With the 2008 NFL regular season still pretty far off in the distance, dissecting Scouts Inc.'s NFC wide-receiver rankings seems like a good way to kill time.
2) Larry Fitzgerald
4) Steve Smith
5) Marques Colston
Everyone knows how good T.O. is. He accumulated 1,355 yards (fifth in the NFL) last season on 81 receptions (16.7 YPC average). He also caught 15 TDs. His best game in 2007 was a 38-17 win against the Eagles, in which he caught 10 passes—one was a touchdown—for 174 yards.
When I first saw Fitzgerald at No.2 in the rankings, I thought, "Why? I haven't heard anything about this guy in forever."
Well, I don't how I haven't heard about him. He accounted for 1,409 yards last year, and he amassed 100 catches—10 of which were in the end zone. In his best game last season (a 49-19 win against St. Louis), he caught 11 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
Originally when I saw Burress ranked ahead of my boy Steve Smith, I puked. He shouldn't be ahead of Smitty. Burress only had 70 receptions, 12 TDs, and 1,025 receiving yards in '07. His most notorious performance last year (a 45-35 loss to the Cowboys) saw him catch eights balls for 144 yards and three touchdowns.
Finally, my man Steve Smith gets some love. He caught an outstanding 89 passes for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns. His best game last year found him hauling in seven catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 loss to the Texans.
Okay, so Smitty doesn't look better from a statistical point-of-view when using last year's stats. But there's a reason for that (beyond the fact that you wisecrackers out there will say that he sucked more).
But may I remind you that Panthers starting quarterback Jake Delhomme, with whom Smith has great chemistry, missed all but three games last year with an elbow injury. Smith and backup David Carr were on different pages the whole year.
If Smitty zigged, Carr would expect him to zag. If Delhomme had been healthy the whole year, Smith would have had year to compare to T.O. Just puttin' that out there.
As a Panthers fan, I saw Marques Colston a fair amount last year. From what I saw of him, I can tell you that he was good, though I don't think he's top-five NFC material.
In 2007, Colston compiled 98 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 TDs. His best game (a 41-24 win over Jacksonville) had him catch 10 passes for 159 yards, but somehow no TDs.
While Owens and Fitzgerald deserve their top spots, I wonder how differently the final three rankings would have ended up if Delhomme had been healthy for the whole year.