Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Ja'Marr Chase Top ESPN Rankings of Best WRs for 2022

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2022

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams warms up at the NFL football team's practice facility Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

Davante Adams arrives to the Las Vegas Raiders as the best wide receiver in the NFL based on an ESPN poll of the league's executives, coaches and players.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the voting results Wednesday with Adams, who was traded by the Green Bay Packers in March, maintaining his place atop the wideout rankings for the second straight year ahead of the 2022 season.

"Still the best," an unnamed NFC executive told Fowler. "Big, athletic, runs all the routes, competitive."

An offensive coach added: "He's impossible to cover, and then you still have to tackle him."

Here's the top five from the ESPN WR poll:

  1. Adams
  2. Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams)
  3. Ja'Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals)
  4. Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings)
  5. Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins)

There may not be a deeper position in the NFL than wide receiver. Even some players who landed outside the poll's top 10 are bona fide game-changers, including the Los Angeles Chargers' Keenan Allen, Philadelphia Eagles' A.J. Brown and Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb.

Adams warranted another year in the No. 1 spot after finishing his Packers tenure with career-high totals in catches (123) and receiving yards (1,553) in 2021.

How he will perform after going from Aaron Rodgers to Derek Carr is one of the season's biggest mysteries, though. Packers legend Brett Favre expects a statistical drop-off from the five-time Pro Bowl selection after the move.

"I'd be shocked if he had the same year," Favre told TMZ Sports. "I think Derek Carr is a very good quarterback. But, he's not in Aaron's league yet. May never be. And, that's no disrespect."

Kupp is the obvious candidate to move atop the list next year if he can replicate his 2021 performance this season. He posted eye-popping numbers during the regular season (145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns) before helping lead the Rams to their 2nd Super Bowl title.

"Just a natural football player—instincts, nuance, quickness," a high-ranking NFL official told Fowler. "Born to play the receiver position."

Chase put together a tremendous rookie campaign after the Bengals selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft. He compiled 1,455 receiving yards and 13 scores during the regular season and was a key reason Cincinnati made its first Super Bowl appearance since 1989.

"He might be the best in a year. He's got it all," a personnel official told Fowler.

One name to watch from outside the poll's top 10 is the New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas, who reached as high as No. 2 in the 2020 rankings before a pair of injured-plagued years. Now the question is whether he can return to the league's elite in 2022.

A healthy, productive Thomas would provide a serious boost to the Jameis Winston-led offense, but it's far from a guarantee.

"Sometimes that window of dominance is small, and I'm not sure if he'll get it back," an NFC scout told Fowler. "He'll be really solid regardless, but he had that timing with Drew Brees, and now he must reinvent himself a bit."

All told, wide receivers will once again play a critical role in determining which teams maximize their potential in 2022.