- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Check out Jeffri Chadiha’s list of the top 10 wide receivers over on our main NFL page.
As you might have expected, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson tops the list. But there are two NFC South representatives in the top 10.
Chadiha ranks Atlanta’s Roddy White No. 4 and Carolina’s Steve Smith No. 5. I’m not quite in agreement with that order. I’d go with Smith as the division’s top receiver. He averaged 17.6 yards per catch last season and had nearly 1,400 receiving yards. Although Smith just turned 33, I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. In fact, with quarterback Cam Newton having a full offseason program for the first time, I expect Smith’s numbers to be even better in 2012.
I do think White is still a top-10 receiver, but his stock dropped a little bit in my eyes after he led the NFL in dropped passes last season. Plus, I’m also not sure White even will be the best receiver on his own team in 2012. I’m thinking there is a decent chance second-year pro Julio Jones could put up better numbers than White next season. Either way, White and Jones form what is the NFC South’s best tandem of starting receivers.
As far as tandems, I’ll go with Smith and White, followed by Colston and Lance Moore, Jackson and Mike Williams and Smith and whoever ends up starting opposite him (Brandon LaFell?). But, we should probably go a little deeper than just starting tandems because the Saints use Moore as much as most starters, and Adrian Arrington should get more playing time next season.
I’ll still give Atlanta the nod for best receiving corps with Harry Douglas joining White and Jones. New Orleans is a very close second. I’ll put Tampa Bay third and that’s going on the assumption that Williams and Arrelious Benn can have larger impacts than last season. If LaFell emerges, David Gettis is healthy and rookie Joe Adams is ready to play, Carolina might not stay fourth on my list of receiving corps for long.