Welcome to the First and Fifteen Fast Fifteen.  It will take in various things as the offseason and (hopefully) subsequent season roll on.  The first series will focus on five teams with the best and worst situations at each position group, plus five that could break either way.  Today we’ll take a look at the best and worst receiving corps in the NFL.  Note that this takes in tight ends, running backs and wide receivers.

The Best:

Green Bay Packers: The Super Bowl Champs are probably the best place to start.  While the discussion of what makes Green Bay a great team neither starts nor ends with their receiving corps, it certainly is the catalyst of this team.  Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver are simply the highlights of the team.  James Jones came on strong in the post season, and their tight ends catch the ball as any teams.  In fact, when tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant went out for the season, the team didn’t miss a beat.  They won’t in the near future, either.  Green Bay will be good for a long time, and their receiving corps are a large part of that.

Atlanta Falcons: It was just a couple years ago Roddy White looked to be on his way to being a petulant bust, and the team was in disarray following the imprisonment of its entire offense Michael Vick.  However, with Matt Ryan at the helm, not only has Roddy White turned into one of the best receivers in the league, but Malcom Jenkins has been just as effective opposite him.  The addition of Tony Gonzalez at tight end has done wonders for their passing game, and fullback Jason Snelling is no slouch receiving out of the backfield.

New England Patriots: Despite weird turnover (Randy Moss leaving, Deon Branch coming back), they still move the ball incredibly well through the air.  A lot of it has to do with Tom Brady and coaching, but there is still plenty of talent at receiving positions.  Last years second round pick, Rob Gronkowski figures to be a force at tight end as well.

New York Jets: After picking up Santonio Holmes for a song, and waiting out his four-game suspension, the Jets are solid at this spot, with Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery rounding out the group.  There are two problems here, however: One is that Edwards and Holmes are both free agents, when and if that happens.  And while they are top priority for the Jets, they could leave easily.  The second problem is that the quarterback hasn’t always matched the talent he is passing to.  In order for the Jets to remain on this list, both those situations must be addressed.

New York Giants: The best part of their group is their youth.  The Giants have had turmoil at nearly every roster spot since their upset of the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but ther receiving corps keeps chugging along.  Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham are the real deal, and Kevin Boss is a monster at tight end.

The Worst:

Carolina Panthers: They have Steve Smith and a few other guys, and no quarterback to mask any problems.  They will have to address it at some point, but they have needs all over the place.  AJ Green at #1 overall wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Washington Redskins: Same problem as the Panthers- Santana Moss and a few other guys.  Anthony Armstrong showed up last season, and could be good down the road, but with Moss aging, they need concrete answers.  Chris Cooley is one of the better tight ends in the game, but there is no one to stretch the field to open it up for him.

St Louis Rams: While vastly improved this year, they need a bona fide target for Sam Bradford.  Injuries depleted them this year, but even healthy their receiving corps is suspect.  Julio Jones is widely regarded to be their first draft pick, and would go a long way for the franchise.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs rode a great running game to the playoffs- but aside from a few stellar weeks from Dawayne Bowe, this receiving corps needs an upgrade.  While Bowe is a solid #1 guy, there needs to be someone opposite him who is a threat.

San Diego Chargers: AJ Smith is a horrible enough GM that he makes me ok with being a Redskins fan.  Franchising Vincent Jackson is the dumbest move since last year when they franchised him, all but guaranteeing another hold out.  Phillip Rivers is good enough that he makes a lot of below-average receivers look good, and he’ll be doing that again this year.

Could Go Either Way:

Cincinnati Bengals: Through all their struggles, the Bengals have managed to have some damn fine receivers- but no longer.  Ochocinco is probably gone, Owens was never there and the only guy on the roster who can throw a football wants out.  However, if Palmer stays, there is hope after the last weeks of ’10, when he did just fine without big-name, big-trouble wide receivers, thank-you-very-much.  He could do the same all through ’11- if he stays.

Tennessee Titans: Randy Moss and Kenny Britt could combine to be a force- but both have to solve plenty of off-field trouble, navigate a divided locker room, and oh yeah- have someone to throw the ball to them.   On second thought, maybe they belong on the ‘worst’ list.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are on the upswing, which, historically in Cleveland, means ‘expect colossal failure’.  Nevertheless, there is reason for optimism given Josh Cribbs, Brian Robiski and Mohamed Massaquoi are all solid receiving options.  Colt McCoy should continue to preform well at QB, and if so, this will be a solid team in 2011.

Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall is on their team, and while he is supremely talented, there’s a lot of baggage there.  Added to that is the fact that his supporting cast isn’t very good, the quarterback situation is in flux, and coaching questions abound.  However, if Chad Henne (or whoever else) steps up, and Davone Bess improves, Miami could regain a solid arial attack.

New York Jets: If Holmes and Edwards walk, they are in a huge hole.  Time, and a new CBA, will tell.

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