Huddle Up

NFL News and Analysis with Andrew Perloff

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  • 03:24 PM ET  10.08
Michael-crabtree
Michael Crabtree :: AP

Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree dominated the NFL news this week. Neither player will be able to match all this hype with actual production on the field. Both are joining teams that don't like to pass the ball and have quarterbacks with little proven success finding receivers downfield.  

But that's almost always the case with wide receivers: The expectation of this always fascinating position rarely matches reality.

Here's my take on some of the biggest myths surrounding the position.

1. Teams need a tall, fast wide receiver.

Only a handful of teams have a 6-foot-4 receiver with speed. That model of the dominant No. 1 receiver is outdated as the rules continue to change and receivers don't need to be as physical. This season, the NFL's emphasis on protecting defenseless receivers will help the little guys even more. It will change even more as college spread offenses trickles upward and players like Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson become the focal point of offenses.

2. A talented wide receiver will find a way to make plays.

No position is more dependent on the system than receiver. Just look at T.O. in Buffalo. Even a guy who thrived in a system can find himself boxed out by the defense or a slight tweak, like Larry Fitzgerald so far this season. Meanwhile, Indianapolis' offense is turning nobodies like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie into fantasy stars.

3. Numbers tell the story.

Lynn Swann was a controversial Hall of Fame pick because he ranks 181st all time with 5,462 receiving yards. That's less than Larry Fitzgerald, who is only 26 years old. But Swann was always a factor for opposing defenses and stretched the field for the Steelers offense. "Many of the voters who saw Swann play didn't care so much about the numbers," Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan said. "Whenever there's a big debate on receivers, it's dangerous to look at the statistics too much because they're not always a perfect indicator of what that player did for the team. The guys who supported Swann made it clear that the Steelers offense wouldn't be the same without him."

4. Great receivers win Super Bowls.

That might be true for quarterbacks, but not receivers. Amongst active players, the only two sure-fire Hall of Fame receivers -- Randy Moss and Terrell Owens -- have zero Super Bowl rings. A few borderline-to-probable Canton guys have won Super Bowls -- Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Hines Ward -- but their teams probably could have captured titles without them. The only virutal sure-thing Hall of Fame receiver to win a Super Bowl this decade was the Colts' Marvin Harrison in 2007.

5. Wide receivers have to be team-first players.

When Fitzgerald's brother Marcus was Tweeting about the Cardinals not getting him the ball, the receiver denied he was upset. But c'mon, what star receiver doesn't want the ball? The ultimate player at the position of all time is Jerry Rice, and you can bet he was just as concerned about getting his touches as any receiver. A great receiver needs to have that kind of confidence in his own skills.

A few quick slants on receivers:

• Drops are a bit overrated. Obviously they're not good, but if guys like Edwards and Owens get open and don't haul it in, it still makes the defense adjust and creates opportunities for others.

• The Patriots are 18-0 in the regular season when Tom Brady and Wes Welker on the field together. That's better than the Brady-Moss combo.

• Everyone said the Giants lost last year's Super Bowl because they lost Plaxico Burress. Has anyone considered they were not a dominant Super Bowl champ in the first place? They were a wild-card team who beat the Patriots on a miracle catch. They were never a dynasty to start with, so pointing to one player as the reason they didn't repeat seems far-fetched.

• Everyone talks about how the spread offense in college makes evaluating quarterbacks difficult. Don't forget how deceiving receivers' production in college is these days as well. And don't even bother scouting spread offense tight ends.

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