Published On: Thu, May 31st, 2018

6 teams that could show us if a true No. 1 receiver is necessary

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The NFL may have a growing fad.

As the Dallas Cowboys began life without longtime star wideout Dez Bryant, quarterback Dak Prescott openly questioned whether any team in the league needs a No. 1 receiver.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was asked about his team’s apparent lack of a No. 1 option in the passing game and responded by saying: “For us, we want everybody to be part of the offense, we want a defense to have to cover everybody. I thought that was something we did very well last year,” per Mike Kaye of First Coast News.

With that in mind, here are six teams without a certified No. 1 wideout that are looking to win with a balanced receiving attack in 2018:

Dallas Cowboys

Projected top option: Michael Gallup
Other candidates: Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Terrance Williams, Tavon Austin

The Cowboys have a very different receiving group following the release of Bryant and the retirement of tight end Jason Witten. Hurns and Thompson were added as free agents, while Austin was acquired via trade from the Los Angeles Rams.

Gallup, selected in the third round of the 2018 draft out of Colorado State, represents the option with the highest upside. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder tallied 21 touchdowns over his final two years in college.

Beasley should remain in the slot, while the inconsistent group of Hurns, Williams, and Thompson will attempt to hold off Gallup on the outside throughout training camp and at the beginning of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Projected top option: Marqise Lee
Other candidates: Donte Moncrief, Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, Keelan Cole

Moncrief was added as a free agent and Chark was taken in the second round of the draft to combat the losses of Hurns and Allen Robinson.

Robinson’s season-ending injury in Week 1 last season forced the Jaguars’ hand in adapting to life without a true No. 1 receiver, and the results were overwhelmingly positive, as they made it to the AFC Championship Game. Lee led the way with 56 receptions, Cole with 748 yards, and departed tight end Marcedes Lewis with five touchdowns.

Westbrook will be expected to take strides in his sophomore season after playing just seven games as a rookie, while Chark is an X-factor who recorded 811 yards and three touchdowns on 35 receptions in his final year at LSU.

San Francisco 49ers

Projected top option: Pierre Garcon
Other candidates: Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis

Garcon was enjoying a nice first season with the 49ers until going down with an injury in Week 8, finishing with 40 receptions for 500 yards but no touchdowns. How he responds in his return as a 32-year-old (his birthday’s in August) will be a big key to the team’s success.

Goodwin and Taylor stepped up in Garcon’s absence – aided by new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – and Pettis was chosen with the 44th pick of the 2018 draft as the team’s biggest offseason addition.

The 49ers are reportedly not interested in signing Bryant as a free agent, and are prepared to open the season with their current receiving group.

Miami Dolphins

Projected top option: Kenny Stills
Other candidates: DeVante Parker, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Leonte Caroo

Parker and Stills can be debated as the top option in Miami after target-hog Jarvis Landry was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Parker is perceived to have the higher ceiling, but the 14th pick of the 2015 draft has yet to play a full 16-game season or top 750 yards receiving in a single campaign. Stills is coming off an 847-yard season in 2017 – the best of his three years with the Dolphins.

Meanwhile, Amendola and Wilson were brought in to fill Landry’s role as the possession receiver.

Washington Redskins

Projected top option: Paul Richardson
Other candidates: Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder

Richardson landed the third-largest contract of any receiver in free agency this offseason at five years, $40 million, according to Spotrac.

In Washington, he joins last year’s leading receiver, Jamison Crowder, and the up-and-coming Josh Doctson, who notched a team-high six touchdowns last season.

The Redskins hoped Terrelle Pryor would fill the role of a No. 1 when they signed him last offseason, but he lasted just one year in Washington and Richardson will now be expected to step up for new quarterback Alex Smith.

New York Jets

Projected top option: Robby Anderson
Other candidates: Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor

The Jets received strong performances from Anderson and Kearse last season en route to a surprisingly positive 5-11 season.

Pryor was brought in this offseason as a low-risk free-agent addition, and Enunwa will return from the neck injury that cost him the full 2017 campaign. The Jets – along with quarterbacks Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and rookie Sam Darnold – will be hoping Enunwa can return to the breakout form he showed in 2016 when he caught 58 passes for 867 yards and four touchdowns, and that Pryor can recapture the magic from his 1,007-yard season with the Browns.

This well-rounded group should combine to offer Darnold plenty of support if he ends up starting in his inaugural season.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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