The wide receiver is a staple position in any football team’s offense. And because of their starring roles on the field, and their importance as receivers, it’s one of the positions most often looked at when it comes to individual player skill. These are some of the best wide receivers in the NFL, as of 2021.
32. Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati Bengals)
Tyler Boyd has grown into one of the NFL’s top slot receivers since joining the league three years ago. Since 2018, he’s had the third-most routes from the slot among wide receivers and has some of the best stats in that area. In the slot, he’s caught 51 receptions greater than 15 yards.
31. Deebo Samuel (San Francisco 49ers)
Injuries stopped Deebo Samuel from a big second year in the NFL, but he’s shown great skill in the past when he’s healthy. On average, he produced 9.8 catches per reception in his two NFL seasons. He not only beats the other wide receivers in this category, but leads them all by a substantial 2.5 yards.
30. Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams)
Kupp has consistently shown his skill as a productive slot receiver since 2017. He has the fourth-highest mark in yards per route run from the slot and the second highest in broken tackles made after a reception from the slot.
29. Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams)
Since being traded to the Rams, Robert Woods has basically become a different person. While a suboptimal player with the Bills, his career has been completely revitalized in LA. He’s recorded his highest ever receiving grade with the Rams and has ranked amongst the highest graded wide receivers since 2017. At the same time, he’s also within the top five in terms of both yards after catch per reception and percentage of catchable targets caught.
28. Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos)
Courtland Sutton only got to run 20 routes in 2020 before he was shut down due to an injury. Previously, he was known for going toe to toe against press coverage, consistency coming out on top. His 2.5 yards per route run against press coverage was among the best in the NFL in 2019.
27. DeVante Parker (Miami Dolphins)
DeVante Parker certainly has skill in deep coverage. He has the seventh highest number of receptions greater than 15 yards and the second highest number of contested catches. And he accomplished this while experiencing the third-highest rate of snaps against press coverage. He’s led the league in 15-plus-yard pass plays against press coverage since 2019.
26. Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans)
While Houston has had quite a bit of issues, Brandin Cooks is not one of them. He managed to produce at a high level, cracking top 25 in receiving grade and yards per route run. He also tied with Tyreek Hill for third most deep receptions in 2020, at 13.
25. Will Fuller V (Miami Dolphins)
Will Fuller V is a genuine speedster with a proven track record as a deep threat. More than 26% of his targets ended up in a gain of 15 or more yards, which is the eighth highest percentage among wide receivers. Although he’s missed significant time in his three seasons, Fuller Fuller is currently ranked eighth in the league when it comes to total receiving yards on vertical targets.
24. Antonio Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Antonio Brown displayed a fair level of skill in 2020, especially considering his lack of play time in previous years. He caught 98% of the catchable targets sent his way and added value with an average of 5.2 additional yards per reception.
23. Cole Beasley (Buffalo Bills)
Cole Beasley is best known for his role as a slot receiver. 88.4% of his routes were run from the slot last season, the third-highest rate in the league. Per route, Beasley got 2.31 yards and 938 receiving yards overall. 83.9% of his targets were caught, and in 2020, he caught four more receptions than any other wide receiver.
22. Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks)
Tyler Lockett has managed to finally become a top 25 receiver after three okay years in the NFL. His combo with Russell Wilson make them one of the strongest quarterback/wide receiver duos in the league.
21. Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns)
Odell Beckham Jr. has had some trouble finding his footing with Baker Mayfield as his quarterback, but Jarvis Landry has had no such issue adjusting. He ran the highest rate of routes in from the outside in his career in 2019 and 2020, which helped to skyrocket his ranking amongst the wide receivers currently in the league, at least as far as making receptions goes.
20. Corey Davis (New York Jets)
New York wide receivers rarely ever crack the top 25 in the rankings, let alone the top ten. However, former Titans rookie Corey Davis has shown great promise with high skill in making receptions. Now that he’s with the Jets, they might have a chance to actually have a wide receiver crack a top ten list in terms of production. However, that remains to be seen.
19. Kenny Golladay (New York Giants)
While 2020 was fraught with injuries for Kenny Golladay, he was previously able to establish himself as one of the best deep threats and contested-catch specialists. He had 930 deep receiving yards between 2018 and 2019, the highest in the league, as well as being tied for the most contested catches. He might show some more promise with the Giants, as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is more willing to call downfield shots for quarterback, Daniel Jones.
18. Odell Beckham Jr. (Cleveland Brown)
Odell Beckham Jr. used to be one of the best wide receivers in the league. But, since joining the Browns, it appears as though some of that skill he once had has faded away. While still a highly gifted player, his stats just haven’t been as high as they were in his heyday.
17. Terry McLaurin (Washington Football Team)
Terry McLaurin will hopefully get to do what he’s best at this season, and that’s stretching the field. It just seemed as though all of his stats dropped after he wasn’t able to run for farther receptions in the previous year. While his stats were still respectable, he’ll be able to do even better if he can stretch the field again.
16. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)
Keenan Allen’s role in the Chargers was tweaked a bit in 2020. He ran shallower routes and was targeted much less at the deep level he’s used to. This contributed to Allen getting overall lower statistics than in previous years.
15. D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks)
D.K. Metcalf has a rare combination of both size and speed, making him especially difficult to take down. In 2020, he led the league vertical route receiving yards. He also has a consistently high placement in the league for both receiving yards and touchdowns.
14. Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys)
It was almost like Amari Cooper was reborn after being traded to the Cowboys in 2018. He’s one of the best route runners in the game and his separation game sits in the 80th percentile.
13. Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay Buccaneer)
Chris Godwin’s game wasn’t at his best due to injuries last season. Even so, Godwin is still a phenomenal wide receiver. He’s one of only four wideouts since 2017 to generate more than two yards per route in run from both the slot and from outside.
12. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Like Godwin, Mike Evans’ 2020 season took a hit as he was injured during the year. However, he’s still an excellent player, despite a lack of performance last year. His bread and butter is his skill against defensive backs, able to get right past them to make receptions.
11. Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons)
In his first two years with the Falcons, Calcin Ridley only showed flashes of high-level skill. However, in 2020, those flashes have become far more consistent. One of his most notable accomplishments was getting the third-highest catch rate during single-coverage plays.
10. Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings)
People doubted Justin Jefferson’s ability as an NFL player when he was first drafted, but he quickly proved them wrong. His receiving skill was only worse than Davante Adams in 2014 and he continues to prove his worth to the Vikings.
9. Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings)
After an injury in 2019 left him at less than top form, Adam Thielen returned to the game with more than his fair share of skill in 2020. His primary skill lies in his releases and ability to separate, which are as good as they can be as far as wide receivers are concerned.
8. Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills)
While in Minnesota, Stefon Diggs was able to enjoy very good, but not elite play in the NFL. It wasn’t until he moved to the Bills last season where he became a truly elite player. He’s just one of the most efficiency contested-catch receivers in the game, boasting a 60% catch rate.
7. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints)
Last season, Michael Thomas’ performance was a bit disappointing, especially since he was injured. However, Thomas still proved to be one of the most productive wide receivers in 2020. He’s simply an incredibly dependable player.
6. A.J. Brown (Tennessee Titans)
In just a few years, A.J. Brown has become one of the NFL’s most elite wide receivers. He’s managed to edge out other skilled wide receivers in performance rankings, such as Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. He’s simply a star that will usher in the next generation of wide receivers.
5. Julio Jones (Tennessee Titans)
Even though Julio Jones got taken out early due to injuries, he still showed great production on the field in 2020. He’s 32-years-old, but it’s still possible this wide receiver can regain his elite status in the top three at some point.
4. Allen Robinson II (Chicago Bears)
Allen Robinson has had to deal with poor quarterback play almost every year he’s been in the NFL. But now his true skills can shine with Justin Fields as his QB. Even when he played with more substandard quarterbacks in 2020, his own skill managed to make him the third most valuable player in his position.
3. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs)
You have to be pretty fast to get the nickname “Cheetah”. And if nothing else, Tyreek Hill is certainly fast. He’s managed to get the most receptions, yards, and touchdowns for targets greater than 20 yards downfield.
2. DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals)
Even as a rookie, DeAndre Hopkins was one of the top 10 most productive wide receivers in the league. He averaged 2.25 yards a per route run. He’s also just incredibly consistent in play, constantly ranking within the top six as far as wide receivers go. He’s had a decrease in average depth of target recently, but has more than made up for it by breaking tackles and making up the distance in rushing.
1. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers)
Davante Adams was the highest-graded, most valuable, and most productive wide receiver of the 2020 season. It is indisputable that he is the top player in his position in the NFL. Since 2017, no wide receiver has recorded more touchdowns than Adams. With Aaron Rodgers, it seems as though Green Bay has the strongest quarterback/wide receiver pair in the league.