Lest anyone worry that Calvin Johnson’s retirement left a dent in the NFL’s receiver talent ... nah. Sure, the overall level at that position may have taken a tiny dip when Megatron hung ’em up, but his career was on a slight downslope as it was. Even if he had come back for the 2016 season, Johnson would have had a difficult time climbing too high on the list of the league’s best outside receivers.
The absurd number of playmakers at receiver around the league is one of myriad reasons teams have trended toward more pass-happy approaches. If you have an elite gamebreaking weapon, why bury him in a moribund offense? The NFL is ripe with outside receiver talent, so much so that cropping this list where we did was a difficult task. Here’s how the players who made it stack up.
Just missed the cut
Mike Evans, Bucs: The only factor preventing Evans from being included in the top tier (and it’s a razon-thin margin keeping him out) is his search for consistency. After scoring 12 times during his outstanding rookie season, Evans found paydirt just three times last season despite 1,200 yards in 2015.
Next big thing
DeVante Parker, Dolphins: It took until late November last season, but Parker finally started to show why he was a top-15 pick in 2015. He can go up and get it on the outside and is a tough runner to bring down after the catch.