- Which teams are set for the time being with their group of receivers and who will be looking to draft at the position in a few short weeks? Let’s take stock of each team’s wideout depth chart, considering cost, age, production and other factors.
Welcome back to our Friday staple, the pre-draft position rankings. If you’ve been following along, we’ve done quarterbacks and running backs each of the past two weeks. It’s been great to hear all the feedback, and to argue with some of you on a (hopefully) vanishing social media platform (what ever happened to long-winded emails or angry hand-written notes sent to the office?).
I think receiver needs will be interesting to gauge heading into the draft. NFL Network’s lead scout, Daniel Jeremiah, said that only one receiver may go in the first round. But … it makes you think a little differently when you start looking at the teams falling 15 and below on this list. While it’s true that you don’t need a brand-name group of receivers to win, you need enough talent to manipulate a defense.
As an explainer here: Because rosters are bigger this time of year and teams can carry a lot of wideouts, we took the four highest-paid wideouts on each team in most cases. And, as usual, we’re looking at the big picture here. Cost, age and production all factor in (the money listed after each team name is the amount each team has in active contracts at the position relative to their total spending).
Love our order? Hate it? Be sure to find me on Twitter @jjones9.
1. Cleveland Browns ($36.2 / $202.1 million)
Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway
Realize I’m going to get killed for this, but these are two of the best talents in the league right now, playing with a budding star at quarterback, a sought-after offensive coordinator and their collegiate position coach.
2. Atlanta Falcons ($25.9 / $184.9 million)
Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy
Ridley’s strong rookie campaign adds the punch that pushes them over the edge. A $2.4 million cap hit next year, and a long-term plan to develop behind Jones, one of the best receivers of his generation.
3. Minnesota Vikings ($25.4 / $191.2 million)
Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Chad Beebe
I would make a comment like, man if they could only get more out of Treadwell, but how many targets are there going around? Both Thielen and Diggs are incredibly productive and hover at the 70% catch mark.
4. Houston Texans ($21.3 / $176.7 million)
DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee, Vyncint Smith
A killer to see Fuller sidelined last year, but his return and Hopkins’s continued rise still makes this a daunting tandem. Crazy to think that Hopkins will be only 27 years old this year.
5. New Orleans Saints ($12.9 / $171.2 million)
Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn Jr., Michael Thomas, Tre’quan Smith
Enjoy having an entire group of receivers including Michael Thomas for less than $13 million a year while you still can. Three straight 1,000-yard seasons, plus an almost-there set of complementary receivers.
6. Los Angeles Rams ($26.8 / $183.7 million)
Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds
Losing Kupp was devastating for the Rams a year ago—he was on pace for more than 100 catches, 12 touchdowns and 1,000-plus yards. At a cap hit of just over $1 million, he’s the bang-for-the-buck that drives the Rams so high on this list.
7. Kansas City Chiefs ($26.3 / 167.8 million)
Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Tyreek Hill, Sammie Coates
Stressing that this is a list made for right now. Hill headlines a group that is just solid. Watkins still has the sheen to be a great player. Matchup problems everywhere here and a certified game-breaker for under $2 million.
8. Oakland Raiders ($31 / $166.8 million)
Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Dwayne Harris, Ryan Grant
This unit doesn’t come cheap. Oakland needs pieces to make this happen, like a real noise-maker at tight end, and Brown has had a mercurial offseason to say the least. But the combination of Brown and Williams is tough on paper right now. What makes me hesitant? Price and age.
9. Los Angeles Chargers ($27.5 / $178.5 million)
Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Geremy Davis
Anthony Lynn and the Chargers found more interesting ways to use this group last year than teams were ready for. Williams needs a huge season, though, in year three to legitimize the hype.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($27.2 / $201.6 million)
Mike Evans, Breshad Perriman, Chris Godwin, Justin Watson
We’re probably underselling the Buccaneers. Evans alone should elevate this team higher and I have a feeling new coach Bruce Arians is going to punish us for it. The continued development of Godwin is a big story here.
11. Cincinnati Bengals ($26.6 / $178.4 million)
A.J. Green, John Ross, Alex Erickson, Tyler Boyd
Zac Taylor has to get something out of John Ross, and maybe he will if the Bengals end up not trading him. While Green’s best years may be in the past, it’s impossible to drop him any lower. His second act may have us all looking foolish.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers ($9.3 / $182.1 million)
Donte Moncreif, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Eli Rodgers
This is a value nod more than anything. Under $10 million for a solid No. 2 receiver heading into his year 26 season, and Smith-Schuster, whose stellar second season was so good, the Steelers kicked Antonio Brown to the curb.
13. Indianapolis Colts ($32.5 / $189.3 million)
T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Chester Rodger, James Wright
Yes, this is a lot of money for Hilton and friends, but it would be a disservice not to show the proper respect for one of the league’s most quietly consistent players. The Colts spent big on Funchess, hoping a different system can turn him around. It’s a bet I like.
14. Philadelphia Eagles ($31.6 / $175.2 million)
Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson, Mack Hollins
I think DeSean Jackson is going to forever be the receiver slipping behind the defense for that devastating 74-yard touchdown. A veteran group, though, that should get more production from Jeffery.
15. New England Patriots ($13.6 / $180.3 million)
Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Bruce Ellington
I know, but where else do you put them? The Patriots always seem to be scrambling for wide receivers late in the season, but the fact that Julian Edelman only has a $5.4 million cap hit is insane. He’s easily worth three times that, even on the other side of his career. They're going to be in the Super Bowl, so leave me alone.
16. Dallas Cowboys ($29.2 / $185 million)
Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin
The Cooper trade paid dividends, and he’s still a year away from the extension that makes him a luxury item few teams can afford. His presence re-routed Dallas’ offense last year. The addition of Cobb was a smart move.
17. Green Bay Packers ($18.1 / $181.3 million)
Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown
A unit full of interesting developmental players. Aaron Rodgers has a lot to do with pulling them up early, but the Packers could use a little more juice here.
18. New York Giants ($15.3 / $156.5 million)
Golden Tate, Corey Coleman, Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer
I’m going to get killed for this, too, but I kind of like what the Giants did post-Beckham. If you’re going to compete, Tate was the guy to get for this system. Shepard’s extension (four years, $41 million) isn’t bad either.
19. Chicago Bears ($29.8 / $185.6 million)
Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Anthony Miller
Patterson is scary in Matt Nagy’s offense—another speed mismatch to sweep across the line. Robinson will be just 26 heading into this season.
20. Detroit Lions ($18.2 / $170.5 million)
Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Tomylee Lewis, Kenny Golladay
I think the addition of Amendola helps Jones and Golladay immensely. Few receivers understand the subtleties of legal traffic better.
21. Seattle Seahawks ($27.4 / $173.9 million)
Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Amara Darboh
Slim pickings if Baldwin decides to hang it up. No matter what, he’ll be regarded as one of the most underrated receivers of his era; a person who developed a special relationship with Russell Wilson on the field.
22. New York Jets ($18.7 / $175.5 million)
Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Josh Bellamy
Crowder will be big for Sam Darnold, and having Le’Veon Bell toting the ball will mean more chances for Robby Anderson to stun a defense deep.
23. Carolina Panthers ($13.5 / $194.9 million)
Torrey Smith, D.J. Moore, Jarius Wright, Curtis Samuel
Some more imagination when it comes to Samuel could elevate this unit into the teens. Cam Newton could always use more weapons.
24. Tennessee Titans ($18.1 / $187.5 million)
Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor
Davis is on his way. A lot of youth here, and a higher ceiling than some units.
25. Arizona Cardinals ($19.1 / $162.3 million)
Larry Fitzgerald, Kevin White, Christian Kirk, Chad Williams
A group that could make us look insane should they put up big numbers with Kliff Kingsbury in year one.
26. San Francisco 49ers ($10.3 / $193.1 million)
Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor
The strength of this team will be the openings they create with the run. Still, the 49ers aren’t hiding the fact that they’d like to upgrade.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars ($13.8 / $167.7 million)
Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook
It doesn’t cost much and there is some upside. Conley adds a presence here along with Westbrook, whose numbers could look much better with Nick Foles.
28. Miami Dolphins ($25.1 / $122.1 million)
Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, DeVante Parker, Brice Butler
I think this group oddly suits Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is going to be a rambling Dolphins team in 2019, but one that will have their fair share of explosive plays.
29. Denver Broncos ($18 / $167.6 million)
Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Daesean Hamilton, Aaron Burbidge
Sanders is 32 years old with a cap hit near $13 million. His last 1,000-yard season was in 2016. Does Joe Flacco change that?
30. Buffalo Bills ($23 / $170 million)
John Brown, Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts, Zay Jones
Buffalo did what they could this offseason. It’s not perfect, but Josh Allen is in a better place than he was a year ago.
31. Washington Redskins ($14.6 / $184.9 million)
Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Tre McBride, Brian Quick
Washington is in a strange spot where drafting both receiver and quarterback atop the draft make a lot of sense.
32. Baltimore Ravens ($9.3 / $154.8 million)
Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Jaleel Scott, Jordan Lasley
Snead was their leading receiver a year ago and went 62/651/1. Michael Crabtree is also gone. John Brown is in Buffalo.
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WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Brian Burns is ready for the NFL. … One and done? A next-level interesting story from Jenny Vrentas at a time when the conversation is kicking up again. … Kenny Stills on why he kneels, and why he never stops learning.
1. Could the Cardinals already be negotiating a no-baseball deal for Kyler Murray?
2. Bill Belichick on draft day trades, definitely worth listening to.
3. Ramon Foster: Head of Media Relations in Pittsburgh?
4. Pro Football Focus’ big board is here.
5. A non-NFL headline: “A new hominid species has been found in a Philippine cave…”
Taxes are filed. The draft is 13 days away. Time to get nuts.
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