. Stills is the young WR that developed more than Toon. Colston is the veteran WR that has produced well in the system. Graham is the explosion WR/TE that does a little of everything. Cooks is the rookie that should fit in well add a dimension that has been missing and never was truly found in Toon.

(Image from Packersnews.com)

8. Green Bay Packers – Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jared Abberderis and Colt Lyerla.
Packers have another PCC that is more driven by its QB play. The top 3 options do have an elite tier abilities to their disposal but at times without their true starting QB the level of their play will reflect lower tier play. Rookies stepping will be thrive in a high octane system.
7. Indianapolis Colts-Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, TY Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Da Rick Rogers and Donte Moncrief.
The Colts are another team that thrives off system and QB play. The top 2 projected options are coming off down or injured seasons. Hilton is a budding #1 but still has more dimensions to add to his game to reach that. The TEs will tend to thrive in this system because it is TE heavy by design (Allen and Fleener). Rogers and Moncrief are other youngsters that will get chances but are hinged by their development in those few chances.
6. Chicago Bears-Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Marquess Wilson, Martellus Bennett, Eric Weems and Josh Morgan.
The Bears are not truly affected by QB play because of their top 2 options. Marshall and Jeffery are very refined in their game are the main reasons why this PCC is so high. Bennett is the TE option that thrives because his size. Wilson, Weems and Morgan are options that will add the speed and deception the offense, but won’t be heavily relied on.
5. Denver Broncos- Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Lattimer, Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme.
The Broncos are another of the teams where QB play and PCC ability are blurred. D. Thomas and J. Thomas are the elite talents in #1 option realm. Welker is known to be the workhorse of any PCC. Sanders and Lattimer are expected to add the speed dimensions and out play the deep safety. Tamme is the familiar face that understands the system the most.
4. Detriot Lions- Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria.
The Lions are hoping they have maximized the separation their star #1 WR Megatron can have now. They completely overhauled their #2 and #3 spots with Ebron ant Tate. Pettigrew if completely healthy adds another true TE threat with Fauria in the redzone. Durham is the player that is the mystery and wild card at the same time.


3. Atlanta Falcons – Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Drew Davis and Levine Toilolo.
The Falcons gamble to trade up for Julio Jones has paid off and proven his value. This has been proven true even though he is coming off a season ending injury. Roddy White proved to be dependable even through an injury as well. These top 2 options make up for the one dimension of the depth WRs. Toilio is the wild card in the TE.
2. Washington NFL team – Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Leonard Hankerson, Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen.
The Washington team made it a plan to upgrade and maximize its PCC. They did just that as they added Desean Jackson’s insane elite talent to pair with Garcon’s solid #1 WR talent. This also maximizes Reed and Paulsen possession abilities at TE. Andre Roberts will thrive back in a #3/slot role. Leonard Hankerson is solid depth and deep threat machine.
1. San Francisco 49ers- Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis*, Bruce Ellington, Stevie Johnson and Jonathan Baldwin.
The 49ers PCC core was very middling before the offseason process. Through moves they became the #1 PCC by adding low tier team former #1 WR (Johnson) and adding a true young slot dimension (Ellington). Pairing those with their already solid top 3 options to make them an even better PCC. Davis is like the #1 WR. Crabtree is very good in every aspect of his game but isn’t elite like Megatron. Boldin is the veteran human catch vacuum and has been for each team he has played for. The one detractor is finding a use for incumbent Jon Baldwin.

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