Ranking Every NFL Receiving Corps Heading into the 2019 Season

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMay 24, 2019

Ranking Every NFL Receiving Corps Heading into the 2019 Season

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    A high-flying offense can't rely on a singular threat to be effective. The units that are hardest to defend have multiple reliable and dynamic targets to expose defensive weaknesses. 

    A great receiver can be taken away by well-devised defensive schemes. Coordinators will roll coverage or bracket those top options to slow them down or shut them out of the game plan. Today's offenses require threats at each of the wide receiver and tight end positions. 

    The best receiving corps features multiple skill sets to exploit mismatches. It's great to have Jerry Rice. It's even better to have John Taylor and Brent Jones to complement that elite target. 

    On average, teams used 11 personnel (three wide receivers and one tight end) on 66 percent of last season's offensive snaps, according to Sharp Football Stats' Warren Sharp. That number increased to 75 percent on passing plays. Only the San Francisco 49ers didn't use three wide receivers at least 53 percent of the time. 

    Each position requires a different skill set. Outside receivers must be able to beat the jam and provide a vertical presence. Slot receivers, who are starters in today's game, must work through traffic and display short-area quickness. Tight ends use their size and athleticism to out-leverage linebackers or defensive backs. 

    All of this and more is necessary to feature a complete passing game, and a holistic view helps show which organizations feature the league's best receiving corps. Previous production, depth and potential all play a part in anointing the top units as the 2019 campaign approaches. 

32. Washington Redskins

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    Receivers: Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson Jr., Trey Quinn, Terry McLaurin, Brian Quick, Kelvin Harmon, Robert Davis, Jehu Chesson, Cam Sims, Darvin Kidsy, T.J. Rahming, Steven Sims

    Tight Ends: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle, Manasseh Garner, Matt Flanagan, J.P Holtz

    Thankfully, the Washington Redskins feature a talented backfield because their receiver corps leaves much to be desired. The team will go into the 2019 campaign with a new starting quarterback—whether it's Case Keenum or Dwayne Haskins—and very little help on the outside. 

    Doctson is well on his way to earning bust status. The 2016 first-round pick set career highs last season with a meager 44 receptions for 532 yards. Richardson has played all 16 games only once in his five-year career. 

    Unless McLaurin, the organization's third-round pick, continues his rapport with Haskins from their collegiate days, Reed will be the only reliable weapon in Washington's passing attack. The tight end led the team last season with 54 receptions for 558 yards. Unfortunately, he's never stayed healthy and has missed 17 games over the last three seasons. 

    Washington's passing attack could set the league back 20 years. 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Receivers: Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, DJ Chark Jr., Keelan Cole, Tyre Brady, C.J. Board, Raphael Leonard, Dredrick Snelson, Michael Walker

    Tight Ends: Geoff Swaim, Josh Oliver, James O'Shaughnessy, Ben Koyack, Pharoah McKever, Charles Jones, Michael Colubiale

    The Jacksonville Jaguars did everything in their power to secure Nick Foles' services at quarterback. The franchise got its guy yet failed to provide him with an adequate surrounding cast.

    Westbook led the offense last season with 66 receptions for 717 yards. Beyond him, none of the returning targets produced more than 491 yards. General manager David Caldwell signed Conley to supplement the group, but he hasn't managed more than 530 yards in any of his four seasons. Lee's return from a season-ending knee injury will provide the biggest boost. 

    Tight end is suspect at best. Jacksonville invested a third-round pick in Oliver, but expectations should be tempered for any rookie tight end. Swaim and O'Shaughnessy don't threaten opposing defenses. 

    Foles should help elevate this group to a degree, but the unit lacks dynamic traits. 

30. Miami Dolphins

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    Receivers: Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford, Brice Butler, Preston Williams, Trenton Irwin, Reece Horn

    Tight Ends: Nick O'Leary, Mike Gesicki, Dwayne Allen, Clive Walford, Durham Smythe, Chris Myarick

    A new coaching staff means a fresh start. Sometimes a situation just stinks, though. 

    The Miami Dolphins will enter the 2019 campaign without a single receiver who managed more than 553 yards last season. Some talent is present, but head coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea will be hard-pressed to find a receiver capable of consistently getting open to serve as a top target. 

    Wilson played well through the first seven games, but he's coming off a season-ending hip injury. Stills never developed into anything more than a downfield option. Parker will receive yet another opportunity to prove he's not a first-round bust. 

    Miami drafted Gesicki in last year's second round because of an exceptional physical profile (6'6", 245 lbs), but he managed just 22 caches and should cede the starting role to O'Leary after the two traded off the job throughout 2018.

    Maybe Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick can get more out of this group, but it's unlikely. 

29. Buffalo Bills

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    Receivers: Robert Foster, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Zay Jones, Andre Roberts, Da'Mari Scott, Isaiah McKenzie, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Victor Bolden Jr., Duke Williams, Cam Phillips, David Sills, Nick Easley

    Tight Ends: Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, Jason Croom, Moral Stephens, Mik'Quan Deane

    To the Buffalo Bills' credit, the organization went out and surrounded quarterback Josh Allen with more talent than he had last year. But it's all relative. 

    Buffalo entered the offseason with the league's worst skill positions. They're no longer the worst, just incrementally better. 

    General manager Brandon Beane signed Brown, who led the Baltimore Ravens with 715 receiving yards last season, and an effective slot receiver in Beasley.

    Foster is the wild card as a potential No. 1 target. All but 30 of the rookie's 541 receiving yards came in the second half of the season, which included three 100-yard games. According to Pro Football Focus, he led the NFL in average depth of target (20.9 yards). 

    The team also signed Kroft to start at tight end. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken foot in OTAs and doesn't have a timetable for a return. 

28. Carolina Panthers

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    Receivers: DJ Moore, Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel, Chris Hogan, Aldrick Robinson, Terry Godwin, Jarius Wright, Rashad Ross, DeAndrew White, Mose Frazier, Andre Levrone, Damion Jeanpiere

    Tight Ends: Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, Temarrick Hemingway, Chris Manhertz, Cole Hunt, Jason Vander Laan, Ethan Wolf, Marcus Baugh

    The Carolina Panthers built their passing attack from the inside. 

    Olsen has consistently been Cam Newton's favorite target, though the veteran tight end missed 16 games over the last two seasons due to a broken foot. 

    "I'm here now. I feel good. I feel ready to rock," the 34-year-old target said, per ESPN's David Newton. "I haven't taken a lot of snaps over the last two years as I had prior, so maybe that will give me a little juice at this point in my career."

    Furthermore, the team's 2018 first-round receiver, Moore, spent the bulk of his snaps in the slot. The same can be said of Hogan, who signed with Carolina in free agency. Samuel is a hybrid player. 

    Smith is the team's only true outside threat after Devin Funchess left to sign with the Indianapolis Colts, and that's not enough. 

27. Tennessee Titans

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    Receivers: Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Adam Humphries, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Cameron Batson, Kalif Raymond, Darius Jennings, Jalen Tolliver, Cody Hollister, Joseph Parker, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Darius Jennings

    Tight Ends: Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, McCole Pruitt, Cole Wick, Keith Towbridge, Parker Hesse

    The Tennessee Titans are still searching for the right combination to maximize Marcus Mariota's potential. The quarterback will enter his fifth season with his best supporting cast so far, but questions still linger. 

    It's time for Davis to determine which direction his career will go. The 2017 fifth overall pick showed improvement between his first and second seasons, but will he continue his progression or regress? As of now, he hasn't lived up to expectations. 

    Since Tennessee selected a hobbled Jeffery Simmons in this year's first round, Brown becomes the Titans' de facto top pick. At 6'0" and 226 pounds, Brown is a bid-bodied target. How he transitions from primarily playing the slot to an outside role will be significant since the Titans signed Humphries. 

    Tight end is a bit of a mess, too. Delanie Walker suffered a fractured ankle last season, while Jonnu Smith is still dealing with the aftereffects of an MCL tear. 

26. Arizona Cardinals

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    Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, Chad Williams, Kevin White, KeeSean Johnson, Pharoh Cooper, Damiere Byrd, Trent Sherfield, A.J. Richardson

    Tight Ends: Charles Clay, Ricky Seals-Jones, Maxx Williams, Caleb Wilson, Darrell Daniels, Drew Belcher

    The Arizona Cardinals' passing attack under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has a chance to become ultra-successful or a spectacular failure once he implements a variation of the Air Raid scheme. Whatever the case, the franchise loaded up on young receiver talent to ease the transition. 

    Before we go any further, Fitzgerald remains an ageless wonder. The 35-year-old receiver led the team last season with 69 receptions for 734 yards and six touchdowns. He won't touch Jerry Rice's record, but the 11-time Pro Bowler has a chance to pad his standing as the NFL's second all-time leading receiver. 

    Christian Kirk looked like Fitzgerald's heir apparent before he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. 

    Additionally, general manager Steve Keim drafted three receivers—Isabella, Butler and Johnson—who have varying skill sets to fit specific roles. Isabella tied for the fastest 40-yard dash among wide receivers in this year's class. Butler is a massive target (6'5", 227 lbs). Johnson, meanwhile, creates after the catch. 

    How Kingsbury plans to use the team's tight ends might be the most interesting question. Clay and Seals-Jones will likely serve as oversized slot receivers. 

25. New York Giants

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    Receivers: Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Russell Shepard, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Brittan Golden, Alonzo Russell, Alex Wesley, Reggie White Jr.

    Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, Garrett Dickerson, C.J. Conrad

    No one outside of general manager Dave Gettleman and—maybe—head coach Pat Shurmur knows what the New York Giants' organizational plan is. This is evident with their approach to the wide receiver position. 

    Obviously, the staff wasn't enamored with having Odell Beckham Jr on the roster. But the group certainly should have seen his value as a player because he'll be sorely missed. 

    After trading Beckham to the Cleveland Browns, Gettleman loaded up on slot receivers.

    Tate and Sterling Shepard are at their best working inside the formation. The same can be said of Engram as a detached tight end. Tate, in particular, is fantastic in the role and led all wide receivers last season with 23 forced missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus

    How the Giants are going to win outside the numbers is unknown. Russell Shepard and some combination of Coleman, Fowler and Slayton must find ways to threaten opposing defenses or the entire field will constrict. 

24. Baltimore Ravens

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    Receivers: Marquise Brown, Willie Snead IV, Miles Boykin, Jordan Lasley, Chris Moore, Seth Roberts, Jaleel Scott, Michael Floyd, Quincy Adeboyejo, Jaylen Smith, Antoine Wesley, Sean Modster, Joe Horn Jr.

    Tight Ends: Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Cole Herdman, Charles Scarff

    New Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta did a wonderful job turning his team's nothingburger of a wide receiver corps into an intriguing complementary unit this offseason. 

    "We played a lot of teams, really good offenses this year [and] I had a chance to sit up in the press box and watch some of these offenses. One of the main common denominators is speed," DeCosta said, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "... I think our vision, collective vision, for the offense is to add more guys like [quarterback Lamar Jackson] to make it really challenging on the defense."

    DeCosta realized his plan by drafting Brown and Boykin in the first and third rounds, respectively. Brown creates unbelievable separation. Boykin is a big target (6'4", 220 lbs) with 4.42-second 40-yard-dash speed. The first-year receivers must deliver since Baltimore will rely heavily on both. 

    Speed on the outside will significantly help last year's rookie tight ends, Hurst and Andrews, work the middle of the field in their second seasons. 

23. New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Receivers: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Josh Bellamy, Charone Peake, Deonte Thompson, Deontay Burnett, Tim White, J.J. Jones, Quadree Henderson, Greg Dortch, Jeff Smith

    Tight Ends: Chris Herndon, Trevon Wesco, Eric Tomlinson, Daniel Brown, Neal Sterling

    The New York Jets passing game will be as effective as Anderson allows it to be. The 26-year-old is on the cusp of big things. During the last four weeks of the 2018 campaign, the third-year receiver caught 23 passes for 336 yards and graded fifth-best among wide receivers with 20 or more targets, according to Pro Football Focus

    Anderson's downfield prowess will make the entire offense better. 

    New York signed Crowder, who is a proven slot receiver. He can work the middle of the field as long as coverage isn't squeezing the underneath routes. The same can be said of Enunwa, whose greatest strength is creating after the catch. 

    Herndon's development makes the tight end New York's most interesting option. As a rookie, the 2018 fourth-round pick finished second on the team with 39 receptions for 502 yards. Plus, the Jets drafted Trevon Wesco in this year's fourth round to provide a more physical complement. 

22. Seattle Seahawks

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    Receivers: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore, Gary Jennings, Jaron Brown, John Ursua, Amara Darboh, Jazz Ferguson, Keenan Reynolds, Malik Turner, Caleb Scott, Terry Wright

    Tight Ends: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister, Tyrone Swoopes, Justin Johnson

    Lockett is already one of the league's best, and very few know it. According to USA Today's Doug Farrar, he provided a perfect passer rating when targeted with the highest DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) recorded for a wide receiver since 1986. 

    But after Doug Baldwin's retirement, concerns reside within the rest of the group

    "I don't think we replace Doug," head coach Pete Carroll said, per the Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell. "... Somebody else will do something a little bit differently and will make their own spot for him."

    The Seahawks drafted Metcalf, Jennings and Ursua. Metcalf is a physically impressive deep threat. Jennings' game relies on precision. Ursua is a slot receiver. One, two or all three will have to produce. 

    In addition to the uncertainty at wide receiver, Seattle's second-year tight end, Dissly, is coming back from a torn patellar tendon. 

21. Denver Broncos

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    Receivers: Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick, Juwann Winfree, Brendan Langley, Aaron Burbridge, Fred Brown, River Cracraft, Trinity Benson, Romell Guerrier, Kelvin McKnight

    Tight Ends: Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, Bug Howard, Austin Fort

    The Denver Broncos' receiving corp finds itself in transition. 

    The 32-year-old Sanders led the offense last season with 71 receptions for 868 yards. But he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in early December. As the veteran recovers, he's setting the table for the team's second-year wide receivers, Sutton and Hamilton. 

    "He's coaching me up in a way that I ran a route that he saw at practice, or he's telling me something that he would have done in his situation or that he saw has worked or has worked for me," Hamilton said, per 247 Sports' Zack Kelberman. "... He's obviously been a great mentor since we came in."

    Denver thrust Sutton into the spotlight when the organization traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans. He will now be asked to take over the role of No.1 receiver, whether he's ready for it or not. 

    Fant's presence is significant since the new offensive scheme under coordinator Rich Scangarello should feature the first-round tight end. 

20. Chicago Bears

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    Receivers: Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Riley Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Marvin Hall, Thomas Ives, Tanner Gentry, Emanuel Hall, Jordan Williams-Lambert, Taquan Mizzell Sr.

    Tight Ends: Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Dax Raymond, Ellis Richardson, Jesper Horsted, Ian Bunting, Bradley Sowell

    The Chicago Bears experienced an impressive turnaround last year, primarily because of their defensive prowess. Head coach Matt Nagy's passing offense ranked 21st overall, but the second year running the system should have a great impact on the unit's efficiency. 

    "Being together and being able to watch our own clips from last year, being able to own our mistakes [allows us to] get better and grow on what we did really well," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said, per the Chicago Tribune's Rich Campbell

    More importantly, the receivers know Trubisky's tendencies and can now establish a better rapport. Last season, none of the top targets found a rhythm. Robinson and Gabriel finished with fewer than 800 receiving yards. Miller battled through injuries yet managed seven touchdowns. Both Burton and Shaheen could be used more effectively. 

    The Bears' receiving corps has all the pieces; the group must now come together to experience significant improvement. 

19. Dallas Cowboys

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    Receivers: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, Noah Brown, Cedrick Wilson, Reggie Davis, Jalen Guyton, Jon'Vea Johnson, Lance Lenoir Jr., Devin Smith

    Tight Ends: Jason Witten, Dalton Schultz, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, Codey McElroy

    The Dallas Cowboys offense looks vastly different today than it did at the start of the 2018 campaign.

    First, the organization's midseason decision to trade a first-round pick for Cooper paid major dividends since 725 of the receiver's 1,005 yards came with the Cowboys. The 24-year-old wideout provides the offense with the true No. 1 target owner Jerry Jones desperately wanted after Dez Bryant's downturn. 

    Second, Witten returns to the field after a year in the Monday Night Football booth. Yes, the tight end is 37 years old, but he understands the game and should be able to find soft spots in zone coverage. 

    "The work that he's done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding," head coach Jason Garrett said of Witten, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence E. Hill, Jr. "His testing numbers and all of that are what they've been or even better."

    Dallas also hopes Gallup will continue to progress, Cobb still has something left and one of the tight ends can effectively spell Witten. 

18. Detroit Lions

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    Receivers: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Travis Fulgham, Tommylee Lewis, Andy Jones, Chris Lacy, Brandon Powell, Jordan Smallwood, Deontez Alexander, Tom Kennedy, Jonathan Duhart

    Tight Ends: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Michael Roberts, Logan Thomas, Isaac Nauta, Jerome Cunningham

    The Detroit Lions feature a solid threesome in Golladay, Jones and Amendola, who the organization signed in free agency. Each has a specific role. Golladay broke through last season with 1,063 yards as the unit's X-receiver. Jones can play flanker with Amendola in the slot. 

    But the Lions were still missing something, and the coaching staff thinks it's been found in this year's eighth overall pick, Hockenson. 

    "We're trying to do everything we can on offense to be multiple, be able to get into different packages, put as much stress on the defense as possible," head coach Matt Patricia said, per Pride of Detroit's Jerry Reisman. "Right now the game is always moving towards the tight end position. That's the mismatch that everyone is trying to figure out."

    Hockenson's development will determine whether the Lions achieved their goal. 

17. San Francisco 49ers

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    Receivers: Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Jalen Hurd, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Jordan Matthews, Richie James Jr., Max McCaffrey, Shawn Poindexter, Malik Henry

    Tight Ends: George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Levine Toilolo, Kaden Smith, Ross Dwelley, Tyree Mayfield

    George Kittle is amazing. The 49ers star set an NFL record for tight ends last season with 1,377 receiving yards.

    But he can't carry the entire offense. 

    San Francisco is still searching for a wide receiver capable of filling a featured role. Pettis and Goodwin both shined at points in 2018, but they've also dealt with injuries. 

    Enter Samuel. The 49ers chose the rookie target with the 36th overall pick, and he's an ideal fit in Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme. 

    "Look at his body [5'11", 214 lbs]," the head coach told reporters. "Look how he runs with the ball. It hurts for people to tackle him. It doesn't hurt him as bad. That's a physical receiver, to me, and a big guy and when you have the hands like that and you have the speed [4.48-second 40-yard dash]." 

    The potential at wide receiver is present; it just needs to blossom.

16. New England Patriots

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    Receivers: Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Dontrelle Inman, Matthew Slater, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski

    Tight Ends: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ben Watson, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, Matt LaCosse, Andrew Beck

    Attrition occurs after championship runs, though not often in the way the New England Patriots lost talent. 

    The greatest tight end of all time, Rob Gronkowski, retired. The Josh Gordon experiment ended before the franchise's latest Super Bowl run. Neither player can be replaced. 

    However, the Patriots will find new ways to move the ball effectively. 

    Edelman is basically uncoverable. In his last 16 contests between the regular season and playoffs, the slot receiver caught 105 passes for 1,325 yards and six touchdowns, as Rotoworld's Evan Silva noted. 

    Head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick even did the unthinkable—he drafted a first-round wide receiver for the first time. Harry, like the veteran additions of Thomas and Inman, should provide the team with a bigger target who can out-physical defensive backs. 

    The tight end position will never be the same, but Seferian-Jenkins hasn't tapped into his full potential. Meanwhile, Watson is still capable, even at 38 years old.

15. Green Bay Packers

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    Receivers: Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Trevor Davis, J'Mon Moore, Jake Kumerow, Jawill Davis, Allen Lazard, Teo Redding, Darrius Shepherd

    Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Evan Baylis, Davis Koppenhaver

    Personnel shuffling almost always ensues when a new coach implements a different system. 

    For the Green Bay Packers, Adams will remain the scheme's top option under new head coach Matt LaFleur. The 26-year-old wide receiver is a two-time Pro Bowl performer coming off of a 1,386-yard campaign. Other roles haven't been determined—specifically slot receiver after Randall Cobb's departure. 

    "They can be [interchangeable]," LaFleur said, per the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Oates. "I think it's, are you asking the guy to run a choice route or are you asking him to take the top off and run a vertical route? That's why I think it's important to assemble your receiving corps similar to how you would a basketball team."

    Allison, Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown, Davis and Moore all have a chance to expand their roles. If the team's young wide receivers don't respond, quarterback Aaron Rodgers can always throw to the 32-year-old Graham. 

14. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Receivers: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, John Ross, Cody Core, Josh Malone, Auden Tate, Kermit Whitfield, Stanley Morgan, Hunter Sharp, Damion Willis, Ventell Bryant

    Tight Ends: Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Cethan Carter, Jordan Franks, Mason Schreck, Moritz Böhringer

    A.J. Green might be the most excited man in professional football thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals' decision to fire Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons and hire Zac Taylor as head coach. 

    "I'm so excited to be a part of that offense, that high-flying, down-the-field, big-chunks offense, man, I just can't wait," Green said, per the Sporting News' Thomas Lott. "With Zac, he's an unbelievable teacher, very intelligent guy the way he teaches us."

    Green battled a toe injury last year that cost him seven games. His health is of the utmost importance because the 30-year-old target could post significant numbers in a wide-open attack. His return will also give the Bengals an impressive one-two punch since Boyd developed into a 1,000-yard receiver. 

    Eifert's health is also less of a concern after Uzomah re-signed and the organization drafted Sample with a second-round pick. 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers, Johnny Holton, Tevin Jones, Trey Griffey, Diontae Spencer

    Tight Ends: Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader, Christian Scotland-Williamson, Trevor Wood

    Let the Smith-Schuster era begin.

    Antonio Brown is no longer a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is both a positive and negative. The Steelers wanted to rid the organization of a malcontent. At the same time, it traded away the league's most productive wide receiver. Furthermore, Brown's presence demanded a certain level of respect. 

    Smith-Schuster posted big numbers last season with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards. How he handles added attention will define how good Pittsburgh's receiving corps really is, because Moncrief, Washington and Johnson are unknowns. 

    Moncrief signed as a free agent, but he hasn't had a single standout campaign. Washington needs to show he can handle the speed of the game after a disappointing rookie season. Johnson is an incoming rookie with plenty of potential, but he needs to establish himself first. 

    McDonald does provide a physical presence at tight end if none of the secondary receiver options develop as expected. 

12. Oakland Raiders

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    Receivers: Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris, Hunter Renfrow, Ryan Grant, Keon Hatcher, Saeed Blacknall, Rico Gafford, Keelan Doss, Brian Burt

    Tight Ends: Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Luke Willson, Derek Carrier, Paul Butler

    The Oakland Raiders entered the offseason with a simple, albeit grand plan. 

    "We don't want to have a good receiving corps, I want to have the best receiving corps in football, and I think in order to have the best you have to have the best, and in my opinion we added the best wide receiver in football," head coach Jon Gruden said, per Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith

    Of course, Gruden is speaking of Brown's acquisition. No one can touch Brown's production over the last six seasons (686 receptions for 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns). But the front office didn't stop there. 

    Williams posted a 1,059-yard season in 2016 when opportunities arose due to injuries. Now, he'll serve as the Raiders' No. 2 target. 

    Nelson is a speed demon to stretch opposing defenses. 

    Oakland's biggest downfall is uncertainty at tight end. Jared Cook led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns last season, but he signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. 

11. Los Angeles Chargers

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    Receivers: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Geremy Davis, Artavis Scott, Andre Patton, Dylan Cantrell, Justice Liggins, Jason Moore, Trevion Thompson

    Tight Ends: Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Sean Culkin, Vince Mayle, Matt Sokol, Daniel Helm

    Allen is already one of the league's premier wide receivers, as he's had 199 receptions and 2,589 yards over the last two seasons. Williams could find himself in similar territory. 

    "He had a great year for us," general manager Tom Telesco told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, "but we’re also in an offense where we have a lot of guys to get the football to, so he didn’t have 80, 90 or 100 catches, but he has that type of ability."

    The 2017 seventh overall pick caught 66 passes for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season. Plus, his target share should increase after Tyrell Williams signed with the Oakland Raiders in free agency. 

    Benjamin will continue in his role as a vertical threat. Henry is also back, healthy and running well after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. 

10. Indianapolis Colts

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    Receivers: T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Chester Rogers, Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain, Krishawn Hogan, Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Jordan Veasy, Steve Ishmael, Penny Hart, Ashton Dulin

    Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Ross Travis, Gabe Holmes, Billy Brown, Hale Hentges

    Chris Ballard has worked wonders as the Indianapolis Colts' general manager. The organization continues to build an impressive group of talented players through smart decisions. 

    Of course, the Colts already had Hilton on the roster, which significantly helps. The four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver averaged 1,206 receiving yards over the last six seasons. His consistency provides Indianapolis with a go-to target.

    The rest of the cast improved around Hilton. Indianapolis placed a priority on signing Funchess as a free agent. 

    "When I watch his tape, what I see is a big man (6'4" and 225 pounds) who is really athletic," head coach Frank Reich told reporters

    Campbell's 4.31-second 40-yard-dash speed should complement Hilton's route running and Funchess' size. 

    Plus, the team can rely on its two talented tight ends, Ebron and Doyle. At this time a year ago, Ebron was a first-round disappointment. He resurrected his career by posting a 13-touchdown effort in his first year with the Colts. 

9. Los Angeles Rams

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    Receivers: Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, JoJo Natson, KhaDarel Hodge, Austin Proehl, Nsimba Webster, Johnathan Lloyd, Jalen Greene, Alex Bachman

    Tight Ends: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt, Keenan Brown, Kendall Blanton, Romello Brooker

    The Los Angeles Rams offense evolved into a unit heavily reliant on 11 personnel (three receivers and one tight end). In fact, Sean McVay's scheme used 11 personnel on a league-leading 87 percent of last season's snaps, according to Sharp Football Stat's Warren Sharp

    Thus, a heavy burden falls on the receivers when the same look is provided, yet they're still required to get open through numerous different route combinations. 

    Woods and Cooks were the NFL's leading duo with 2,423 combined receiving yards. Kupp is quarterback Jared Goff's favorite target, but the slot receiver suffered a torn ACL in Week 10. Reynolds stepped in with 29 receptions for 402 yards. 

    Tight end is a glaring hole found within the scheme. Both Higbee and Everett are solid contributors, but neither forces a defense to account for his presence. The position becomes an afterthought at times. 

8. Minnesota Vikings

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Receivers: Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, Dillon Mitchell, Olabisi Johnson, Jordan Taylor, Jeff Badet, Chad Beebe, Brandon Zylstra, Alexander Hollins, Davion Davis

    Tight Ends: Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., David Morgan, Tyler Conklin, Cole Hikutini, Brandon Dillon

    Thielen and Diggs are one of two returning wide receiver duos to both top 1,000-receiving yards last season. Those two are the certainties within the Vikings offense. The uncertainties could make the difference this fall. 

    Minnesota lacks a true third receiver. Treadwell is a disappointment after Minnesota selected him a 2016 first-round pick. The 23-year-old target managed 35 receptions for 302 yards in his third year. 

    Tight end can be considered a strength if the Vikings retain Rudolph, which isn't a given. The nine-year veteran has been the subject of trade rumors. Minnesota could release him. Talk of a contract extension hasn't gone away, either.

    With Rudolph and Smith on the field together, the Vikings offense would look quite different. 

    "It's something, an element that we've never had here in my nine years being here," Rudolph said, per ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin. "It forces defenses to play with three linebackers, and that allows us to control the game." 

7. Houston Texans

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, Keke Coutee, DeAndre Carter, Vyncint Smith, Jester Weah, Isaac Whitney, Steven Mitchell Jr., Johnnie Dixon, Tyron Johnson, Stephen Louis, Floyd Allen

    Tight Ends: Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, Darren Fells, Kahale Warring, Jerell Adams

    The Houston Texans may have trouble protecting Deshaun Watson, but the quarterback has a plethora of weapons at his disposal if he stays upright. 

    Hopkins staked his claim last season to be named the NFL's best wide receiver. Only the Texans target finished top five overall in receptions (115), receiving yardage (1,572) and receiving touchdowns (11). To top it off, Hopkins didn't drop a single pass, according to Pro Football Focus

    Fuller is a dynamic second option. However, he's recovering from a torn ACL. Coutee struggled as a rookie, though the Texans expect more from the speedster in his second campaign. 

    "You never know what he's going to do with the ball in his hands," Watson said of Coutee, per NFL Network's James Palmer

    Tight end is especially deep. Akins and Thomas are both big and athletic targets. Fells is a veteran in-line blocker. Houston invested a third-round pick in Warring. Expect plenty of two-tight end sets.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    Receivers: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Charles Johnson, Braxton Miller, Greg Ward, DeAndre Thompkins, Marken Michel, Carlton Agudosi

    Tight Ends: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Will Tye, Joshua Perkins

    A few special offensive attacks are driven by their tight ends. Not many at the position can excel as a No. 1 target because few have the combination of size, athleticism and speed needed to be a consistent mismatch. Zach Ertz, though, thrives as the league's best pass-catching tight end. In fact, the two-time Pro Bowl performer finished second overall in receptions and set an NFL record for tight ends last season with 116 catches. 

    "I said I wanted to be one of the best to ever play the tight end position, not only in this organization, but anywhere," Ertz said, per Philly.com's Paul Domowitch. "… People are saying there are one or two guys that are better than me. My goal is to be the best. So I have a huge chip on my shoulder going into this year."

    Ertz might be Carson's Wentz's favorite target, but the Philadelphia Eagles receivers are quite talented. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor combined for 1,579 yards last season. Backup tight end Dallas Goedert managed 33 receptions in his first year. Plus, the organization re-acquired DeSean Jackson, who is still a premier vertical threat, and drafted the J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in this year's second round. 

5. New Orleans Saints

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    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    Receivers: Michael Thomas, Tre'Quan Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Austin Carr, Cameron Meredith, Travin Dural, Simmie Cobbs, Keith Kirkwood, Cyril Grayson Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Deonte Harris, Emmanuel Butler

    Tight Ends: Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Dan Arnold, Garrett Griffin, Alize Mack

    "Can't guard Mike" isn't just a witty Twitter handle; NFL defenses can't guard Thomas.

    The New Orleans Saints' top target led the league last season with 125 receptions. Two traits make Thomas so effective. First, the receiver rarely drops balls. Second, he creates after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas forced the third-most (17) missed tackles among wide receivers last season. 

    The offense's secondary options are questionable. Smith is an interesting developmental receiver, while Ginn enters his 13th season. Cook's free-agent acquisition makes all the difference after the tight end made his first career Pro Bowl in 2018. 

    "I think he gives us a threat opposite of Mike," head coach Sean Payton said of Cook, per ESPN.com's Mike Triplett

    "I think he can run. I think he's a really good receiver in space. I think he does a good job with his yards after the catch." 

4. Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Receivers: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins, Damion Ratley, Derrick Willies, Jaelen Strong, Dorian Baker, Ishmael Hyman, Blake Jackson, D.J. Montgomery, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi

    Tight Ends: David Njoku, Demetrius Harris, Seth DeValve, Pharaoh Brown, Stephen Carlson

    On paper, the Cleveland Browns already feature an elite receiving corps. Potential only goes so far, though. 

    Beckham and Landry are arguably the league's best wide receiver duo, though we won't be sure until they take the field. Beckham became the fastest player to reach 5,000 receiving yards in the Super Bowl era. Landry set the record for the most receptions (481) through his first five seasons. 

    The rest of the group must develop to make this top-five group the best the NFL has to offer. 

    Callaway enters his sophomore season as a dynamic downfield threat, albeit still learning his craft. Higgins is a Baker Mayfield favorite. Njoku is a big-bodied and athletic tight end who already scares defenses with his ability to run the seam and create red-zone mismatches. 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Receivers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Scotty Miller, Bobo Wilson, DaMarkus Lodge, Anthony Johnson, K.J. Brent, Bryant Mitchell, Spencer Schnell, Cortrelle Simpson

    Tight Ends: O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Donnie Ernsberger, Antony Auclair, Jordan Leggett, Tanner Hudson

    Two of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' biggest 2018 producers at wide receiver are no longer with the organization. Adam Humphries left via free agency and the front office traded veteran DeSean Jackson.

    It's a still potent group. 

    The 6'5", 231-pound Evans is a matchup nightmare. The 25-year-old wide receiver finished third overall last season with 1,524 receiving yards and second with 26 receptions of 20-plus yards. 

    Evans' running mate, Godwin, played extremely well in the second half with three 100-plus-yard games. He's in line for a breakout campaign, courtesy of an increased target share. 

    Perriman, meanwhile, experienced a career revival in Cleveland last season. 

    The tight ends make the difference for the Buccaneers. Both Howard and Brate are difficult to handle in the passing game. The two combined for 11 touchdown receptions last season. No team features a better duo.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Receivers: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Marcus Kemp, Gehrig Dieter, Jamal Custis, Felton Davis, Rashard Davis, Davon Grayson, Cody Thompson

    Tight Ends: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Deon Yelder, John Phillips, David Wells, Joe Fortson

    The Kansas City Chiefs' receiving corps could be ranked No. 1 overall after last season's offensive explosion. But the unit remains in limbo because of Hill's uncertain status. A criminal case involving Hill was reopened after KCTV5 obtained a recording that appears to have Hill's fiancee, Crystal Espinal, paraphrase their three-year-old son by saying "Daddy did it" in regards how the boy suffered a broken arm.

    "We will not interfere (with the court proceeding)," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday, per The MMQB's Albert Breer. "The priority here is the young child."

    On the field, Hill is the game's most dynamic receiving threat. His speed is second-to-none, which led to 1,479 yards at 17 yards per reception. But the Chiefs don't know if he'll be available this season. Right now, he's still on the roster, but the second overall ranking reflects the uncertainty. Hill is weighted as a partial inclusion since a suspension is expected, even if he's cleared. A year-long suspension or release would drop the Chiefs out of top 10 altogether. 

    Besides Hill, the Chiefs do have other talented targets. Kelce is arguably the NFL's best tight after Rob Gronkowski's retirement. Sammy Watkins can create big plays. General manager Brett Veach traded up in the second round to acquire Mecole Hardman, whose skill set is similar to Hill's. 

1. Atlanta Falcons

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    Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

    Receivers: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Devin Gray, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus, C.J. Worton, Kahlil Lewis, Shawn Bane

    Tight Ends: Austin Hooper, Logan Paulsen, Eric Saubert, Luke Stocker, Alex Gray, Jaeden Graham

    While other areas of the Atlanta Falcons organization deteriorated since the team's Super Bowl LI berth, the receiving corps remains as strong as ever. 

    Julio Jones is the standard by which all incoming wide receivers are judged. The 6'3", 220-pound target amassed at least 1,409 receiving yards in each of the last five seasons, including leading the league in the category twice. Last season, Jones topped all receivers with 1,677 yards. 

    One superstar doesn't make an entire unit, though. 

    Sanu is a consistent and reliable No. 2 target. He set a career high last year with 838 receiving yards. Ridley, whom the Falcons selected 26th overall in the 2018 draft, led all rookies with 821 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. Hooper ranked fourth among tight ends with 71 receptions. 

    The Falcons feature the league's most complete receiving corps. 


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