Question of the day: Does Cincinnati have the best receiving corps in the NFL? [Updated]
Reporters from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
The Bengals now have the NFL’s most bombastic group of receivers, but far from its best. Maybe adding Terrell Owens in his prime would tip the scales, but this is a 36-year-old receiver coming off his least productive 16-game season since he was a little-known rookie learning at the elbow of Jerry Rice.
The Bengals were 26th in passing last year, and didn’t have a receiver crack the top 25 (Chad Ochocinco was 26th). Owens almost missed the top 50, finishing 48th.
It will help that Cincinnati drafted Jermaine Gresham, the best receiving tight end in this year's class, but does that boost them into the elite? No.
If you’re looking for the NFL’s best receiving corps, look to Philadelphia, which has a Pro Bowler in DeSean Jackson, and rising stars Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek; or Baltimore, which made the top free-agent acquisition of the off-season in Anquan Boldin; or Indianapolis, where Peyton Manning gets Anthony Gonzalez back after getting to the Super Bowl with star Reggie Wayne, rookie Austin Collie, and promising Pierre Garcon; or Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers has touchdown threats all over in Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jermichael Finley; or Houston, which led the league in passing last season and has the vastly under-appreciated Andre Johnson.
All that, and I haven’t even mentioned the Super Bowl champion Saints, who are loaded with offensive weapons. So do the Bengals have the best group of receivers in the NFL? They’d do well to finish in the top 10.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
Nope — and it’s not even close. Maybe five years ago when Ochocinco was Chad Johnson and catching 90-plus passes a season and T.O. was known more as Terrell Owens and helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl. Now they are more interested in being reality TV stars than star wide receivers.
The Bengals don’t even have the best receiving corps in the AFC, let alone the NFL. I’d take the Patriots, Colts, Texans (because of Andre Johnson) and Chargers receivers over the Bengals. The Ravens might even have a case as the best in the AFC North with Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte Stallworth, depending on how he rebounds from sitting out. In the NFC, you have to like the Cowboys, Eagles, Saints, Cardinals (even without Boldin) and Vikings receiving corps over the Bengals wide-outs.
Now when it comes to posing after touchdowns, Ochocinco and T.O. might have the best act — if the fading stars ever reach the end zone.
[Updated at 10 a.m.:
Mike Berardino, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Congratulations, Bengals. You have successfully paired Ochocinco (Chad Johnson) with Ochouno (Terrell Owens). Now it might be time to get Carson Palmer some earplugs. He’s going to need them when he comes back to the sideline and his two diva receivers are upset about some silly thing or another. Which is only going to happen, oh, every third series or so.
Best receiving corps in the NFL? Maybe if T.O. — Too Old? — weren’t 36 and coming off a quiet season in Buffalo, where his five touchdown catches marked his lowest output in any full season since his rookie year (1996). No, the Cowboys, Colts, Cardinals, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Packers, Giants, Jets or Chargers — just to name 10 teams with better overall receiving corps — are not sweating this development.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
Signing Terrell Owens gives the Bengals a very good group of wide receivers. But best in the NFL? Well, maybe Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant would have formed the best wide receiver core two or three years ago, when each of the three was really humming.
But T.O. is 36 now. Ochocinco is 32 and Bryant was allowed to leave the Bucs because his knee was in bad shape, and there are indications it still may be a problem. None of the Bengals’ top three receivers is at the top of his game.
No team has more talent at the wide receiver position than T.O.’s old team in Dallas, with Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant and Patrick Crayton leading the way.]
Upper photo: Terrell Owens with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. Credit: Tim Heitman / US Presswire
Lower photo: Chad Ochocinco in June. Credit: Frank Victores / US Presswire