TheFatboi

Ranking the NFC South receiver corps

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https://www.atlantafalcons.com/_mobileview/news/ranking-the-nfc-south-s-receiver-corps-falcons-boast-an-intimidating-group

 

 

Ranking the NFC South’s receiver corps: Falcons boast an intimidating group

 

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Will McFadden

ATLANTAFALCONS.COM

 
 

WR Mohamed Sanu _0103

By this point in the offseason we have a pretty good picture of what certain position groups look like around the NFL. Since there are still a couple of months remaining until training camps start firing up, let’s use this time to take a look around the NFC South and see how teams stack up at certain positions.

Today, the wide receivers are the topic of focus. The NFC South features some of the top receivers in the league in Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Michael Thomas. But a successful position group requires more than just one star at the top of the depth chart.

For the duration of these NFC South position group rankings, we will be rating the groups on a 1-4 scale in five different categories with No. 1 being the best and No. 4 being the worst. The five categories are as follows:

Drop-off factor: The drop in production from the No. 1 receiver to No. 2 and No. 3.

Returning production: Are the top producers from 2018 back with the team in 2019?

Best player: OK, the No. 1 option does mean something.

Consistency: How long have the main receivers been with the team and playing together?

Depth: Taking the “drop-off factor” and applying it to the total depth chart.

Now that we’re clear on the rules, let’s take a look at how the rankings panned out.

 

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AP/Mike McCarn

4. Carolina Panthers

Aggregate score: 3.2

  • Top player: D.J. Moore
  • Drop-off factor: 3
  • Returning production: 3
  • Best player: 4
  • Consistency: 4
  • Depth: 2

D.J. Moore was one of the top rookie receivers in the NFL last season, but he is easily the fourth-most proven No. 1 receiver in the NFC South. He and Curtis Samuel had their moments last season, combining for 94 catches for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns, but the team lost No. 2 receiver Devin Funchess in free agency. They’ve got a good haul coming in with Chris Hogan, Terry Godwin and Aldrick Robinson, and the Panthers have Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright coming back, which helped their depth score greatly.

There is upside for this position group to surprise in 2019 as Moore and Samuel continue to grow as players, but that lack of proven top-tier talent is what has the Panthers as the bottom team in these rankings.

 

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AP/Adam Hunger

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aggregate score: 3

  • Top player: Mike Evans
  • Drop-off factor: 2
  • Returning production: 4
  • Best player: 2
  • Consistency: 3
  • Depth: 4

The Buccaneers just barely edged ahead of the Panthers on this list, getting some help from Mike Evans’ proven production and star power. All told, however, this has been a tough offseason for the Bucs at receiver. The losses of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson will likely be felt next season, as they accounted for 117 catches, 1,590 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Chris Godwin’s emergence as a reliable second option last season should bring some confidence in Tampa Bay’s top two options, but he and Evans might have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

The combination of Evans and Godwin should be formidable in 2019 after a good 2018, but the Buccaneers will need some unproven players to step up around them. Tampa Bay’s receiving corps took the biggest step back this offseason.

 

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AP/Kevin Terrell

2. New Orleans Saints

Aggregate score: 2.4

  • Top player: Michael Thomas
  • Drop-off factor: 4
  • Returning production: 2
  • Best player: 3
  • Consistency: 2
  • Depth: 1

Led by Drew Brees, the Saints have one of the most potent passing offenses in the NFL. But Brees, one of the league’s most efficient quarterbacks, distributes the ball everywhere on the field. Michael Thomas is a bon-a-fide No. 1 receiver, and Ted Ginn is an effective No. 2 when healthy, but there isn’t a ton of talent behind those two. Regardless, Brees’ ability to elevate those receivers he plays with is what earned the Saints the top depth score. They simply had the highest number of contributors at the receiver position.

With a running back like Alvin Kamara returning, the Saints are always going to have options when throwing the ball. New Orleans’ receiving corps is nothing to sneeze at, but it isn’t the sole reason for the Saints’ offensive success.

 

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1. Atlanta Falcons

Aggregate score: 1.4

  • Top player: Julio Jones
  • Drop-off factor: 1
  • Returning production: 1
  • Best player: 1
  • Consistency: 1
  • Depth: 3

The Falcons check pretty much every box you would want in a receiver group. An elite No. 1 receiver capable of creating numerous matchup problems – check. A reliable slot receiver who can win in a variety of ways – check. A young, dynamic playmaker with tantalizing upside – check. Atlanta’s starting trio of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley would rank right up there with any other in the league. The only area the Falcons can be knocked in this division is the depth behind those three, although that’s not in any way meant to disparage the reliability of Justin Hardy in spurts.

Atlanta returns its top-two performing receivers for the third straight season, and Ridley’s emergence in 2019 makes this group not just the best in the NFC South, but one of the best in the NFL.

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Don't get the depth knock on the Falcons. The Saints had 9 guys with more than 10 catches. Falcons had 8, with no Freeman. But when you look at true contributors, the Saints only had three guys with more than 30 catches. Falcons had five. Come on. 

The Saints passing game is Michael Thomas or check down to Kamara. It frustrated me watching it because it's quite clear. Hopefully teams see it this year. Doubt it though. 

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2 minutes ago, vel said:

Don't get the depth knock on the Falcons. The Saints had 9 guys with more than 10 catches. Falcons had 8, with no Freeman. But when you look at true contributors, the Saints only had three guys with more than 30 catches. Falcons had five. Come on. 

The Saints passing game is Michael Thomas or check down to Kamara. It frustrated me watching it because it's quite clear. Hopefully teams see it this year. Doubt it though. 

Teams see it, they just can't effectively stop it. 

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2 minutes ago, vel said:

Don't get the depth knock on the Falcons. The Saints had 9 guys with more than 10 catches. Falcons had 8, with no Freeman. But when you look at true contributors, the Saints only had three guys with more than 30 catches. Falcons had five. Come on. 

The Saints passing game is Michael Thomas or check down to Kamara. It frustrated me watching it because it's quite clear. Hopefully teams see it this year. Doubt it though. 

Yep. That’s why Dallas shut them down. You have to play NO physically. You can’t zone em to death. You gotta be on Kamara’s @ss and man Thomas. They couldn’t even move the ball against Dallas. And they gave us a hard time but it’s only so long you can contain Julio. He caught the game tying TD on a bomb but the defense couldn’t hold. 

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2 minutes ago, mvcrook said:

Teams see it, they just can't effectively stop it. 

Don’t have the personnel to. But the teams that do like Dallas know how to play them. You gotta handle them. Can’t play zone and be scared. Gotta man up and hit them in the mouth. 

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5 minutes ago, mvcrook said:

Teams see it, they just can't effectively stop it. 

I think teams are scared of the decal on the helmet and forget about the personnel on the field. Like Fatboi said below, Dallas punched them in the mouth and made them play their kind of football instead of getting comfortable. 

3 minutes ago, TheFatboi said:

Yep. That’s why Dallas shut them down. You have to play NO physically. You can’t zone em to death. You gotta be on Kamara’s @ss and man Thomas. They couldn’t even move the ball against Dallas. And they gave us a hard time but it’s only so long you can contain Julio. He caught the game tying TD on a bomb but the defense couldn’t hold. 

Exactly. Make Kamara pass protect. After that, Thomas isn't running deep so challenge him at the line all game. That makes Brees work to find the other guys who can't get open without scheme help. Teams were too scared to take the game to them. You saw the Rams do it. That's how they won that game. They kept punching the Saints in the mouth. They didn't sit back and wait for it to happen. 

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1 minute ago, vel said:

I think teams are scared of the decal on the helmet and forget about the personnel on the field. Like Fatboi said below, Dallas punched them in the mouth and made them play their kind of football instead of getting comfortable. 

Exactly. Make Kamara pass protect. After that, Thomas isn't running deep so challenge him at the line all game. That makes Brees work to find the other guys who can't get open without scheme help. Teams were too scared to take the game to them. You saw the Rams do it. That's how they won that game. They kept punching the Saints in the mouth. They didn't sit back and wait for it to happen. 

Yep. Can’t play the saints scared because they’ve already won when you do that. 

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5 minutes ago, TheFatboi said:

Don’t have the personnel to. But the teams that do like Dallas know how to play them. You gotta handle them. Can’t play zone and be scared. Gotta man up and hit them in the mouth. 

 

1 minute ago, vel said:

I think teams are scared of the decal on the helmet and forget about the personnel on the field. Like Fatboi said below, Dallas punched them in the mouth and made them play their kind of football instead of getting comfortable. 

Exactly. Make Kamara pass protect. After that, Thomas isn't running deep so challenge him at the line all game. That makes Brees work to find the other guys who can't get open without scheme help. Teams were too scared to take the game to them. You saw the Rams do it. That's how they won that game. They kept punching the Saints in the mouth. They didn't sit back and wait for it to happen. 

You guys don't think other teams try that against the Saints? Every week you hear, "Hit Brees, make him uncomfortable" "Take Thomas away", etc.  It sounds good, until they hit the field. 

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5 minutes ago, NeonDeion said:

Depth 1 goes to the saints. Who is the saint #3 receiver? Serious question 

The guy that used to play for carolina. Ginn 

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2 minutes ago, mvcrook said:

 

You guys don't think other teams try that against the Saints? Every week you hear, "Hit Brees, make him uncomfortable" "Take Thomas away", etc.  It sounds good, until they hit the field. 

Nope. They don't. I've literally sat and watched it happen. 

You aren't getting to Brees, but if you can make him feel pressure, then you're succeeding. Sitting back and playing zone is just as likely to work as it is when teams do that to Matt. 

For years we've seen teams work to take Julio away and succeed largely in doing so, only for Sanu or now Ridley to go off. The Saints literally don't have anybody else beyond Thomas and Kamara. You can box score scout them and figure that out. You can even dig further and see Thomas' depth per route was very short. Yet, teams were still scared of him doing deep. They believed things would happen because of Payton more than the players on the field. 

Take Taysom Hill. Brees lining up at WR is a non threat, yet, teams would still have their #1 CB on him because "that's where he lines up". Ok, you want to be stupid, we'll have your #1 CB guard essentially nobody while we run a trick play. It's stupid. Nobody on that entire team got more than 3 targets per game all season. If you just played the numbers game versus New Orleans, it should have been better. 

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9 minutes ago, mvcrook said:

 

You guys don't think other teams try that against the Saints? Every week you hear, "Hit Brees, make him uncomfortable" "Take Thomas away", etc.  It sounds good, until they hit the field. 

Nah they don’t. You see a lot of zone coverage cause they don’t have the personnel to play press man or the speed to run with kamara. Thomas is physical so if you don’t have physical corners that excel   in man you’re gonna play zone. And DC’s are so scared of brees and Payton that they play zone. You gotta have the Dallas or Baltimore or LA to play that physical press man game with NO. 

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Posted (edited)

5 minutes ago, TheFatboi said:

Their #2 is Kamara. He’s a hybrid rb/wr the way they use him. He’s out wide a lot. 

The title of the article is WR core. Don’t see Free included in ours 

Edited by NeonDeion

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13 minutes ago, NeonDeion said:

Depth 1 goes to the saints. Who is the saint #3 receiver? Serious question 

It's really whoever, at the time. Some games last season it was Tre'quan Smith, sometimes it was Keith Kirkwood, other times (once or twice) it was Cam Meredith. 

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4 minutes ago, NeonDeion said:

The title of the article is WR core. Don’t see Free included in ours 

Free isn’t the catching threat kamara is either. He doesn’t line up as a wr like kamara. You asked who their #3 is. I told you. That’s real time. Not the article. The article is probably saying depth #1 because it’s never mattered who Drew had. He’s always found his targets. But real time the saints top targets is Thomas, Kamara, Ginn. You can add tre Quan smith if you wanna stock to the article. He’s their #3 WR. 

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Just now, TheFatboi said:

Free isn’t the catching threat kamara is either. He doesn’t line up as a wr like kamara. You asked who their #3 is. I told you. That’s real time. Not the article. The article is probably saying depth #1 because it’s never mattered who Drew had. He’s always found his targets. But real time the saints top targets is Thomas, Kamara, Ginn. You can add tre Quan smith if you wanna stock to the article. He’s their #3 WR. 

I’m saying depth makes no sense based on the article 

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And for the record, Manuel tried to do what I suggested when they played the Saints. Thomas only had 4 catches for 38 yards. The problem is they just toyed with the scheme because by that point Manuel was just running basic coverages. Dan Arnold, Tommylee Lewis, Austin Carr, and Keith Kirkwood all scored their first career TDs that night. The only impressive TD was Arnold's. The others were just bad defense. 

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4 minutes ago, NeonDeion said:

I’m saying depth makes no sense based on the article 

The saints have always been deep with their wr depth because they’ve never had a Julio so they use everybody. That’s why you don’t know them. But not knowing their names doesn’t mean they don’t go deep throughout their depth. They’ve always been a deep unit. Brees throws to any and everybody. So the article makes plenty of sense. They don’t have a big 3 like us but they have 5 guys that all play. 

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Saints 2 and 3 usually aren't as good as ours, but their 4 and 5 are usually better.  More like when we had Aldrick etc.--specific guys who can do specific things and are actually involved in a lot of games.

Our 4 and 5 are more backups than trait players who you pull out and use to exploit matchups.

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3 hours ago, vel said:

And for the record, Manuel tried to do what I suggested when they played the Saints. Thomas only had 4 catches for 38 yards. The problem is they just toyed with the scheme because by that point Manuel was just running basic coverages. Dan Arnold, Tommylee Lewis, Austin Carr, and Keith Kirkwood all scored their first career TDs that night. The only impressive TD was Arnold's. The others were just bad defense. 

This is where having that cloud up deep safety is missed and we sat back.

Not having that communicator back there really hurt us and if anything Manuel just didn’t trust his Safety and he sat back and we got carved.

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23 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

This is where having that cloud up deep safety is missed and we sat back.

Not having that communicator back there really hurt us and if anything Manuel just didn’t trust his Safety and he sat back and we got carved.

Not just that, he never acted differently in terms of playing beyond a bland scheme until it was too late. Too nervous. You already lost your guys, lean on what you got left. He did the reverse. 

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