Ranking the NFC South by position: Wide Receivers

Posted on May 20 2017 - 5:29pm by Chase Irle

This section does include the tight end position 

#4 New Orleans Saints

The Saints trading of Brandon Cooks shows two things: New Orleans believes Drew Brees can make any receiver look good and the Saints belief in second-year wide receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas had the second best rated season ever in the PFF Era (2006-2016). He will blossom into one of the best receivers in the league but the Saints are very thin behind Thomas. They signed Ted Ginn Jr. in the offseason to replace Cooks, but that is a massive downgrade. Willie Snead has proven to be a nice slot option. Coby Fleener was supposed to become the offense’s dynamic tight-end, but struggled mightily in his first season with the team. It is far from the offense that Brees led to the Super Bowl, but it will be interesting to see if he can remain as successful while the weapons he once had gradually disappear.

#3 Carolina Panthers

Carolina had to get Cam Newton more weapons this offseason and did so by snagging Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel with their first two picks in the draft. McCaffery will play some wide receiver and will be a handful in the open field. The same can be said for Curtis Samuel who was one of the best slot wide receivers in the draft. Both of those guys will help, but the Panthers still need to find another option to play across from Kelvin Benjamin. Devin Funchess did not had the breakout sophomore season that many were expecting and they lost Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency. Maybe he can progress in year three, but Panthers fans should not hold their breathe. The brightest spot among the Panthers pass-catchers is at tight-end. Greg Olsen has just flat been getting it done in the NFL for ten years now. He does not seem to be slowing down either, as he as caught for 1,000 yards in his last three seasons. Olsen is terrific, but this receiving core still needs major work.

#2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay struggled on offense early last season, but began to pick it up towards the end. They should not have that problem this season, as Jameis Winston has a plethora of weapons to throw to now. The Bucs signed Desean Jackson, who will be a nightmare for defenses to deal with across from Mike Evans. Jackson should have a field day with the coverages he will see. The Bucs also drafted O.J Howard in the first round. Howard is an absolute beast as a blocker and pass-catcher. He is the best tight end prospect since Rob Gronkowski or Vernon Davis. This guy was made to play football and is going to have a great NFL career. In addition, Tampa Bay selected Chris Godwin in the third-round to add to their receiving core. All of these playmakers will take some attention off Mike Evans. Evans is already one of the best receivers in the league and very well may be headed to the top of the totem pole. He is unbelievable, and this Buccaneers offense is going to be fun to watch.

#1 Atlanta Falcons

The Buccaneers almost made enough moves in the offseason to claim the first spot. They certainly hold an edge at tight-end with the addition of O.J. Howard. However, Atlanta’s depth at the wide receiver position is out of this world, and it all starts with the best receiver in the league. Julio Jones has taken the league by storm over the last two seasons. He requires multiple pairs of eyes on every play and takes away all the attention from other receivers. Those receivers are not chumps either. The Falcons spent big money to lock up Mohamed Sanu a year ago. He has proven to be a perfect compliment across from Jones. Atlanta also feature the fastest slot receiver in the league in Taylor Gabriel. Turbo broke out for the Falcons last year catching for 579 yards with 6 touchdowns. They even have a fourth receiver in Justin Hardy, who could be a lot of teams #2. Atlanta is loaded on offense, and their wide receiving core is no different. This is easily the best of the bunch in the NFC South.

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