I've been involved in a couple of drafts the past few days, and one of the interesting elements has been the number of Cardinals receivers drafted. Aging veterans, second-year players, and several different rookies. Which one should be the No. 1?
Larry Fitzgerald will turn 36 before the start of next season. He's a Hall of Famer, no question. But how much does he really have left?
Working with a scattershot rookie passer in the league's worst offense was obviously a huge part of Fitzgerald's down numbers in 2018. If Kliff Kingsbury is able to work some kind of magic with his offense and top-pick quarterback, maybe Fitzgerald has another viable year to him. But the indicators aren't good.
A year ago, Fitzgerald was able to corral only 61 percent of the passes sent his way. Among wideouts who caught 50 passes in 2018, that was one of the worst rates in the league.
|CATCH RATES FOR WIDEOUTS, 2018|
|Michael Thomas, N.O.||147||125||85.0%||1405||11.2||9|
|Tyler Lockett, Sea.||70||57||81.4%||965||16.9||10|
|Cole Beasley, Dall.||87||65||74.7%||672||10.3||3|
|Danny Amendola, Mia.||79||59||74.7%||575||9.7||1|
|Adam Thielen, Minn.||153||113||73.9%||1373||12.2||9|
|Chester Rogers, Ind.||72||53||73.6%||485||9.2||2|
|Adam Humphries, T.B.||105||76||72.4%||816||10.7||5|
|Emmanuel Sanders, Den.||98||71||72.4%||868||12.2||4|
|Taylor Gabriel, Chi.||93||67||72.0%||688||10.3||2|
|Jordy Nelson, Oak.||88||63||71.6%||739||11.7||3|
|Keenan Allen, LAC||136||97||71.3%||1196||12.3||6|
|Alshon Jeffery, Phi.||92||65||70.7%||843||13.0||6|
|DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||163||115||70.6%||1572||13.7||11|
|Tyler Boyd, Cin.||108||76||70.4%||1028||13.5||7|
|Mohamed Sanu, Atl.||94||66||70.2%||838||12.7||4|
|Amari Cooper, Oak.-Dall.||107||75||70.1%||1005||13.4||7|
|Calvin Ridley, Atl.||92||64||69.6%||821||12.8||10|
|Stefon Diggs, Minn.||149||102||68.5%||1021||10.0||9|
|Julian Edelman, N.E.||108||74||68.5%||850||11.5||6|
|Doug Baldwin, Sea.||73||50||68.5%||618||12.4||5|
|Brandin Cooks, LAR||117||80||68.4%||1204||15.1||5|
|D.J. Moore, Car.||82||55||67.1%||788||14.3||2|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.||166||111||66.9%||1426||12.8||7|
|Julio Jones, Atl.||170||113||66.5%||1677||14.8||8|
|Demaryius Thomas, Den.-Hou.||89||59||66.3%||677||11.5||5|
|Robert Woods, LAR||130||86||66.2%||1219||14.2||6|
|Nelson Agholor, Phil.||97||64||66.0%||736||11.5||4|
|Davante Adams, G.B.||169||111||65.7%||1386||12.5||13|
|Golden Tate, Det.-Phi.||113||74||65.5%||795||10.7||4|
|Dede Westbrook, Jac.||101||66||65.3%||717||10.9||5|
|Willie Snead, Balt.||95||62||65.3%||651||10.5||1|
|Tyreek Hill, K.C.||137||87||63.5%||1479||17.0||12|
|T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||120||76||63.3%||1270||16.7||6|
|Mike Evans, T.B.||138||86||62.3%||1524||17.7||8|
|Odell Beckham, NYG||124||77||62.1%||1052||13.7||6|
|Chris Godwin, T.B.||95||59||62.1%||842||14.3||7|
|Antonio Brown, Pitt.||168||104||61.9%||1297||12.5||15|
|Sterling Shepard, NYG||107||66||61.7%||872||13.2||4|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||112||69||61.6%||734||10.6||6|
|Kenny Golladay, Det.||119||70||58.8%||1063||15.2||5|
|Allen Robinson, Chi.||94||55||58.5%||754||13.7||4|
|Corey Davis, Tenn.||112||65||58.0%||891||13.7||4|
|Zay Jones, Buff.||102||56||54.9%||652||11.6||7|
|Jarvis Landry, Clev.||149||81||54.4%||976||12.0||4|
|Michael Crabtree, Balt.||100||54||54.0%||607||11.2||3|
|Robby Anderson, NYJ||94||50||53.2%||752||15.0||6|
Josh Rosen's accuracy may have been a big part of the problem. Note that a lot of the guys at the bottom of the list spent most of the season catching passes from rookie quarterbacks: Mayfield, Allen, Darnold, Rosen and Lamar Jackson.
But all of those guys also averaged a higher yards per catch than Fitzgerald (10.6); in some cases (Golladay, Anderson) about 5 yards higher. He had that low catch rate even while running shorter, high-percentage types of routes in Arizona's popgun offense.
So if Fitzgerald isn't going to be this team's best wideout, will it be second-year holdover Christian Kirk? He was having a credible season until missing the end of the year with a foot injury. And then the Cardinals drafted Andy Isabella in the second round and Hakeem Butler with the first pick of the fourth round (and yet another wideout in the sixth round). Maybe one of those guys.
Bottom line, I think, is there are four viable candidates to lead this team in receiving. Fitzgerald may not be the player he was. Kirk has a year of experience, but this offense will be as new to him as it is to the rookies. Makes sense, I think, to use caution in drafts with all these guys.
I selected Isabella in the 11th round of a PPR draft last night. He led college football in receptions and yards at Massachusetts last season. I don't know if he'll be the team's best wide receiver. But the price was definitely right.