Best Wide Receivers in the NFL
This list is based off the 2021-22 season as well as their overall talent. This is not a “most talented” or “best season” list, but instead a combination of both. These are the best Wide Receivers in the NFL.
#10 – Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen has earned the reputation as one of the best route runners in the NFL. No, he does not have over the top athleticism especially at the age of 29, but he doesn’t need to because of his understanding of the game. His ability to separate and make contested catches with his feet is what keeps him playing at an elite level going into his thirties.
I can only imagine how difficult it is for a rookie Quarterback to transition into the NFL. I’m sure Justin Herbert will be the first to admit having a guy like Keenan Allen makes life a lot more easy.
#9 – Mike Evans
Mike Evans has been in the NFL for 8 seasons and this marks his 8th straight season with 1000+ receiving yards. Give this man the respect he deserves.
One thing I’ve learned about Tom Brady is he leans on his best receivers in the redzone. You know he loves Gronk and it didn’t take him long to love Mike Evans. Last season he recorded 13 receiving touchdowns with Tom Brady and this season he one-upped it with 14.
At 6 foot 5 inches it’s no wonder he is so dominant in the redzone, but it’s his speed at his size that makes him so special. It could be a 60 yard bomb or a 2 yard fade, but either way Mike Evans will find a way to score. The only thing that can stop him is awful QB play so he better hope a certain someone doesn’t retire.
#8 – Diontae Johnson
Ben Roethlisberger was bad last season. You hate to see a legend go out like that, but Diontae Johnson made life a lot easier for him. Big Ben was a shell of himself and was heavily reliant on the quick passing game. Diontae Johnson is the kind of guy who can make plays happen with ball in his hands. This is a guy who has a punt return touchdown under his belt.
He has also developed into a reliable deep threat. While we have seen the issues he has with drops, he has also shown an ability to go and get a football. I believe with better Quarterback play we would have seen a lot more of this and his stats would have reflected that with more efficiency.
Who knows who the Steelers’ QB will be next season which will have a lot to do with the production of Diontae Johnson.
Honorable Mention – Hunter Renfrow
I’m deep into fantasy football, and am always looking at off-season and pre-season reports. One of the first reports I heard was that at a joint practice between the Raiders and Rams, Hunter Renfrow got the better of Jalen Ramsey more than once. I say this all to mention that my dumb*** still didn’t pick him up.
The Raiders started off hot and a lot of that had to do with their passing attack. Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs were doing their thing and when they were out of the picture Hunter Renfrow really started to go off. He might have been a little force-fed, but he was getting the job done.
We really saw how creative he can be with his route running. He’s coining things like the out-in-out-in. Like what? Pretty legendary if I do say so myself.
#7 – Stefon Diggs
A year removed from being the NFL’s receiving leader, Stefon Diggs did have a slight downtick in production. As expected when you had the season he did. Teams payed him more respect and he demanded more attention.
You know why guys like Gabriel Davis can go off for 4 touchdowns in the playoffs? Because Stefon Diggs’ name precedes him. I’m not saying Gabe Davis is a bum, but he wouldn’t be single covered without Diggs.
When I talk up route runners, you know I have to put Diggs in the conversation for the best of the best. He has a highlight reel full of putting cornerbacks on skates.
As long as Josh Allen is at the helm, I can’t imagine anything but a 1000+ yard season for Diggs.
Honorable Mention – Ceedee Lamb
The reason I like to explain before that this list is based off a combination of season production and overall talent is for guys like Ceedee Lamb. I believe that Ceedee Lamb is already top 10 in terms of talent, but the stats don’t back him as a top 10 WR.
It’s the blessing and curse of being on an offense that is so well rounded and efficient. Both of their RBs in Zeke and Pollard get a lot of looks and he’s competing for targets against Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz.
Even considering those things he managed his first 1000+ yard receiving season and you know there are a lot more where that came from. He’s a favorite target of Dak and they could be together for a long time.
#6 – Tyreek Hill
“All he can do is run fast!” This is one of the funniest things I hear people say about Tyreek Hill. Too many people. Don’t get me wrong, speed kills. Tyreek Hill being the fastest player in the NFL makes things a lot easier for him, but he is much more than just his speed.
He’s not an elite route runner by any level, but a really good one. Not only that, he knows how to catch a ball in stride and create more yards after the catch. This isn’t just a guy that goes deep. Andy Reid gets him involved in many different ways and he finds ways to make plays no matter the scenario.
It was very hit or miss for this Chiefs offense early in the season, but as usual when playoff football comes around this offense starts going crazy. It’s filled with playmakers and Tyreek Hill is one of the key ingredients.
Honorable Mention – Chris Godwin
I love Mike Evans. I talked him up a lot in his write up and rightfully so. Here’s the thing. I thought Chris Godwin was the better receiver last year before being injured.
Chris Godwin is more of the do everything kind of player. He has shown the ability to make big deep like Evans, but is far more effective in the short game because of his ability to get up field.
He is still very young, so I’m going to assume that he’ll be able to recover from this injury fully. Much like everything in the NFL though, you never know.
#5 – Ja’marr Chase
I remember this pre-season when Ja’Marr Chase was drawing a lot of criticism for a couple of bad drops. I heard a lot of people label him a bust using him taking a full year off his final year of college against him. There was already a narrative that the Bengals should have gone offensive line instead which I myself believed to be true. Moral of the story is we were all wrong. Ja’Marr Chase is fresh off arguably the best rookie season ever for a Wide Receiver and is on the fast track to becoming the best Wide Receiver in the NFL.
Usually it takes some time for Quarterbacks to develop a strong chemistry with their Wide Receivers, but Burrow and Chase already played together in college. It took no at time at all for Ja’Marr Chase to become the favorite target for Burrow. This was already a stacked receiving group, but it’s clear Chase is the alpha of the group.
What makes him so special is his versatility. Some players are specialists at route running, or jump ball artists. Ja’Marr Chase nearly has it all. He can go up and get a jump ball, he can turn short catches into deep touchdowns. Ja’Maar Chase will have a long career of domination in the NFL especially if it’s spent with Joe Burrow.
#4 – Justin Jefferson
After one of the best rookie seasons ever, Justin Jefferson followed finishing 2nd in yards, 4th in receptions and 6th in touchdowns. He just broke Randy Moss’ record for most receiving yards prior to the age of 23 and looks to chase more NFL records with 18 game seasons now a thing.
It’s rare for a receiver this young to be as refined in route running. Jefferson came into the NFL and immediately made a splash because of his ability to create separation with his footwork and quickness. Justin Jefferson has already become the favorite target of Kirk and continuously found ways to get open deep in key situations.
My only knock on him is his lack of dominance after the catch. Ja’Marr Chase and Deebo Samuel are both two receivers who were far more effective after the catch. This explains why he isn’t higher on this list and not taking anything away from his game.
#3 – Deebo Samuel
This man can do it all. I would not be shocked if Deebo Samuel lines up at kicker or punter at some point in his career. In only his third season in the NFL, he has developed into the most versatile player in the NFL by receiving, rushing and throwing for touchdowns. He continues to amaze me.
While some people don’t think “rushing” production should account for the ranking of a Wide Receiver, I am not one of them. When you look at Deebo, he had only 6 receiving touchdowns to his 8 rushing touchdowns. It’s clear that Kyle Shanahan knows the gem he has in Deebo and is willing to use him any way possible. That’s part of the package.
Like I mentioned in the Justin Jefferson write up, Deebo isn’t the most refined receiver yet, but he makes up for it by doing everything very well. That being said, the one thing that he does tremendously is run with the ball in his hands. He had 18.2 yards per reception which is outstanding considering the usage he got.
The sky is the limit for the ever expanding skill set of Deebo Samuel.
#2 – Davante Adams
There is no winning this ranking. If this list was ranked strictly on the most talented Wide Receiver, Davante Adams would be #1 on this list. Because I’m also considering season production, I have to rank it differently.
I know I sound like a broken record at this point talking about great route runners, it’s Davante Adams who get’s my nod for the best best route runner in the NFL. It’s one of the many reasons people regard him as the best in the game. Davante Adams really doesn’t have a weakness in his game which is his game. You can’t exploit him.
Once again, this is mainly based off last season which is why he is second on this list. Not saying he had a bad season, but it’s tough to compete against record breaking seasons.
One thing I’m worried about is his future. The Packers are a complete mystery organization right now as both Rodgers and Adams mull their future with the latter having less leeway.
#1 – Cooper Kupp
To whoever bet a large sum of money on Cooper Kupp being the receiving leader this season, congratulations. I want to shake your hand. Not just that, please tell me how the hell you were able to predict something that nutty? Not saying Cooper Kupp wasn’t already proven, but to be this good seemed impossible. I guess that’s the magic of pairing Matthew Stafford with Cooper Kupp and Sean McVay.
The result was a record breaking season for Cooper Kupp. When Robert Woods went down they leaned on him even more and he was piling on the numbers in this 18 game season.
Now here is where I get to show a little different kind of love for a receiver. You have heard me talk about YAC, talk about route running, touchdowns, you know the whole receiver thing. And don’t let the fact I won’t harp on those things distract you from the fact Kupp can do all those things and at a very high level.
What I’m saying is that what makes Kupp the best in the game is his ability to block. A lot of these receivers will play patty cakes with the DBs out there. What most people don’t realize is that for big plays to be made, players need to be blocking down field. You’re not going to see a ballcarrier break every tackle and run into the endzone alone. What you want to see is the players block downfield to create more open lanes. Cooper Kupp is an absolute sell out blocker. He has and endless motor that is beneficial in more than just the passing attack.