Ranking the NFL’s top 25 wide receivers for 2019

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When it comes to operatic offense, it doesn’t get much better than the best wide receivers in the NFL. In 2019, there has been a little more drama than usual off the field, as two of the position’s most popular superstars moved teams in blockbuster trades.

The wideouts who made the cut in our top 25 for 2019 all bring the necessary physical gifts – size, speed, quickness, hands, route-running – to linger in the offseason nightmares of cover men around the league. But each dynamo also has a unique trait that makes him special.

These rankings consider where the players finished last season with a lean toward what they can do in 2019, either in familiar situations or new ones.

Without further ado, they all deserve a warm reception.

(Editor’s note: Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was omitted from SN’s wide receiver rankings for 2019 due to the possibility of an NFL-imposed suspension or placement on the commissioner’s exempt list.)

  • The Rams need Kupp to come back strong from his torn ACL, as they missed his presence in Super Bowl 53. Projected over 16 games, Kupp’s half-season last year would have produced 80 catches for 1,132 yards and 12 TDs. He is the glue of the Rams’ receiving corps given his chemistry with Jared Goff, and he takes full advantage of his high football IQ to get open in the right spots.

  • Moore was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2018 draft, and he is about to live up to being the first wideout taken in the class, ahead of a talented group that includes Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Dante Pettis, Christian Kirk, Anthony Miller and Michael Gallup. Moore is the prototypical fast, explosive playmaker meant to light it up in a Norv Turner offense with Cam Newton’s big arm. His 55 catches for 788 yards was only a small appetizer for how he will eat up slower cornerbacks.

  • Here is another high-upside third-rounder from Golladay’s class. Arians and the Bucs’ new offensive coaching staff can’t wait to deploy Godwin outside and inside, consistently getting favorable matchups while playing off Evans. With DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries gone, Godwin will see a significant jump in vacated-target production from his 59 catches for 742 yards and five TDs.

  • Golladay (6-4, 213 pounds) fit the physical profile of a No. 1 receiver when the Lions stole him in the third round in 2017. He is ready for his true breakout in a key Year 3 after catching 70 of 119 targets for 1,063 yards and five TDs last season.

  • Cooks has managed to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on three different teams, no easy feat in this era of complicated passing offenses. His speed and quickness to stretch the field before and after the catch are his trademarks.

  • Williams got it going with limited looks in Year 2 (43 catches for 664 yards and 10 TDs) after an injury-riddled rookie season. He is now the clear No. 2 to Allen with the team choosing not to re-sign Tyrell Williams. Mike Williams, the No. 7 overall pick from Clemson in 2017, hinted he will play up to that level with a much bigger opportunity. At 6-4, 220 pounds, he isn’t going away as a force in the red zone.

  • He was fading in the Raiders’ offense until he was saved with the trade to Dallas, where Dak Prescott didn’t waste time in dealing to him. Cooper’s half-season of Pro Bowl work with the Cowboys – 53 catches, 725 yards, 6 TDs – reestablished him as the No. 1 he was supposed to be when he was drafted No. 4 overall in 2015. At 6-1, 210 pounds and set to turn only 25 in June, Cooper will soon be locked in as a well-paid Cowboy for the long term.

  • Landry has seen his volume of receptions and yards drop over the past two seasons, but the scrappy slot man is positioned to find his 2015 form with Beckham now complementing him on the outside. His signature is his quickness inside to get open in a hurry.

  • With Doug Baldwin gone, Lockett takes over as Russell Wilson’s go-to guy and a busier slot option. Last season, he caught only 57 balls (from 70 targets) but maximized his impact with 965 yards and 10 TDs. His 16.9 yards per catch served as a reminder that he can flat-out fly, but he also has learned how to better use his smarts and agility to win on all routes against any coverage.

  • Boyd needed a few years to put it all together, but he found his niche dominating from the slot last season. He had an exceptional catch rate in only 14 games, posting 76 catches from 108 targets for 1,028 yards and seven TDs. Like Green, his versatility and quickness will be deployed in the right way by Taylor.

  • The Rams have the best wideout trio the league, and Woods stands out from the other two. He is a technician with his routes and hands, and he is well-rounded with both possession and field-stretching qualities. Beyond his 86 catches for 1,219 yards and six TDs last season, he also rushed for 157 yards and a TD. He is the modern Swiss Army knife receiver for Sean McVay.

  • Edelman celebrated his birthday (33) early with a two-year, $18 million contract extension. He is in impeccable shape and has a few more years left to be Tom Brady’s most valuable target. Calling him a “slot machine” is underselling how he can use his quick, 5-10,198-pound frame to get open everywhere. He is also the pound-for-pound toughest receiver in the NFL.

  • The knock on Evans used to be his drops, with a catch rate that was just above 50 percent. But he changed that narrative a little last season while catching 62.3 percent of his targets (86 of 138), leading to a career-high 1,524 receiving yards with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. His 17.7 yards per catch is in line with Bruce Arians’ offense, which aims to stretch the field better with Winston’s big arm.

  • Hilton is still looking for his first season of 100 receptions or more, but he is coming off what was arguably his best season thanks to a Frank Reich offense tailored to push the ball downfield now that the Colts have a line that can give Andrew Luck more time. Hilton’s zip and elusiveness to get deep has led to his averaging 16 yards per catch.

  • With the Vikings having some pass protection issues in front of Kirk Cousins, Diggs had to be more of a shorter-route receiver last season, with his 102 receptions adding up to 1,021 yards and nine TDs. His speed and downfield flair should come into play more often during his age-26 season.

  • Thielen has gone from undrafted free agent to indispensable target with his ability to use his size, hands and precision routes to win most battles in the middle of the field. His 100-yard receiving streak in the first half of last season was incredible, and it led to his demanding top coverage down the stretch.

  • Green turns 31 in July, and two of his past three seasons have been marred by injury. But at 6-4, 210 pounds, the future Hall of Famer still has enough speed and quickness left to get rejuvenated in Zac Taylor’s passing offense, especially a with new established No. 2 in Tyler Boyd.

  • At only 22, Smith-Schuster has already put up two stellar seasons, including 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven TDs a sensational sophomore. He has dominated with both shorter and deeper routes out of the slot, and with Brown gone, he now gets a chance to line up in more places to make big plays for Pittsburgh.

  • Adams has caught 35 TD passes over the past three seasons and is coming off a career-high 111 catches for 1,386 yards, cementing his status as a true No. 1. Aaron Rodgers in a Matt LaFleur offense will bode well for Adams’ momentum of production.

  • Allen, even this high, remains underrated because he is not flashy and plays on the NFL’s Left Coast. But he is an effective, efficient route-running machine who racks up catches in critical situations for Philip Rivers. File Allen a notch below Thomas in the super-reliable possession category.

  • Brown hasn’t experienced any kind of drop-off from his tremendous six-year run of Canton-clinching play in Pittsburgh, but he is entering his age-31 season with a rebuilding offense led by a lesser QB in Oakland. Brown has enough elite equity for one to give him the benefit of the doubt after he scored a league-high 15 TDs last year, but he is no longer better than the rest of the best.

  • He is “only” fourth because he has missed a full season’s worth of games over the past two years, while the trio above is durable. Beckham should go back to making more explosive plays downfield and scoring more consistently with a QB upgrade to Baker Mayfileld and with Jarvis Landry easing the coverage attention. OBJ should also be motivated to make the Giants look bad and challenge for the top spot in these rankings for 2020.

  • “Can’t guard Mike” is an appropriate Twitter handle. He is the most dangerous all-around receiver Drew Brees has ever had, and he led the NFL with 125 receptions last season. He doesn’t need go deep to make a big impact, as he catches everything for big yardage all over the field. At 6-3, 212 pounds, Thomas is the ultimate possessional mismatch.

  • Jones has led the league in receiving yards per game in three of the past four seasons. He is even more monstrous when Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level and Calvin Ridley is with him as a legitimate rising No. 2. And people can stop saying “he doesn’t score” after he had eight touchdowns in Atlanta’s final nine games last season.

  • Fantasy football players know this: Hopkins does not have bad games. He has either spectacular games or very good games. He is a complete, smooth target and has become only more locked in with a quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who consistently knows where and when to find him open – which is everywhere and most of the time. A lot more Nuk, please.





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