Power Ranking NFL Receiver Depth Charts
In today's NFL, teams are super focused on building an elite talent group at wide receiver and tight end. And with the lines between those two positions blurring, it's becoming more important to find talent that transcends positions.
The "X, Y and Z" labels are disappearing in the NFL and are no longer descriptions of a type of player. Jimmy Graham has ruined that, as he's a wide receiver playing tight end. Consider that players such as Calvin Johnson and Mike Evans are built like tight ends, but they can line up anywhere on offense; you see what NFL defenses must deal with on a play-by-play basis.
But which NFL team has the best collection of talent heading into the 2014 season? Forget the tight end and wide receiver labels, we're talking straight-up talent at the pass-catcher positions.
Basing the rankings on past success, predraft rankings for rookies and expected impact and development (as well as suspensions), here is a look at which teams have the most talent collected at wide receiver and tight end.
32. Carolina Panthers
Starters: Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Greg Olsen (TE)
Key Reserves: Kelvin Benjamin (rookie), Tiquan Underwood, Tavarres King, Kealoha Pilares, Ed Dickson (TE)
The Carolina Panthers are facing a total rebuild at the wide receiver position after Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell left town. Now the pressure is on career reserves such as Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant to fill the gap, while first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin acclimates to the NFL.
The go-to-target here will be tight end Greg Olsen, and right now he's the best the team has to offer. The scary lack of impact players and depth at wide receiver will allow safeties to key on Olsen, though. That's why Benjamin must get caught up to speed very soon, as his deep-play ability will open things up for Olsen underneath.
With no clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver here—and honestly not one player you'd consider a good No. 2—the Panthers come in dead last among pass-catchers.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Starters: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano (TE)
Key Reserves: A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway, Kyle Williams, Travis Kelce (TE)
The wide receiver position in Kansas City has been a problem for years now, and it's not getting any better heading into 2014.
With a late-first-round draft pick after a playoff run and no second-round pick after trading for Alex Smith, the Chiefs weren't in a position to grab an impact wideout. That's why they're rolling with No. 1 Dwayne Bowe and a cast of receivers other teams didn't want.
The tight end position hasn't been good since Tony Gonzalez left for Atlanta, and while Anthony Fasano is solid, the team really hopes Travis Kelce is able to make a difference after missing his rookie season with a knee injury.
Bowe is a true No. 1, but the talent around him keeps the Chiefs very low on these rankings.
30. Tennessee Titans
Starters: Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Delanie Walker (TE)
Key Reserves: Justin Hunter, Dexter McCluster, Marc Mariani, Craig Stevens (TE)
The Tennessee Titans have the resources for a very good wide receiver corps down the road, but looking at the group right now, it's really Kendall Wright and a lot of question marks.
Nate Washington can be an OK No. 2 wide receiver, but the guy to watch is Justin Hunter. If he can learn the playbook and get on the field, his natural ability would make him a big threat. Delanie Walker should have a bigger role in Ken Whisenhunt's offense, but based on his 2013 season, it's tough to get high hopes.
At season's end this group may be ranked much higher, but as of right now, this looks to be a liability on the Titans roster.
29. Cleveland Browns
Starters: Andrew Hawkins, Earl Bennett, Nate Burleson, Jordan Cameron (TE)
Key Reserves: Miles Austin, Travis Benjamin, Chandler Jones (rookie), Jim Dray (TE)
With Josh Gordon expecting a season-long suspension for 2014, the Cleveland Browns are looking at a very limited wide receiving corps. Thankfully, Jordan Cameron is still here to save them.
Andrew Hawkins is a very nice slot receiver, but he'll be the team's best option outside of the athletic tight end Cameron. Earl Bennett and Miles Austin can produce, but neither has much luck staying healthy or remaining consistent.
After ignoring pass-catchers in the draft, the Browns' 2014 season could rely very heavily on Cameron and a run game on offense.
For the purpose of this article, Josh Gordon is not included as he awaits a suspension announcement.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Starters: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marcedes Lewis (TE)
Key Reserves: Allen Robinson (rookie), Marqise Lee (rookie), Denard Robinson, Tandon Doss, Clay Harbor (TE)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost Justin Blackmon to another substance-abuse suspension. This time he's been suspended indefinitely. This comes after he played in just four games in 2013, so the team is accustomed to playing without the former first-rounder.
In his place are Cecil Shorts—and he just might be the best wide receiver no one talks about—and rookies Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. The instant-impact performance from the 2014 rookies may not be huge, but look for this group to get much better as Lee, Shorts, Sanders and Robinson build chemistry with No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles at quarterback.
The 2014 season might be rough at wide receiver and tight end for Jacksonville, but 2015 will not be.
27. Oakland Raiders
Starters: James Jones, Rod Streater, David Ausberry (TE)
Key Reserves: Denarius Moore, Juron Criner, Greg Little, Mychal Rivera (TE)
The Oakland Raiders have a much better wide receiving corps than a lot of people online will give them credit for. That said, they're still waiting for a true No. 1 threat to develop while surviving with a group of guys that would be best in a supporting role.
James Jones was brought in from Green Bay and can be a big producer, but he's never had to be "the guy" in an offense before. Rod Streater has speed and moves and will keep safeties honest deep, but the team needs Denarius Moore or Greg Little to step up in production.
There's not much to speak of at tight end, but David Ausberry is an intriguing athlete and route-runner.
26. St. Louis Rams
Starters: Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook (TE)
Key Reserves: Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Lance Kendricks (TE)
The St. Louis Rams invested a high-first-round pick in wide receiver Tavon Austin last season, but they didn't know how to use him enough to get a return on that investment. In 2014 the team must get the ball in his hands early and often.
The Rams have a lot of young talent, but to date they have little production and impact. The one steal could be Kenny Britt—if he can stay out of trouble and produce under familiar face Jeff Fisher. Jared Cook is a tremendous athlete at tight end, but he was lost in the shuffle in 2013.
Judging the potential of this group, you see big promise, but the reality is they're all still working to prove themselves.
25. Buffalo Bills
Starters: Sammy Watkins (rookie), Mike Williams, Scott Chandler (TE)
Key Reserves: T.J. Graham, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Tony Moeaki (TE)
The Buffalo Bills might have the NFL's best young talent in the league, but that also means they're fielding a very raw, inexperienced group of pass-catchers.
Sammy Watkins has as much talent as any wide receiver entering the game since A.J. Green and Julio Jones crashed the league. What he does with that talent remains to be seen, but as a rookie he adds a lot of promise to this group and boosts its rating.
Counting on Mike Williams is scary, but he did have a nice start in Tampa Bay before fizzling out. He could be a sleeper here.
24. New England Patriots
Starters: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski (TE)
Key Reserves: Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Josh Boyce, D.J. Williams (TE)
The New England Patriots are lucky they have Tom Brady.
Looking at this roster you see Rob Gronkowski, who is an All-Pro when healthy, and not much else to worry a defense.
Julian Edelman is a chain-mover with great short-area ability, but you're not putting your No. 1 cornerback on him out of necessity. Danny Amendola hasn't been able to stay healthy, and youngsters Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce are still very raw all-around.
Keep an eye on Brandon LaFell here, but the fact that he's considered an impact performer tells you all you need to know about this receiving corps.
23. New York Jets
Starters: Stephen Hill, Eric Decker, Jace Amaro (rookie, TE)
Key Reserves: David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley, Jalen Saunders (rookie), Shaq Evans (rookie), Jeff Cumberland (TE)
The New York Jets aggressively built up their receiving unit this offseason—adding Eric Decker in free agency and then spending three draft picks on Jace Amaro, Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans. That leaves them with a nice foundation for the future, but for the 2014 season, they're really counting on Decker to produce like he did in Denver, while hoping Stephen Hill can break out.
Hill has amazing athletic ability, but he's been slow to develop into a game-ready star. The team may find its best running mate for Decker in Jeremy Kerley if his chemistry with Geno Smith from last season carries over to this year.
The potential here is high, but the actual production and realistic 2014 projections leave something to be desired.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Starters: Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller (TE)
Key Reserves: Justin Brown, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant (rookie), Darrius Heyward-Bey, Matt Spaeth (TE)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have remained competitive while watching key performers at wide receiver walk away in free agency every offseason. First it was Mike Wallace, and this offseason it was Emmanuel Sanders. Now the job is passed on to electric No. 1 wide receiver Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, an up-and-comer at the No. 2 spot.
Brown is very, very good, and Heath Miller is consistently solid, but the team needs a jump from Wheaton and production from Lance Moore and/or Darrius Heyward-Bey as veterans. Martavis Bryant has unreal athletic ability, but he will be learning the position as a rookie and can't be relied on for much production right away.
21. Miami Dolphins
Starters: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay (TE)
Key Reserves: Jarvis Landry (rookie), Brandon Gibson, Armon Binns, Matt Hazel (rookie), Dion Sims (TE), Arthur Lynch (rookie, TE)
The Miami Dolphins are not afraid to spend big money at the wide receiver position, but they need Mike Wallace to start living up to his tax code. He's their No. 1, with Brian Hartline a good option opposite him, but the depth of the receiving corps is questionable.
Charles Clay had a huge season as a hybrid tight end in this offense last year, and the team drafted Arthur Lynch to allow Clay to remain versatile. The Dolphins also added wideout Jarvis Landry, and he could be a big-play guy from the slot, but expecting two rookies to change this offense is unfair—maybe in 2015, but not in 2014.
20. Houston Texans
Starters: Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Garrett Graham (TE)
Key Reserves: Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, Mike Thomas, Ryan Griffin (TE), C.J. Fiedorowicz (rookie, TE)
The Houston Texans are in good hands with their top two wide receivers, but this article ranks the entire pass-catching unit not just the starters. After future Hall of Famer Andre Johnson and stud rookie DeAndre Hopkins, things get dicey.
Tight end Garrett Graham can get the job done, but he hasn't shown yet that he can be the man over 16 games. Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey offer average depth at wide receiver, but they shouldn't be asked to do more than contribute in three- and four-wide sets.
The Texans are facing an interesting future, as Johnson's time with the team comes to an end and the young players are needing to step up. Hopkins could be the leading receiver here before long.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Starters: Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph (TE)
Key Reserves: Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Lestar Jean, Rhett Ellison (TE)
The Minnesota Vikings have three very high-quality starters atop their depth chart. What they lack is depth.
The starters will impress—and look for Cordarrelle Patterson to have an even bigger impact in his second season—but behind Greg Jennings, tight end Kyle Rudolph and Patterson, there is very little to be excited about. Jerome Simpson has made a handful of big plays, but he must be more consistent. Jarius Wright has speed and open-field moves, but he has to get on the field more to make his mark.
By season's end this could be a much higher-ranked unit, but right now the Vikings are banking on potential.
18. New York Giants
Starters: Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Adrien Robinson (TE)
Key Reserves: Odell Beckham (rookie), Mario Manningham, Jerrel Jernigan, Kellen Davis (TE)
The New York Giants let Hakeem Nicks walk in free agency, but the wide receiver and tight end corps might be even better in 2014. The key will be rookie Odell Beckham, and he's a good one. Not only can Beckham help in the slot and outside, but he can assist as a return man too.
The team needs Rueben Randle to make the jump from potential to production, otherwise Victor Cruz will see a lot of bracket coverage from defenses. Bringing back Mario Manningham is likely to be more ceremonial than a payoff on the field.
Tight end remains unproven, but Adrien Robinson is a good athlete with upside.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Starters: Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans (rookie), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (rookie, TE)
Key Reserves: Robert Herron (rookie), Skye Dawson, Chris Owusu, Luke Stocker (TE)
If the teams ranked here were graded on long-term potential, you could make a strong case for putting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers much higher. Looking at the short-term impact of 2014 only, it's scary that the team is relying so heavily on rookies at positions that generally don't see a big return from first-year players.
Vincent Jackson is very good, and both rookies (Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins) have incredible potential, but defenses aren't going to respect the first-year players immediately. Jackson will see plenty of attention as he's flanked by Evans, Seferian-Jenkins and rookie Robert Herron in the slot.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Starters: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten (TE)
Key Reserves: Dwayne Harris, Devin Street (rookie), Jamar Newsome, James Hanna (TE), Gavin Escobar (TE)
The Dallas Cowboys have struck gold in finding Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams to anchor their wide receiver corps, and at tight end they are still very strong with Jason Witten holding down the fort. The concern here isn't the front-line talent but rather what happens when they need depth and a fourth option in the passing game.
Dwayne Harris may be a good No. 3 wideout, but he's very inexperienced. The same goes for rookie Devin Street and unknown Jamar Newsome. At tight end there is a succession plan with the athletic James Hanna and Gavin Escobar behind Witten.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Starters: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Carlson (TE), Rob Housler (TE)
Key Reserves: Troy Niklas (rookie, TE), John Brown (rookie), Ted Ginn
The Arizona Cardinals have a top two at wide receiver that most teams would love to have, but beyond that there is a heavy reliance on rookies and journeymen to get the job done in a vertical passing game.
Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the NFL's best, and opposite him you have to like the development of Michael Floyd. They provide a very good one-two punch, but losing slot man Andre Roberts doesn't help things. John Brown, a third-round pick from Pittsburg State, could help, but he's making a huge leap from the MIAA to the NFL.
At tight end the team needs a healthy John Carlson and Troy Niklas to make a big jump in his first season. Otherwise, that's a position NFL safeties can ignore.
14. San Diego Chargers
Starters: Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown, Antonio Gates (TE)
Key Reserves: Ladarius Green (TE), Eddie Royal, Malcom Floyd, Tevin Reese (rookie)
The San Diego Chargers got the steal of the 2013 draft when they selected Keenan Allen in the third round. Now they're hoping he can return as their go-to receiver, while the talent around him opens up the offense like they were able to do last fall. The talent here is impressive, but it's thin.
Vincent Brown is a good No. 2 receiver and will keep defenses honest. Antonio Gates may be closer to the Hall of Fame than he is to a 100-catch season, but teams still respect his impact and range over the middle. Ladarius Green is also waiting in the wings next to Gates, and he'll see plenty of reps in two-tight end sets this year.
If Eddie Royal can stay healthy or consistent, this team's ranking will go up. The issue right now is that there is no clear-cut No. 3 option at receiver.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
Key Reserves: Jordan Matthews (rookie), Josh Huff (rookie), Brad Smith, James Casey (TE)
The Philadelphia Eagles parted with DeSean Jackson in a surprising move this offseason, but replacing his reps will be rookies Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. With Jeremy Maclin coming back from injury, is that enough to keep this offense going?
Chip Kelly's offense seems tailor-made for receivers, as the Eagles are operating in a fast-paced system with a lot of wide-open spaces. That said, until Maclin proves he's back to full speed, this group remains unproven.
There is a ton of potential here, but a preseason ranking has question marks with so much reliance on rookies and Maclin post-injury.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Starters: A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham (TE)
Key Reserves: Tyler Eifert (TE), Mohamed Sanu, Dane Sanzenbacher, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen
The Cincinnati Bengals have a legit challenger to the top wide receiver crown in A.J. Green, but that alone doesn't guarantee them a top-five ranking on this list. We're looking at total talent and depth, not just superstar players.
The Bengals do have a very nice No. 2 receiver in Marvin Jones, but losing slot man Andrew Hawkins hurts. Using both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert at tight end will help, but the team needs Mohamed Sanu to become an impact target before they can move up these rankings.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Starters: Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta (TE)
Key Reserves: Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones, Michael Campanaro (rookie), Owen Daniels (TE), Crockett Gillmore (rookie, TE)
The ability to fortify the wide receiver group with Steve Smith moves the Baltimore Ravens up considerably in a preseason ranking. With Steve and Torrey Smith stretching defenses, Joe Flacco should see more single coverage for all his targets.
The team has to hope Jacoby Jones can thrive in a No. 3 role. If not, look for Marlon Brown to take that role from him. There is potential talent here in rookies Michael Campanaro and Crockett Gillmore, but they're not ready for prime time.
Dennis Pitta is a solid tight end, but he won't put fear in defenses overall. That, plus the rookies, is why the Ravens are outside the top 10.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Starters: Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller (TE)
Key Reserves: Jermaine Kearse, Kevin Norwood (rookie), Paul Richardson (rookie), Sidney Rice, Luke Willson (TE)
The Seattle Seahawks are crossing their fingers that Percy Harvin can give them a full season in 2014, but if he can't, the team's returning stars proved they could do damage on their own. Now add in rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood and you have a well-rounded group with instant-impact talent and long-term potential.
Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse return to round out the group—and for the time being, so does Sidney Rice. The tight ends aren't featured much here, but Zach Miller and Luke Willson have good overall talent.
9. Atlanta Falcons
Starters: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Levine Toilolo (TE)
Key Reserves: Harry Douglas, Darius Johnson, Drew Davis, Devin Hester, Bear Pascoe (TE)
If Roddy White and Julio Jones are both healthy, you can put them near the top of any ranking of the NFL's best starting wide receivers. But this ranking takes into account the entire depth chart. The Atlanta Falcons still come out pretty well.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez is gone, but the team has high hopes for Levine Toilolo. We've seen flashes from him in spot duty, but there will be an expected drop-off in production and talent at that position.
The good news coming off an injury-plagued 2013 season for Atlanta is that Harry Douglas saw his reps and production soar. He's more established now and will give the team a more reliable and versatile No. 3 receiver.
Behind the top four options listed, this is a raw depth chart, but the top-end talent is impressive enough to keep Atlanta in the top 10.
8. Chicago Bears
Starters: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett (TE)
Key Reserves: Josh Morgan, Eric Weems, Marquess Wilson, Fendi Onobun (TE)
The Chicago Bears are in a situation very similar to the Atlanta Falcons—their top-end talent is elite, but the depth here is a question mark.
The Bears have two great receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and even their tight end, Martellus Bennett, is a very good receiver and blocker. But behind that first group, you won't find an established player threatening defensive coordinators.
The team hopes Marquess Wilson emerges, and it'll give Eric Weems and Josh Morgan every chance to win that third receiver spot, but if you're wondering why the Bears aren't ranked higher, look past the starters and you'll see why.
Starters: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed (TE)
Key Reserves: Andre Roberts, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Grant (rookie), Niles Paul (TE), Logan Paulsen (TE)
Adding DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to the ranks of an already strong wide receiver corps puts Washington way up in the rankings. Now if they can all come together, this could be an incredibly talented and productive group.
Jackson and Roberts will line up with Pierre Garcon, giving the team a very well-rounded group at receiver. The trio has a ton of speed, and once you throw in tight end Jordan Reed, you have a lot of athleticism on the field at once.
The depth here is good too, with Aldrick Robinson and Ryan Grant at receiver, and Logan Paulsen and former wideout Niles Paul all capable in reserve roles.
6. Detroit Lions
Starters: Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron (rookie, TE), Brandon Pettigrew (TE)
Key Reserves: Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, T.J. Jones (rookie), Joseph Fauria (TE)
The Detroit Lions have built a depth chart at receiver and tight end that's well-rounded and brings the physical dominance few defenses can compete with.
It all starts with Calvin Johnson—the NFL's best wide receiver heading into the 2014 season. He's a mismatch for an entire secondary by himself. Add in the speed of Golden Tate and rookie tight end Eric Ebron and you have a dilemma for defensive coordinators and defensive backs that few teams are equipped to handle.
The depth here is good and could even get better as rookie T.J. Jones and oft-injured slot man Ryan Broyles develop. Kris Durham has proven his value and could be a solid No. 2 for most teams.
5. Green Bay Packers
Key Reserves: Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams (rookie), Jared Abbrederis (rookie), Jeff Janis (rookie), Ryan Taylor (TE), Richard Rodgers (rookie, TE), Colt Lyerla (rookie, TE)
The Green Bay Packers return an incredible amount of talent at wide receiver, but they've also added five new pass-catchers through the draft to an already stout group. That's a scary proposition for NFC North defenses.
Let's look at the returning players. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin are one of the best wide receiver trios in the league. Tight end Andrew Quarless isn't very tested, but he can play. That's a good group.
Now bring in rookies Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, Richard Rodgers and Colt Lyerla. Assuming they can all make the team—and they can—you have the makings for an incredibly dangerous group now and down the road.
4. New Orleans Saints
Starters: Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham (TE)
Key Reserves: Brandin Cooks (rookie), Robert Meachem, Nick Toon, Ben Watson (TE)
It's unfair that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has this much talent to work with, but he does. And this is one of the best units in the game.
Marques Colston is a top-tier No. 1 player and a dang good receiver in the Saints system. Opposite him, Kenny Stills emerged in his rookie season as a favorite target for Brees and a big yards-after-catch receiver. Oh, and the Saints have the NFL's most dominant athlete at tight end in Jimmy Graham.
Now take that talent and add Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks. The Oregon State speedster has crazy open-field moves and will give the offense an element it's never had. Cooks can be an All-Rookie player thanks to his hands, return skills and versatility in the offense.
Don't sleep on the depth here, either. Robert Meachem and Nick Toon are solid, and tight end Ben Watson is a jack-of-all-trades at this point in his career.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Starters: Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen (TE)
Key Reserves: Coby Fleener (TE), Da'Rick Rogers, Donte Moncrief (rookie), Deion Branch
Andrew Luck can look at the options presented to him in the huddle this season and feel very good about what the Indianapolis Colts have built in the passing game.
Reggie Wayne is returning from ACL surgery, and the team believes he'll be as good as ever. Even if he's not 100 percent, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks are both capable of taking over a game and threatening a defense. Luck will be able to find the matchups there and exploit the secondary.
It will help that the team now has two capable tight ends. Dwayne Allen missed nearly all of the 2013 season but is back and could be the team's leading receiver. Coby Fleener stepped up in his absence, but he does need more of a breakout performance in year three.
Donte Moncrief is raw, but he brings an athleticism that no one on this roster possesses. He won't be asked to do much in his first season, but he is a nice long-term option behind a ton of all-star talent.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Key Reserves: Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington (rookie), Quinton Patton, Vance McDonald (TE), Jonathan Baldwin
Jim Harbaugh may not be ready to open up his offense and throw the football around, but if he does, the San Francisco 49ers have an embarrassing amount of talent to offer quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Starting at wide receiver, the team has assembled a variety of wide receivers, all with unique talents.
Anquan Boldin is a master at catching in traffic and over the middle. Michael Crabtree works the sideline very well. New additions Stevie Johnson and Bruce Ellington are good down the field. And Quinton Patton, a rookie in 2013, is an all-around player with inside or outside skills. The 49ers can, and should, attack teams with a dynamic offense thanks to this type of talent.
But there's more. Tight end Vernon Davis is a speedster and a very good up-the-seam route-runner and receiver. He's an explosive game-changer. In his second season the team has hopes Vance McDonald can become more of a utility player, and he definitely has the speed and agility to be an impact if he can get more targets.
From top to bottom, the 49ers have the NFC's best talent at the receiver position.
1. Denver Broncos
Key Reserves: Andre Caldwell, Cody Latimer (rookie), Gerell Robinson, Joel Dreessen (TE), Jacob Tamme (TE)
The Denver Broncos rode a pass-heavy offense all the way to the Super Bowl after the 2013 season, and somehow general manager John Elway managed to improve the talent here this offseason.
Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker return as the stars of the receiving corps, but newcomers Emmanuel Sanders (free agency) and Cody Latimer (rookie) will get their share of reps and targets in this offense. Welker works exclusively in the slot, so look for Sanders and Latimer to work outside opposite Thomas in a four-wide offense few can stop.
If that's not scary enough, Julius Thomas is a freak at tight end. He moves like a receiver and has the body to position himself for tough grabs and end-zone catches. Thomas is on a quick path to superstar status.
The overall talent at receiver and tight end in Denver cannot be matched, and that's why the Broncos are an easy pick at No. 1 overall.
All depth charts courtesy of Ourlads.com.
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