Ranking Every NFL Receiving Corps Heading into the 2018 Season
Today's NFL is a quarterback-centric league. The best signal-callers can elevate the talent around them and lift their teams to victory. At the same time, though, a top-notch receiving corps—along with a complementary scheme—can help lift up a quarterback.
Just look at the improvements Jared Goff made in his second pro season last year. The difference for him was that the Los Angeles Rams surrounded him with skilled pass-catchers like Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. The Rams also hired Sean McVay, one of the top offensive minds in the league.
Yes, it takes quality players to build a top-tier passing attack. However, it also requires a system that maximizes talent and creates mismatches to forge an elite one. As we dive into this year's NFL receiving corps, we'll be examining talent level, scheme and scheme fit.
We'll be ranking every team's receiving corps from worst to first, with talent being the main criterion. And while running backs can be a massive part of a team's passing attack, that's a separate list, and we'll only be examining receivers and tight ends here.
32. Buffalo Bills
Receivers: Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Andre Holmes, Brandon Reilly, Jeremy Kerley, Ray-Ray McCloud, Quan Bray, Robert Foster, Malachi Dupre
Tight Ends: Charles Clay, Nick O'Leary, Logan Thomas, Khari Lee
The Buffalo Bills were a run-oriented team in 2017. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is going to have to focus on the run if the Bills offense is going to have success this year—regardless of who is in at quarterback.
There isn't much to get excited about when it comes to Buffalo's receiving corps. Tight end Charles Clay missed three games in 2017 and still led the team with 558 yards receiving. Kelvin Benjamin is a solid possession receiver and Zay Jones flashed some talent as a rookie, but they're nothing more than No. 2 and No. 3 receivers on most rosters.
Surprisingly, Buffalo didn't address the receiver position until late in the draft. It took Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. The Bills largely ignored it in free agency as well, as the "prize" addition was Jeremy Kerley. Buffalo also parted with Jordan Matthews, so the receiver group may be worse than last year's.
31. Tennessee Titans
Receivers: Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Darius Jennings, Zach Pascal, Michael Campanaro, Deontay Burnett
Tight Ends: Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Luke Stocker, Phillip Supernaw
The Tennessee Titans have done little to put a quality receiving corps around Marcus Mariota. Tight end Delanie Walker is a Pro Bowl pass-catcher, but there isn't much in the way of proven talent aside from him.
Tennessee parted with Eric Decker, who was second on the team with 54 receptions last season. Rishard Matthews was the team's leading wideout in terms of yardage (795), but he's a No. 2 at best on virtually any other roster. Corey Davis showed some glimpses as a rookie, but if Tennessee is counting on him to be its No. 1 receiver, it could be sorely disappointed.
Davis appeared in 11 games last season and only finished with 34 receptions and 375 yards.
The Titans passing attack should get a boost from the presence of offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who served under McVay with the Rams last season. However, LaFleur and Mariota aren't going to have a lot to work with.
30. Dallas Cowboys
Receivers: Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, KD Cannon, Noah Brown
Tight Ends: Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, David Wells
A commitment to the running game wasn't the only reason the Dallas Cowboys ranked 26th in the passing game (196.3 yards per game) last season. Quarterback Dak Prescott took a step back in his second pro season, and Dez Bryant wasn't the dominant No. 1 receiver he had been in the past.
Now, Bryant and tight end Jason Witten are both gone. They were Prescott's top two targets last season, and he'll have to play without either—even if he doesn't believe he needs them.
"I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver," Prescott said, per Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com.
The thing is, Dallas doesn't have anything close to a top-tier pass-catcher on its roster now.
The Cowboys added Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin this offseason, but all three are complementary receivers, not No. 1 targets. They also drafted former Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz, but he is slow (4.75-second 40) and was often an afterthought in the passing game for the Cardinal. Yes, Witten overcame lackluster speed to become a standout, but Schultz has a long way to go before we can even think of comparing the two.
29. Arizona Cardinals
Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, Brice Butler, J.J. Nelson, Cobi Hamilton, Rashad Ross, Carlton Agudosi
Tight Ends: Jermaine Gresham, Ricky Seals-Jones, Bryce Wiliams, Gabe Holmes, Andrew Vollert
The Arizona Cardinals don't have a lot of receiving talent. They have future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and not much else.
J.J. Nelson has shown flashes of being a talented field-stretcher, and rookie second-round pick Christian Kirk has the potential to be a solid NFL slot receiver. The Cardinals brought in Brice Butler to help replace John Brown and Jaron Brown, but when it comes to proven playmaking receiver talent, it pretty much begins and ends with Fitzgerald.
Things aren't much more appealing at tight end. Jermaine Gresham was serviceable last season—he caught 33 passes for 322 yards—but he's entering his ninth NFL season and has never been a prolific pass-catcher. The Cardinals don't have a special tight end on their roster.
28. Miami Dolphins
Receivers: Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson, Isaiah Ford, Francis Owusu, Rashawn Scott
Tight Ends: A.J. Derby, MarQueis Gray, Mike Gesicki, Gavin Escobar, Durham Smythe
Despite having fill-in Jay Cutler under center instead of usual starter Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins managed to average a respectable 220.9 yards per game through the air, 18th in the NFL. Of course, a lot of the team's passing success can be attributed to Jarvis Landry and his league-leading 112 receptions.
The Dolphins traded Landry away this offseason.
Miami acquired Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson to help replace Landry's production, but each is a notch below.
While Kenny Stills is a quality No. 2 receiver, DeVante Parker has been a major disappointment of a first-round pick. Barring that Parker finally gets his production to match his athletic potential, Miami isn't going to have a No. 1 receiver on its roster this year.
The Dolphins don't have a ton of proven talent at tight end either. Rookie second-round pick Mike Gesicki has a lot of upside, but veterans A.J. Derby, MarQueis Gray and Gavin Escobar combined for just three receptions last season. Unless Gesicki emerges as the next Rob Gronkowski, the Dolphins are going to have nothing more than a serviceable receiving corps.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Receivers: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Marcus Johnson, Tanner McEvoy, Keenan Reynolds, David Moore, Cyril Grayson, Amara Darboh
Tight Ends: Ed Dickson, Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, Tyrone Swoopes
The Seattle Seahawks ranked 14th in passing offense last season (228.6 yards per game), but this had as much to do with Russell Wilson's playmaking ability as the overall talent level on the offense.
Doug Baldwin is a top-level receiver who had 990 yards receiving last year. However, the only other player on the roster to produce more than 555 yards was Paul Richardson. He's gone. So is tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 57 receptions for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
This means Wilson is going to head into 2018 without his second-leading yardage producer (Richardson) and his second-favorite target (Graham). The Seahawks haven't put a ton of effort into replacing them.
Seattle brought in Jaron Brown and Ed Dickson, but these additions aren't enough to transform this into even an above-average receiving corps. Brown has flashed potential at times but has averaged fewer than 250 receiving yards per season. Dickson is a sure-handed tight end but isn't the same red-zone threat Graham was (just one TD last season).
Heading into 2018, Seattle's receiving corps is even worse than it was last season.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Receivers: Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown, Chris Moore, Tim White, Jordan Lasley, DeVier Posey, Jaleel Scott, Breshad Perriman
Tight Ends: Nick Boyle, Hayden Hurst, Maxx Williams, Mark Andrews, Vince Mayle
The Baltimore Ravens had a horrendous passing attack in 2017. Only three teams averaged fewer than the 189.4 yards per game Baltimore produced. This is why the Ravens basically remade their entire receiving corps this offseason.
Gone are Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson and Griff Whalen. In are Michael Crabtree, Willis Snead, John Brown and rookie first-round pick Hayden Hurst. The new group should be better than last year's, though quarterback Joe Flacco is going to have to do his part.
Crabtree had a down year in 2017—he had just 618 yards and eight touchdowns—but the only Ravens receiver more productive was Wallace, who had 748 yards and four scores. Brown is the type of speedy downfield threat Maclin once was, and Snead has No. 3 receiver potential. Two years ago, he racked up 895 yards and four scores.
Hurst is an NFL-ready, 24-year-old tight end who should push Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams for the starting job. He'll face the challenge of replacing Watson's 61 receptions, but he does bring (relative) youth to the position.
If 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman somehow manages to break out, Flacco might have at least an average unit for what could be the last season of his Ravens career.
25. New York Jets
Receivers: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, ArDarius Stewart, Terrelle Pryor, Devin Smith, Charone Peake, Andre Roberts, Chad Hansen, Charles Johnson
Tight Ends: Clive Walford, Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett, Chris Herndon
There are reasons to believe the New York Jets receiving corps could be better than a bottom-10 unit in 2018. For one, the team should see the return of speedy wideout Quincy Enunwa, who missed all of last season with a neck injury.
The Jets also return Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who each produced more than 800 yards receiving last season.
The problem for New York is two-fold. The team is transitioning to Jeremy Bates at offensive coordinator after parting with John Morton. The Jets also have a serious lack of proven talent at the tight end position. Clive Walford, Jordan Leggett and Eric Tomlinson combined for just 17 NFL receptions last year.
Walford and Tomlinson will likely compete for the starting job at tight end, though rookie fourth-round pick Chris Herndon may force his way into the competition. He is raw but has physical upside in spades.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Receivers: T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant, K.J. Brent, Chester Rogers, Daurice Fountain, Deon Cain, Krishawn Hogan, Seantavius Jones, Kayaune Ross
Tight Ends: Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Darrell Daniels, Erik Swoope, Ross Travis
With Andrew Luck healthy, the Indianapolis Colts had an elite passing attack just two seasons ago. The Colts ranked tied for fifth in passing with an average of 262.6 yards per game.
With no Luck last season, Indianapolis dropped to 30th in passing (180.8 yards per game).
The Colts passing game should be on the rebound this season, and not just because Luck is (hopefully) on the way back. Indianapolis brought in former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who has a knack for getting the most out of his players.
The Colts also brought in some new targets for Luck to utilize. Last year's leading receiver T.Y. Hilton (966 yards) is back. So is leading pass-catcher (80 receptions) Jack Doyle. Indianapolis added wideout Ryan Grant and tight end Eric Ebron in the offseason.
Grant and Ebron combined for more than 1,100 yards last season.
While the Colts did part with Donte Moncrief, this is a better group on paper than it was last year. With Luck back under center and with Reich calling the shots, it could prove to be a dangerous group statistically.
23. Washington Redskins
Receivers: Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Robert Davis, Brian Quick, Maurice Harris, Trey Quinn, Byron Marshall
Tight Ends: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle, Matt Flanagan
Until Josh Doctson establishes himself as a No. 1 receiver, the Washington Redskins won't have one on their roster.
At least Washington should have a solid trio at wide receiver after the addition of Paul Richardson. He and Jamison Crowder both topped the 700-yard mark last season, while Doctson added 502 yards receiving.
Despite not having a true No. 1 wideout, the Redskins managed to rank 12th in passing last season (234.4 yards per game), thanks in large part to the play-calling of head coach Jay Gruden.
Whether Washington's passing offense takes a step forward or a step back will largely hinge on two factors—the health of tight end Jordan Reed and the play of new quarterback Alex Smith.
Reed, who missed 10 games last season, is the big unknown. Vernon Davis filled in admirably—he had 648 yards receiving—but Reed is one of the biggest offensive mismatches in the NFL when he's healthy.
22. Denver Broncos
Receivers: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Jordan Leslie, Jordan Taylor, Isaiah McKenzie, DaeSean Hamilton, Carlos Henderson, Jimmy Williams
Tight Ends: Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli, Austin Traylor, Brian Parker
The Denver Broncos don't have much proven depth behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and there are signs that Sanders could be on the decline.
Sanders has seen a drop in receiving yards in each of the past three seasons and appears to have peaked in his first year (2014) with the Broncos.
Second-round pick Courtland Sutton, a big (6'3", 218 lbs) and physical possession receiver out of SMU, could push Sanders for the No. 2 role as soon as this season.
Denver doesn't boast a lot of proven talent at the tight end position either. Jake Butt has yet to take an NFL snap. Jeff Heuerman and Austin Traylor combined for just 17 receptions last season. Fifth-round pick Troy Fumagalli will have an opportunity to get early playing time.
In addition, the Broncos will be continuing their transition from Mike McCoy to Bill Musgrave at offensive coordinator. The move was made last November, but we should see some changes to the offense this offseason, especially with offensive adviser Gary Kubiak getting a bigger role on the staff.
21. San Francisco 49ers
Receivers: Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Aldrick Robinson, Richie James, Kendrick Bourne, Maxwell McCaffrey
Tight Ends: George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Cole Wick, Cole Hikutini
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan made the most of his players last season. Naturally, the arrival of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helped boost the passing attack. However, it was still impressive to see that San Francisco averaged 245.3 passing yards per game, ninth-most in the NFL.
Marquise Goodwin might not be your idea of a traditional No. 1 receiver, but he served the role well last season. He came 38 yards shy of reaching 1,000. Pierre Garcon was a solid, if unspectacular, No. 2, while Trent Taylor filled in admirably as the No. 3. All three of these receivers caught at least 40 passes last season.
At 6'1" and with tremendous route-running ability, rookie second-round pick Dante Pettis should quickly improve San Francisco's group of receivers.
George Kittle is vastly underrated as a pass-catching tight end. He and Garrett Celek form a strong tight end duo—one that was responsible for over 800 yards receiving last season.
With Shanahan calling the shots and Garoppolo under center for a full season, the 49ers' receiving corps should put up more substantial numbers in 2018. This is a below-average group, but it's one on the rise, even if it does lack on-paper talent.
20. Cincinnati Bengals
Receivers: A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Josh Malone, John Ross, Auden Tate, Kermit Whitfield, Alex Erickson
Tight Ends: Tyler Eifert, Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, Jordan Franks
The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the league's top receivers in A.J. Green. If the Bengals want to have a receiving corps that is more than average in 2018, however, three things need to happen.
Cincinnati needs to have tight end Tyler Eifert healthy. He has appeared in just 10 games over the last two years. He's a difference-maker when he is healthy, though, as he proved in 2015. That year, Eifert had 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in just 13 games.
Tyler Kroft is a quality receiving tight end (404 yards in 2017), but he isn't as dynamic as Eifert.
Cincinnati will also need offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to make major improvements in his second season. He replaced Ken Zampese just weeks into the 2017 season but didn't do a much better job of maximizing Cincinnati's talent. Cincinnati finished the season ranked dead last in total yardage (280.5 yards per game) and 27th in passing (195.1).
The third thing is that Cincinnati needs to get something out of 2017 first-round pick John Ross, who appeared in just three games and never made a reception as a rookie.
19. Carolina Panthers
Receivers: Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Jamaal Jones, Damiere Byrd, Jarius Wright, Rasheed Bailey, Mose Frazier
Tight Ends: Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Jason Vander Laan, Evan Baylis
Despite having former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton under center, the Carolina Panthers only managed to average 192.3 yards per game through the air, 28th in the NFL. This is largely because of the team's lack of a No. 1 receiver and a receiving group that underwhelmed as a whole. It didn't help that star tight end Greg Olsen missed nine games with foot injuries.
Olsen is back on a new two-year, $17.1 million deal, and his health is only part of the reason Carolina's receiving corps should be better this season.
The Panthers brought in speedster Torrey Smith to help stretch the field, and he'll be a fantastic complement to possession receiver extraordinaire Devin Funchess. The Panthers also used a first-round pick on DJ Moore. The former Maryland standout, who topped 1,000 yards receiving last year, has the physical tools to eventually become Carolina's No. 1 wideout.
If Funchess is healthy and Moore makes a quick transition to the pro game, opposing defenses aren't going to have such an easy time defending the pass. If Curtis Samuel can stay healthy and develop into the team's No. 4 receiver, it could become dangerous—especially if running back Christian McCaffrey, who we're not counting here, continues to be such a threat in the passing game.
18. Oakland Raiders
Receivers: Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts, Ryan Switzer, Griff Whalen, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris, Johnny Holton
Tight Ends: Jared Cook, Derek Carrier, Lee Smith, Pharaoh Brown
The Green Bay Packers didn't believe 32-year-old receiver Jordy Nelson had enough left in the tank to warrant hanging onto. The Oakland Raiders, who signed him to a two-year, $14.2 million deal this offseason, think otherwise.
How we judge the Raiders' receiving corps at season's end will be dependent on which of the two teams was right.
Oakland's receiving corps was a disappointment in 2017. Crabtree led the team with 58 receptions and is now in Baltimore. 2015 first-round pick Amari Cooper looked nothing like the No. 1 receiver he did the year before and finished with just 680 yards.
Of course, the Raiders also need production from Nelson, who had just 482 yards receiving last year—albeit without Aaron Rodgers for most of the season. Martavis Bryant, who was acquired for a third-round pick, may ultimately be the more productive addition.
The Raiders have a solid tight end in Jared Cook and a good third receiver in Seth Roberts. Oakland should also have a better receiving corps overall. Cook, Cooper and Bryant all topped the 600-yard mark last season. If Nelson can return to Pro Bowl form, the Raiders aerial attack won't be just better—it could be back to a top-level unit.
17. Green Bay Packers
Receivers: Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, DeAngelo Yancey, Geronimo Allison, J'Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Trevor Davis, Michael Clark
Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham, Lance Kendricks, Emanuel Byrd, Kevin Rader, Ryan Smith
The Packers parted with Nelson this offseason, but they still have Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Lance Kendricks from last year. Now, that group only helped average 197.9 yards per game (25th), but the majority of the season was spent with Brett Hundley under center.
Cobb and Adams should again be Green Bay's top two receivers. The Packers drafted a trio of wide receivers—J'Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling—who should compete with Allison and second-year receiver DeAngelo Yancey for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Whoever performs the best this offseason will claim the open jobs.
"Once that helmet goes on," Yancey explained, via the team's official website, "there’s no favoritism."
Green Bay signed tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million this offseason. Graham was a scoring machine with the Seahawks last season (10 TDs) and will give Rogers a top-tier red-zone target. He and Kendricks will be a terror in two-TE packages.
This is still a fairly average receiving corps overall. However, as long as Rodgers is back to 100 percent, it could still be one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the league.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
Receivers: Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, D.J. Chark, Rashad Greene, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, Shane Wynn, Jaydon Mickens, Dorren Miller
Tight Ends: Niles Paul, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ben Koyack, David Grinnage, James O'Shaughnessy
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns this offseason. However, their passing offense should be even better than it was in 2017—at least when quarterback Blake Bortles is playing well.
The Jaguars brought Marquise Lee back on a four-year, $34 million deal this offseason. Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are back as well. Cole and Lee both topped 700 receiving yards last season. In addition, the Jaguars grabbed Donte Moncrief, who averaged 15.0 yards per reception last season.
Jacksonville brought in Niles Paul and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to help provide Bortles with some outlets at the tight end position. They'll help replace Marcedes Lewis, who recently signed with the Green Bay Packers.
While Jacksonville doesn't have a true No. 1 receiver on its roster, it has a promising collection of complementary players. Rookie second-round pick D.J. Chark, who ran a 4.34-second 40 at the combine, will force himself into that group and could eventually emerge as the No. 1 wideout the team currently lacks. If he does, Jacksonville could have one of the most balanced and dangerous offenses in the NFL.
15. Houston Texans
Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, Bruce Ellington, Keke Coutee, Sammie Coates, Chris Thompson
Tight Ends: Stephen Anderson, Ryan Griffin, MyCole Pruitt, Jordan Akins, Matt Lengel, Jordan Thomas
It's hard to accurately judge the receiving corps the Houston Texans fielded in 2017. When first-round rookie Deshaun Watson was on the field, it looked like an elite group. When Tom Savage or T.J. Yates was on the field, however, it looked like more of a liability.
What we know for certain is that No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the game. Even with the instability at quarterback, he managed to rack up 1,378 yards. He was ranked fourth in defense-adjusted yards above replacement by Pro Football Outsiders. This means that, with weight given to the quality of opponent, only three receivers in the league were more valuable when compared to potential replacement players.
Will Fuller is a speedy deep threat but is inconsistent. Braxton Miller and Bruce Ellington are good-but-not-great depth receivers, while Stephen Anderson and Ryan Griffin are similar players at tight end. Aside from Hopkins, no one on Houston's roster reached 425 receiving yards.
The Texans added Sammie Coates and drafted Keke Coutee this offseason. They'll help raise the overall level of talent on the receiver depth chart. However, the fact remains that Hopkins is the only special player in this receiving corps.
14. Chicago Bears
Receivers: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy, Bennie Fowler, Anthony Miller, Tanner Gentry, Matt Fleming, DeMarcus Ayers
Tight Ends: Dion Sims, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Daniel Brown
The Chicago Bears hope Mitchell Trubisky can make a Goff-like second-year leap in 2018. This is why they grabbed Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton in free agency and drafted former Memphis wideout Anthony Miller in the second round.
"We've got so many weapons," Trubisky said, via the team's official website. "I'm excited to get them all the ball."
Like the Rams last offseason, Chicago also got a bright offensive mind to be Trubisky's new head coach. Matt Nagy helped unleash Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs' passing attack—ranked seventh with 256.5 yards per game—last season.
The Bears had the league's worst passing offense in 2017 (175.7 yards per game) and its worst receiving corps. That won't be the case this season. Robinson has legitimate No. 1-receiver talent, and Gabriel is one of the better small slot receivers in the NFL. Burton and Adam Shaheen are going to make things difficult for opposing defenses against two-tight-end sets.
Chicago might even end up with one of the league's top passing offenses if Kevin White can manage to stay healthy and figure out the pro game. Since being drafted seventh overall in 2015, White has appeared in just appeared in just five games and produced a mere 193 receiving yards.
13. Minnesota Vikings
Receivers: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Stacy Coley, Kendall Wright, Tavarres King, Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra, Cayleb Jones, Jake Wieneke
Tight Ends: Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Blake Bell, Tyler Conklin
The Minnesota Vikings ran with journeyman quarterback Case Keenum last season and still managed to reach the NFC title game. There were two big reasons for this. One was a high-level receiving corps featuring Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. The other reason was the presence of offensive guru Pat Shurmur.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Shurmur left to take a head coaching gig. The Vikings replaced him with John DeFilippo. While DeFilippo is a strong offensive coach in his own right, there is going to be a transition to work through.
From a talent standpoint, Thielen and Diggs form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. They combined for more than 2,100 receiving yards last season. Rudolph, who made his second Pro Bowl in 2017, added 532 yards and eight touchdowns.
The only reason the Vikings don't crack the top 10 here is the fact that Shurmur departed and the lack of a high-end No. 3 receiver. Offseason acquisition Kendall Wright will probably move into that role, as Laquon Treadwell has been a major disappointment since being drafted in the first round two years ago. Wright had 614 receiving yards last season, but that was as Chicago's de facto No. 1 receiver.
12. Cleveland Browns
Receivers: Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Antonio Callaway, Jeff Janis, Rashard Higgins, Damion Ratley, C.J. Board
Tight Ends: David Njoku, Darren Fells, Seth DeValve, Devon Cajuste, Julian Allen
The Cleveland Browns ranked just 22nd in passing (201.8 yards per game) last season, but they have made significant improvements since.
For one, the Browns swung a trade for NFL receptions leader Jarvis Landry. He has averaged 100 receptions per season over the past four years.
Cleveland also added Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. He's coached top-five passing offenses in each of the past four seasons.
It's not like Landry and Haley are joining a completely bare receiving corps, though. The Browns have a pair of talented tight ends in David Njoku and Seth DeValve—each caught at least 32 passes last year. Cleveland also has Josh Gordon.
We're ranking Cleveland with the assumption that Gordon will play this season—which is far from a given. He's played just 10 games over the past four seasons because of substance-abuse-related suspensions. Back in 2013, though, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 yards. He looked like a similar player when he returned late last season.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
Receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Markus Wheaton, Greg Ward, Bryce Treggs, Tim Wilson, Rashard Davis
Tight Ends: Zach Ertz, Richard Rodgers, Dallas Goedert, Billy Brown
Nick Foles will forever go down in Eagles history for his playoff performances. He rightfully deserves a ton of credit for them, but let's be honest—he had some help.
The Eagles had a strong receiving corps and an offensive coordinator in Frank Reich who knew how to maximize it.
The Philadelphia passing attack may take a slight step back this season, especially if Wentz isn't ready to start the season. Losing Reich is going to affect the offense. So will losing quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
From a talent standpoint, though, the Eagles receiving corps shouldn't be too different from what we saw last year. It could even be better.
Wallace was brought in to replace Smith, and Philadelphia drafted Dallas Goedert and added Richard Rodgers to help replace Burton and Brent Celek. Starters Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz are back, and the new additions should help maintain the status quo.
10. New Orleans Saints
Receivers: Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn Jr., Austin Carr, Tre'Quan Smith, Brandon Coleman, Tommylee Lewis, Josh Huff, Paul Turner
Tight Ends: Benjamin Watson, Josh Hill, Michael Hoomanawanui, Garrett Griffin
As a team, the New Orleans Saints ranked fifth in passing (261.8 yards per game) last season. If we take out the backfield contributions—Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 1,242 yards—the receiving corps looks a little less impressive.
Michael Thomas is a stud, there's no arguing that. He racked up 1,245 yards and was ranked fifth in defense-adjusted yards above replacement by Pro Football Outsiders. Tedd Ginn Jr. was a solid complementary receiver (787 yards), but there was little receiver depth behind him.
The Saints also didn't get much out of tight end Coby Fleener, who finished with 295 yards.
The receiving corps got a bit of a boost this offseason, though, as the Saints brought back Watson after a two-year sabbatical and acquired Cameron Meredith and Austin Carr. They also used a third-round pick on Central Florida product Tre'Quan Smith.
New Orleans should have the same top two receivers this year, but they'll have a better pass-catching tight end in Watson and more depth at the receiver position.
9. Detroit Lions
Receivers: Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Andy Jones, Bradley Marquez, Dontez Ford, Jace Billingsley
Tight Ends: Luke Willson, Levine Toilolo, Michael Roberts, Hakeem Valles, Marcus Lucas
The Detroit Lions found themselves a No. 3 receiver in the form of Kenny Golladay last season. The former third-round pick contributed 477 yards as a situational receiver, and he helped put Detroit's passing attack over the top.
The Lions already had a top-tier receiver duo in Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate, each of whom topped the 1,000-yard mark. Jones was ranked second in defense-adjusted yards above replacement by Pro Football Outsiders last season. Tate ranked 16th.
With Golladay and fourth-year man TJ Jones alongside those two, the Lions can go four wide against most defenses and find a matchup they like.
Detroit would be even higher on this list if Ebron was still Matthew Stafford's security blanket. Detroit brought in Luke Willson to help replace Ebron, but Willson has only caught 15 passes in each of the past two seasons.
8. Los Angeles Rams
Receivers: Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, Fred Brown, Steven Mitchell, Ricky Jeune
Tight Ends: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Temarrick Hemingway, Henry Krieger-Coble
We talked about how much the Rams passing attack improved last season in the opening. In 2016, Los Angeles averaged just 184.4 yards per game through the air (31st). Last year, it averaged 239.4 yards per game (10th).
We also mentioned that much of the receiving corps' success was due to the genius play-calling of McVay. This is why Los Angeles improved as much as it did despite not having a 1,000-yard receiver on the roster.
Well, the Rams do have a 1,000-yard receiver now, as they traded for Brandin Cooks in the offseason. He replaces Sammy Watkins and will play alongside Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods—who combined for 1,650 yards last season—in three-receiver sets.
While the Rams don't have an elite pass-catching tight end, they do have two serviceable ones. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett combined for 539 yards in 2017. McVay knows how to get the most out of these two and the rest of L.A.'s receiving corps.
Things are shaping up for Los Angeles to have a scary passing attack this season—and we're not even factoring in running back Todd Gurley, who led the team in receptions last year.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Receivers: Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Freddie Martino, Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson, Bernard Reedy, Jake Lampman
Tight Ends: O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Alan Cross, Antony Auclair
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $33.5 million deal last offseason, some believed the Buccaneers had the best receiving corps in the league. After all, Tampa was partnering him with Mike Evans, one of the most dominant receivers in football, and emerging talents Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate. They also added former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard in the first round of the draft.
Well, the Buccaneers didn't end up with the NFL's best passing attack. Jackson wasn't the field-stretching deep threat he was expected to be, quarterback Jameis Winston battled injuries, and the Buccaneers finished fourth in passing (272.9 yards per game).
That's still pretty impressive, given the circumstances. We do, however, have to recognize that Tampa passed often because its defense and running games were both lacking.
If Jackson and Winston can establish the chemistry that simply wasn't there last year, this group will be better this season. Of course, it's also possible that at 31 years old, Jackson can't be the speed merchant he once was.
Either way, this should still be one of the NFL's better receiving corps this season.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Receivers: Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, Dylan Cantrell, Geremy Davis, J.J. Jones, Nelson Spruce
Tight Ends: Virgil Green, Cole Hunt, Braedon Bowman, Ben Johnson
There are a few reasons the Los Angeles Chargers ended up with the league's No. 1 passing attack last season (276.9 yards per game). They had an elite quarterback in Philip Rivers, they were in competitive situations late in several games, and they had one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.
Los Angeles has both talent and depth at the wideout position. No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen totaled 1,393 yards last season. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin combined for 1,295 yards. The top three were so consistently productive that first-round pick Mike Williams barely even got onto the field.
Allen was actually ranked second in the league in defensive-adjusted yards above replacement by Pro Football Outsiders last season.
If tight end Hunter Henry hadn't recently torn his ACL, the Chargers would be ranked even higher on this list. While they did bring over Virgil Green from the rival Broncos and could re-sign Antonio Gates (316 yards, 3 TDs in 2017), L.A.'s receiving corps may be just a step below where it was last year.
This could change, of course, if Williams makes a sizable second-year leap and the Chargers don't focus as much on the tight end position.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Receivers: Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Marcus Kemp, De'Anthony Thomas, Byron Pringle
Tight Ends: Travis Kelce, Tim Wright, Demetrius Harris, Jace Amaro, Alex Ellis, Blake Mack
The Chiefs will be making the permanent switch from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes. The second-year man out of Texas Tech has big shoes to fill—Smith led the Chiefs to the postseason in four of the last five seasons—but he will have one of the league's most terrifying receiving corps at his disposal in this endeavor.
Tyreek Hill has emerged among the game's biggest deep-threat receivers. He averaged 15.8 yards per reception last season and had nine catches of 40 yards or more. The Chiefs paired him with 2014 first-round pick Sammy Watkins this offseason by inking Watkins to a three-year, $48 million deal.
Watkins has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, but he can take the top off a defense. Tight end Travis Kelce can take the top off a defense, too. He and Hill each topped 1,000 yards receiving last season.
Albert Wilson is with Miami now, but if a guy like Chris Conley or Demarcus Robinson can excel in the No. 3-receiver role, it's going to be hard for any defense to consistently find matchups it likes against the Chiefs receiving corps.
4. New York Giants
Receivers: Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Roger Lewis, Keeon Johnson, Hunter Sharp, Kalif Raymond, Travis Rudolph, Amba Etta-Tawo
Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, Shane Smith
Will Odell Beckham Jr, be the same receiver he was before last season's broken ankle? That's the question the New York Giants have to be asking right now. If he is the same, nearly unstoppable receiver, then this receiving corps is going to be a difficult force to handle. If he has lost a step, it's going to hurt in a big way.
Fortunately for New York, there are other quality weapons to throw to. Sterling Shepard has proved he is a quality No. 2 receiver over the past two years. It took just one season for Evan Engram to establish himself as one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends.
Tying everything together will be new head coach Pat Shurmur, who worked wonders with the Vikings offense last season. It may take him some time to get to know his new personnel, but we all saw what he was able to do with Case Keenum last season.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Receivers: Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darrius Heyward-Bey, James Washington, Justin Hunter, Trey Griffey, Tevin Jones
Tight Ends: Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Jake McGee
The Steelers have one of the league's most dangerous offenses and not just because they have the league's most important receiver in Antonio Brown—he led all wideouts in defense-adjusted yards above replacement last season, per Pro Football Outsiders. There is depth in the receiving corps, even after the Steelers parted with Martavis Bryant.
JuJu Smith-Schuster racked up 917 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie last season. He'd be moving into a No. 1-receiver role this year on most other teams, and no one should be shocked if he and Brown both top 1,000 yards this season.
James Washington, who had 1,549 yards for Oklahoma State last season, could make a rookie impact similar to the one Smith-Schuster had in 2017.
While Jesse James isn't a dynamic tight end in the mold of Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, he is a reliable end-zone and short-yardage target. Vance McDonald, who averaged 13.4 yards per reception last year, can make opposing defenses pay when spelling James or in two-tight-end sets.
There is going to be a period of transition for the Steelers as the team moves from Todd Haley to new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. If the transition is a smooth one, Pittsburgh should again have a top-five passing attack.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Receivers: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy, Devin Fuller, Marvin Hall, Russell Gage, Reggie Davis
Tight Ends: Austin Hooper, Logan Paulsen, Eric Saubert, Alex Gray, Jake Roh
With Mohamed Sanu running alongside Jones, the Atlanta Falcons have one of the league's top wide receiver tandems.
As a duo, Jones and Sanu combined for 2,147 yards receiving last season. If rookie first-round pick Calvin Ridley can be an upgrade over the departed Taylor Gabriel, the Falcons could have the league's top receiver trio by the end of the season.
Ridley has the potential to be an upgrade, too. While Gabriel is a fine slot receiver, the Alabama product has the size (6'1", 189 lbs) and the ball skills to dominate smaller nickel corners in a way Gabriel could not.
Austin Hooper isn't an elite tight end, but his presence shouldn't be overlooked, He produced 49 catches for 526 yards last season, which isn't easy to do when you're sharing the field with Jones and Sanu.
The only reason the Falcons aren't ranked even higher than they are is because offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian still seems to be learning how to maximize the talent Atlanta has on offense. A reunion with Ridley may make it easier for him.
1. New England Patriots
Receivers: Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Kenny Britt, Matthew Slater
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Troy Niklas, Jacob Hollister, Will Tye, Ryan Izzo
The New England Patriots had the No. 2 passing attack in the NFL last season (276.1 yards per game), and it wasn't all because of Tom Brady. No one can deny Josh McDaniels knows how to make the most of the talent around his quarterback.
Brandin Cooks is gone, but New England will have Brady's favorite target, Julian Edelman, back on the field in 2018 after he tore his ACL during the preseason. Edelman amassed more yards in 2016 (1,106) than Cooks did last season. Danny Amendola is also gone, but the Patriots are getting Malcolm Mitchell back from injury and added Kenny Britt late last season.
Oh, and New England also added versatile offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason. He's a player who can fill a variety of roles in McDaniels' system. Chris Hogan has the size (6'1", 210 lbs) to be a downfield difference-maker and could see a bigger role with Amendola out of the picture.
New England also has Rob Gronkowski, perhaps the most dominant tight end in NFL history. With Dwayne Allen, Troy Niklas, Jacob Hollister and Will Tye also on the roster, the Patriots have a ton of solid depth behind him, too.
We're looking at the league's best receiving corps here. No collection of pass-catchers works better together as a group, and Brady, McDaniels and Bill Belichick are the pieces that put it over the top.
*All contract information via Spotrac.com