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Friday, February 27, 2009
Assessing Houshmandzadeh's production

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

 
  Dick Whipple?AP
  T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been hurt by the overall decline of Cincinnati's offense.

Let's say I owned a stock worth $13.40 per share in 2004. Let's say the stock price fell to $12.30 in 2005, $12 in 2006, $10.20 in 2007 and $9.80 in 2008. I'm guessing you wouldn't necessarily rush out to purchase shares of this unnamed company.

Let's say the company were actually an NFL wide receiver. Let's say we converted those share prices from dollars to yards per reception. We would be talking about T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He averaged 13.4 yards per reception in 2004. That figure has fallen every season since, reaching 9.8 yards per reception last season.

Just as a faltering economy can affect a stock'a price, a faltering offense can affect a receiver's opportunities. The Bengals' offense has declined significantly in recent seasons, affecting Houshmandzadeh and everyone else. I think he would bring an improved level of consistency to the Seattle passing game while protecting the Seahawks from entering the draft feeling pressure to address the position early.

Houshmandzadeh has averaged 98 receptions per season over the last three seasons. He has 507 career catches. His 32 touchdown receptions over the last four seasons exceed by five the combined total for Seattle receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram over the same period.

What to make of Houshmandzadeh? Scouts Inc. included these notes in its scouting report heading into the 2008 season:

He is no longer a young receiver and has probably peaked, but he still ranks among the best possession receivers in the league. He is a terrific route-runner who is intelligent in how he sets up defenders and sells specific routes. Houshmandzadeh has very reliable hands, consistently plucks the ball away from his body and rarely drops passes he should haul in. He has become an outstanding red zone threat who has the trust of his quarterback and shields defenders really well. He is fearless, competitive and does some of his best work over the middle of the field.

He is effective from any wide receiver position and is a student of the game. Houshmandzadeh isn't a blazer, but he continually gets separation due to his route-running prowess. He will not run past many cornerbacks in this league and isn't a top deep threat. Houshmandzadeh catches plenty of touchdowns and moves the chains, but he is not a vertical threat. He does the majority of his work underneath.

He has been a durability concern in the past. Some of Houshmandzadeh's production is derived from all the attention Chad Johnson receives on the opposite side. That being said, he is an ideal No. 2 receiver and is the player Carson Palmer looks to when he needs to move the chains.