NFL's Five Most Underrated Wide Receivers

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2008

Wide receivers in the NFL come in all shapes and sizes, all skills and ability levels. Some have great hands, but lack speed and some are 6'5" and taller than any defensive back they will encounter.

Some are the prima donnas - the T.O.'s and Chad Johnsons. These are the attention-seekers, the guys who get all the media coverage regardless of how well or how poorly they may play on any given weekend.

On the flipside of that, you have the emerging threats, the quiet playmakers, and the guys who play for small-market teams that haven't had the glitz and glamor directed at them so far.

For years, guys like Marvin Harrison and Muhsin Muhammed could be counted among the NFL's most underrated receivers. Now, a new crop is taking their place.


5. Matt Jones - Jaguars

A college quarterback at Arkansas, Jones wowed combine scouts with his 6'6" size and blazing 4.3 speed. Unfortunately, pure athletic ability does not always translate onto the field in the NFL, and through his first few seasons, Jones, along with the rest of the Jaguars young receiving corps, struggled to fine their way.

Jones was able to haul in only a pedestrian 101 catches in his first three seasons, while getting only five starts in a crowded line-up. He did, however, use his size effectively and score an impressive 13 touchdowns in that fairly limited action.

This year, Jones is off to his best start yet, with 30 catches for 338 yards in the first six weeks. QB David Garrard seems more confident in Jones this year, and it is realistic to think the big Arkansan could finish the season with about 80 catches and 900 yards receiving.


4. Lance Moore - Saints

At only 5'9" and hailing from Toledo, college football mid-major, Moore did not generate the same high expectations as Jones when he entered the league. In fact, he had just one catch in his first two seasons and was not in the receiver rotation.

Last season, though, Moore began to establish himself a bit, making 32 catches for 302 yards and scoring his first two touchdowns. In six games this season (including three starts), has has already eclipsed that yardage total, with 331 yards receiving on 29 catches.

In the last four games, Moore has recorded seven receptions three times and had yardage totals of 78, 97, and 101 yards. Although he will likely lose his spot in the starting line-up again once Marques Colston is healthy, with the Saints' pass-happy offense there will still be plenty of balls to go around.


3. Steve Breaston - Cardinals

Breaston was drafted last year primarily to be a kick returner, given his prowess in that department while at the University of Michigan, and the fact that the Cardinals already had two of the NFL's best wideouts, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Well, this is Arizona. They love to throw the ball out in the desert, and as a result, all three of these receivers are among the top 20 in receiving yards. And with Anquan Boldin's injury in Week Four against the Jets, even more opportunities have opened up for Breaston.

Over the last three games, Breaston has pulled in 24 catches for 301 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging a solid 13.3 yards per catch for the season.


2. Lee Evans - Bills

Many football fans have been well-aware of Evans for years now, but he remains largely unknown to much of the casual viewing public. Trapped in an offense that during the J.P. Losman era was generally not conducive to the passing game, Evans' skills were often  under-utilized.

Evans scored 24 touchdowns in his first three seasons, including nine during his rookie year of '04. In 2006, he had his breakout year, with 82 catches for 1,292 yards and eight scores.

However, last season, with the Bills offense in flux, he was only able to catch 55 passes and his five touchdowns was the fewest of his career. This season, while he only has 16 receptions in five games, he has made the most of them, piling up 432 yards, for an astounding average of 27.0 yards per catch.

Evans is one of the most talented receivers in the league and has great hands. With the Bills' offense gaining stability under Trent Edwards, he will continue to develop as a top wideout.


1. Roddy White - Falcons

White's breakout campaign came last season, when he was able to pile up 83 catches for 1,202 yards, even with the revolving-door quarterback situation in Atlanta. Because of the futility of the Falcons, this was noticed by few football fans outside of the dirty south.

The Falcons offense has improved greatly this year, with the addition of Michael "the Burner" Turner and the drafting of Matt Ryan. Ryan has surprisingly been able to adapt very quickly to being an NFL QB and given the Falcons much-needed stability at the position.

Although not exceptionally tall at just 6'0", White is a speedster with good hands. He has caught 35 passes this season, including three scores, and ranks second in the NFL in receiving yardage at 566. That puts him on pace for 93 catches and 1500 yards, at which point it would be hard to overlook him anymore.