- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Around these parts, that leads to the obvious question: What's the best receiving duo in the NFC South? It's a tough question because there's a flaw or potential flaw for each of the four teams.
If this were four or five years ago, I'd go with Carolina's Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad in a heartbeat. But I can't really do that now. Smith is the division's best receiver, but he's suspended for the first two games. Muhammad was very good in his previous stint with Carolina, but he was quiet in Chicago last season (although the quarterback situation probably had a lot to do with that). Plus, Muhammad is 35 and he's got to slow down at some point. At this moment, we don't even know who will start opposite Muhammad in the first two games. It could be D.J. Hackett, who's missed a lot of time with injury or it could be Dwayne Jarrett, who has had a nice preseason, but didn't do anything as a rookie last year.
New Orleans' Marques Colston is an elite receiver, but he's dragged down by his supporting cast. It looks like Devery Henderson is the favorite to be the No. 2 receiver right now, but he's got a history of dropping passes. I know Colston and Jeremy Shockey might be the division's best 1-2 punch, but Shockey is a tight end and that eliminates him from this conversation.
Atlanta has a rising star in Roddy White, but uncertainty at the No. 2 spot. Laurent Robinson fell out of favor and it looks like Michael Jenkins will start. Jenkins isn't a bad receiver, but he's probably best suited to be a No. 3 or No. 4 guy.
That leaves Tampa Bay, where Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard combine to be about 312 years old. The issue of age aside, I'm going to give this duo the nod simply because it's the safest in the division. Although Galloway has missed just about all of the preseason, he'll be rested and ready on opening day. Galloway is still a 1,000-yard receiver and Hilliard is dependable.
That's more than any other duo in the division can say. Again, that is my pick right this moment and the receiving corps are very much in flux in this division. We'll revisit this and probably have a totally different answer a month or two into the season.