The wide receivers in the NFC West have gradually increased in talent during the last two seasons, with the 49ers drafting Michael Crabtree and the Seahawks signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Cardinals have steadily featured the top wide receiving corps in the NFL, and even with the loss of Pro Bowl-er Anquan Boldin, they top the list this week in the 'Best of the West' series. In case you missed last week's, we ranked the starting quarterbacks.
- Larry Fitzgerald & Steve Breaston - As long as Larry Fitzgerald is wearing Cardinal-red, the Cardinals will feature the best wide receiving tandem in the division. Fitz is an All-Pro wide receiver that carries himself with dedication and professionalism on and off the field. Steve Breaston will start with Boldin now out of the picture, seeing more time on offense and less time on special teams. He compliments Fitzgerald, with dependable hands and breakaway speed, and will prove the skeptics wrong next season.
- Michael Crabtree & Josh Morgan - This may come as an upset, but it's subjective to think that the 49ers will have a better wide receiving tandem than the Seahawks or Rams. Although Crabtree will only be entering his second season, he's a gamer and showed vast signs of improvement throughout the year last season. This time around, he'll be able to participate in camp and preseason to be prepared for a full season of play. Morgan is a lesser-known receiver in the league, but has soaked up tons of knowledge in just two seasons while increasing his catch and yardage total.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh & Deon Butler - 'Housh' is approaching the end of his impressive career, but he can still offer some productive play for the Seahawks until that time comes. He scored only three touchdowns last season, but did so on a awful offense that had trouble scoring as a whole. With a healthy Matt Hasselbeck, T.J. may be in better position to make a splash in the NFC West in 2010. Behind T.J. are three capable #2 wide outs, but as it stands, I'd list Butler as the man. Deon Branch has suffered too many injuries at his age and Golden Tate will face a learning curve his rookie season. Butler showed some signs of promise his first year and could be a breakout receiver next season.
- Donnie Avery & Keenan Burton - Once again, the lowly Rams round out the group with Avery and Burton. Avery has been a tremendous presence on a poor team the last two seasons despite the lack of offensive firepower behind him. Be that as it may, it's difficult to place the "star receiver" tag on Avery, and that may not change for some time. Burton will get a chance to play healthy next season after only appearing in nine games last year. He still needs time to develop before he can be considered a legit starting receiver however.
The Cardinals are still the best receiving group in the division for now, but the race may be closer in a year or two. Two intriguing prospects to watch for are Early Doucet and Andre Roberts. Both have the capability to become starting wide receivers down the line, and with a little fine tuning, could become key contributors for the offense. How do you rank the wide receivers in the NFC West and will one of the division rivals ever overtake the Cardinals as the best?