Top Five NFL Units: Wide Receivers
These words are often used to describe the wide receivers. Sometimes these descriptions are well-warranted.
Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Brandon Marshall have all received a good deal of negative publicity over the course of their careers.
They are also some of the most athletic players on the field.
No other offensive position features a bigger collection of players who can run fast, jump high, and show a great deal of agility.
When I rank the best wide receiving units, it helps to have a bona fide No. 1 guy, but you've got to have more than that.
You've got to have quality depth as well.
Here's a look at the best wide receiver units in the NFL.
Just Missed the Cut...
New Orleans Saints
The Saints top three receivers are among the best in the NFL. Lance Moore exploded onto the scene in 2008, thanks in part to Marques Colston's injury.
Moore is a lot like Wes Welker. He is the same height as Welker and just five pounds heavier. Also like Welker, Moore excels at getting open on short and intermediate routes.
No. 1 receiver Marques Colston is back and healthy. Colston owns the NFL record with the most catches in the first two years of a career (168).
The third receiver is speedster Devery Henderson. He has led the NFL in yards per catch in two of the past three seasons.
5. Houston Texans
Give this team a top ten quarterback and this group of receivers may just jump up into the top three.
Give Andre Johnson a stage like Larry Fitzgerald has last postseason, and he may be regarded as the best receiver in the league.
Johnson has led the league in reception in two of the past three years and led the league in yards last year.
Kevin Walter has established himself as one of the better number two receivers in the league.
He has averaged about 850 yards over the past two seasons and had eight touchdowns last year.
Unfortunately for the Texans, they don't have a whole lot of depth behind Johnson and Walters.
4. Denver Broncos
While the Texans' receiving corps has never had a top ten quarterback, the Broncos lost theirs in a trade to Chicago.
Like Colston and Johnson, Brandon Marshall is a big, physical receiver.
Marshall has used his 6'4" frame to haul in over 100 receptions and over 1,200 yards in consecutive seasons.
Eddie Royal was a rookie last year and was spectacular as Marshall's sidekick.
Royal had 91 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards as a rookie. He has a lot of speed as evidenced by his 93-yard reception, 71-yard run, and 95-yard kick off return.
Despite all that speed, Royal needs to improve upon his 10.8 yards per catch.
The Broncos' depth is what separates them from most of the other receiving units.
Brandon Stokley is better than most No. 3 receivers. He posted 49 receptions last year but has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career.
Jabar Gaffney was a part-time starter while in New England and is a serviceable backup receiver.
3. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are one of those teams that has two receivers that could both be number one on the depth chart.
Buffalo significantly upgraded its offense with the addition of Terrell Owens. We all know about his falling-outs with quarterbacks, but he has always been a model citizen in his first year with a team.
Owens, however, isn't even the No. 1 receiver on his new team.
That honor goes to Lee Evans.
Evans is an underrated receiver whose numbers suffer some because he's never had a top quarterback throw the ball his way.
Evans is one of the best deep threats in the league. In 2006, he caught two 83-yard touchdown passes against the Houston Texans.
He is sixth among active receivers in yards per catch.
Josh Reed is the Bills' third receiver and has improved a lot in his last two seasons. Reed has averaged about 53 catches and nearly 600 yards since 2007.
Reed's quickness will allow him to fit perfectly as a slot receiver next to Evans and Owens.
Returner Roscoe Parrish, Steve Johnson, and James Hardy are also part of this unit.
2. New England Patriots
The last time Tom Brady played a full season (or even a full game for that matter) the Patriots top two receivers combined for 210 grabs, over 2,600 yards, and 31 touchdowns.
While I don't expect Randy Moss and Wes Welker to ever repeat their 2007 performance, I do expect them to be really good.
Moss already ranks among the all-time great receivers, and if he retired today, he would make the Hall of Fame.
Moss is still one of the best deep threats in the game today.
Even without Brady, Welker made the playoffs for the first time in his career last year. He has 223 catches over the past two seasons.
The Patriots acquired Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis in the off-season.
1. Arizona Cardinals
There is no better receiving duo in the NFL than Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Fitzgerald has perhaps surpassed Moss as the best wide receiver and deep threat in the league.
Not only did Fitzgerald earn a Pro Bowl berth in the regular season, but he ripped through the playoffs for 546 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging over 18 yards per catch.
Boldin could be a No. 1 receiver on a lot of teams. He has 160 receptions and nearly 1,900 yards over the past two seasons.
Third receiver Steve Breaston exploded on the scene last year. He caught 77 passes for just over 1,000 yards. Those numbers are better than some No. 1 receivers and most No. 2 receivers.
Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet round out this receiving unit.