NFC West: Todd Watkins
Fitzgerald already has 613 receptions, far more than any other NFC West receiver over the last seven seasons.
In fact, the wide receivers with the most receptions for the Cardinals' division rivals during the same time period -- Torry Holt (St. Louis), Bobby Engram (Seattle) and Arnaz Battle (San Francisco) -- have long since moved on. I ran across Engram in the 49ers' main lobby Wednesday; he's a quality control coach with the team.
History tells us receivers carry more risk than some other positions. For every Fitzgerald, there seems to be a Koren Robinson, David Terrell or Troy Williamson -- high picks that never came close to realizing their potential. Mike Williams' revival with Seattle last season was an exception.
The charts break down every receiver NFC West teams have drafted since 2004. Will the St. Louis Rams add Julio Jones to their list of drafted wideouts?
As in the past, I'll preface each chart with thoughts from the teams' perspectives.
Immediate needs don't matter so much when front-line talent is available ...
Time to start finding replacements for veterans who might not fit into our plans (Terrell Owens for the 49ers, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt for the Rams) ...
These guys might not start, but every team needs secondary options in the passing game ...
We're getting late enough in the draft to consider grabbing a receiver while a few with decent potential remain on the board ...
Time to fill out the roster and hope we find depth for special teams ...
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
I put together this chart as a companion to the earlier entry on rookie receivers. This shows rookie stats for every receiver NFC West teams have drafted since 2002. Eighteen of the 26 started zero games as rookies. Only four reached 20 receptions as rookies. Arizona has been the only team to draft productive rookie receivers with any consistency.A quick look at the NFC West's rookie receivers and their likely prospects for 2008:
- Arizona: Injury problems prevented third-round choice Early Doucet from seriously challenging for the No. 3 job vacated by Bryant Johnson. Doucet should play in a reserve role. Undrafted free agent Lance Long appears headed for the practice squad if he doesn't earn one of the final roster spots. Long has impressed in camp.
- San Francisco: Sixth-round choice Josh Morgan has been the surprise of camp. He could figure into the rotation if the 49ers continue to suffer from injuries. Undrafted free agent Cam Colvin appears headed for the practice squad.
- St. Louis: Second-round choice Donnie Avery and fourth-rounder Keenan Burton should play more than most rookies at the position. Avery adds value as a return specialist. Undrafted free agent Matt Caddell has one catch for 5 yards during preseason.
- Seattle: Undrafted free agent Michael Bumpus has played well enough to land on the practice squad if, as expected, he misses the cut.