Recently on Fox Sports, Football Outsider's Bill Barnwell (hat tip: Blogging the Boys) took the time to rank all 32 teams wide receivers and he was very unhappy with ours. Without having read the rest of the writeups, let me just say that I'm shocked we're ranked 22nd. Not shocked because that ranking is unwarranted (though I think it is), but shocked that we're ranked that high per his analysis, which is brutal. Barnwell lets us know how he feels:
If you could have given us our pick of every wide receiver who was acquired through trade or as a free agent following 2005, the last two guys we would have chosen would have been Brandon Lloyd (-16.9 percent DVOA, good for 82nd in the league in 2005) and Antwaan Randle El (-15.1 percent DVOA, 77th in 2005). Shockingly, they did not get better upon arriving in Washington. While Randle El is at least an excellent return man, Lloyd is a locker room malcontent and a possession receiver with the skill-set of a CBA-level rapper; namely, he's tall-ish. Lloyd and Randle El were both awful last year, and there's no reason to think they'll be good in the future.
This should not reflect poorly on Santana Moss or Chris Cooley, both of whom were very good in 2006. Unfortunately for Moss, the lack of concern defenses needed to push toward the other wideouts meant he was double-covered more often than not; merely having an average receiver across from him would free up space for the long game to develop. By the time Washington realizes it, though, Moss' peak as a small, speedy receiver might be past.
- Pick of every wide receiver in free agency in 2005? Shenanigans I say! Hyperbole! Well, going solely on their 2005 DPAR ranking, it isn't actually hyperbole, since there isn't a single person rated below either of those guys who changed teams from 2005-2006. Unless(!!) we include receivers who caught fewer than 50 passes, in which case our own Taylor Jacobs (traded to San Fransisco for Mike Rumph) really was about the least desirable player picked up in trade or free agency in the entire league, with a dismal -5.2 DPAR and -43.3% DVOA. Thus it is technically untrue that, per those metrics, Antwaan Randle-El and Brandon Lloyd were really the least desirable players in trade or free agency. Retaining Taylor Jacobs would have actually been more ill-advised, and replacing him on our roster was an upgrade. That's called tortured logic; works for me!
- If Lloyd and Randle-El were so bad they shouldn't have ranked us 13th last year. Grumble grumble grumble.
- I appreciate the qualified praise for Moss and Cooley, though attribute much of his 2006 slump to Mark Brunell's inability to get the ball down the field combined with the transition to Jason Campbell. When Santana was hauling in receptions, he was doing an admirable enough job of it. I hate to argue through anectode but the Jacksonville game is partial evidence that he's still capable of game-changing performances, moreso than any other receiver on our team certainly. He was also injured for a good part of the year.