Ranking the NFL's Top 5 QB-WR Duos Entering 2021
The modern NFL is dominated by high-powered passing games. A handful of teams with elite quarterbacks and wide receivers will continue dominating in 2021.
It often takes years for quarterbacks and receivers to develop trust and timing, but a few new pairings immediately established chemistry this season. In doing so, they propelled their teams to new heights.
To determine the best duos in the league, we're largely examining the production and playmaking ability of both the quarterbacks and receivers. We'll also take into account how defenses have been handling them as of late and how long they've played together.
Take a look at the five best quarterback-receiver duos heading into the 2021 season.
5. Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have had plenty of weapons for Russell Wilson over the years, but DK Metcalf may be the most exciting.
Wilson is having one of the best seasons of his career, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 4,031 yards, 38 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. While the 32-year-old signal-caller isn't the favorite in the MVP race, the emergence of Metcalf is largely responsible for his uptick in production.
In 15 games this year, Metcalf has caught 80 passes for 1,282 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection. The 6'4", 229-pound wideout physically overpowers most defensive backs, and his top-end speed helps him make explosive plays deep down the field.
While the duo should be making plays for years to come, Metcalf might not be as dominant in 2021. Defenses are starting to do a better job preparing for him, as evidenced by him being held to 80 or fewer receiving yards in six of his past seven games. He's had only one reception over 20 yards over the past four games.
Metcalf should still have some big games against weaker defenses in 2021, but he may not be consistent enough to help him and Wilson dominate like some of the other duos featured here.
4. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are in the playoff hunt with one game left to play, but they wouldn't be there without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.
Murray has become even more of a dual-threat playmaker in 2020 after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. He's tallied 4,700 total yards with 26 passing touchdowns and another 11 on the ground, helping him make the Pro Bowl in only his second season.
The Cardinals gave Murray a new No. 1 option in Hopkins, whom they acquired from Houston in March along with a fourth-round pick for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and their 2021 fourth-round pick. During his first year in Arizona, Hopkins has caught 111 passes for 1,372 yards and six touchdowns.
The two have established a strong connection despite playing with each other for less than a year. That was highlighted best by their miraculous Hail Mary that gave them a dramatic victory over the Buffalo Bills.
That connection should only improve with more time together in Kliff Kingsbury's offense. As long as Murray continues to develop, he and Hopkins should help the Cardinals remain playoff contenders in 2021.
3. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has taken another huge step in his development this year, in large part thanks to the addition of Stefon Diggs.
Allen went from a solid quarterback in 2019 to a Pro Bowler this season. His completion percentage jumped from 58.8 last season to 68.7 this year, and he's thrown for 4,320 yards and 34 touchdowns while adding another eight TDs on the ground.
Diggs was also selected to his first Pro Bowl this year, hauling in a career-high 120 receptions for 1,459 yards and eight touchdowns.
After showing off elite arm strength in college, Allen's accuracy and ball placement have improved dramatically this season. That, combined with elite route running from Diggs, has turned the Bills duo into one of the hardest for opposing defenses to slow down.
The connection between Diggs and Allen should only get stronger moving forward. Buffalo acquired Diggs via trade Diggs in March, but the lack of a traditional preseason didn't give him and Allen a normal offseason to work on their timing together.
With both players fresh off their first Pro Bowl seasons, Allen and Diggs should take another big step forward in 2021.
2. Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
When it comes to explosive playmakers, no duo has made more big plays over the past few seasons than Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mahomes currently leads the NFL with 4,740 passing yards, and he's thrown 38 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Hill has continued to be a big-play threat, catching 87 passes for 1,276 yards while finding the end zone 15 times through the air and twice on the ground.
Mahomes and Hill have strong numbers that stack up well compared to the NFL's other top duos. What gives them the edge over most of their competition is their ability to stretch the field vertically. With Mahomes' elite arm strength and Hill's explosiveness, the two regularly generate big plays by going over the top of the defense.
Hill will turn 27 this offseason, and Mahomes will be 26 in September, so the two are still young enough that they shouldn't show any signs of regression in 2021. The main reason that they aren't the top duo here is that there are too many mouths to feed in the Chiefs offense with Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Mecole Hardman also on the roster next year.
Even with the Chiefs getting so many players involved, Mahomes and Hill continue to generate big plays on an almost weekly basis, and that shouldn't stop next year.
1. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
After another dominant performance on Sunday Night Football, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have cemented their spot as the top quarterback-receiver duo heading into 2021.
Rodgers has cemented his status as the MVP favorite with 4,059 passing yards and a league-high 44 touchdowns. Adams has been his primary target, catching 109 passes for 1,328 yards and a NFL-best 17 touchdowns.
Adams has put up those numbers despite missing two games this season, putting him in the conversation as the best receiver in the NFL. His connection with Rodgers has been historic over the years, and the two broke a franchise record Sunday for most completions between a quarterback and wide receiver.
With a top-tier receiver and a possible three-time MVP at quarterback, Rodgers and Adams should continue to be the best duo in the league next season. Their second year in Matt LaFleur's offensive system has helped them lead the top scoring offense in the NFL, and another offseason should help the coaching staff find more ways to help them attack opposing defenses.
Even if the two don't make another big leap in 2021, Rodgers and Adams will be the league's top QB-WR duo if they play just as well as they did this year.