After assessing the divisions’ signal callers in the last installment of the series, why not take a look at the main targets in the passing games of each offense.
Today we will discuss possibly the best position group in the entire division, a group which features superstars such as Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, and Desean Jackson, the wide receivers.
Outside of star player and weekly beast Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ receivers have been much maligned throughout this offseason.
Two seasons ago, players like Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley were considered to be the perfect compliments to Dez Bryant in the Cowboys dynamic offense. But after injuries to both Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo resulted in lackluster years from Dallas’ receivers, this group has a lot to prove in the eyes of many this season.
Terrance Williams is currently slated as the number 2 receiver behind Dez, but some anticipate Brice Butler to challenge for that role this summer. Butler was traded from Oakland to Dallas mid-season a year ago, and looked promising during his minimal game action.
Cole Beasley has served as the WR3/Slot guy for the Cowboys for a few years now, and, in my mind, he fits the role very nicely. I believe that with Bryant in the lineup in 2016 there will be more space for Beasley to operate, which should result in better numbers.
Lucky Whitehead has been used in the return game, as well as in gadget plays offensively. There are some who expect an expanded role for Whitehead in 2016.
Vince Mayle and Devin Street round the rest of this group veteran-wise. Notre Dame receiver Chris Brown was also added as an undrafted free agent.
Chip Kelly did a nice job decimating the Eagles receiving corps over the last couple of seasons, but this group does feature a few young players who could be set to break out in the near future.
Jordan Matthews will once again serve as the number one receiver, and he has totaled 16 touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons.
The Eagles drafted Nelson Agholor in the first round of the 2015 draft, but after an exciting preseason, Agholor was quiet for most of the 2015 year. He does have a ton of speed, however, and could start to come into his own this season.
Former New York Giant Rueben Randle was added through free agency this offseason, and will more than likely serve as the number two receiver this season in Philadelphia. Agholor will certainly be challenging for the spot as well.
The fourth and fifth slots on the depth chart are filled by receivers Josh Huff and Chris Givens.
New York Giants
The Giants have made some good moves in the receiving department over the last few years, but will have to depend on one player’s health to reach their full potential.
Of course, there is Odell Beckham. Who, although I can’t stand as a Cowboys fan, is undeniably great.
Already off to a nice start if you’re a Giants fan.
Then the team drafted Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma, a guy who I loved coming in the draft and was furious to see taken by the Giants. Although he is just a rookie, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shepard puts up the best numbers, behind Beckham, of all of the Giants receivers.
Former Cowboy Dwayne Harris serves in the return game, but also made his impact felt in the passing game at times in 2015.
The wild card here is Victor Cruz. When healthy and at his best, we have seen Cruz play some great football. The problem is, the health has not been there over the past two seasons. The Giants don’t exactly seem all too optimistic he can make it back to his 2011-2012 form, however, after drafting Shepard this year.
The rich got richer during the 2016 NFL Draft when the Washington Redskins selected Texas Christian University receiver Josh Doctson in the first round. Like Shepard, I loved Doctson in college and was praying that Washington would pass on him.
They didn’t, and now Doctson adds to a group that already features the always dangerous Desean Jackson and the productive Pierre Garcon.
Jamison Crowder serves as the slot receiver, and fits that role perfectly for the Redskins.
As much as it pains me to say this, the Washington Redskins have the best receiving corps in the NFC East.
While I don’t think that their number 1 is as strong as the Cowboys or the Giants’ are, their depth at the position puts them over the top for me. Unlike quarterback, where I valued QB1 much higher than I did QB2 or QB3, depth matters here.
The Redskins have the ability to line up with Desean Jackson, Josh Doctson, and Pierre Garcon all on the field together. That’s three guys that have the ability to strike fear into a defense in their own ways.
The Giants kept this race close, and I believe they are the runner up here, but while I like Beckham and Shepard, we aren’t sure what Victor Cruz will look like come opening day. If he is the Victor Cruz that embarrassed our Terence Newman in 2011, then the Giants’ receiving group could certainly steal the Redskins’ crown.
Until I see it, though, I have to give the edge to Washington.