In the modern NFL, where passing is heavily in vogue, most teams are stacking their rosters with 3-4 strong pass catching options. The old days of having a number one guy and some questionable other options are long gone, and many teams are simply stacked at wide receiver and tight end. Teams like the Bears have two elite guys at wide receiver to pair with a pass catching tight end and running back, and it worked out pretty well for them last year. Additions in the offseason are sure to help, but how do the Raven’s receivers stack up in today’s NFL?
Losing Anquan Boldin clearly hurt Joe Flacco last season and the passing game as a whole. Marlon Brown stepped up and played better than most rookie wide receivers, and Torrey Smith hasn’t lost his speed. But they were just lacking in the intermediate passing game. A quarterback has to have at least one guy who can pick up 5-7 yards and move the chains when needed.
The Ravens clearly realized this and signed Steve Smith and Owen Daniels this offseason. Along with a healthy Dennis Pitta and Ray Rice/Bernard Pierce, the middle of the field should be filled with check down options for Joe Flacco. Flacco simply needs to work on his three step drop when the pressure is coming so he can take advantage of those options.
Overall, the new look receiving core is much improved over last year on paper. But how does it compare to the rest of the NFL? Certainly not top 5, but maybe top 10? Here are some of the best.
Chicago Bears – Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett.
Two classic #1 wide receivers on the same team is something you don’t see every day and Jeffery’s emergence helped the Bears reign havoc on defensive backs last year.
Washington Redskins – DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Jordan Reed.
The addition of D-Jax gives the Redskins a formidable core laden with speed and explosiveness. All have a checkered injury history along with their quarterback, but if they can all stay healthy this is a dangerous receiving unit.
Denver Broncos – Deymaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer.
This unit gets my personal vote as number one, though the presence of perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history does help a bit. Emmanuel Sanders is a great replacement for the over hyped Eric Decker, and adding Latimer in the draft is simply icing on the cake. Deymaryius Thomas is easily a top 3 talent, and Julius Thomas is only going to get better. Welker may be getting up there in age but he is still one of the best in the slot.
There are lots of others out there that can be added to the list. The Detroit Lions brought in Golden Tate and Eric Ebron to take heat off of Calvin Johnson. The Colts added Hakeem Nicks to pair with Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. The list goes on and on. The current crop of Raven’s receivers features plenty of talent, but it is hard to rank them anywhere near the top 5 considering the competition.
What receiving unit gets your vote as best in the NFL?