Top 10 NFL wide receivers in 2022: Raiders’ Davante Adams, Vikings’ Justin Jefferson
Quarterbacks are all over the NFL headlines, but if one position made a play to become the new hot topic in 2022, it was wide receiver. This offseason has seen a number of big names change teams, and a handful of others cashed in on record deals. And it’s no wonder, considering how important a No. 1 wide receiver is in today’s game.
But which of the NFL’s wide receivers are truly the best going into 2022? We’re glad you asked, because we’ve categorized them.
What exactly were our criteria for sorting out the best of the best? We tried to balance past production, current value and future prospects. But at the end of the day, it might be easier to consider the following list as our best answer to those two questions: Which WRs do we trust the most? And which WRs are best positioned to succeed this year? On close calls, we tried to separate the WRs from their respective teams to consider their value; for example, if you trade AJ Brown and Allen Robinson, which team would be better?
Without further ado, the top 10:
10. AJ Brown (Eagles)
The Seahawks’ DK Metcalf, the top alternative here, gets all kinds of love for his bizarre combo of towering size and speed, but Brown has a similar profile with equally if not more consistent production. Lingering injuries are something to watch out for, and his numbers aren’t always showy, but he’s a bonafide alpha, making plays with his volume, power and explosiveness all at once. He’s also poised for success as the Eagles’ new No. 1, working alongside rising pass catchers like DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert.
Allen has been doing it the right way for so long it’s almost surprising that he just turned 30. A pure road runner who could be any QB’s best friend, he’s recorded at least 100 catches and 1,100 yards in four of his last five seasons, and he’s poised to remain the top valve ever. safety from Justin Herbert in a potentially big year for the Chargers. If Mike Williams is Los Angeles’ department store, then Allen has been the team’s dependable Mr. for half a decade and counting, serving as one of the most stable high-volume targets in the NFL.
Deebo was a dawg long before he broke out as the 49ers’ offensive MVP in 2021, still bringing a running back’s vision and tight end physicality to multiple roles at the ladder. Kyle Shanahan simply kept feeding him, whether in the field or in the backfield, to cause his statistical emergence. In terms of value for money, you won’t find many better athletes at his size (6-0, 215), and while it’s fair to wonder if he would still top the stat sheet as a receiver strictly traditional, it has far too much raw speed to overlook.
Annually underrated, Evans has eclipsed 1,500 receiving yards “just” once in his eight NFL seasons. But he’s never failed in the top 1000, and he’s become a bit more reliable in terms of catch rate since teaming up with Tom Brady. Size has always been on his side (6-5, 231), but he’s still moving smoothly at nearly 29, and he’s still playing as a deep ball threat, averaging over 14 yards per catch for five consecutive seasons. Plug it into any range, and you have a receiver that, naturally, is almost always open.
Perhaps no one on the roster here is more under pressure than “Cheetah,” now the NFL’s highest-paid player after a brutal trade from Kansas City. His stockier stature (5-10, 185) never stopped him from possessing opponents in the big spots; not only is he a lightning-fast deep-ball prodigy, but he’s not afraid of more muscular guys in tight windows. But it’s not crazy to wonder how his play, without Patrick Mahomes, will translate to a Dolphins offense seemingly more geared toward short-court concepts.
After five years as the swaggering star of the Vikings’ WR room, Diggs has become an even more complete target as Josh Allen’s favorite outlet. It just does well. The speed element is still there, making him a strong candidate to carry Allen’s rocket launches, but he really wins on the line and in his breaks, mastering his routes and maintaining reliable hands. As he closes in on 30, he could rely even more on possession skills, but in Buffalo’s deep and explosive offense, that’s not a bad thing.
If Stefon Diggs makes running cool, well, so does Kupp, albeit more frequently. Only injuries prevented him from emerging as a true No. 1 earlier in Los Angeles, where he quickly became Matthew Stafford’s go-to man in 2021. Durability is something to watch, given his high volume and lighter build, but Kupp’s mastery of mechanics should survive the wear and tear. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the fastest, he’s not the strongest. But he creates space and chains passes with such ease.
Big plays are the name of the game in today’s NFL, and Chase wasted absolutely no time following in the footsteps of another LSU product turned All-Pro (more on him below) by as a rookie. Was it sometimes a bit streaky? Sure. But he was also the main reason for QB Joe Burrow’s rise to MVP and the Super Bowl. His instant brilliance after the catch is reminiscent of peak Odell Beckham Jr. The only mission with him is to get the ball in his hands, because he has the talent to do the rest.
His historical start is similar to that of Viking legend Randy Moss, and the comparison isn’t far-fetched. In two short years as Minnesota’s top target, he not only replaced Stefon Diggs’ swagger and production, he surpassed him. The slender No. 1 is the perfect contemporary wide – lightning fast with good hands, good height and good routes. Nothing against Kirk Cousins, but imagine if he also played with Patrick Mahomes. He is one of the safest bets for racking up both volume and highlight touchdowns.
The Raiders may or may not have the offensive line and defensive depth to back up deep playoff hopes, but it’s no wonder they paid off to land Adams, and not just because he’s friends with Derek Carr. The longtime Packers star has only played a full season twice in his eight-year career, but when he’s on the court (even bumped) he’s the total package, averaging more 90 yards per game in three of his last four seasons. He opens up at all levels, has reliable hands and shows up on the clutches. Any worries about her split from Aaron Rodgers should be muted if her public and private chemistry with Carr is any indication of their future together.
The best of the rest
DK Metcalf (Seahawks), mike williams (Chargers), chris godvin (buccaneers), DJ Moore (Panthers), Lamb CeeDee (Cowboys), Higgins t-shirt (Bengals), DeVonta Smith (Eagles), amari cooper (Brown), Terry McLaurin (Commanders), Tyler Locket (Seahawks), Jaylen Waddle (dolphins), brandin cooks (Texans), Odell Beckham Jr. (free agent)
As you can see, we could have easily turned the top 10 into a top 20, because all of these guys are clear starting material. Metcalf was the closest to cracking the top 10, as few receivers are so physically imposing, although he now catches passes from QB(s) other than Russell Wilson. Godwin has top 10 ability but just got injured. Moore does too, but remains tied to a mediocre QB setup in Carolina. Lamb, Higgins, Black-smith, McLaurin and Waddle have varying styles and skills, but could easily become the next generation of perennial Pro Bowlers. cooks somehow managed Pro Bowl-caliber production despite turning teams around every two years, while Beckham remains a star talent when healthy and paired with other assists.
The next level
Allen Robinson (rams), Renfrow Hunter (Raiders), Adam Thielen (Viking), Tyler Boyd (Bengals), Diontae Johnson (Steels), Michael Pitman Jr. (foals), Amon-Ra St. Brown (The Lions), Darnell Mooney (Bear)
Here we have a mix of older or experienced possession receivers, a la Robinson and Thielenand young talents like pit man and St. Brown. All of those receivers still have — or can unearth — Pro Bowl talent, but they’re not necessarily true No. 1 targets at this point in their respective careers. Most of them, in fact, have been or could be elite as No. 2 or No. 3 options.
Calvin Riley (Falcons), DeAndre Hopkins (cardinals), Michael Thomas (holy)
All three are top talent when fully healthy and motivated, but all three are major question marks for 2022. Ridley, in fact, won’t fit in at all, serving a one-year suspension for violating NFL playing rules. But assuming he returns to form, for the Falcons or anyone else, he’s proven himself on home runs. Hopkins has long been one of the game’s top possession targets, bringing elite hands to Houston and Arizona, but missed six games through injury in 2021 and will miss six more this year through injury. a suspension. Thomas, meanwhile, is three years away from a 1,700-yard season as the Saints’ ultra-reliable No. 1, but he’s played in all seven games in two years. Maybe his running will dominate again, but he needs to get healthy first.