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PFF: Cardinals receiver group is second-best in the NFL

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings with Larry Fitzgerald (11) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The years of experience are piling up for receiver Larry Fitzgerald. What hasn’t been adding up? The number of dropped passes in his career.

Boasting perhaps the most steady set of hands in the NFL, Fitzgerald is one reason the Arizona Cardinals rank No. 2 in Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the best receiving groups heading into 2016, but he’s not the only one. Throw in Michael Floyd, the 24th-highest-graded receiver from 2015, and John Brown, who ranks 27th, and it’s clear the Cardinals’ downfield threats go beyond Fitzgerald.

All that said, Fitzgerald is still quite the consistent force in his twilight years.

Key stat: Larry Fitzgerald has recorded the same number of drops (18) in the past six seasons as Raiders WR Amari Cooper had as a rookie.

Larry Fitzgerald has been one of the most-consistent players in the league since PFF began grading in 2007; he has graded positively every year, and dropped just 29 of the 874 catchable passes thrown his way in that span. Last season, he dropped just three of the 112 catchable passes thrown his way, giving him the third-best drop rate among players at the position.

Of course, it could be argued this is the year Fitzgerald’s age finally catches up to him. As far as the Cardinals are concerned, the plans to weather a decrease in their star’s production has been in the works for a while now.

Brown could take another step forward in his third NFL season, Floyd has the potential to take on more responsibility and the speedy J.J. Nelson showed flashes of explosiveness in his rookie season.

Throw in veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham returning to add options at that position alongside Darren Fells and Troy Niklas, plus receiver Jaron Brown, and Arizona should have another versatile set of options in its passing game — and we’re not even considering the pass-catching threat David Johnson and Andre Ellington can bring out of the backfield.

Only the New England Patriots’ receiving group led by Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski ranks ahead of Arizona’s downfield weapons, in Pro Football Focus’ eyes.

 

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