Thursday, March 15, 2012
Sifting through the rubble at wide receiver
By Mike Sando
Wide receivers Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Laurent Robinson, Josh Morgan, Eric Weems and Harry Douglas have found new homes after hitting the NFL's free-agent market.
Franchise tags essentially removed from consideration Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson.
Others, such as Marques Colston, re-signed before free agency.
Teams still searching for help at the position -- that would be pretty much everyone but Seattle in the NFC West -- are left with a picked-over group of free agents.
Jerome Simpson, Plaxico Burress, Brandon Lloyd, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Roy Williams, Mario Manningham and Early Doucet are the only ones remaining to have played at least half of their team's offensive snaps during the 2011 season.
As the chart shows, Burress was particularly effective in the red zone for the New York Jets. He converted first downs 38 times in 45 receptions for the third-highest percentage among wide receivers with at least 40 receptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Burress is also up there in age. He's among 12 available wideouts already in their 30s: Hines Ward (36), Burress (34), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (34), Kevin Curtis (33), Patrick Crayton (32), Deion Branch (32), Rashied Davis (32), Donte Stallworth (31), Jerheme Urban (31), Bryant Johnson (31), Lloyd (30) and Williams (30).
Of them, Lloyd has visited the San Francisco 49ers.
Nine more are 29 years old: Greg Camarillo, Keary Colbert, Mark Clayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock and Braylon Edwards.
OK, let's check out 18 others, all younger than 29: David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aroshamodu, Donnie Avery, Anthony Gonzalez, Maurice Stovall, Derek Hagan, Mike Sims-Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., Andre Caldwell, Steve Smith, Doucet, Brett Swain, Chaz Schilens, Simpson, Manningham, Devin Thomas and Kevin Ogletree.
Schilens visited Arizona and San Francisco. Manningham visited the 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.
I've also broken down the available wideouts by drafted round:
- First: Williams, Burress, Ginn, Stallworth, both Claytons, Johnson, Gonzalez and Edwards
- Second: Avery, Thomas, Simpson, Smith, Parrish, Branch, Colbert
- Third: Roby, Doucet, Hagan, Stovall, Manningham, Caldwell, Curtis, Sims-Walker, Ward
- Fourth: Cotchery, Lloyd
- Fifth: Legedu Naanee
- Sixth: none
- Seventh: Houshmandzadeh, Crayton, Schilens, Aromashodu, Anderson, Swain
- Undrafted: Davis, Urban, Camarillo, Spurlock, Ogletree
Only a handful of the available receivers project as starters. None would qualify as an outright game-breaker.
The Rams in particular need playmakers, but in looking at what is available, how many would qualify as dramatically better than what they already have? Austin Pettis, Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Dominique Curry, Greg Salas and restricted free agent Danny Amendola are their current wideouts.