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Most Intriguing NFL Position Battles- WR

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Having an elite quarterback is so beneficial in today’s NFL for various of reasons. First of all, the game today has evolved into a ‘pass happy’ league, which is evident based on the rule changes that give the offense a clear advantage.

Let’s face it, the casual fan doesn’t want to see a 13-10 game. They’ll rather see a 42-35 shootout because the higher the score, the more highlights will be presented.

While having a good quarterback is important, having the proper guys to throw the ball to is nearly as crucial. With that being said, let’s take a look at the most intriguing wide receiver battles heading into training camp.

Cleveland Browns – We’re still not sure who’ll be the signal caller in Cleveland, but whomever it is will have multiple of throwing options at his disposal this fall. Although the Browns don’t have your ideal number one receiver, they have a nice collection of guys who are capable of making plays down the field.

The acquisition of Dwayne Bowe was needed for Cleveland. At 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, the former LSU standout provides good size, speed and strong hands.

In 2014, Andrew Hawkins was the Browns leading receiver, catching 63 passes for 824 yards. His lack of size at 5-foot-7 hurts when it comes to being a top option moving forward.

In addition to Bowe, Cleveland picked up Ohio native Brian Hartline, who is someone that causes matchup problems in the open field.

Bowe seems like the favorite to be the number one guy, but we saw how that ended up working out in KC.

Kansas City Chiefs – After losing Dwayne Bowe in free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs made a splash by signing the electrifying Jeremy Maclin. The hometown hero is expected to give Alex Smith the deep ball threat he’s been missing for quite some time now. While there’s no question Maclin will be the top dog in Kansas City, there is some uncertainty on who will be lining up opposite of Maclin.

Kansas City picked up Jason Avant midway through the 2014 campaign. The veteran receiver didn’t provide much on the field, but his experience may help him moving forward. Avant played under head coach Andy Reid for seven seasons in Philadelphia, so he has an advantage due to his familiarity with the system.

However, undrafted free agent Albert Wilson won’t just lay down. He brings elite speed with the ability to catch the ball in traffic. The biggest adjustment for Wilson is getting used to the physicality and speed of the pro game, considering he’s coming from the Sun Belt Conference.

Initially, it’s safe to say Avant will get the nod as the second receiver, but Wilson is a guy who could overtake the spot as he becomes more comfortable at this level.

Chicago Bears – After trading Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets, most assume first round pick Kevin White will be lining up alongside Alshon Jefferey, which isn’t a bad assumption but let’s not crown White just yet.

Former 7th round pick Marquess Wilson performed well in preseason last year before breaking his collarbone. While there’s no secret Chicago will give White every opportunity to be the number two option, the familiarity with the system could play to Wilson’s benefit.

Head coach John Fox seems to love what White brings to the table, however.

“When you look at the tape, you see the production and the ability to go get the football,” Fox said. “He’s very aggressive. He does all parts of his job. I think he’s an outstanding blocker and then on top of that he just has what I kind of call ‘it.’ He’s infectious.

“He’s got a huge smile. He walks in the room and that stuff’s contagious. I just really liked what he brought to the table as far as personality, leadership and those types of things along with obviously his ability as a receiver.”

Let’s face it, Wilson is dealing with an uphill battle trying to dethrone a top 10 pick, but if he’s able to clearly outplay White in training camp and preseason then things could get interesting in the Windy City.

Indianapolis Colts: You’ll be hard pressed to find a better wide receiver duo than T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson, but the question in Indy is who will be the third option behind them?

The leader in the clubhouse figures to be Donte Moncrief at this point. In 2014, Moncrief turned out to be a pleasant surprise. He only started in two games, but the 6-foot-2 wide out tallied 32 catches for 444 yards with three touchdowns.

Those numbers won’t blow you away, but with his size and 4.40 40-yard dash speed, Moncrief is someone with a very high ceiling.

First round pick Phillip Dorsett won’t go away without a fight, however. This pick confused a lot of people considering Indy already has T.Y. Hilton, who is a very similar type of receiver. At the same time, who says there’s a limit on having speedy and skilled wide outs?

At Dorsett’s pro day, he ran a 4.30 40-yard dash, making him one of the fastest players ever to don the blue horseshoe.  Also vying for opportunities will be the son of Cris Carter, Duron Carter, who began his collegiate career at Ohio State.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.