Monday, April 13, 2009

Top Five Wide Receivers in 2009

Like the quarterback position, the Big Ten should have some improved wide receivers in 2009. This crop of players, however, is very top heavy. Some younger receivers are going to be called on, and will be expected to provide some depth. The biggest loss will be to Penn State who lost receivers Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, and Derrick Williams. These three Nittany Lions combined for 1,932 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns.

5. David Gilreath

2008 Stats: 31 Receptions 520 Yards 3 Touchdowns

Gilreath showed to have some spark in 2008. Defenses always had to keep one eye open for Gilreath who also returned punts, kickoffs, and was always an option for an end-around runnning play. Gilreath racked up 285 yards on the ground, doing just that. At only 5'11", Gilreath isn't going to 'go up and get' too many balls against talented corners but he does use his speed effectively.

4. Mark Dell

2008 Stats: 36 Receptions 679 Yards 3 Touchdowns

Dell seemed to be Michigan State's answer to the replacing Devin Thomas, after a nine catch 202 yard and one touchdown performance against Cal in the opener. He slowed down a bit from there, never again topping the 100 yard mark in a game. Bell, a junior-to-be, will need to play a big role in 2009 and will be instrumental in helping MSU break in a new quarterback.

3. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos

2008 Stats: 44 Receptions 639 Yards 3 Touchdowns

Johnson-Koulianos found himself on the outside looking in when the spring two deeps were announced earlier this month. But, I suspect DJK will be the starting, and premier, WR for the Hawkeyes once September rolls around. Johnson-Koulianos has shown steady improvement over his first two years at Iowa. In 2009, Johnson-Koulianos should show more of a knack for the endzone, after having 82 career receptions and 1,100 plus yards but only five career touchdowns. DJK was rolling at the end of 2008 regular season, coming off a career high 181 yard performance against Minnesota. He should take that momentum into 09. I expect the Iowa offense to mature under second year starter Ricky Stanzi, which should make for a break-out season for Johnson-Koulianos in 2009.

2. Arrelious Benn 2008 Stats: 67 Receptions 1,055 Yards 3 Touchdowns

Benn showed to be explosive with his 15.7 yards per reception average. He also proved that he can be effective against the leagues best defenses by garnering 65, 96, and 110 yards against Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State repectively. With Benn and four year starting quarterback Juice Williams returning in 2009, the Illinois offense has the potential to be special in 2009. But, it also had this potential in 08, so we'll just have to wait and see. Regardless of the Fighting Illini's success this season, both Williams and Benn should put up lofty statistics.

1. Eric Decker
2008 Stats: 84 Receptions 1,074 Yards 7 Touchdowns

Decker was the Big Ten's leading receiver in 2008, and he should be right near the top again in 09. Decker, at 6'2" and 215, has shown to have impressive physical talents. The Minnesota offense will run through Decker this season, and the Weber-Decker connection will give defenses fits as Minnesota tries to build on their 7-6 season. In order for the Gophers to be successful, Decker, and Minnesota in general, will need to be dominate against both the cupcakes and the tougher opponents this season. Both Arrelious Benn and Decker could have claimed the top spot, but Decker gets the nod for his slightly better stats in 2008.

Gilreath photo from Getty Images, all others from the Associated Press

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little concerned with DJK. As Josh talked about in his "Hawkeye House" blog, something must be going on. How could he not be in the starting lineup when he is clearly more talented than Trey Stross and Colin Sandeman.

    I mean, Trey freaking Stross is ahead of him on the depth chart. I really want Stross to do well, but I've just about given up on him ever becoming a reliable target. DJK must have engaged in some kind of funny business. I don't mean off-field problems, but he obviously did something wrong to be a backup receiver for a team that is lacking in that area.