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Linsey: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiving corps has a chance to be the best of the PFF era

Detroit, Michigan, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating an NFL receiving corps is an interesting exercise in balancing elite talent with quality depth.

When it comes to high-end talent atop the depth chart, it’s difficult to match a Kansas City Chiefs’ receiving corps that features Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, as one can argue that those two are the most impactful players at their respective positions in the league.

But the reason Kansas City ranked just third in PFF’s receiving corps rankings entering the 2021 NFL season is that depth matters. PFF’s Eric Eager laid out the importance of finding quality secondary receiving options in a study earlier this offseason. He found that second, third and fourth options in the passing game were just as important — if not more important — as a team’s primary target. And that only becomes more accurate when the postseason rolls around.

In relation to the Chiefs, Eager wrote, “Third receivers are at least as important as second ones (when allowing for tight end), which goes to explain why the Chiefs had little in the way of answers against the Bucs, getting almost nothing out of Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and company in the Super Bowl.”

On the other side of the field in Super Bowl 55, quarterback Tom Brady had a talented and deep receiving corps at his disposal. And it doesn’t just project as the best collection of pass-catching wide receivers, tight ends and running backs entering the league next season; it has a chance to be one of the best receiving corps of recent memory.

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