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The Buccaneers have the best receiving corps in the NFL

Jameis Winston can be happy with his targets.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Minicamp Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When’s the last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were genuinely in the conversation for having the best receiving corps in the NFL? I can’t remember any time, realistically, before this season—and yet, that’s exactly where we are now.

ESPN had a few folks on to argue about the best receiving corps in the NFL, with the New York Giants offered up as the main candidates: with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, they have a decent argument.

And yet, everyone agreed that really, the Bucs have the better group—if we include tight ends. Which we should, obviously. They’ve been indispensable in passing games for eh...decades, really.

So, let’s see. Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. are more or less at the same level—Evans has been slightly more consistently productive, but Beckham Jr. has arguably had somewhat higher highs. We can call that a draw, I think.

DeSean Jackson is still one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, and put up over 1,000 receiving yards last year while leading the league in yards per catch. Meanwhile, Marshall noticeably slowed down last year and couldn’t crack 800 yards despite playing in 15 games. Of course, he put up over 1,500 receiving yards the year before, when an injured Jackson barely went over 500 yards.

Mostly, Jackson versus Marshall is a clash of styles: a speedy deep threat against a physical possession receiver who may or may not be over the hill. I’d take Jackson over Marshall.

When we get beyond that, though, the Bucs start to pull into the lead. Sterling Shepard and Adam Humphries had very similar seasons as slot receivers, with Humphries being slightly more productive per catch and per target. But Cameron Brate easily outplayed Shepard, which gives the Bucs four productive players to the Giants’ three.

Moreover, the Bucs have two rookie draft picks who are looking to make an impact as well: O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, the explosive and versatile tight end, and the possession receiver who’s made an impact in offseason workouts.

With all of that, how can the Bucs not have the better receiving corps? In fact, how can they not have the best receiving corps in the NFL?