The NFC South is a division loaded with depth at wide receiver, mostly due to the height many of the athletes possess. Here are my rankings for the top WR on each team in the division, and why.
1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Really shouldn't be a surprise that Jones is number one. You could even make a substantial argument for him being number one against any other wideout in the league due to his size and athleticism. At 6 foot 3 inches and with multiple 1,000 yard seasons on his resume, Jones is an absolute demon on the field and warrants specific game planning from defensive coordinators. As a physical, speedy WR, Jones routinely wins his matchups against some of the best corners in the league, and I expect him to have another phenomenal year in 2016.
2. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
One can only imagine whether or not the Panthers would have won the Super Bowl last season if Benjamin had been healthy. A nasty ACL tear sidelined him for the whole season, but if his rookie stats are being taken into consideration (9 touchdowns, 1,008 yards) it's clear to see he has a promising future in the NFL. Benjamin has the size and speed that many teams specifically look for in a WR prospect, and can dominate one on one matchups with many good corners in the league. Lord help the rest of the NFC South when he returns this year and supercharges an already phenomenal Panthers offense.
3. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Benjamin, Evans was part of the loaded group of 2014 rookie receivers, and had an incredible 1,000+ yard season to start his career. The most impressive thing to me about this was the fact that his quarterback situation was lacking at the time (Josh McCown) and he still managed to rack up a grand. Although having gained 1,206 yards last season, fans saw a less polished version of Evans, who had a number of excruciating drops in some close games. However, he never seemed to have a problem getting open last year, which is still an excellent sign. If he can hold on to the ball better in 2016, Evans' height and speed give him huge advantages over some shorter defensive backs, and he has many of the physical tools to continue being successful at the NFL level.
4. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Many people thought Cooks would have a breakout year in 2015, as Drew Brees' new number one target. While he didn't quite ascend to top five in the entire league level, Cooks still had a very productive last season, with 1,138 yards and 9 touchdowns. Cooks is one of the smaller receivers on this list, being 5 foot 10 inches and weighing 185 pounds, but his speed is still a solid strength. He remains a good deep ball threat against opposing defenses, but his size is what puts him below the top three in my opinion.
Whether you're a Bucs fan or not, the talent at WR across the NFC South is still electrifying to witness. If each of these guys can stay healthy, there's no reason why they can't have fantastic respective seasons in 2016.
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Here is the podcast we did on Austin Seferian-Jenkins a few weeks ago: