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Ranking NFL's 10 worst WR depth charts of past 10 years

Jerome Simpson (center) and Torrey Smith (No. 82) have a combined 12 years of experience in the NFL, far and above their receiver teammates. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

There's been a lot written in recent weeks about contract negotiations between the New York Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the Jets are not the only NFL team with a massive roster hole that could easily be filled by a veteran free agent who was already on their team a year ago.

Anquan Boldin is still floating around unsigned, and the San Francisco 49ers could really use him to boost an inexperienced receiving group. In fact, based on what we should expect from recent performance and draft position, the 49ers come close to entering the 2016 season with the worst receiver depth chart of the past decade. But of course, questionable receiver depth charts are nothing new on the other side of the bay in Oakland.

To come up with this list of the worst receiver depth charts of the past decade, each team was ranked based on "expected catches" for the top members of the receiving corps: the top three wide receivers, the starting tight end, and either the WR4 or TE2 depending on who was expected to produce more. "Expected catches" were based on the average receptions for each player in the previous three seasons, adjusted somewhat for major injuries. For rookies, I used a formula that estimated how many catches an average rookie wide receiver or tight end will make based on his draft position.

Teams were judged based on how their rosters looked going into the season in question. Some players struggle early on before finally breaking out, and sometimes undrafted nobodies turn out to be productive talents. But many similar players never developed in the NFL, and there's a reason teams try not to enter the season with a wide receiver corps that lacks both experience and draft pedigree.

Two current rosters are found in the top 10 below, but you may be surprised by one that is missing. Originally, this article was supposed to revolve around the Cleveland Browns ... until I ran the numbers. The Browns didn't rank near the bottom of this metric, even after cutting veteran Brian Hartline. On average, a receiver drafted No. 15 overall such as Corey Coleman can be expected to catch 41 passes as a rookie. Andrew Hawkins has 90 catches over the past two seasons, while Taylor Gabriel has 64. And of course, tight end Gary Barnidge is coming off a 79-catch breakout season. As bad as things are in Cleveland, the receivers might actually be a little underrated.


10. 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR1 Sammie Stroughter (31) / WR2 Mike Williams (est. 16) / WR3 Arrelious Benn (est. 28) / TE1 Kellen Winslow (67) / TE2 Jerramy Stevens (23)

This listing has a bit of an asterisk. The 2010 Bucs aren't really 10th on this list if we include both wide receivers and tight ends. But if we only look at wide receivers, it's hard to find a team over the past decade with less experience.