Top Wide Receiving Corps in the NFL
Written by Ryan Lippert
Today’s NFL is filled with loads of star wide receivers. The evolution of the passing game has taken over the league, allowing more receivers to shine. Some teams are luckier than others in the case that they have multiple stars at this position. With that in mind, here are my top five wide receiver corps in the NFL.
1. New England Patriots
Top receivers: Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios
Although the Patriots suffered two huge losses in the offseason as Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins and Brandin Cooks was traded to the Rams, they still have a very solid wide receiving group. Top receiver Julian Edelman returns to the team after missing the entire 2017 season out with an ACL injury. Chris Hogan also returns, and he was very reliable for them last season with 439 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Young wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell also returns to the picture after missing last season due to injury. Although they didn’t have the best seasons in 2017, I look for Dorsett and Britt to possibly be used more this season in the passing game.
The Patriots also made some some additions to their already dangerous passing game this offseason by signing of Cordarrelle Patterson and Jordan Matthews. Patterson is known mainly for his accomplishments as a kick returner, but he adds a speed element that can serve as a deep threat and spread out the field. Matthews struggled last season with the Bills but has proven to be a reliable target, and I think he will have a bounce back season with the Patriots and Tom Brady.
Add those wide receivers with rookie Braxton Berrios, who fits the bill as a typical Patriots wide receiver that could come on to the scene at some point, along with the best tight end in the league in Rob Gronkowski, and you have a very solid group of targets. It also helps that they have the greatest quarterback of all time throwing the football.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Top receivers: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy
The Falcons have had one of the best WR duos in the league in the past couple seasons with Jones and Sanu. Jones is one of the top five wide receivers in the league and is at times the most dangerous in the NFL. Last season, Jones finished second in the NFL with 1,444 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns. Sanu provided a reliable second option in 2017, finishing with 703 yards and five touchdowns.
This duo will become an outstanding trio in 2018 with first round selection Calvin Ridley joining the Falcons. Ridley was the best wide receiver in this draft class and was a stud at Alabama, finishing his final season with 967 yards and five touchdowns. I look for him to be a tremendous deep threat and eventually pass Sanu on the depth chart for the WR2 spot.
Add in a speedy slot receiver in Hardy, along with a rising tight end in Austin Hooper, and I believe that the Falcons will have a very explosive passing attack this season.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Top wide receivers: Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter
The Steelers have had a very dangerous passing attack for the past several seasons, largely due to the fact that they have the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown catching passes from a future Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger. Last season, Brown led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,533 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
However, the success of this group doesn’t stop there. Juju Smith-Schuster burst onto the scene last year as a rookie, finishing with 917 yards and seven touchdowns.
Although the Steelers traded away a huge piece of their passing attack in Martavis Bryant, I believe they found a solid replacement for him. The Steelers drafted James Washington out of Oklahoma State in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In his senior season, Washington finished with 1,549 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. I believe Washington will come in and be a great fit for the WR3 spot. Behind those three, you have Heyward-Bey and Hunter who both provide experience along with ability as solid deep threats. It is also rumored that Eli Rogers is close to resigning with the Steelers.
Add in all of those receiving threats with two solid tight ends in Vance McDonald and Jesse James, and a huge threat out of the backfield in Le’Veon Bell, and I believe this offense has a chance to lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Top receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Markus Wheaton
The reigning Super Bowl Champs provide a lot to be excited about for Eagles fans heading into the 2018 season. First, they get Carson Wentz, their starting quarterback, back from injury. Although Wentz is coming off an injury, he will have a ton of help from this wide receiver group. The Eagles retain their top two wide receivers from the 2017 season in Jeffery and Agholor. Jeffery provides one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league, as he finished last season with 789 yards and 8 touchdowns. Agholor serves as a huge threat as the second option. He finished the 2017 season with 768 yards and 9 touchdowns.
We will also be seeing some new faces in the 2018 passing attack for the Eagles. Hollins didn’t contribute as much in his rookie season but he is a name I’m hearing a lot from Eagles fans as someone to look out for. The Eagles also made a huge signing this off season by adding Mike Wallace. Wallace adds another tremendous deep threat alongside Jeffery in this offense and will help to spread out the field. Wheaton is another solid signing for the Eagles as he can be a reliable rotational receiver.
I strongly believe that the Eagles will be right back in contention this season with this passing offense. With this solid group of receivers and their star tight end, Zach Ertz, who led the team in receiving last season, I believe Wentz is due for a very successful season in 2018.
5. Los Angeles Rams
Top receivers: Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds
Quarterback Jared Goff had an outstanding second season in 2017 and it was largely due to a great wide receiver group. Fortunately for Goff, they get a lot of that production back for this season. The Rams keep their top two wide receivers from the 2017 season in Kupp and Woods. Kupp had an outstanding rookie season as he led the team in receiving yards with 869 and scored five touchdowns. Woods had a solid 2017 season as well with 781 yards and five touchdowns.
Although they lost a very talented receiver in Sammy Watkins, the Rams brought in an upgrade at the position. They made a trade with the New England Patriots for Brandin Cooks. He will provide Goff with another go-to receiver and a tremendous deep threat to help take some pressure off Kupp and Woods. Some other names to watch in the group this season will be Cooper and Reynolds. Cooper is known as a return specialist but can add some value as a rotational wide receiver. Reynolds will provide some rotational value as well and I believe will be targeted more in his second season.
If you add in these receivers with two very reliable tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, I believe you have a very solid passing attack. It also helps that they have the second best running back in the league in Todd Gurley to take some of the pressure of of them. I believe that this offense will lead the Rams to another great season in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders