Dennis Northcutt: Torry Holt's Likely Sidekick

Daniel ShanksAnalyst IMay 17, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 18:  Dennis Northcut #86 of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes a reception against Keiwan Ratliff #31 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on December 18, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

"A receiver, a receiver, my kingdom for a receiver!"

(Wow, Shakespeare really IS still relevant today!)

I'm sure Wayne Weaver has uttered some variation of this phrase hundreds of times since Keenan and Jimmy left Jacksonville. There has been a revolving door of free agent busts and disappointing draft picks at the wide receiver position.

Jaguar coaches and fans probably thought there was light at the end of the receiver tunnel in 2007 and 2008, when Reggie Williams and Matt Jones finally showed some consistent production.

Williams, more known for his mouth and his antics than his ability, led the team with 629 receiving yards and a franchise-record 10 touchdown receptions (I couldn't believe it was the franchise record, either) in 2007.

Last year, the troubled, aloof and lazy Jones had a career year with 65 receptions and 761 yards. He posted those numbers despite not playing in four games.

But Tweedledum and Tweedledumber couldn't stay out of trouble (I was thinking about writing that they couldn't keep their noses clean, but that's a low blow), and both troubled receivers were jettisoned by the team this offseason.

Regardless of what free agent acquisition Torry Holt brings to the team in terms of production, I love the signing. Here is a guy who is a consummate professional, has never been in trouble and has a Super Bowl ring.

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Not only can he still play at a high level, but he can also mentor the younger receivers so they don't fellow in the footsteps of their wayward predecessors.

From a football standpoint, the question is who will step up and become the No. 2 receiver. I've heard some people say that Holt is no longer a No. 1 caliber guy. That might be true, but if those people knew anything about the Jaguars, they'd understand that Holt is Jacksonville's No. 1 option at WR.

While there are a number of candidates to fill the role, my sizable gut tells me that Dennis Northcutt will re-emerge and grab the spot.

As I typed that last sentence, I almost heard a collective moan and groan from the Jacksonville faithful. I know a lot of fans are still a little upset with Northcutt after his crucial drop in the playoff game against New England about 16 months ago.

To those fans, I can only say two things. First, yes, he did drop that pass, but he did not allow Tom Brady to go 26-for-28. That was the defense's fault, and that is what lost Jacksonville that game.

Secondly, I know the drop came in a critical situation. But this is no secret to anyone who has followed Northcutt's career. He has a tendency to drop passes. That was the case in Cleveland, and that was still the case when he came to Jacksonville.

Northcutt will drop some passes that will make fans cringe, but he is a solid NFL wide receiver. In his first year with the Jags, he had 601 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Last year, I got the sense that Northcutt was firmly buried at the bottom of Jack Del Rio's doghouse when the season began. There were so many games early on when I'd look on the field and think, "Where's Northcutt?"

As the season progressed and none of the receivers (besides Jones) had any real production, Jacksonville went back to Northcutt and he thrived. In the first six games of the season, he only caught eight passes. But he finished with 44 receptions and had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against Green Bay and Indianapolis.

When it comes to the No. 2 receiver position, Dennis Northcutt is clearly the most qualified man for the job. I believe he and Holt can make a pretty formidable duo, especially if the running game gets on track.


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