We are in the dog days of Summer, but the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. There are only 78 days left until week one of the NFL regular season. OTAs are over and the dust of free agency is settling. So which teams can we expect to have the best group of Wide Receivers going into 2017?
5- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mike Evans is one of the elite wide outs in the game. In 2016, his 3rd season, he caught 96 passes for 1,321 yards and 12 Touchdowns. Did I mention he is only 23 years old? The future is bright for Evans. The Bucs also signed DeSean Jackson this off season as the perfect compliment to Evans. Jackson averaged 17.9 yards per catch last season with the Redskins. Adam Humphries is the number 3 guy. He doesn’t have elite talent but he has shown the ability to put up numbers. In 2016, Humprhies had 55 catches for 620 yards. That’s all you need from your number three WR. Depth is an issue for the Bucs but they have two young Tight Ends to help carry the offensive load in 2017.
4- Pittsburgh Steelers- Antonio Brown is the leader of this group. Last season was Brown’s fourth in a row pulling in over 100 passes. He ended the year with 1,284 yards and 12 TDs. Brown is a game breaker and as consistent as they come. Also, Martavis Bryant is back! Bryant will rejoin the Steelers after being suspended for the entire 2016 campaign. In case you’ve forgotten what Bryant can do, let’s take a look at his numbers from the 2014 and 2015 seasons. As a rookie in 2014, he only caught 26 balls but totaled 550 yards (21.1 ypc) and EIGHT touchdowns! Oh, and he only played in 10 games. 2015 saw an uptick in catches with 50 for 765 yds and 6 TDs in only 11 games. If Bryant can play 16 games in 2017, the sky is the limit. Third year man Eli Rogers will be the slot man. In 13 games played in 2016, Rogers brought in 48 balls for 594 yds and 3 TDs. The Steelers may have the fastest group of receivers in the game, but can they keep all three guys on the field for an entire season?
3- New York Giants- The trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard is about as good as it gets in the NFL. OBJ is an electric player who puts his money where his mouth is. He’s had 90+ receptions, over 1,300 yards, and double digit TDs in each of his first three seasons in the league. Enough said. The Giants went out and added a proven veteran in Brandon Marshall this off season. Through 11 seasons in the NFL, Marshall has totaled 940 receptions, over 12,000 yards, and 82 Touchdowns. It’ll be interesting to see if OBJ and Marshall can co-exist in New York. The Giants invested a 2nd round pick in Sterling Shepard in the 2016 draft. As a rookie, he flashed his talent posting 8 TDs on 65 catches. The biggest question for the Giants; Will they get good Eli, or bad Eli?
2-New England Patriots- Once again, the rich get richer. The Pats added Brandin Cooks to go with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and promising 2nd year man Malcolm Mitchell. Cooks was acquired via trade with the Saints (one of the reasons New Orleans isn’t on the list). He had over 1,100 yards and 8 TDs in 2016 with the Saints and can take the top off the defense with his speed. Edelman is sneaky good and always gets open in the Patriots offensive system. He brought in 98 passes for 1,106 yards in 2016. Hogan goes deep and Mitchell is a possession receiver. Throw in Gronk and the Patriots could shatter passing records in 2017.
1- Green Bay Packers- The Packers take home the title of best WRs heading into 2017. Jordy Nelson returned from a torn ACL and posted 97 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 TDs last season. He hasn’t showed signs of slowing down. Davante Adams morphed into a legit number two WR in 2016, racking up 997 yards and 12 touchdowns on 75 catches. He has the physical skills to be the future number one guy in Green Bay when Jordy hangs it up. Randall Cobb had a “down year” in 2016 with only 4 TDs but he did bring in 60 catches for 610 yards. Not bad for a slot receiver. Rookie Geronimo Allison came on late in the year and showed flashes of brilliance, averaging 16.8 ypc. There’s no reason to believe Aaron Rodgers can’t make Allison better as he matures. The Packers will be an offensive juggernaut once again this Fall.
Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emannuel Sanders, Carlos Henderson)
Titans (Eric Decker, Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews)
Chargers (Keenan Allen, Tyrell William, Mike Williams)