NFL1000: Free-Agency Rankings for the 2017 WR Market

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2017

NFL1000: Free-Agency Rankings for the 2017 WR Market

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    Welcome to Bleacher Report's NFL1000 free-agency preview, a series where we'll use the power of the 17-man NFL1000 scouting department to bring you in-depth analysis of every NFL free agent this offseason. In this installment, lead scout Doug Farrar and wide receiver scouts Mark Schofield and Marcus Mosher dive into the wide receiver class.   

    This is the era of specialization in the NFL, and that's just as true of receivers as it is with other positions. A decade ago, you could largely separate receivers into a few categories: the uber-talented outside guys who were legitimate No. 1 receivers, the less versatile but specifically gifted receivers who fit a few basic paradigms, and the occasional slot guy who was smaller and less physical but could win underneath.

    In 2017, everything is up for grabs. Top receivers will spend a ton of time in the slot, as teams have realized that putting a 6'4" guy against a 5'10" slot corner is a major matchup advantage. Smaller, quicker targets are deployed outside more often, as the quickness with which they run angular routes can be a nightmare for bigger, more physical cornerbacks. Teams like the Patriots and Cardinals run a ton of 3x1 sets in which there are two distinct types of slot receivers to one side, forcing opponents to use sub-package schemes as their base defense.

    The demands made on modern receivers are more specific and highly targeted to the team and scheme involved. It makes for a fascinating game of "who fits where?" when discussing the 2017 class of free-agent receivers—a class with every conceivable type of talent.

                 

    Previous Installments

    NFL1000 Free-Agent Quarterback Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Tight End Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Fullback Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Kicker/Punter Rankings
    N
    FL1000 Free-Agent Left Tackle Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Offensive Guard Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Center Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Right Tackle Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Inside Linebacker Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent 3-4 Defensive End Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent 4-3 Defensive End Rankings
    NFL1000 Free Agent Defensive Tackle Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent 3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent 4-3 Outside Linebacker Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Running Back Rankings

34. Brandon Tate

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.5/25
    Hands: 14.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 10.4/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 60/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 131/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    The Buffalo Bills utilized a stable of wide receivers this past season in search of a spark on offense. While Sammy Watkins was a consistent WR1 (when healthy), the options after the Clemson product were mixed. Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Justin Hunter and even Percy Harvin saw time at wide receiver this season for the Bills. In a much more limited role, Brandon Tate was also in the mix. The former Patriot and Bengal was scarcely used as a receiver and started only one game. On the season, he caught eight passes on 12 targets for 117 yards.

    A seven-year NFL veteran, Tate’s biggest contributions have come as a kick returner. This past season, Tate returned 26 punts for 301 yards and 29 kickoffs for 662 yards. Tate served in this role both with the Patriots and the Bengals as well. With the Bengals in 2011, he gained 543 yards and scored a touchdown on a league-high 51 punt returns.

    This offseason, a team will likely bring Tate in during training camp to serve as a depth option at receiver and handle kick-return duties. He is a solid depth option at wide receiver and can still contribute on special teams. An organization like the Chargers or Ravens looking for an upgrade in the return game might find him attractive.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Tate is a decent receiver who will pick up yards after catch as a WR3 or 4, and his return abilities give him more options in free agency. He'd be best served signing with a team that needs help at the position so he could ostensibly move up the ranks.

33. Justin Hunter

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.3/25
    Hands: 14.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 11/20
    Blocking: 10.8/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 61/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 121/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    After a strong collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Titans selected Justin Hunter 34th overall in the 2013 draft. Hunter was expected to play a big role in the Titans' growth, but that never fully materialized. He caught only 18 passes as a rookie for 354 yards and four touchdowns. After suffering a fractured ankle late in 2015, the Titans placed him on injured reserve. At the start of the 2016 season, Tennessee proceeded to waive him. After spending a few weeks with the Dolphins, Hunter signed with the Bills in the wake of Sammy Watkins being placed on IR.

    Hunter has prototypical size for an X receiver, standing 6'4" and weighing 203 pounds. But despite his size and speedhe ran a blazing 4.36 40-yard dash at his combinehe has never fully lived up to the potential he showed in college. For example, against the Browns in Week 15, quarterback Tyrod Taylor targeted Hunter three times. Two of his targets were on red-zone fade routes, the perfect scheme for a player with his size and skill set, but he failed to complete the play on both. Against Oakland two weeks earlier, Hunter saw four targets, but he struggled to get consistent separation. On his lone reception that game, he bobbled the ball at the catch point.

    Hunter is still young (25), and 6'4" receivers with 4.36 speed do not grow on trees. If the Bills do not bring him back this offseason, teams are certain to kick the tires on Hunter. His skill set is suited for an offense like Arizona, which could make use of his long speed in a downfield passing game. Teams that need to upgrade at the position, such as Philadelphia and San Francisco, could use a player like Hunter, and the Bengals could consider bringing in Hunter as a solid option behind A.J. Green. Teams such as the Giants, Lions and Browns may be options as well depending on how they address the position this offseason. 

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Hunter is still very much a developmental playerhis 43.5 percent catch rate was the worst among Bills receivers last year, and given how the modern NFL is a high completion-percentage league, he'll need coaching to carve out a long-term role despite his obvious physical attributes.

32. Deonte Thompson

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.7/25
    Hands: 14.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.6/20
    Blocking: 11.1/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.2/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 108/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Due to multiple injuries and suspensions among their receiving corps, the Bears turned to Florida Gators product Deonte Thompson late in 2016. Thompson is a former athlete who the Gators forced to play receiver, but he has never been successful at the position. In his nine years of playing receiver in both college and the NFL, he's totaled just 1,923 receiving yards.

    At 28, Thompson likely only has a few more years left in the NFL. At 6'0" and 205 pounds, he has the size to play the position, but there are too many areas of his game where he lacks necessary basic skills. Thompson could catch on to some team as a returner/depth receiver, but there isn't a lot of upside here.  

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: 2016 was the first time in Thompson's career when he saw more than 300 snaps in a season, and that opportunity was injury-related. He's an average outside receiver who will only catch on somewhere for depth purposes.

31. Albert Wilson

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.5/25
    Hands: 15.3/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.2/20
    Blocking: 11.4/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.3/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 106/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    A former quarterback for the Georgia State Panthers, Albert Wilson went undrafted in 2014 and signed with the Chiefs as a free agent. While he saw limited action as a rookie, Wilson enjoyed significant playing time for Kansas City in 2015, catching 35 passes for 451 yards and two touchdowns. In the Chiefs' loss to the Patriots in the 2016 playoffs, Wilson snagged five passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

    This past season, the emergence of electric rookie Tyreek Hill reduced Wilson's output. The Georgia State product caught 31 passes for 279 yards and two scores, and his snap count severely declined down the stretch. Over the Chiefs' final four regular-season games, Wilson caught only two passes on four targets. In the playoffs, Wilson saw caught two of his three targets against the Steelers for three yards, but one of the receptions did go for a short touchdown.

    Because of his background as a quarterback, Wilson's value might lie in his versatility. He's a solid blocker who the Chiefs used to block on the edges in both the running game and on screen passes. Kansas City also utilized him as the personal protector on its punt team, and he had a 55-yard touchdown run against Atlanta this season on a fake punt. As a receiver, Wilson can be effective on intermediate routes such as curls or out patterns, and he has some ability after the catch. However, Wilson cannot be relied upon as a consistent vertical-passing threat, so he has some scheme dependency as a wide receiver.

    Due to Hill's emergence, Wilson will likely need to find a new team for 2017. His value on special teams will make him an appealing option, as he can provide help in that phase of the game and serve as a depth option at WR. On offense, Wilson could help teams such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New England.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Wilson was primarily a slot man in Kansas City's offense, but his aforementioned versatility could have teams looking at him as an all-around athlete to add spice to an offense. He has developed into an intruiging player in that regard, and he's proven that he can develop as a pure receiver.

30. Brice Butler

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.9/25
    Hands:14.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.4/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 61.3/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 118/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Brice Butler's talent has never been a question. The former 4-star recruit has great physical size at 6'3" and speed somewhere in the sub-4.4 range. He even has the hands to make incredible catches during games. But despite his talent, Butler has yet to top 350 receiving yards in a season either in the NFL or college. 

    Butler is at his best when he's a X receiver, making plays down the field. He's proficient at tracking the ball in the air and can separate downfield without difficulty. He's an average player after the catch, but his build-up speed can benefit him on slants and digs.

    However,  there's something missing from his game, whether it's his lack of ball skills on fade routes, the mindless penalties that kill drives or the awkward hand positioning he tends to use on deep balls. At 27, Butler still has upside, but he'll need a great coaching staff to live up to his potential.

    Teams in search of a backup X receiver or someone who can stretch the field may be interested in the former USC and San Diego State product. The Seahawks, Chargers and the 49ers may be interested in bringing him in, but his best fit is back the with Cowboys behind Dez Bryant.  

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Butler has potential as a deep receiver, but he's struggled to put it all together. Between the issues mentioned above and a catch rate of 53.3 percent in a high-completion offense, he'll need to shore up his weak spots before a team can trust him as a consistent starter.  

29. Andre Holmes

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.6/25
    Hands: 14.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 12.1/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 61.7/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 112/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    Andre Holmes served as Oakland's fourth wide receiver during the 2016 season and saw marginal playing time in that role. He played 292 offensive snaps for the Raiders, which was only 24.5 percent of their offensive plays. Holmes was targeted 25 times on the year, coming down with 14 receptions for 126 yards and a surprising three touchdowns. His best season with the Raiders came in 2014, when he saw caught 47 passes on 99 targets for 693 yards and four scores.

    Holmes' best 2016 outing came against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, when he caught three passes for 33 yards and a score. On his 42 snaps in that game, he was able to get separation on some vertical routes and served as an effective red-zone weapon. His scoring play came on a goal-line fade route, when he showed strength at the catch point to secure the pass for the touchdown. Holmes was also an effective blocker in that game, including two back-to-back key blocks in the third quarter, the second of which led to a 22-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Washington.

    Holmes has great size for the position (6'4", 210 pounds), and as the touchdown against Indianapolis displayed, he can use his size, frame and strength in some situations to provide a boost to an offense. However, the 28-year-old's skill set isn't likely to develop much further. Ideally, Holmes will return to the Raiders to provide continued depth at wide receiver. If he leaves the Raiders, some potential landing spots for depth include the Ravens, the Chargers, Washington or the Buccaneers.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: An undrafted free agent from Hillsdale College, Holmes has developed into a good overall receiver with interesting future potential. He might thrive if he stays with the Raiders in their expansive passing game, but he'd be a decent asset just about anywhere. 

28. Aldrick Robinson

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 14.8/25
    Hands: 15/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.4/20
    Blocking: 11.2/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.5/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 103/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    A seldom-used player in Atlanta, Robinson only had 20 catches for 323 yards in 2016, most of which came against San Francisco in a blowout. Robinson, who turns 29 in September, hasn't yet been able to find a permanent home in his short four-year career.

    Robinson's best skill is his speed. He's a dangerous player when he has enough time to fully accelerate. The SMU product is a linear player who sometimes struggles getting in and out of his breaks. There isn't much route diversity in his game, but as a deep threat, he can be useful. He has no problem tracking the ball over his head, but his hands are inconsistent at best.

    Robinson will likely return to Atlanta as a fourth or fifth receiver, but if a team loses out on its deep-threat targets in free agency, he'd be a nice arbitrage play for a fraction of the price.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Robinson was the Falcons' second-most impactful deep threat behind Taylor Gabriel, so he could lead the pack in that category with another team. He doesn't run a full route tree, but he's strong after the catch and is fairly consistent at the catch point.  

27. Jordan Norwood

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.1/25
    Hands: 14.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.1/20
    Blocking: 11.9/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.7/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 100/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    Veteran Jordan Norwood is entering his eighth NFL season after serving as a kick returner and reserve receiver for the Broncos the past two years. Norwood went undrafted out of Penn State in the 2009 draft class and spent time with the Browns, Eagles and Buccaneers before finding a spot in Denver. His 2016 campaign might have been his best as a receiver, as he caught 21 passes on 35 targets for 232 yards and a touchdown.

    As a receiver, Norwood is most suitable working inside or out of the slot. He can get separation on routes, both underneath (such as curl routes or out routes) versus off coverage, and he can occasionally get separation on deeper routes such as corners, particularly when facing a safety in coverage. When used outside or facing the press, Norwood often struggles to get consistent separation or evade the jam at the line of scrimmage.

    With his ability to contribute on special teams, Norwood should find a home this offseason. He would be a reserve receiver on most teams, but in some situations he could be utilized as a consistent WR4 and kick returner. Teams looking to bolster the back half of their offense, such as Cleveland or San Francisco, would be good options.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Norwood was Denver's most prolific slot man in 2016, and he benefited from Trevor Siemian's inability to throw downfield with consistency. He's best suited for that role, as he struggles to find separation outside. He'll be a good low-cost option as an inside receiver, especially for teams like the Cardinals and Patriots who run a ton of two-slot route concepts.

26. Kendall Wright

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.8/25
    Hands: 15.7/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 10.9/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.7/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 101/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    After five seasons in Tennessee, Kendall Wright's time in the AFC South is seemingly drawing to a close. Following a stellar career at Baylor, the Titans drafted Wright 20th overall in 2012. He made an instant impact upon arriving in Tennessee, as he caught 64 passes on 104 targets for 626 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. His best NFL season came in 2013, when he caught 94 of the 139 passes thrown his way for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns.

    Over the past three seasons, however, Wright's numbers have steadily decreased. Part of the statistical decline is due to the Titans' new offensive structure in place around young quarterback Marcus Mariota. Tennessee now favors a lot of 12 and even 13 personnel, limiting the opportunities for wide receivers in terms of targets and playing time. Over the past three seasons, Wright has seen his targets decrease, from 93 in 2014 to 60 the following year and 42 this past season. Compared to his first two years in the league, where he saw at least 100 targets each season, it's not hard to read the writing on the wall.

    Wright is most effective in the slot or as a Z receiver against off or catch-man coverage. While not blazing fasthe ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the 2012 combineWright has the ability to get open downfield, whether by scheme or with his route-running ability. He can also run away from defenders on intermediate routes and can get separation working along the boundary or underneath. He does struggle against the press at times, and he has difficulty working off the jam or getting separation in those situations.

    Because of his schematic versatility, Wright will likely find many suitors coming his way this offseason. Teams that play a more vertical offensive style such as Arizona could use his services, while teams that favor a more intermediate passing attack with occasional deep shots like Cincinnati could use him, too. In addition, depending on how Washington handles Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, Wright might make a great deal of sense in the nation's capital.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Wright ran just under 90 percent of his routes from the slot last season. He's a good option in free agency because he understands how to get open underneath zone coverage and in certain routes against press defenders. Wright isn't a WR1 by any means, but he's a nice component to a diverse passing offense.

25. Kamar Aiken

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.9/25
    Hands: 15.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 11.4/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 62.6/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 102/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    After originally signing with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 draft, Kamar Aiken bounced around a few teams before finding a home in Baltimore for the 2014 season. He finished the 2014 campaign with 24 receptions (on 32 targets) for 267 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season. He added two receptions in the playoffs, including a touchdown catch against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

    In 2015, injuries ravaged Baltimore's pass-catching depth, with both Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman going down at the WR spot and Crockett Gilmore and Dennis Pitta limited to a combined 10 games at the tight end position. Aiken took advantage of the opportunity, catching 75 passes for 944 yards and five touchdowns. In 2016, however, Aiken returned to earth. The Ravens enjoyed healthy seasons from Perriman and Smith, while Mike Wallace also emerged as a threat in the passing game. In a limited role, Aiken caught 29 passes on 50 targets for 328 yards and a single touchdown.

    Aiken, who turns 28 at the end of May, remains a good WR3 for many teams. At his size (6'2"), he is an effective depth option at either the Z position or in the slot. He can operate over the middle of the field on seam and post routes and works to find space underneath on quick hitch routes and curls against zone coverage. He's also adept at beating press coverage and can get solid releases off the line, so an offense doesn't need to move him around to avoid the press at the line of scrimmage. While not his strong suit, Aiken is a willing blocker who can execute crack-blocks near the line of scrimmage, and he will often try to find work downfield in the run game or after a reception by a teammate.  

    Teams that run a West Coast-based system with intermediate routes mixed in would be smart to give Aiken a look in the offseason. The Cleveland Browns might be a good option for Aiken, as would the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: Aiken's productivity plunged from his 75-catch campaign in 2015, which was as much due to a relative lack of opportunity and a regressive passing offense as his own limitations. Teams in need of a tough, smart player in the slot who can occasionally work outside should give him a look.

24. Quinton Patton

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.9/25
    Hands: 15.3/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.8/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 63.1/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 94/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Quinton Patton was enjoying a career year in San Francisco before a broken leg ended his season in mid-December. Operating as the team's second receiver, Patton caught a career-high 37 passes for 408 yards.

    Patton's game is rugged at times, as he still seems to be learning the position. He's a physical player who loves contact, which is why his best football comes in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. He's best when he's playing out of the slot in a Jarvis Landry-esque role.

    With the 49ers likely cleaning house at receiver, Patton may have to look for a job elsewhere. His best fit is on a physical offense in search of a bigger slot receiver who can bully smaller nickel corners. The Ravens and Jets could be interested in the Louisiana Tech product.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Patton really impressed me during the 2013 Senior Bowl, but it took him a while to get serious reps in San Francisco's offense. It's a shame this only happened after the offense became dysfunctional, and even more of a shame that Patton was unable to finish the season. He's a good secondary option as an outside guy, but I also think he has potential in the slot. 

23. Bryan Walters

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.3/25
    Hands: 15.7/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.3/20
    Blocking: 11.1/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 63.4/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 92/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    After playing at Cornell University, Bryan Walters went undrafted in the 2010 NFL draft. Since then, he has bounced around a few different organizations, mostly as a practice squad player, and did win a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks a few years ago. The Jaguars signed him in September, and when Allen Hurns suffered an injury, Walters moved into a starting role, catching 24 passes on 34 targets for 231 yards and two touchdowns on the year. In the season finale against the Colts, he matched a career high with eight receptions.

    At 6'0", Walters' size and skill set comport with the traditional Z receiver. He can operate on the outside and can gain separation on comeback and out routes, particularly against off or catch-man coverage. He has the ability to defeat the press at the line of scrimmage, albeit not consistently. Jacksonville moved him inside at times, either in the slot or as the No. 2 receiver in a trips formation, and Walters executed some solid pivot routes in these settings, showing the ability to get open underneath on crossing routes against zone coverage.

    Walters is not a true vertical threat, but he can be schemed open on throws down the field, either on switch vertical concepts or by using fake screen looks to draw the defense toward the line of scrimmage. His hands were above-average for the position this past season. He is not a huge threat after the catch, but depending on route design or execution, he can pick up additional yardage in situations.

    At 29 years old, Walters is unlikely to command considerable attention in free agency. But seeing as he can provide depth as a slot receiver or a Z receiver and contribute on special teamsWalters returned both punts and kickoffs for the Seahawks in 2014, as well as for the Jaguars the past two seasonshe would be a solid depth signing the with potential to contribute as a third or fourth receiver. Should he leave Jacksonville, some options for his services would include the 49ers, the Bengals and the Titans.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Walters' primary function in 2016 was to fill in for Allen Hurns in the slot when Hurns was hurt, and he filled out the Jaguars' roster later in the season. He's a good underneath receiver for any team running a high percentage of 3WR and 4WR formations, but it's just as safe to say that in a stacked class of receivers, there are better options out there who can do what Walters does...and more.

22. Brian Quick

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.8/25
    Hands: 15.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.6/20
    Blocking: 10.8/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 63.9/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 90/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Brian Quick set career highs in receptions and receiving yards in 2016 as the second outside receiver in the Rams' lifeless passing offense. Despite his success this past season, Quick has still been a massive disappointment in the NFL overall considering the Rams selected him 33rd overall in the 2012 draft. In five years, he's only amassed 1,499 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

    On the field, Quick doesn't do any one thing particularly well. He's not dynamic after the catch nor does he create much separation on any route. However, he did make some nice contested catches on the sideline in 2016, specifically against New England.

    Quick, who will be 28 entering the 2017 season, ideally projects as a complementary piece of an offense. His best spot would be as a team's third outside receiver. It's unlikely he will return to the Rams, as the new management will bring in more overall speed to the position.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Putting his best NFL season together for a Rams passing offense that was one of the worst of the decade will bring Quick some credibility on the free-agent market. He's a fairly physical guy with decent athletic traits, but he's never put it all together to match his field acumen with his athleticism.

21. Jeremy Kerley

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.8/25
    Hands: 15.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.4/20
    Blocking: 11/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 64/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 85/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Kerley operated as the 49ers' slot receiver for all of 2016 and was their most consistent option in the passing game. However, that's not saying much.

    As a full-time player for San Francisco, Kerley caught 64 balls for 667 yards and three scores. It was the fourth time in his career he failed to reach 11 yards per catch on the season.  At 28, Kerley is a veteran route-runner who doesn't win with size or after the catch. He still possesses some quickness, but he's not as explosive as he once was earlier in his career with the Jets.

    Kerley is a reliable yet underwhelming option for teams in free agency that need a slot receiver. He will likely catch on to a roster later on in the free-agent process and can provide solid depth at receiver if a team needs a quick replacement inside. He can contribute on special teams as a returner and isn't a liability when he's asked to block. Teams interested in a veteran slot receiver who won't command much money, such as the Ravens, Jets or Panthers, may find he's worth a look. There's not much upside here, but he could become a solid role player as a team's fourth or fifth receiver.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: Playing for the Jets from 2011 through 2015 and for the 49ers last season means Kerley has done his thing in offenses that fall far short of a well-developed passing game. That makes him an interesting potential player as a slot receiver who can contribute with reliable catch rates. Nothing flashy here, but he gets the job done.

20. Anquan Boldin

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.2/25
    Hands: 17.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.9/20
    Blocking: 12.1/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 66.3/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 60/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    At 36, Anquan Boldin enjoyed a nice season as the Lions' third receiver. Unfortunately, Father Time is undefeated. Boldin caught 67 passes on 95 targets for 584 yards and eight touchdowns, but he averaged only 8.7 yards per catch. That's the second-worst single-season yards-per-catch mark in NFL history for a receiver who caught at least 60 passes.

    The Lion used Boldin as their slot receiver, but he served almost as a pseudo tight end. He was at his best when posting up linebackers and safeties in man-to-man coverage or when he could find a soft spot in the zone. But by the end of the year, opponents figured out Boldin wasn't a deep threat and there was no chance of him making explosive plays after the catch.

    Boldin still offers value in the run game, as he was one of the better blocking receivers in the league, but he's otherwise clearly in decline. He's likely to end up back in Detroit, but teams looking for a veteran presence in their locker room and a wide receiver/tight end hybrid may look at bringing him in near training camp. At this point in his career, there's not much upside with Boldin.

     

    Doug's Quick Take: Boldin will have an opportunity to sign on with an NFL team in 2017 if he wants it, as he's a great blocker and can still bring in contested catches. Speed is not part of his game, but it hasn't been for a while. He is still a good slot receiver with an aggressive edge in the red zone. 

19. Seth Roberts

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.4/25
    Hands: 15.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.1/20
    Blocking: 13.8/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 66.9/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 52/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    In Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the Oakland Raiders touted a tandem of receivers who graded in the top 20 in the final NFL1000 scores. The third member of their 11 personnel trio, Seth Roberts, landed just outside the top 50.

    Used primarily as a slot receiver, Roberts caught a career-high 38 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. He was effective on quick out routes and against underneath coverage, primarily on crossing routes. Oakland did not utilize Roberts as a deep threat, and his longest reception of the yeara 41-yard game-winner in overtime in Tampa Baycame on a post route where he broke two tackles at the catch point and raced the distance for the score. That play highlighted his play strength, which was what propelled him to his 52nd overall rank in the NFL1000.

    Roberts also graded out as the best blocker among all wide receivers across the NFL in 2016. Because of that ability, he was valuable in both the running game and the passing game. Oakland often used him as a lead blocker on running plays, and he was determined to find work to spring his fellow receivers after the catch.

    As an exclusive-rights free agent, Roberts will likely return to the Raiders to serve as a WR3/slot receiver, and his ability as a blocker makes him valuable to the organization. If he does leave Oakland, he could carve out a similar role in Arizona or Dallas in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald or Lucky Whitehead. Each of those players' teams uses them as blockers and receivers.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Roberts showed a lot of potential in Oakland's offense at times in 2016, and it's clear he can take charge of an opportunity. Blocking is indeed his strong suit, but if he wants to be targeted more often, he'll have to cut down on the drops. Roberts had the NFL's fourth-worst drop rate last season, botching nine catches on 75 targets.

18. Michael Floyd

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.5/25
    Hands: 16.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.9/20
    Blocking: 11.7/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 65.2/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 72/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    Coming out of the University of Notre Dame, Floyd looked like a potential game-changer, which led the Cardinals to select him 12th overall in the 2012 NFL draft. But that promise never fully materialized, and some of the off-the-field concerns that dogged him during the predraft process did materialize this season, as a DUI arrest led to Arizona releasing him. The Patriots claimed him, but he appeared in only two games for New England, catching four passes on six targets for 42 yards and a touchdown, and he was not active during the playoffs or Super Bowl LI. Floyd was recently sentenced to 24 days of jail and 96 days of home confinement, which could steer some teams away from him this offseason, but his on-field talent remains there.

    Inconsistency plagued Floyd throughout the 2016 campaign, as he struggled to get consistent separation on his routes and made a number of drops. Floyd's best season came in 2013, when he caught 65 passes on 113 targets for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns.

    At his best, Floyd can operate on the outside and use his strength to make plays. He fits the mold of an X receiver, as he has the ability to press corners on vertical stems and then get separation breaking back to the ball on comeback routes or to the outside on deep out patterns. He looked comfortable during the latter part of the season in New England, where was a willing contributor as a blocker in both the running game and the passing game. His block on a long catch-and-run by Julian Edelman might be the highlight of his 2016 season.

    Depending on how New England handles his contract negotiations, Floyd might need a new home. Teams that would fit his style of play and ability to attack on intermediate routes include Baltimore, Carolina, Washington and San Francisco.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: The fact that Floyd was inactive for the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LI speaks volume about his future with New England. The Patriots have a complex offense with a ton of option routes, and neither Bill Belichick nor Tom Brady are very patient with mental lapses. Floyd will catch on somewhere because he's athletically gifted, but he's heading down the Mike Wallace career path, unique to receivers who get by with pure skills and too little feel for the game.

17. Vincent Jackson

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Incomplete: Vincent Jackson did not play enough in 2016 to receive full grading. 

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Jackson was once considered one of the most gifted receivers in the league. At 6'5" and 241 pounds, he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the 2005 combine. But over the past few seasons, Jackson hasn't been able to replicate the kind of production he had during his earlier days in San Diego or in Tampa Bay.

    Despite being a physical marvel, Jackson has never been able to translate that talent to elite production. In his 12-year career, he has never caught more than 80 passes in a season nor had a year where he caught 10 or more touchdowns. His flashes are brilliant, specifically as a deep threat who can win by beating defenders with speed or his size, but Jackson hasn't consistently shown those skills in a while. He's lost his speed and quickness and no longer has the physicality that made him such a threat. At this point in his career, his best skill is his ability to post up defenders and use his size in the middle of the field.

    At 34, Jackson's physical skills are rapidly declining, and his ability to stay healthy is more of a question every season. He can't win on the outside consistently enough to be a starter, so his best role may be transitioning to a pseudo tight end role similar to what Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald have done late into their careers. Jackson likely won't see many offers during the earlier portion of free agency, but he could catch on with a team later on during the process or closer to training camp. Teams looking for a veteran presence in their receiving corps such as Tennessee or San Francisco may be interested in seeing what he has left in the tank. Jackson could always call it a career if he can't find a starting gig in the next few months, too.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: If he stays in the league, Jackson has a decent shot to carve out a role as an Anquan Boldin-style complementary player who can make contested catches. But he hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2014, and his yardage totals have declined every year since 2012. His days as a premier starter are clearly over. 

16. Marquise Goodwin

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.4/25
    Hands: 16.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.1/20
    Blocking: 11.6/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 65.4/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 70/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    Similar to Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin followed a football/track path to NFL success. While at the University of Texas, Goodwin was a dual-sport athlete, competing for the football team in the fall and then for the track and field team the rest of the year. He traveled to London as part of the United States Olympic Team in 2012, making the finals in the long jump but finishing a disappointing 10th place in the event. As a football player, Goodwin is a pure burner. He posted a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, one of the fastest times ever recorded at the event.

    The Bills drafted Goodwin in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, but his contributions to the team have been limited. He caught only 17 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, and his numbers plunged the following two seasons as he battled numerous injuries. But he rebounded last year to post his best statistical seasonhe caught 29 passes for 431 yards and three scoresdue in part to injuries at the position in Buffalo and increased playing time. While his 2016 statistics are not eye-popping, they do show some promise for him going forward.

    As a receiver, Goodwin works best out of the slot. He has the ability to evade the jam at the line of scrimmage when facing press coverage, and his pure speed makes him a threat on a variety of routes. He can sell defenders on vertical routes and use his quick change-of-direction ability to get separation on out routes or curl routes. While he did not get consistent separation on deeper routes this past season, his speed still makes him dangerous down the field in a vertical passing attack. In addition, his change-of-direction ability and quickness make him a threat after the catch, so teams that look to get the ball to receivers in the screen game would be wise to give him a look.

    Organizations looking to upgrade in the slot would be smart to consider Goodwin. The Eagles, Ravens and Steelers are teams that come to mind, given their needs at the position. In addition, depending on whether the Falcons retain Taylor Gabriel, Goodwin would be a wise way to replace him. At just 26, Goodwin has prime football years ahead of him, and he could be a great pickup for an offense in the right situation.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Goodwin had a 46 percent catch rate in 2016, and I'd pin that about equally on his own inconsistency and the boom-or-bust nature of Buffalo's offense at times. In the slot, he made just two catches on seven targets. In today's NFL, where a higher completion rate is de rigueur, he'll have to make more of an effort to integrate efficiency into his athleticism.                

15. Taylor Gabriel

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.9/25
    Hands: 16.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.5/20
    Blocking: 10.8/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 65.4/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 69/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    After spending his first two years in Cleveland, Taylor Gabriel found a home in Atlanta this past season as the team's big-play threat out of the slot. Gabriel scored seven total touchdowns for the high-flying Falcons offense, many of which came on explosive plays.

    Gabriel can score anywhere on the field at anytime. He scored twice on the exact same screen play against Arizona in Week 12, as he used his speed and agility to make defenders miss, including cornerback Tyrann Mathieu behind the backfield.

    Gabriel isn't a natural deep threat, as he's more Tavon Austin than DeSean Jackson, but he's a weapon nevertheless. He's going to be forced to play inside for the rest of his career as he's only 5'8" and weighs 165 pounds. He tries hard to block, but to call him anything more than an average blocker would be exaggerating.

    Gabriel is a restricted free agent who the Falcons will likely retain with a second-round tender. He will compete with Justin Hardy for targets and time in the slot, but he figures to stay in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. However, teams looking to add some juice to their offense, such as the Titans or Eagles, could be interested in making a play for Gabriel if the price is right. At just 26, Gabriel's best football is ahead of him.  

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Gabriel isn't yet an all-around receiver, but he was special on deep passeswhen targeted on throws that went 20 or more yards in the air, he made six catches for 272 yards and six touchdowns on nine targets. There's little chance the Falcons will let him walk, and he could see a big increase in deep opportunities in 2017.

14. Cordarrelle Patterson

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 15.4/25
    Hands: 15.6/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.4/20
    Blocking: 11/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 64.4/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 79/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Despite making the Pro Bowl twice (only once as a receiver), Cordarrelle Patterson hasn't lived up to his first-round selection. In his four-year career with the Vikings, he has never eclipsed 500 receiving yards and hasn't averaged 10 yards per catch since 2014. His troubles learning the NFL route tree, understanding coverages and overall receiving ability have held him back from becoming a starting-caliber receiver.

    However, Patterson showed signs of potential in 2016. He caught a career-high 52 passes, a number of which were spectacular. The 25-year-old plays with a ton of physicality, and his movement skills and athleticism rival that of a star running back. But the intricacies of the receiver position are something Patterson clearly lacks. 

    Far too many spots in Patterson's receiving game are a weakness. He can only find success on a few simple routes, and none of them come down the field. His ability to track the ball downfield is questionable at best, and his hands are inconsistent. Most of his targets come at or near the line of scrimmage to force the ball into his hands. 

    Before 2016, Patterson's free-agent market likely would have looked bleak. But thanks to Ty Montgomery and the Green Bay Packers, teams may explore using Patterson as a full-time running back. Some teams could see his potential at receiver and keep him there, too. Dallas could an ideal spot for Patterson to replace Lucky Whitehead as the do-it-all offensive weapon. But his best fit may be on a team that knows how to best use talented players, such as New England, Atlanta or Seattle. Patterson has potential, but he needs a lot of strong coaching and potential to unlock his skills.  

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Patterson is a polarizing player, and the team that signs him needs to have a plan. If you want to use him as a traditional receiver, you'll be disappointed and hide him in the closet, as former Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner did. If you use him as a moving chess piece in an expansive offense, he can be a special player, and the prospect of giving him more snaps as a running back is highly intriguing. I'd love to see him in New Orleans, New England or Atlanta, or a similar offense in which the scheme is tailored to what the players can do.

13. Terrance Williams

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 16.4/25
    Hands: 15.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.9/20
    Blocking: 11.5/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 64.6/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 77/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Williams entered the NFL as a third-round selection from Baylor who specialized in beating teams deep. Over the past four seasons for the Cowboys, Williams has started 52 of a possible 64 games and has played significant snaps in all 64. He’s been a durable player and a staple of the Cowboys offense since 2013.

    But Williams is not consistent. In 11 of his 64 games, Williams has caught one or no passes. He’s also not a threat to put up big yardage. In his career, he's only gone over 90 yards twice—once in his rookie year in a shootout versus Denver and again at the end of 2015, in a loss to Washington.

    Williams' style of play makes him an inconsistent player from snap to snap. He rarely uses just his hands to haul in passes as he relies on his body to help him catch passes. He is at his best facing the quarterback and is coming back toward the ball.

    His best fit is as a third receiver who plays outside. He can contribute in the run game and is surprisingly good after the catch. He won't wow you with athleticism, but his build-up speed can be tough to handle at times, especially on slants. Williams doesn’t have the star potential other receivers have in this class, but he can be a contributor on a good team. His best fit would be back in Dallas opposite Dez Bryant, but he would also make sense in Cleveland, Philadelphia and with the New York Giants.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Williams is an exciting deep receiver, and he flashes a lot on the field. Whether he's ever able to take his talent to the No. 1 receiver category is an iffy proposition at this point, but he's a fine rotational receiver for any offense looking to add more dynamism over the top.

12. Dontrelle Inman

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.1/25
    Hands: 17.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.6/20
    Blocking: 11.6/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 66.5/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 58/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    The Chargers suffered a number of injuries this past season on the offensive side of the football, particularly at the skill positions. In addition to Danny Woodhead at the running back spot, the Chargers lost the two receivers they expected to be starters, Stevie Johnson and Keenan Allen, at the start of the season. But two younger players emerged and had solid seasons in their place: Tyrelle Williams and Dontrelle Inman.

    Inman went undrafted in 2011 after playing his college football for the University of Virginia, and began his professional career in the CFL. He finally caught on with the Chargers for the 2014 season and saw limited action before playing all 16 games in 2016.

    Pressed into a larger role this past season, Inman responded. He caught 58 passes on 97 targets for 810 yards and four touchdowns. His breakout game came against the Saints in Week 4, when he caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. His best performance from a grading standpoint came in Week 12 against the Texans. In that contest, Inman caught all six of his targets for 119 yards and a touchdown.

    He displayed a ceiling of traits that make him an attractive option for offenses. He showed great route running on his 52-yard touchdown on a curl-and-go route where he used good footwork and ability to sell defenders on routes. He used an impressive catch radius on a comeback route late in the second quarter, snaring a high throw from Philip Rivers. Inman also showed off some awareness on a catch in the fourth quarter, working to get open in the scramble drill and then hanging on after taking a shot to the head from Kareem Jackson.

    Inman, 28, is a bit older, but his size and skill make him an option at both the X and Z receiver spots. The Chargers would be wise to hold onto him, but if he is allowed to leave Los Angeles, he will likely find many suitors. He could operate in a vertical based offense such as Arizona, and the Bears could look to replace Alshon Jeffery by signing Inman. Other teams that would be wise to inquire as to his availability would be the Eagles, 49ers and Bengals.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Inman is the kind of player who could shine in a fully formed passing offense, as he shows an equal adeptness with deep catches and zone-beating route running. He looks to be one of the more underrated free agents in this receiver class.                

11. Brandon LaFell

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.9/25
    Hands: 17.5/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.9/20
    Blocking: 12.4/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 68.7/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 29/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    After starting his career with the Carolina Panthers and then earning a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots, LaFell was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals for the 2016 season. Expected to serve as the No. 2 receiver opposite A.J. Green, LaFell took on more of a premier role for the Bengals when Green was lost for the season. LaFell responded with one of his best seasons as a professional, catching 64 passes on 107 targets for 862 yards and six touchdowns.

    LaFell is a versatile receiver who can play on the outside as an X or can move around a bit more as a Z. He is at his best when running routes along the sideline, such as comeback or out routes, when he can sell receivers on vertical routes and then execute a quick cut toward the boundary, using his change-of-direction ability.

    LaFell also displayed some ability after the catch, and the Bengals used this by getting him involved in the quick-screen game at times. He has generally solid hands, although he did suffer a few drops down the stretch this past season. Finally, LaFell is a solid contributor in the blocking game. His well-rounded play during the 2016 saw him finish as one of the top 30 receivers as graded by the NFL1000 scouts.

    The Bengals would be wise to retain LaFell, given the injury history of Green and the other options on the roster. While LaFell is 30, he is still playing at a pretty high level. If he leaves Cincinnati, he would be a good No. 2 option for a number of teams, including Philadelphia, Arizona and Baltimore.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: LaFell is that rare individual in today's NFL: The player who left New England and didn't completely fall off the map. He's a good all-around player who would be an ideal No. 2 receiver in just about any offense, and in a pinch, he could move up the depth chart, as he did last season for the Bengals. 

10. Ted Ginn Jr.

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.1/25
    Hands: 16.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.8/20
    Blocking: 10.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 67.1/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 51/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Once thought of as a massive bust, Ted Ginn has become the Panthers' best receiver over the course of the past two seasons. His skill set is somewhat limited, but paired with Cam Newton, he's one of the better deep-ball receivers in the entire league. At 31, he still has value as a player who can keep safeties honest and create massive plays down the field.

    Ginn obviously has a ton of speed, but his ability to track the ball in the air and get under deep passes remains his trump card. As long as he has that speed, he's going to be a useful player. He wasn't asked to do much in Carolina's offense, partly because there was no need to disguise what he was doing each play. He was going to run some version of a vertical route, whether that be a nine-route or a post pattern. He's an average blocker at best and his hands remain some of the worst in the league in terms of consistency, but his speed is deadly. He was drafted to be a offensive weapon and it's easy to see why. He's a home-run threat every time he touches the ball.

    If a team misses out on signing DeSean Jackson or Kenny Stills, Ginn is an intriguing fallback option. He can provide close to, if not the same deep-ball production as the other two at likely a fraction of the price. His drops will drive coaches and fans mad, but he will complete enough big plays to make you forgive him. His best fit is as a team's third receiver who can flip back and forth between the slot and outside receiver depending on the matchup the team wants.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Ginn is an astonishing deep receiver with the ability to smoke any cornerback in the league on skinny posts, boundary routes and any aspect of the vertical passing game. What keeps him from ascending to the NFL's elite is the obvious drop problem, which is something that the Panthers learned to live with. The closer he is to your No. 1 slot, the more he'll drive you nuts, but he'd be great in any complete system where he can use his narrow but explosive skill set and let others handle the tasks that require more play-to-play consistency.

9. Adam Thielen

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.1/25
    Hands: 16.9/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.8/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 67.1/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 53/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    After a stunning year in which Thielen took over as the Vikings' No. 1 receiver, the 26-year old enters restricted free agency looking for a long-term deal. Thielen emerged as a legit outside threat after he went for 200 yards against the Green Bay Packers in week 16.

    Thielen has the size at 6'2" and the speed at 4.45 to thrive on the outside. But what makes Thielen successful is his route-running ability, which greatly improved as the season went on. His skill is winning off the line of scrimmage versus press coverage. He can win with his feet and his hands when challenged.

    Thielen will likely be back in Minnesota, but if for some reason he hits free agency, he will have many teams interested in his services as an ideal No. 2 receiver. Thielen needs to improve his overall consistency, as he disappeared far too often in 2016, but he is an ascending talent whose best football is ahead of him.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: There's no way the Vikings will let Thielen walk. The chemistry he developed with Sam Bradford in an offense that was mightily hamstrung by a horrible line was obvious. Seemingly overnight, he became one of the league's best deep receivers, and he's rounding out the other aspects of his game. If Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman doesn't lock Thielen up to a multiyear deal in 2017, he could become one of the higher-ticket free agents with another season like the one he had in 2016. 

8. Robert Woods

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.5/25
    Hands: 16.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.8/20
    Blocking: 12.2/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 67.1/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 48/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    A standout wide receiver and sprinter at the University of Southern California, Robert Woods finished the fourth year of his NFL career with one of his better statistical seasons. In 2014, Woods caught 65 passes for 699 yards and five touchdowns over a full 16-game season. In 2016, Woods caught 51 passes on 76 targets, for 613 yards and one touchdown in just 13 games.

    Week 9 in Seattle was a chance for Woods to display the traits and ability that will make teams vie for his services this offseason. He caught 10 passes (on 13 targets) for 162 yards and showed the proficiency to get consistent separation on routes at all levels of the field and against various coverages. He was able to beat the press at the line of scrimmage, could get open on out routes and comeback routes along the boundary and even worked free on some deeper routes in the vertical passing game. In addition, this game was a testament to his ability as a blocker, which should not go overlooked. His blocking grade placed him in the upper tier of all wide receivers in this year's NFL1000.

    Because of his route versatility and his competence at running routes whether from the slot or on the boundary as a Z receiver, Woods is a player to watch this offseason. Buffalo would be wise to retain his services, but if he walks, watch for the Bengals to try to land him. He would be a great running mate with A.J. Green in that offensive attack. Other options for Woods include the Eagles and Redskins. Finally, if the Lions choose to move on from Anquan Boldin, Woods would be a terrific fit in that offense with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. 

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Put simply, Woods does everything well, and he'd probably do everything at an even higher level in an offense that wasn't as predictable as Buffalo's. Yes, he's good with the speed stuff, but he'd be most valuable to any team in need of a 1A receiver with the ability to take in an entire passing game and achieve everything asked of him.

7. Willie Snead

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.5/25
    Hands: 17/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.4/20
    Blocking: 10.9/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 67.6/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 41/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    In 2015, Snead broke out as a second-year undrafted free agent who became one of Drew Brees' favorite targets, especially on third down. As the Saints' slot receiver, he caught 69 balls for just 984 yards and three touchdowns. Despite improving his number of receptions and touchdowns, Snead had a down year with the Saints, with Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas dominating most of the passing game.

    Snead isn't a receiver who wins after the catch or above his head. Instead, he wins with quickness off the line of scrimmage. His ability to create quick separation and settle into soft spots is why Brees quickly fell in love with his ability. Snead wasn't able to take the next step that many people envisioned, but he's one of the better third receivers in the league.

    Snead is an exclusive-rights free agent, but he's someone who would receive a lot of interest if he made it to the open market. At 5'11", 195 pounds, he's spent most of his career inside in the slot. But he has the size to play on the outside and the quickness to win there. Teams that are in need of a reliable slot receiver, such as the Ravens or Eagles, could be interested in him. 

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: Snead is primarily a slot guy, but don't mistake him for a slot guy who can't get past the deep safety. In New Orleans' offense, he's just as likely to blast off on a 40-yard route from the inside as he is to run a quick dig route. The Saints might dangle him to see what the interest is, but he's a perfect fit for what Sean Payton likes to call.             

6. Kenny Britt

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.3/25
    Hands: 17.1/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.2/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 67.8/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 40/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    At 28, it feels like Britt should be entering his last few years in the NFL. Instead, he’s finally starting to unlock some of that talent everyone saw in his earlier years in Tennessee. For the first time in his eight-year career, Britt eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards despite having one of the worst quarterback situations in the league. Both Case Keenum and Jared Goff were pitiful in 2016, but somehow, Britt was able to produce. With a lot of tread left on his tires, there will be numerous teams interested in the 6’3", 223-pound Rutgers product.

    Britt has worked to become a reliable starting receiver in the NFL despite some major setbacks earlier in the year. He’s also one of the better deep-ball receivers because of his ability to win with speed and his size. There were numerous times when he created massive separation against some of the league’s best receivers, but the quarterbacks just weren’t able to get him the ball. According to Pro Football Focus, Britt was the best receiver in the league on crossing routes. It’s the ability to use his combination of size and speed to create quick separation in the middle of the field that makes him a tough cover. Once he builds up speed, he’s hard to track down.

    As good as he was in 2016, there are things he needs to improve on to become a more complete receiver, and one of them is general toughness. Too many times, defenders were able to jar the ball loose after Britt got his hands on the pass. With his size, he needs to play bigger than what he does. His drop percentage of 5.56 percent was solid, but he struggled in contested ball situations. Whether it's a lack of concentration or some other reason, Britt needs to play to his size more often.

    At this point in Britt’s career, he no longer has the elite athleticism he once did because injuries have robbed much of that talent. However, he’s still a useful player who best projects as a No. 2 receiver who can win anywhere on the field. Teams looking for that combination of size and speed, such as the Eagles, Titans or the Bengals, may be interested in checking him out. He’s still an effective player who can thrive on a team with a much better quarterback situation.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: Britt should get some sort of medal for picking up the first 1,000-yard season of his career in a passing offense that was probably the worst we've seen all decade. He's no longer a burner, but he could be a great addition as a savvy inside guy whose consistency issues will likely lower his asking price. 

5. Pierre Garcon

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.6/25
    Hands: 17.4/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.7/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 68.8/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 28/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    For the second time in his career, Pierre Garcon tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards for the Washington Redskins. For most of his career, he’s been the second or third option in respectable passing offenses. In 2016, he often fell behind DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder for targets. However, that doesn’t mean he was a lesser player.

    He found a role as the short-to-intermediate receiver who can win both outside and in the slot. His ability to separate quickly on the outside made him a nice safety blanket for Kirk Cousins. At 6'0", 211 pounds, Garcon is tough to handle after the catch because of his quickness and overall physicality. He can break arm tackles on screens and slants with ease. What makes him a useful player is that he can win with his speed or his toughness on the outside.

    At this point, he’s not a player who is going to scare many teams deep down the field or while the ball is in the air, but teams shouldn't ask him to do that anyway. Instead, they should ask him to be their secondary third-down target who can move the chains no matter where he lines up against single coverage. His best fit would be in an offense that utilizes the short passing game, such as New England or Detroit, where he can win off the line of scrimmage with ease.

    Garcon’s best fit will come on a team where he is the second outside receiver, opposite of a true No. 1, such as Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones or A.J. Green. The Bengals, Giants, Steelers and Cowboys are all teams that could use a player like Garcon, even at this point in his career. He’s been a reliable, durable player (hasn’t missed a game since 2012) who can contribute to an offense in multiple ways. There will be many teams lining up for his services come March 9.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Garcon has been the ideal complementary receiver in the multi-dimensional passing game designed by Jay Gruden and Sean McVay. With McVay heading to Los Angeles, don't be surprised if the Rams throw some money Garcon's way—in any case, he will indeed get a lot of offers. Our advice to Garcon is to weigh those offers and choose a team that has a fully developed passing game where too much won't be expected of him, and he can do what he does best.

4. Kenny Stills

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.2/25
    Hands: 16.8/25
    Yards After Catch: 11.7/20
    Blocking: 11.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 65.8/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 66/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    In his fourth year in the NFL, Kenny Stills enjoyed one of the better seasons of his career from a production standpoint in Adam Gase’s offense. Stills caught 42 passes for 726 yards and nine touchdowns, with the TDs standing as a career high for the former New Orleans Saint. Coming out of Oklahoma, Stills put up tremendous numbers early in his collegiate career, setting the school record for receptions and receiving yards as a freshman (61 receptions for 786 yards, with five touchdowns).

    In Gase’s offense, Stills was used mostly on short and intermediate routes, and he displayed the ability to attack the boundaries and the middle of the field in the passing game. Stills was able to gain separation on routes whether against press-man, catch-man or zone coverage. When facing the press, Stills was usually able to get a good release off the line of scrimmage, and it was rare that a jam truly threw him off his route. When used as a more vertical threat, he got separation on occasion, An example of this is his 52-yard touchdown reception against the New York Jets in Week 15 on a scissors concept. There were times when he failed to get open on a straight vertical route, which is somewhat surprising given his long speed.

    As a route-runner, Stills is solid. A good example of his ability can be seen on his 28-yard touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. On a post route, he was able to incorporate several cuts into the route design, getting the separation necessary to set up the score. In addition, that play exemplifies his ability to get a good release off the line of scrimmage.

    Stills also showed some ability after the catch, which was a component of Miami’s offensive design. Finally, Stills is a solid contributor as a blocker and usually looks to find work downfield. When called upon as a lead blocker on screens or draws, he can execute his assignments fairly well for a wide receiver.

    From a schematic standpoint, Stills fits best with teams that operate primarily West Coast concepts, which allows him to run the short and intermediate routes he utilized this past season. Teams like Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Kansas City would be good destinations. From a team need and fit standpoint, the Bengals make a great deal of sense as well. Putting Stills across from A.J. Green would be a great way to fill their passing game needs and allow Cincinnati to address defense with their early draft picks.

                      

    Doug's Quick Take: At least one report indicates Stills is looking for a contract that will pay him around $12 million per year. That's not going to happen, but Stills will get paid, and he's a wonderful fit for any team needing a high-volume deep threat who can also work zones inside.           

3. Terrelle Pryor

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 18.3/25
    Hands: 18.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 12.2/20
    Blocking: 12.1/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 69.7/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 21/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Mark Schofield

    Following a stellar career at Ohio State University as a quarterback, Pryor struggled to find a home—and a position—in the NFL. He began his professional career as a quarterback and started a handful of games for the Oakland Raiders in 2013. But after the organization drafted Derek Carr to take over as the starter, Pryor needed a new home. He bounced around the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals before being claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns.

    When Pryor finally switched positions to wide receiver in 2015, he spent most of the season as a reserve, although he did have one reception in the season finale. But Pryor earned a starting position for the Browns as a wideout in 2016, and his performance was perhaps the sole bright spot for Cleveland during its 1-15 season. Pryor caught 77 passes on 140 targets for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

    Watching Pryor on film, you sometimes forget he is still learning how to play wide receiver and is learning on the job against the best defensive backs in the world. His routes are a bit raw, and at times you can see some wasted steps, but he can run the entire route tree, and run it fairly well. With his size, Pryor fits the mold of a true X receiver, who at 6'4" can work vertically down the field as well as along the boundary.

    Re-signing Pryor should be a priority for the Browns, as he and Corey Coleman serve as a nice tandem to build a passing game around. If Pryor is allowed to leave Cleveland, many teams would be looking for a raw but talented receiver of his caliber. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs would be good options. In Kansas City, Pryor could provide the deep threat the Chiefs need to stretch the field, opening up space for their two biggest offensive weapons, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Detroit could be a great landing spot as well, depending on how the Lions choose to handle the wide receiver position this offseason.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Pryor is still learning, yes, but he's already become a more well-developed and versatile receiver than some who have played the position far longer. One wonders what he could do in an offense that isn't as limited as Cleveland's. Given Bill Belichick's love for athletic marvels who fit specific elements of his passing offense, I'd love to see Pryor line up for the Patriots. But he'll be a major force for the team lucky enough to get him, whoever that may be.

2. DeSean Jackson

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    Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.7/25
    Hands: 17.2/25
    Yards After Catch: 14.3/20
    Blocking: 10.3/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 68.4/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 32/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    At 30 years old, DeSean Jackson was still one of the NFL's best receivers in 2016. Over the course of the last seven weeks of the season, Jackson ranked inside the top 15 in the NFL1000 receiver rankings five times. As the season went along, he found his rhythm and role in the Washington offense as the league’s best deep threat.

    Jackson’s greatest strength has always been his speed. But one area of his game that is underrated is his ability to track the ball while it’s in the air.  If the ball is thrown somewhat on target to Jackson, rarely is it not hauled. When you combine his speed and ability to track the ball, there’s rarely a ball he can’t get to. He doesn’t win in the air, but he knows how to use his body to position himself so a defender can’t get in his way. He’s mastered the ability to get deep for a smaller receiver, and no one in the league can fill the deep-threat role as well as him.

    But he’s also expanded his game over the past few years. He’s no longer just a one-trick pony who runs deep. Jackson has become a reliable receiver on slants, digs, corner and out patterns, where he can use his ability to get in and out of his breaks to separate from defenders with ease. There’s no apparent loss of any of his twitchiness, and his speed is just as good as it was when he was a rookie.

    If Jackson and Washington can’t reach a deal before free agency begins, there will be close to a dozen teams lining up for his services. His best fit is opposite of a true No. 1 receiver, where he can just stretch the defense vertically. In the right offense, he could easily return to being a Pro Bowler. Teams such as Tampa Bay or Green Bay would make sense.

    Although he is now in his 30s, Jackson is still a player you can build around because of the impact he has on the entire offense. He’s not going to provide much in terms of blocking, but he can impact the running game by preventing safeties from inching closer to the line of scrimmage. He still has a few years left as a big-time difference-maker in the NFL.

                  

    Doug's Quick Take: It's a tough offseason for the Redskins. Not only did they lose Sean McVay, their brilliant offensive coordinator, to the Rams, but Jackson and Pierre Garcon are also on the open market. The possibility of paying Kirk Cousins way too much money is right around the corner as well. Cousins can't do what he does without both Jackson and Garcon (or comparable talent), and losing Jackson in particular would be a major hit. Cousins especially benefited from the receiver's ability to beat defenders for deep balls, so expect a regression from the quarterback if Jackson walks. 

1. Alshon Jeffery

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    NFL1000 Scores

    Route Running: 17.6/25
    Hands: 17.7/25
    Yards After Catch: 13.2/20
    Blocking: 11.9/20
    Positional Value: 9/10 
    Overall: 69.2/100
    2016 NFL1000 WR Rank: 25/155

                    

    NFL1000 WR scout Marcus Mosher

    Once thought of as a top-10 receiver, Jeffery just hasn’t been the same dominant player he was earlier in his career. During his second and third year in the NFL, Jeffery caught 174 balls for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was a true No. 1 receiver who could win anywhere on the field against any corner lined up across from him. But since 2014, Jeffery just hasn’t been able to get back to that same level of play. In his past two seasons, he’s missed 11 games (four due to a PED suspension) and his stats reflect that. He’s only caught 106 passes for 1,628 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 and 2016. Quite a drop-off from just a few years ago.

    Since college, Jeffery has been a player who has struggled with his weight. But when he’s healthy and in shape, his game is a joy to watch. Jeffery thrives on slants and digs where he can use his frame to box out defenders. He can also win down the field, making him a difficult cover for almost any defense. He doesn’t always play to his timed speed of 4.47, but he’s athletic enough to win on vertical routes. He’s got a fantastic set of his hands, but he is prone to some concentration drops at times. However, he routinely can pluck a ball over a defender's head with ease.

    But the problem for Jeffery is when he’s injured or out of shape. When he’s not 100 percent, his game can get sloppy and his productivity severely drops. He’s not a player who creates a ton of separation, but that can vary from game to game depending on his effort level. He has a tendency to go around of his routes and just rely on his size to win on every snap. Jeffery isn’t a player who is going to dominate after the catch, so he needs to use his size to make a living in the NFL.

    Many teams will be interested in Jeffery’s skill set, as he is one of the few top-flight receivers in free agency. Jeffery also has the track record to backup his talent. Teams such as Philadelphia, Kansas City and San Francisco would be ideal fits as they look to add a true No. 1 receiver to their units. He’s not a fit for every team, but for squads looking for a receiver who can win down the field and in the short game, Jeffery is the premier option. He’s by far the most gifted receiver available, but there is one question teams will have before offering him a contract: Which Alshon Jeffery are we getting? In the right situation with a reliable quarterback, it’s far more likely you’ll see the Pro Bowl Jeffery.

                     

    Doug's Quick Take: Teams will do a lot to talk themselves into the kind of high-ticket contract Jeffery will likely get. They'll rightly point to the fact that the Bears have rifled through offensive coordinators and quarterbacks, and Jeffery has excelled when healthy in every phase. They'll overlook the injury issues and hope he'll be able to play full seasons. If that's the case, and Jeffery is further able to round out his skill set with more consistent personnel around him, he'll be worth all that money. But there is an element of "buyer beware" to this player, which is the reality of Jeffery's free-agent prospects.