The NFL offseason was a busy one on the wide receiver market. Deandre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs each found a new home in a new conference. Emmanuel Sanders left a top NFC contender for another, and April’s draft featured arguably the deepest wide receiver class in decades. NFL offenses are built through the air more than ever before, and there’s never been a bigger emphasis on the relationship between a quarterback and his wideouts. With the 2020 season less than two months away, here are the top 10 wide receiver corps in the NFL.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Projected depth chart: AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, John Ross
The Cincinnati Bengals have a lot to be excited about this year. Of course it all starts with new quarterback Joe Burrow, who’s fresh off a Heisman winning season at LSU. Burrow won’t be helpless under center because the Bengals have one of the most exciting young wide receiver corps in the NFL. Veteran AJ Green leads the way after missing all of 2019 with a nagging ankle injury. The 32-year-old will surely be motivated to rebound with a new era beginning in Cincinnati.
Aside from Green, the Bengals have a collection of youthful wide receivers with big play potential. Tyler Boyd was the de facto number one target a year ago and produced 1,046 yards on 90 catches. John Ross has failed to live up to his top ten pick status, but his blazing speed makes him a candidate for explosive touchdowns plays at any moment. Cincinnati also added former Clemson standout Tee Higgins in the draft. Higgins was a scoring machine for Dabo Swinney’s team, racking up 25 touchdowns and 2,103 yards over his last two college seasons. The Bengals may struggle in 2020, but the wide receiver corps should be the least of their worries.
9. Cleveland Browns
Projected depth chart: Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Damion Ratley, Rashard Higgins
The Cleveland Browns flopped in 2019 after lofty preseason expectations. The Odell Beckham Jr experiment was a massive failure, and Baker Mayfield looked lost for most of the year. However, don’t be shocked to see a turnaround in 2020. After all, we are talking about Odell Beckham Jr, a top five wideout in the game today. A “down year” for OBJ still produced 1,035 yards. But the problem over the last three seasons is in the touchdown department. After an eye-pooping 35 td’s in his first three pro seasons, Beckham has tallied only 10 scores over the past two seasons. His former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry was perhaps underrated in 2019. Landry ranked tenth amongst all NFL receivers with 1,174 receiving yards, while also scoring six times.
The question for Cleveland’s wide receiver corps will be who steps up as a viable third option for Baker Mayfield. Yes, the team will welcome Austin Hooper at tight end this year, but this article is strictly about wide receivers. Rashard Higgins and Damion Ratley combined for only 16 catches and 255 yards in limited opportunities. Though Cleveland will have an additional option in the form of rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones out of Michigan. If Odell Beckham can get back to form, Cleveland should be just fine on offense with him, Landry, and Hooper highlighting the passing attack. But the Browns would certainly themselves higher on this list if they could find a steadier option as their number three wideout.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Projected depth chart: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russel Gage, Laquon Treadwell
One could argue that the Atlanta Falcons are too low on this list. It’s no secret that Julio Jones is one of the league’s most dominant receivers, and he’s been just that for a decade. The passing attack will go through Jones, who finished with 99 catches for 1,394 yards in 2019. Amazingly, that was his lowest receiving yards total since 2013. But Julio has help now in the form of another Alabama product, Calvin Ridley. Ridley did not face a sophomore slump whatsoever this past year. In fact, he ended the 2019 campaign with 866 receiving yards and seven scores in just 13 games played.
Quarterback Matt Ryan likes to spread the football around, and he’ll get a chance to do just that with the addition of wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. The former Viking was a colossal bust and only caught nine balls in his final season with Minnesota. However, Treadwell is only 25 and will likely see an expanded role with his new team. Don’t sleep on Russel Gage either. After producing a measly 63 receiving yards in his rookie season, Gage stepped up with 446 yards on 49 catches in year two. The Falcons have arguably the top wideout in football today, with depth to follow. If Laquon Treadwell shows any signs of being the player he was once thought to be, Atlanta may have a top five wide receiver corps.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Projected depth chart: Deandre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, KeeShean Johnson/Andy Isabella
Did your jaw drop too? That was the reaction most football fans had when they heard that Deandre Hopkins was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals in March. Quarterback Kyler Murray will now have two of the most reliable pass catchers at his disposal in 2020. “D-Hop’ was electric once again in 2019 during his last season with Houston, catching 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven trips to the endzone. At only 28 years old still, don’t expect anything less this season from one of the league’s most gifted wide receivers. The veteran Larry Fitzgerald will be back for his seventeenth season in 2020. Despite his age, Fitzgerald has played in all 16 games each of the past five seasons, and tallied 804 yards a year ago.
Behind Fitzgerald is a 23-year-old wide receiver out of Texas A&M. Christian Kirk missed three games, but still finished with 709 yards and caught 86 passes from Murray. Arizona drafted three wide receivers in the 2019 draft, and two of them could play a big role in their second season. In limited action KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella had 187 yards and 189 respectively, including one touchdown each. Both players showed big play potential and could certainly see an expanded role as they get more comfortable with Murray behind center. Deandre Hopkins will be the sparkplug for the Cardinals in 2020, but there are plenty of productive options behind him on the depth chart. You can count on Arizona having one of the top wide receiver corps come September.
6. Los Angeles Rams
Projected depth chart: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson
The Los Angeles Rams may find themselves a place or two higher on this list if not for trading Brandin Cooks during the offseason. Even with the loss of Cooks, Los Angeles retains plenty of wide receiver talent on their roster. Cooper Kupp’s 10 touchdown grabs ranked second amongst all wideouts a year ago, and his 1,161 receiving yards ranked twelfth. The Eastern Washington alum has established himself as one of the better receivers in the NFL after an injury shortened 2018 season. Robert Woods got off to a painfully slow start in the first half of the season. However, in his final seven contests Woods caught fire for 663 receiving yards on 52 receptions.
In place of the departed Brandin Cooks, Josh Reynolds will be the next man up as the Rams number three wideout. Reynolds did not get a ton of looks from Jared Goff in 2019, but proved he can step up when needed by grabbing five touchdowns along with 402 yards in the 2018 season. Expect him to make additional strides in 2020 now that Cooks is out of the equation. Los Angeles doesn’t have a clear-cut number four wide receiver on their depth chart. Though it looks like that duty could fall to rookie Van Jefferson from Florida. Jefferson had a strong senior season for the Gators with 657 yards and six scores. Even if Jefferson is a non-factor, the Rams will surely boast one of the league’s strongest wide receiver corps yet again.
5. Buffalo Bills
Projected depth chart: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie
Stefon Diggs became the second high-profile wide receiver to be dealt this offseason. After five impressive seasons in Minnesota including the Minnesota Miracle, Diggs was shipped to Buffalo in exchange for future draft picks. Quarterback Josh Allen will now have a proven 1,000 yard playmaker he can target in the red zone. However, Diggs is not the only player on the team capable of filling up the stat sheet. John Brown’s first season in Buffalo went about as well as it could, as he finished with a career best 1,060 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The tandem of Diggs and Brown will be one of the most explosive duos on deep balls this season.
Cole Beasley serves as a dependable option in the slot, despite his small stature. The former Cowboy was an impressive surprise this past year, and set a new personal high of six touchdowns to match teammate John Brown. Another undersized receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, will likely be the number four option in the Buffalo passing game. McKenzie delivered his career high in yards last season with 254, while also scoring his first NFL touchdown. It’s no secret that Buffalo’s greatest strength will be their secondary once again, but Josh Allen won’t be lacking options when he drops back to pass in 2020.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected depth chart: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Justin Watson
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the number one wide receiver duo of any team in the NFL. Unfortunately for them, this article looks at wide receiver corps as a whole, which bumps Tampa a few spots back. Mike Evans missed three games in 2019, and still totaled 1,157 yards with eight touchdowns. In fact, Evans has now surpassed the 1,000 yard mark in each of his first six NFL seasons. Chris Godwin blossomed into a top target for Jameis Winston, and actually outperformed Mike Evans in many games. The Penn State product was third in the NFL with 1,333 receiving yards and fourth in the NFL with nine scores With Tom Brady now under center for the Buccs, you can expect both Evans and Godwin to keep rolling in 2020.
The small concern for Tampa Bay is who will function as the number three wide receiver. Breshad Perriman signed with New York and Scotty Miller and Justin Watson each had less than 200 receiving yards in 2019. It is quite possible that one of them will become Tampa’s “Julian Edelman”, but that is still an unknown at the moment. Godwin, and Evans will do 90% of the damage, and that will be good enough for the Buccaneers on most nights. If Tom Brady hits a groove with either Watson or Miller, Tampa Bay may just be the most dangerous receiving corps in 2020.
3. New Orleans Saints
Projected depth chart: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, TreQuan Smith, Tommylee Lewis/Austin Carr/Deonte Harris
Michael Thomas did it all for New Orleans in 2019. It’s hard to identify which number is actually the most impressive of them all. Thomas lead the NFL with a gaudy 149 receptions, and still produced consistently even when Teddy Bridgewater had to step in for an injured Drew Brees. Thomas also reeled in 80.5% of his targets for over 1,700 yards. If you didn’t believe MT was one of the top wide receivers prior to 2019, you shouldn’t need any more convincing at this point. New Orleans desperately needed a reliable second option to compliment Thomas, and they got it. Emmanuel Sanders may be 33, but he still produces at a high level. Sanders split his time between Denver and San Francisco last year and collected 869 receiving yards along the way. Look for him to take some pressure off of Thomas week to week.
Drew Brees may not require a flashy third receiver, but TreQuan Smith is still a solid option. The 24-year-old Smith only caught 18 balls last season, but five of them hit pay dirt for the Saints. The fourth receiver spot on New Orleans is up for grabs, but don’t expect that to be a huge factor for this team. If anything, Drew Brees and Sean Payton will utilize running back Alvin Kamara as an additional option for their aerial attack. The combination of Thomas and Sanders alone makes this one of the elite wide receiver corps for the upcoming season.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Projected depth chart: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson
You may think you’re watching a track meet when you watch the Kansas City Chiefs play football. This team has burners all over the field, starting with Tyreek Hill. Hill is often the smallest guy on the field, but he can fly past almost any cornerback with relative ease. Hill did miss four games last year due to a shoulder injury he suffered against Jacksonville, but that barely slowed him down at all. “Cheetah” still notched 860 receiving yards with seven touchdowns across only 12 games. Former top five pick Sammy Watkins went through a miserable slump after catching three touchdowns in week 1 for Kansas City. Watkins had zero scores for the remainder of the regular season, but caught fire once again in KC’s playoff run. He finished with 114 yards and one touchdown in the divisional round, and gained 98 more yards in the Super Bowl.
Mecole Hardman did not play a huge role in the playoffs for Kansas City, yet he made the most of his opportunities throughout the regular season. The 21-year-old wideout caught only 26 passes, and still finished with 538 receiving yards. If that weren’t impressive enough, Hardman found the end zone six times on those 26 receptions. One could argue that Demarcus Robinson is the game’s top number four wide receiver. Robinson won’t receive a ton of looks from Patrick Mahomes barring injuries, but he’s proved more than capable on multiple occasions. Robinson tallied 449 yards and four receiving scores last season, and stepped up in games when Hill and Watkins were absent. The combination of Mahomes’ arm and the Chiefs perimeter speed makes for an absolutely formidable wide receiver corps.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Projected depth chart: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Noah Brown/Devin Smith
It doesn’t get any better than the Dallas Cowboys top three wide receivers. The team still needs to figure out their plan moving forward with quarterback Dak Prescott, but that’s a separate story. Amari Cooper is doing everything Dallas would have hoped when they traded a first round pick for him. Last year was actually Cooper’s best season as a pro so far. He finished with career highs of 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns. Both of those totals also ranked inside the top ten for the entire league. Michael Gallup enjoyed a breakout year as well, and finished with nearly as many yards as Cooper, while playing in two less games. In total Gallup netted 1,107 yards and scored six times.
This year Dallas will have a new number three wideout. Instead of slot receiver Randall Cobb, the Cowboys now get another vertical threat in the form of rookie Cee Dee Lamb. Lamb was electric throughout his career at the University of Oklahoma, and 2019 was no different. The 6’2 playmaker was a touchdown machine, scoring 14 of them while also accumulating 1,327 yards. Lamb would not be viewed as a number three option on almost any other team given his college track record. Dallas’ number four wide receiver is anyone’s guess at this point, but that shouldn’t be a huge concern. Get your popcorn ready when the Cowboys offense takes the field on Sundays. This team owns the top wide receiver corps in the NFL today.