By Chris Wesseling
Around the NFL Writer | NFL.com
It's a long-held pro football axiom, particularly among descendants of the Bill Walsh coaching tree, that a receiving corps should resemble a starting five on the basketball court. A quarterback doesn't want to be handed a collection of power forwards, strong in the paint but lacking quickness and ball skills on the perimeter.
The key is to compile a host of weapons with diversity in talent, providing distinct but complementary skill sets while filling particular roles. A top-notch NFL aerial attack should have a big, physical "X" receiver such as Julio Jones or A.J. Green complemented by a tough, run-after-catch flanker (Z) along the lines of JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Beginning just over a decade ago, that duo was regularly joined by an elusive slot receiver, offering sure hands, a mind meld with the quarterback on option routes and the quickness to beat coverage in and out of his breaks in heavy traffic. If you can recruit an additional speedy downfield target to threaten defenses over the top as a fourth option, all the better.
Don't forget about the front line. There's only one Rob Gronkowski, a throwback to former Giants star Mark Bavaro -- equally proficient as a blocker and receiver. The trick is to find a pair of complementary tight ends, as the Patriots did early this decade with Gronkowski and receiving specialist Aaron Hernandez.
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