The wide receiver position. One that is always entertaining and is the source of one of the most active debates in the league today.
The start of the 2017 season is several weeks away but it’s only right that since the NFL is a passing league (an often used cliche to describe the league today), we pinpoint the best of the best among wide receiver combos in the NFL today. What goes into effect for these rankings? Of course productivity and consistency. It’s a tough list to develop but it’s time to dive right into it.
Terrelle Pryor/Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins – This one-two punch has the potential to be lethal and very well maneuver themselves into this top 10 list. In Pryor’s first full season as a wide receiver in 2016, the 6’6 pass catcher hauled in 77 catches and four touchdowns in Cleveland while Crowder led Washington in touchdown catches with seven. A nice combination of power, speed, and craftiness between the two.
Alshon Jeffrey/Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles – A duo that was put together this offseason as a result of free agency signings for both. When the two are healthy, they are dynamic in their own right. Jeffrey has battled injuries the past two seasons but has at least 52 catches and 15 yards per catch in each of the past four seasons while Smith has averaged at least 17 yards per catch in four of his six professional seasons.
DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller, Houston Texans – Hopkins on his own is a top five receiver in the league and if Fuller reaches his potential has a deep threat over the course of his career, this can be a top five duo also. Despite inadequacy at quarterback in 2016, the two combined for 125 catches and six touchdowns. Improved quarterback play and more experience for Fuller can vault this duo.
Golden Tate/Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions – The city of Detroit has a tough as nails perception and this duo fits that same mold. The two combined for 2,007 yards and eight touchdowns and helped the Lions offense rank 12th in the league in passing yards per game. Neither one will be mistaken as one of the best all-around wide receivers in the game but both are about has reliable as they come.
Jarvis Landry/Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins – One of the more underrated duos in the entire league. An ugly 1-4 start to the season in 2016 saw a turnaround thanks largely to a combination of Landry and Stills that combined for 150 catches, 1,880 yards, and six touchdowns. In just three seasons of work, Landry has been targeted 409 times, an incredible amount that shows his value to the team and it’s passing game. Both have age on their side (Landry is 24, Stills is 25) and in head coach Adam Gase’s offense, can put up even better numbers in 2017.
Top 10 Wide Receiver Duos
10. Michael Thomas/Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints – The play of these two ultimately led to the Saints moving on from receiver Brandin Cooks in the offseason. Thomas led the Saints in catches and receiving touchdowns as a rookie in 2016 with 92 and nine respectively. Thomas also was sixth in the league in receiving first downs with 62. Snead has reeled in 141 catches the past two seasons and caught 69.2% of his targets in 2016. Two big bodied receivers that give quarterback Drew Brees reliable options.
9. Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has received a hefty payday as of late and he owes a great portion of his appreciation to the talented set of receivers he has in Cooper and Crabtree. Cooper was 10th in the league in receiving yards per game at 72.1 ypg while Crabtree was 10th in the league in receiving first downs with 56. Combined, the two hauled in 172 receptions, 2,156 yards, and 13 touchdowns.
8. Dez Bryant/Terrence Williams, Dallas Cowboys – Bryant has battled injuries the last two seasons but when completely healthy, Bryant is without a doubt one of the best in the NFL today. This past season. Williams has been a typical #2 receiver to Bryant over the past four seasons and reached in a career year during the 2015 season. Bryant’s health can dictate how far this duo can go in terms of production and the success of the Cowboys.
7. Julian Edelman/Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots – Arguably the league’s best quarterback had the services of a dynamic slot receiver in Julian Edelman, who was fourth in the league in receptions with 98. Now Tom Brady has a receiver in Cooks who has totaled 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns the past two seasons in New Orleans. Having Cooks and Edelman on the same offense is absolutely unfair.
6. Julio Jones/Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons – Possessing out-of-this-world talent, Julio Jones has a legitimate case as the best receiver in the NFL. Jones missed two games but was still second in the league in receiving yards with 1,409. Sanu set a career-high this season in receptions with 59 and his highest catch percentage of his career (72.8%). The league’s most dynamic offense in 2016 benefitted from a duo that combined for 2,062 yards and 10 touchdowns.
5. Mike Evans/DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Once the Bucs acquired Jackson this offseason, it changed the dynamic of the entire Bucs offense considerably. Evans is fresh off a career-year in which he obtained career-highs in catches (96), yards (1,321), and touchdowns (12) while Jackson has averaged 16 yards a catch in seven of the last eight seasons. Jackson provides the dangerous speed for the Bucs offense while Evans brings the physicality and pure mismatch ability. The two have made the Buccaneers a serious playoff contender.
4. Odell Beckham Jr./Brandon Marshall, New York Giants – Having Beckham and Marshall on the same team in the Big Apple will sure to produce an abundance of headlines. Combined, they will sure to make a great deal of production in the Giants offense. Beckham became the first receiver in NFL history with 80 catches and t,000 yards in his first three seasons and now he has a six-time Pro Bowler as a teammate. Even with his success, Eli Manning may be the best quarterback that Marshall has ever played with. Things have gotten even more interesting in the city that never sleeps.
3. Antonio Brown/Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers – This pairing deserves an asterisk based on Bryant being suspended for the 2016 season due to a league drug policy violation. Nonetheless, when the two are on the field, the Steelers seem to take the description of ‘dangerous’ to another level. Brown is staring Julio Jones eye-to-eye in the “Best WR in the league” debate. In 2015, the two combined for 186 catches and 16 touchdowns to help the Steelers rank third in total offense and third in passing. The two are back together this season and opposing defenses are fully aware.
2. Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos – Since becoming teammates prior to the 2014 season, this pair of receivers have eclipsed 1,000 yards apiece in each of the three seasons as teammates. Thomas has been voted to the past three Pro Bowlers while teammates with Sanders while the latter has been to two of the past three. While dealing with inconsistency at quarterback in 2016, the two combined for 169 catches, 2,115 yards and 10 touchdowns. Imagine how great this duo can truly be if the Broncos can stabilize the quarterback position.
1. Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers – Steady and consistent. Perfectly sums up the combo of Nelson & Cobb. In 2016, the two combined for 157 catches, 1,867 yards and 18 touchdowns and that was with Cobb missing three games due to injuries. Granted, the duo has a future Hall-of-Famer at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. What puts this duo over the top however is the fact that they have combined for 763 receptions since 2011. They have been great together for quite a while now.