Ranking every WR unit in the NFL: Seahawks have talent, still need more depth

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle does need to add a couple more receivers, but compared to every other team in the NFL it's really not that bad.

It's become evident by now that generally speaking, fans will never consider the 2013 Seattle Seahawks receivers to be a group that was especially talented. Without a 1,000-yard receiver, without Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, the group is just seen mostly as two guys: Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.

Neither of those guys cracked 900 yards, neither of them were likely to help you win a fantasy league, so neither are seen as being great talents. At least not to people who didn't watch all of the Seahawks games, like you and I probably did.

Tate is one of the shiftiest, hardest-to-tackle players in the NFL. I imagine that in the Detroit Lions offense, if healthy, he will get over 80 catches and over 1,000 yards, and do so consistently.

Baldwin can make highlight grabs, and despite playing in the Seattle offense and not being drafted in 2011, he has more career yards than Greg Little, Cecil Shorts, Jeremy Kerley, Randall Cobb, and Jordan Cameron.

Both Tate and Baldwin are as sure-handed as you could find as any duo in the league last year. They combined for just a handful of drops (ProFootballFocus says it was five total) and were able to make plays at the point of reception and after the catch. PFF gave them an identical grade for last season, and having those two as depth came in really handy when Harvin missed almost the whole season and Rice underperformed early in the year before tearing his ACL. Additionally, Jermaine Kearse jumped from fifth on the depth chart to third, and pulled that off pretty spectacularly.

But Tate is gone now and hasn't been replaced, so that depth is called into question. Most assume that the Seahawks will draft a receiver in the first or second round, but it's foolish to assume anything from Pete Carroll and John Schneider. We also can't ignore that their track record with drafting receivers is... questionable.

Kris Durham and Chris Harper are now on the depth charts of other teams. Baldwin was a good get after the fact, but they were also among the teams not willing to even spend a seventh round pick on him. Tate took his time becoming a reliable every-week option. So even if Seattle does spend one of their first two picks on a receiver, we shouldn't just plug him in for 60 catches and 900 yards next season "just because."

There's a serious concern with the Seahawks receiving corps right now. The good news is that it's not necessarily any less concerning then their NFC West brethren.

In the best case scenario, Seattle has one of the top five receivers in the NFL with Harvin and he plays the entire season, playoffs, and wins Super Bowl MVP. Baldwin has a big breakout season. Kearse settles into a full-time role, gaining five or six hundred yards. And some rookie flashes moments of brilliance, and is also taller than 6'1. I know people are excited about the prospects of Chris Matthews, but let's not go telling tales out of school; Matthews has done nothing yet. You don't bounce around and end up in the CFL for no reason.

I'm confident that no matter what, the Seahawks will figure it out. Hell, they just did. Replacing Tate won't be easy, unless Harvin stays healthy and in that case it's actually incredibly easy.

What I've done is grouped together the current wide receiver units for every team in the NFL. Is it better to have high-end talent or depth? I guess that's just a matter of opinion. The Broncos and 49ers have high-end talent and both made it deep into the playoffs. The Patriots and Seahawks have depth, and both made it deep into the playoffs.

The following groups are, just like, my opinions, man.

Teams with a great 1-2:

49ers

Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Kassim Osgood, Devon Wylie

Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn Jr, Brittan Golden

Falcons

Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Drew Davis

Bears

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Domenik Hixon, Marquess Wilson, Eric Weems

Packers

Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Chris Harper, Myles White

Redskins

DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss, Andre Roberts, David Gettis

Broncos

Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Norwood

Colts

T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers

Texans

Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey

Quickly:

By signing Jackson, the Redskins immediately have the potential to have the most complete receiver unit in the NFL. If they all stay healthy and out of trouble (and I assume cut Moss), then Jackson, Garcon, Roberts, Hankerson, and Robinson is a pretty damn good unit.

In the case of the Niners, Bears, Texans, Packers, and really the Cardinals, things get pretty darn scarce after the top two. As we saw with the Falcons last year, things can go "south" pretty quick when someone (or some two) gets injured. And how often do receivers get injured?

Often!

Off the top of my head, Crabtree, Cobb, Harvin, Jones, White, Jeremy Maclin, Wayne all missed significant amounts of time. Remember that when you're looking over these depth charts: Some of these players will miss the majority of the season. That's unavoidable. You'll be thinking, "Oh the Texans have Johnson and Hopkins, so they aren't all bad!" but then quickly Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey are starting.

It happens. A lot.

Teams that might have a great 1-2:

Seahawks

Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin (RFA), Jermaine Kearse, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Chris Matthews, Ricardo Lockette

Saints

Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Joe Morgan, Nick Toon, Andy Tanner

Lions

Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree

Cowboys

Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris

Chargers

Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal

Ravens

Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Deonte Thompson, Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette

Dolphins

Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Armon Binns, Kevin Cone

Quickly:

I'm actually not a big fan of Wallace, Hartline, but they are a better 1-2 than just about half of the rest of the league. However, it doesn't match up to what the Dolphins pay their receivers: $29 million total for 2014. That's the most that any team in the NFL is paying their receivers.

The best depth here probably belongs to the Lions or Chargers. Seattle's depth is okay, but remember that you know those names more well because you're a Seahawks fan. Bates, Arceto Clark, Lockette, Matthews, Walters. Sorry, but these are not proven receivers. Sure, that was Baldwin, Kearse at one point, but we don't know who of them, if any, will pan out. So the depth can't be compared to that of Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal. We've seen something from them before.

It also goes to show that teams are a lot more shallow at receiver than you think.

Teams with just a 1:

Buccaneers

Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy, Skye Dawson, Lavelle Hawkins, Chris Owusu, Tommy Streeter

Giants

Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Rueben Randle, Trindon Holliday, Preston Parker, Jerrel Jernigan

Jaguars

Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon (Suspended), Ace Sanders, Stephen Williams, Tandon Doss, Stephen Burton

Bengals

A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen, Dane Sanzenbacher (RFA)

Browns

Josh Gordon, Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin

Steelers

Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Lance Moore, Markus Wheaton, Danny Coale

Quickly:

Teams that might not belong in this group are Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, but I think they're all pretty awful at receiver outside of their top threat. If Blackmon wasn't on the naughty list, I'd definitely upgrade Jacksonville to the next group up.

Did you realize that Tampa Bay was that shitty at receiver?

Teams that appear to have depth, but may lack top-end talent:

Rams

Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis

Vikings

Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright

Jets

Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jacoby Ford, David Nelson, Greg Salas, Clyde Gates

Patriots

Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Matt Slater

Bills

Stevie Johnson, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Chris Hogan, Ramses Barden

Quickly:

These teams are tougher to peg. I like players like Austin, Patterson, Amendola. I think that the Jets are a lot deeper and more talented than anyone imagined, and even the Bills have a lot of potential there.

The Rams actually have the deepest group of receivers in the division (yes, I said it!) but I'd be wary of betting money than any of them will go over 600 yards next year. There's still apparent problems on that offense.

Teams that lack many exciting options:

Eagles

Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Brad Smith, Demaris Johnson, Arrelious Benn, Jeff Maehl

Titans

Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Marc Mariani

Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, AJ Jenkins, Junior Hemingway

Raiders

James Jones, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Brice Butler

Quickly:

Maclin missed the whole year, Cooper wasn't all that good in my opinion. Wright had one of the least productive 1,000-yard seasons in history. The Chiefs may end up having the worst receiving corps in the league and they don't have their second round pick, so I would definitely be surprised if they didn't draft a receiver in the first round. The Raiders may actually have a good group of receivers (whereas KC definitely doesn't) but it's Oakland so how can I trust that?

And finally, the Panthers:

Panthers

Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood, Marvin McNutt, Kealoha Pilares

Just signed Jason Avant to be their number two! Behind Jerricho freaking Cotchery!

Overall quickly:

So Seattle has a definite need for a new receiver, and likely will draft one early. But in comparison to every other team, it's honestly not that bad. Nobody else has a "Percy Harvin" and if healthy, the Seahawks have one of the best weapons in the league. Baldwin and Kearse aren't a bad 2-3, though I definitely think they'll need a bigger option for the red zone. Honestly, Luke Willson could end up being that guy, and maybe even lineup outside of the tackles more often in 2014.

Currently available free agents include: Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Miles Austin, Damian Williams, Danario Alexander, Robert Meachem, Earl Bennett, Austin Collie, Josh Morgan, Dezmon Briscoe, Davone Bess, Josh Cribbs. They'll probably sign one of those guys, likely Rice, but Carroll does also have a connection to Williams at USC.

Once they draft a guy and sign a guy, the depth and talent probably won't be too worrisome at all.

Unfortunately that still won't change the perception of what fans think of Seattle's 2013 group of receivers. Oh well... Scoreboard, motherf#$@ers!



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