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In the slot: Ranking the wide receivers

We continue our weekly look at the NFC West, position by position.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

If you are interested in keeping up with the series, here is last weeks list.

The results from last weeks poll favored the Arizona Cardinals running backs. Out of 307 total votes, the Cardinals received 154, Seattle 114, Rams 22, and San Francisco 17.

As we continue our way through the sweltering heat of the offseason, we finally reach the wide receivers portion. If we had done this two years ago the outcome would have been in the Cardinals favor. But after last season, the result is a little more difficult to predict. There have been a couple of comments in regards to how I am coming to my conclusions at the end of the day.

I am reaching my rankings by factoring in a player's experience, how they performed in 2016, their history of injuries, and how long those players have performed at a certain level. If a player is a 10-year pro, and consistently puts up a 500-yard season, but in 2016 blew up for 1000-yards, he will receive a grade but I will still take into account he’s only ever been a 500-yard receiver.

Without further ado, let's grade.

Los Angeles Rams:

Tavon Austin
Pharoh Cooper
Cooper Kupp
Bradley Marquez
Paul McRoberts
Marquez North
Josh Reynolds
Shakeir Ryan
Brandon Shippen
Nelson Spruce
Mike Thomas
Robert Woods

Sean McVay has said he wants to have Tavon Austin be a big factor in the Rams offense this season. McVay has not seen Austin this offseason, as he is recovering from wrist surgery. Austin is expected to be ready by Training Camp, which will give McVay an opportunity to see what he has in his speedster.

Pharoh Cooper was the team's number three for part of last season. He was unable to make it to the field until Week 5 but made no impact all season. The Rams went out and select a very good route runner in Cooper Kupp, who figures to be in play for a good chunk of snaps this season. The Rams ESPN reporter, Alden Gonzalez, has said, Kupp looks to be Jared Goff's safety blanket. Kupp looks like he will be in line for the Rams number three spot.

Newly acquired Robert Woods will be the team's number two heading into day one. That is subject to change, depending on Austin’s situation. Woods has only accomplished one full season in the NFL. Woods should get the most catches of the group and has put an extra effort in working with Goff to get their timing down.

The Rams rank last simply for the reason this room has no one who has produced at an NFL level. Austin has not lived up to being the eighth overall selection from 2013. Woods has been the second fiddle in Buffalo his whole career. If anyone can get the players to perform, it will be Sean McVay, but as of today they are the worst group in the west.

San Francisco 49ers:

Victor Bolden JR
Kendrick Bourne
Aaron Burbridge
DeAngre Carter
Bruce Ellington
Pierre Garcon
Marquis Goodwin
BJ Johnson III
Jeremy Kerley
Aldrick Robinson
DeAndre Smelter
Trent Taylor

The 49ers went out and made a concerted effort to upgrade the wide receiver position. The addition of 30-year old Pierre Garcon instantly legitimized the group. Garcon will reliably get you 700-yards a season and five or more touchdowns. They partnered him with Jeremy Kerley, the 49ers leading receiver in yards and catches in 2016.

Kyle Shanahan went out and signed Marquise Goodwin to a two-year deal. Goodwin offers tremendous speed and could fill a Taylor Gabriel role for the team.

Bruce Ellington was sidelined all of 2016 and missed OTA’s this offseason.

The 49ers have the NFL’s shortest receiving corps, averaging only 5-foot-10. The 49ers seemed to have a type of player in mind when they built the unit.

BJ Johnson impressed enough to replace KD Cannon on the 49ers roster.

Trent Taylor has impressed as a fifth-round selection and seems to be the player pushing Ellington closer and closer towards the bubble.

While the 49ers definitely built up their unit, infusing it with young talent and a good veteran duo, the unit still has a lot to prove.

Arizona Cardinals:

Carlton Agudose
Jaron Brown
John Brown
Marquis Bundy
Larry Clark
Aaron Dobson
Larry Fitzgerald
Brittan Golden
Krishawn Hogan
Chris Hubert
JJ Nelson
Jeremy Ross
Chad Williams

In 2015 the Arizona Cardinals hands down had the best room of receivers. They had a trio of guys surpass 1000 yards and they fielded one of the best offenses in the league. Then 2016 happened. Injuries plagued the team, and their number two receiver was arrested for a DUI.

In 2017, the Cardinals still have plenty of questions. What puts them over teams like Los Angeles and San Francisco is they have a 14-year veteran who has been doing it all his whole career.

After him though is where the questions lay. John Brown battle sickle cell in 2016. He was on his way to maintaining it this offseason but missed time with a hamstring issue. JJ Nelson was hampered by drops but managed to develop a good rapport with Carson Palmer late in the season.

Jaron Brown is returning from an ACL injury. If Jaron is fully healthy, he is likely the team's number two receiver opposite Fitzgerald. Nelson and Brown would figure to be the #3 and #4 receivers. With how often the Cardinals like to use four receivers, they will see the field frequently.

Chad Williams was the Cards third round selection. A shocking pick, but the team has a history of finding gems in the third.

Those five players are locks for the roster. John Brown has to show he can handle his sickle cell trait. Nelson has to limit his drops. And Jaron Brown will have to show he is fully recovered from last season's injury.

The team has a few talented UDFA’s, but likely only have room for one.

Seattle Seahawks:

Doug Baldwin
Amara Darboh
Cyril Grayson
Jermaine Kearse
Kenny Lawler
Tyler Lockett
Tanner McEvoy
David Moore
Paul Richardson
Darreus Rogers
Rodney Smith
Kasen Williams

The one thing separating the Seahawks from the Cardinals in positioning is the Seahawks lack of questions. In a

They know what Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Tyler Lockett will bring to the team. Amara Darboh is a talented rookie, but they don’t know what he will bring to the table in a crowded room. While Kearse has shown to be unreliable, he was still the favorite receiver for Russell Wilson to throw to.

Doug Baldwin has praised all of the young guys for their work ethic during the offseason, and was impressed with how all of them have quickly picked up the playbook.

Some had questions about Richardson beyond 2016. But a strong end to the campaign, Richardson is expected to be a strong contributor to the squad in 2017.

So those are the rankings. Disagree? Discuss in the comments below!


Who has the best Wide Receiver room in the NFC West?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Arizona Cardinals
    (180 votes)
  • 50%
    Seattle Seahawks
    (211 votes)
  • 4%
    Los Angeles Rams
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    San Francisco 49ers
    (13 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now

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