Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Paging wide receivers not named Fitzgerald
By Mike Sando
NFL teams drafted five wide receivers among the first 33 picks in 2012.
Teams from the NFC West selected three of them.
The chart provides at least some indication why.
Wideouts from the NFC West combined for 44 touchdown receptions, tied with teams from the AFC South for the fewest in the NFL. The figures were higher for the NFC North (82), NFC East (75), NFC South (67), AFC East (59), AFC West (53) and AFC North (49).
The depressed numbers are not specific to wide receivers in every case. NFC West teams need more from their offenses in general. Seattle and St. Louis got no touchdown receptions from their tight ends, for instance.
But most receivers in this division not named Larry Fitzgerald could stand to step up their games.
Fitzgerald's eight touchdown receptions led the division's wide receivers. Arizona teammate Early Doucet was next with five, tied with the St. Louis total for Brandon Lloyd. San Francisco's Michael Crabtree and Seattle's Doug Baldwin were next with four apiece.
Arizona, whose wide receivers led NFC West teams with 15 touchdown catches, used the 13th overall choice for Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd. The team could get more production from Andre Roberts, who figures to get more playing time from the slot once Floyd takes over as the starter opposite Fitzgerald. Roberts appears ideally suited for the change.
San Francisco, tied with St. Louis and two other teams for the league low with eight touchdown catches by wideouts, used the 30th overall choice for Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins. The Rams took Appalachian State receiver Brian Quick three spots later. They also used a fourth-round choice for Wake Forest speedster Chris Givens.
Injuries hurt the NFC West at receiver last season. Seattle's Sidney Rice missed seven games. St. Louis' Danny Amendola missed 15. San Francisco's Josh Morgan missed 11.
Rice and Amendola are back. Morgan signed with Washington in free agency. The 49ers bolstered the position by signing Randy Moss and Mario Manningham before drafting Jenkins.
The Seahawks were the only NFC West team that did not address the position in the draft. They are expecting a bounce-back season from a healthy Sidney Rice, and a breakout season from 2010 second-round choice Golden Tate. Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham have a chance to contribute in their second NFL seasons.