Today I will weigh in on some questions at the wide receiver position.
Odell Beckham Jr.: New York Giants
The talented but mercurial receiver is a human highlight reel with his acrobatic catches but also has a nasty temper and has been plagued by incidents of immaturity.
Beckham took lots of flak after he and fellow receivers took a trip on pop star Ricky Martin’s party boat the week before a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
Beckham had the yips in the frozen confines of Lambeau Field, dropping a number of passes despite the football landing right in his hands and being fitted with the goat horns following the 38-13 loss.
This year he wants to get paid and paid big and is making noises about holding out for a new contract which could be a distraction that bleeds over into the regular season if not resolved to his satisfaction.
Kelvin Benjamin: Carolina Panthers
In a hugely disappointing season for the Panthers, there was perhaps no more disappointing a player than Benjamin which says a lot considering quarterback Cam Newton’s struggles.
The former Florida State University stud had an outstanding rookie year before missing out on the team’s 15-1 Super Bowl season with a torn ACL.
Benjamin returned last year but was clearly not himself and contributed to Supercam’s woes.
The Panthers drafted multi-purpose threat Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford this year and Newton appears to be on the mend after offseason surgery.
If Benjamin can regain his form as a number one receiver, then all pieces may be in place for a Carolina resurgence in 2017.
Brandin Cooks: New England Patriots
The rich just keep getting richer and Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady’s receiving corps is even more potent in 2017.
The key addition – other than the return of injured Tight End Rob Gronkowski – is the speedy wide receiver from down south.
The Patriots absolutely fleeced the New Orleans Saints in the trade to land Cooks who is coming off a big season.
It’s unknown what went into the Saints thought process on this one but by practically giving away their best receiver for chump change they should be given a share of the money of the Patriots repeat as NFL champions.
Look for Cooks to have a monster year as Brady and the Patriots are loaded for bear.
DeSean Jackson: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The long-suffering Bucs faithful are hailing the speedster as if he is the missing piece but the former Washington Redskin and Philadelphia Eagle has a lot of mileage on his tires, a history of injury and a disposition that has caused issues in the past.
No matter how fast that Jackson is, a lot of the success of the offense is going to rest upon the shoulders of third-year quarterback Jameis Winston whose long ball is erratic at best.
Jackson is a guy who is a big play threat every time that ball is in his hands but the key for Winston is getting it there – Winston needs to learn to take better care of the football.
If everything magically comes together the Buccaneers offense could be dangerous but that’s asking a lot for a bunch that despite being on the rise, is as inconsistent as hell.
Alshon Jeffrey: Philadelphia Eagles
The former Chicago Bear signed a big free agent deal with the “Iggles” in the offseason and is hoping to rebound after two subpar, injury plagued seasons.
Philadelphia is looking to take the next step up in a wide-open division and has provided second-year quarterback Carson Wentz with better receivers than the stumblebums that he was stuck throwing to last year. Veteran speedster Torrey Smith also was signed as a free agent so it’s likely that the football will be flying in 2017.
If Jeffrey is healthy and Wentz improves, the Eagles may just be dangerous.
Jeremy Maclin: Baltimore Ravens
The Kansas City Chiefs shocked many – including quarterback Alex Smith – when the cut ties on Maclin after only two years. It was a radical move for an offensively challenged team that might have made it to the AFC Championship had it been able to score more than 16 points at home.
But as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and Maclin quickly signed with the Ravens to provide quarterback Joe Flacco with the reliable target that he desperately needs.
Maclin was a serious threat when he played for the Eagles and for the first year of his tenure in Kansas City. If he is able to recapture his form he could be a big contributor for Baltimore in a critical year for the team.
Demaryius Thomas: Denver Broncos
The talented physical specimen who thrived during the high-flying Peyton Manning years in Denver has now turned in back-to-back disappointing seasons.
While 90 and 105 catch seasons would be banner years for most, Thomas’s touchdowns and average yards per catch are way down from when he terrorized opposing defenses just a few short years ago.
He has also developed a tendency to drop passes or “alligator arms” ever since signing a massive $70 million contract before the 2015 season.
While it’s not all Thomas’s fault – Manning declined rapidly and the lamentable Trevor Siemien was throwing the passes last year, he needs a comeback year and badly if the Broncos are to compete.
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