November 15, 2010; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (18) celebrates with wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Ranking The NFC East Teams: Wide Receiver

Partially because it interests me and partially because I could easily see any of 3 teams (sorry, Washington) winning the NFC East, I’m ranking the NFC East teams, position-by-position, in an effort to help me figure out who I’ll be predicting as the division’s winner when the season opens up on September 5th. I’ll be assigning 1 point for the top spot, 2 for the second spot, 3 for the third spot, and 4 for the 4th spot. The lowest total at the conclusion of the exercise (which will include coaches, coordinators, and schedules) will be my pick for the NFC East champion. Today we’ll handle the wide receivers.

Starters:

1) New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are arguably the best WR tandem in the NFL, and the duo combined to help propel the G-Men to a Super Bowl title last year.

2) Philadelphia Eagles: It’s close, but after down years from Desean Jackson (contract negotiations) and Jeremy Maclin (illness, injuries), the Birds come in 2nd in the division. A bounce-back year from these two and some regression to the mean from Cruz and the order could be flipped around by the end of the season.

3) Dallas Cowboys: Miles Austin is coming off an injury-plagued season (mainly hamstrings) and that’s continued so far in camp. Dez Bryant had another tumultous offseason away from the field, and while he’s a physical specimin, he’s been inconsistent thus far in his NFL career.

4) Washington Redskins: Santana Moss is a proven veteran and Pierre Garcon is looking to prove that he wasn’t a product of the system (and Peyton Manning) in Indianapolis. While Garcon might not live up to the big contract he signed this offseason, he’s still a very capable receiver and the Redskins starters aren’t bad at all. They just happen to play in a very receiver-happy division.

Backups:

The Eagles have one of the best 3rd-down WRs in the NFL in Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper is a big body who contributes on special teams and on the field as the 4th WR. Damaris Johnson has shown flashes of brilliance in the preseason so far and could contribute as a punt returner along with a receiver while Cooper is out. What the Redskins lack in starter quality, they make up for in depth. Josh Morgan was brought over from San Francisco this offseason. He’s a possession receiver with good hands coming off a gruesome leg injury, but if he’s healthy he’ll be an excellent addition to their WR corps. Leonard Hankerson is entering his 2nd year on the team after a quiet rookie year and he looks to be ready to make some noise as the 3rd WR with his big frame and upside. Speedster Anthony Armstrong is a capable deep threat and he rounds out the WR unit. The Giants lost Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham from last year’s team, but drafted LSU’s Rueben Randle in the 2nd round this year to replace him. Randle could see time as a starter if Hakeem Nicks isn’t fully healed before the opener. Oft-injured Domenik Hixon (missed all but 2 games last year) and return specialist Jerrel Jernigan round out NY’s WR group. Dallas has major question marks behind Austin and Bryant at receiver after Laurent Robinson’s departure for Jacksonville in free agency this offseason. 4-year vet Kevin Ogletree is the favorite to win the 3rd WR job, but he only has 25 catches in his 4-year career. Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley are the frontrunners for the final 2 spots, but neither has played in an NFL game thus far. I know the saying is “quality over quantity”, but in the case of the WR position, where 3 WRs are on the field a great deal and it’s not at all uncommon to see 4, I think depth matters more here than it does at other positions. With that in mind, I’m vaulting the Eagles over the Giants and the Redskins over the Cowboys.

Dec 24, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jason Avant (81) dives for the pylon while losing the ball against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) in the second quarter at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Final Order:

1) Philadelphia Eagles

2) New York Giants

3) Washington Redskins

4) Dallas Cowboys

Overall Standings by points:

1) TIE: Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants-5 points

3) Dallas Cowboys-9 points

4) Washington Redskins-11 points

 

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeSean Jackson Dez Bryant Hakeem Nicks Jeremy Maclin Miles Austin New York Giants Philadelphia Eagles Pierre Garcon Santana Moss Victor Cruz Washington Redskins

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