Not Just 'a No. 1' — Tyreek Hill is the Best Receiver in Football

Tyreek Hill's speed can occasionally overshadow the rest of his game. On Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, everything was on full display.
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Tyreek Hill's speed can occasionally overshadow the rest of his game. On Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, everything was on full display

If Hill was looking to make a statement early in the game, it's safe to say he accomplished that goal. In the first quarter alone, the new league-leader in receiving yards had 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He went on to add another 66 yards and another touchdown the rest of the way. It was a clinic on how to torch a defense and an outrageous performance that invites a legitimate question.

Forget about being a No. 1 option, is Hill the No. 1 option in all of football? 

At the very least, Hill has a firm grasp on a seat at that metaphorical table. That part of the conversation should be over before it begins. Despite ranking 11th in receptions, Hill currently leads the league in both yards and touchdowns with 1,021 and 13, respectively. He's second to only Minnesota Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson in 20-plus yard receptions and is the runaway leader for receiving touchdowns of 30-plus yards since 2018. Still, there have been questions about his standing as one of the league's best all-around pass-catching threats. And Hill has taken notice.

DeAndre Hopkins' attention to detail, reliable hands and ability to high-point a football make him the reasonable pick for the "best wide receiver" title. Julio Jones' best days are likely behind him, but when he's on, he's still downright unguardable. Michael Thomas' streak of four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to open his career will almost surely be snapped this year, but those numbers are hard to argue against. Davante Adams is as pure a route-runner as we've seen in recent years. Where does Hill fit into that picture? Smack dab in the middle of it.

Many will use Hill's historically dominant speed against him when analyzing his overall skill set. While it's true that he's the most dangerous player in the world with the ball in his hands, that isn't the only reason he's so great. The idea that Hill feasts exclusively on speed after the catch isn't just lazy — it's flatly wrong. 

This year, 313 of Hill's receiving yards have come after the catch, which is just ninth among all wideouts. Adams and Hopkins are both ahead of him in that category.

Most of the damage Hill does is before he even gets the ball. The fact that he's at his best after the catch is both ridiculous and terrifying for opposing defenses. Just ask Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis.

Tampa Bay used a bold strategy on Sunday. They put Davis on an island with Hill and hoped for the best. It didn't work out, as giving Hill the opportunity to work one-on-one without safety help over the top is basically inviting quarterback Patrick Mahomes to collaborate with Hill as the two carve up the defense beyond recognition. Much like with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, doubling Hill is a borderline non-negotiable if a team even hopes to attempt to stop him. 

Hill's hands are also elite. His drop percentage has improved in each of the past three seasons, and he made some great adjustments to throws on Sunday, hauling in his 13 receptions in a variety of different ways. He can high-point the ball like Hopkins, too.

Hill has game-breaking speed and excellent hands. He runs crisp routes and creates separation in a way unsurpassed by anyone else in the sport. His ability to adjust to anything thrown his way, even when asked to out-leap defenders, is among the league's best. He just put up the most outstanding receiving performance of 2020.

Why isn't he the best receiver in the league, exactly?

If you want to split hairs among the Hopkins, Adams and Thomas class of the league's top wide receivers, so be it. But there's absolutely no excuse to leave Hill off that list any longer. Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees probably wouldn't trade their No. 1 receivers for any of the others. Mahomes certainly wouldn't either. 

"I’ll take my guys versus anybody," Mahomes said last week when looking ahead to the Buccaneers. "It’s as simple as that."

Take Mahomes' word for it. It's as simple as that.