NFC South Wide Receivers Training Camp Preview 2021

A preview of the NFC South division's wide receivers from New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta ahead of training camp and preseason games in 2021.
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A preview of the NFC South division's wide receivers from New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta ahead of training camp and preseason games in 2021.

Ranking the top wideouts for 2021 in the NFC South hasn't changed since 2020's preview. 

Michael Thomas (Saints), Julio Jones (Falcons), Mike Evans (Bucs), and D.J. Moore (Panthers) are considered the top receivers of the division for their respective teams.   

2020 NFC SOUTH RECEIVING YARDS LEADERS (RECEIVERS)

  1. Calvin Ridley - 1,374 (Falcons)
  2. D.J. Moore - 1,193 (Panthers)
  3. Robby Anderson - 1,096 (Panthers)
  4. Mike Evans - 1,006 (Bucs)
  5. Curtis Samuel - 851 (Panthers)
  6. Chris Godwin - 840 (Bucs)
  7. Russell Gage - 786 (Falcons)
  8. Julio Jones - 771 (Falcons)
  9. Emmanuel Sanders - 726 (Saints)
  10. Scotty Miller - 501 (Bucs)
  11. Antonio Brown - 483 (Bucs)
  12. Tre'Quan Smith - 448 (Saints)
  13. Michael Thomas - 438 (Saints)
  • Alvin Kamara - 756 (Saints) * Running Back

NFC SOUTH HAS 4 OF TOP 6 GRADED RECEIVERS

According to PFF, four of the highest-graded wide receivers since 2015 are in the NFC South.

  1. Julio Jones - 95.1 
  2. DeAndre Hopkins - 93.5 
  3. Michael Thomas - 93.4 
  4. Antonio Brown - 93.4 
  5. Mike Evans - 91.8 
  6. Keenan Allen - 91.8

Michael Thomas TD

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIDE RECEIVERS PREVIEW

  • Thomas was injured a majority of the season but remained the Saints' top threat at the position.
  • Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, and Deonte Harris had big games, although they lacked regular-season continuity because of injuries.
  • Emmanuel Sanders was a cap-saving casualty and released by New Orleans after catching 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns as the team's No. 2 receiver in 2020.
  • The goal again for the Saints is to find stability at the receiver level.  
  • New Orleans carries five receivers on their 53-man roster per season.  

SAINTS PROJECTED RECEIVING CORPS

  • Michael Thomas, 
  • Tre'Quan Smith, 
  • Marquez Callaway, and 
  • Deonte Harris. Harris is not a lock at the position, but his ability to serve as an All-Pro kickoff and punt return specialist gives him an advantage.
  • OPEN. The fifth spot will be a training camp battle. Early favorites are Juwan Johnson, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, and Jake Lampman.

Darkhorses/Practice Squad Players: 

  • Jalen McCleskey (Tulane) and Kawaan Baker (South Alabama) have my interest because of their play-making abilities.
  • Top-end speed has been a consistent missing piece in New Orleans. McCleskey has the talent in this area.
  • Kawaan Baker college videos show he has the tenacity of a Joe Horn, Lance Moore, or Willie Snead and can locate matchup issues against linebackers and safeties.

PJ Williams and Marcus Williams

NFC SOUTH WIDE RECEIVERS

*According to team website listed roster personnel.

Atlanta Falcons:  Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Antonio Nunn, Austin Trammell, Chris Rowland, Juwan Green, Greg Dortch, Frank Darby, and Christian Blake.

Carolina Panthers:  D.J. Moore, Chris Samuel, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall, Jr., David Moore, Keith Kirkwood, Brandon Zylstra, Shi Smith, Micah Simon, Marken Michel, Ishmael Hyman, Ventrell Bryant, and Omar Bayless.

New Orleans Saints:  Michael Thomas, Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Juwan Johnson, Jake Lampman, Jalen McCleskey, Kawaan Baker, and Eason Winston.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown (pending surgery), Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson, Travis Jonsen, John Franklin, Josh Pearson, T.J. Simmons, Justin Watson, and Jaelon Darden.

Marshon Lattimore vs. Mike Evans

DIVISION RECEIVERS ON THE BUBBLE:

  1. Julio Jones (Falcons) - Only because of the recent trade rumors and his $20M cap hit in 2021, $19.2M in 2022, and $19.2M in 2023.   Jones, 32, is still an elite receiver.  Prime targets are the Raiders, Patriots, Colts, and 49ers.
  2. Antonio Brown (Bucs)- He signed a one-year deal worth up to $6.2M.  A report stated Brown's signing is delayed after he underwent knee surgery this week.
  3. David Moore (Panthers) - Good receiver.  Terrace Marshall, Jr. was drafted to become an elite receiver with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.
  4. Saints have more question marks for the final and fifth receiver sport than bubble players at the moment.  
USATSI_15392975_168389760_lowres

PFF Wide Receiver Grades in 2020

Atlanta Falcons

  • Julio Jones: 84.9
  • Calvin Ridley: 84.7
  • Russell Gage:  73.7
  • Olamide Zaccheaus: 70.1

Carolina Panthers

  • D.J. Moore: 79.1
  • Robby Anderson: 76.0
  • David Moore: 66.4

New Orleans Saints

  • Michael Thomas: 79.6
  • Marquez Callaway: 68.0
  • Tre'Quan Smith: 61.9

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Mike Evans: 75.1
  • Chris Godwin: 75.4
  • Antonio Brown: 82.6
  • Scotty Miller: 67.9
  • Tyler Johnson: 59.9

*Data from Pro Football Focus


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