By: Jacob Goode
In the NFL Draft, the best available player is often the next one off the board. Teams will trade up or down, cashing in where they can, according to their specific needs. When a team chooses the best player for their roster, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re the ideal team for that player’s production. In this article we’ll look at 10 teams with a key opening at the receiver position. If the right rookies fall to these teams, we can expect the opportunity to outweigh similar talent that lands elsewhere. Adjust your Post Draft Rankings accordingly.
The 2016 second overall pick, Carson Wentz was brought in this offseason to lead the Colts Offense, behind pass protection reminiscent of his rookie season in Philadelphia. Longtime WR1 T.Y. Hilton is returning after his first true experience in free agency. Hilton is expected to resume his role as the primary target In 2021, however, there are several reasons the organization may look to beef up at the position. In 2020 none of the Colts receivers, including Hilton, ranked in the top 40 for Receptions or receiving yards. Rookie WR Michael Pittman Jr. played 13 games & finished with only 40 receptions for 503 yards & a touchdown. Zach Pascal was their most reliable option as he matched Hilton’s five touchdowns & had perfect attendance for his third season in a row, posting a career-high 44 catches. Pascal has earned some job security, but at his current trajectory, he is at best a higher floor stash for dynasty purposes. Paris Campbell has shown flashes while on the field, however, his 2020 season ended in week 2 & there are still questions surrounding the knee injury. So as early as week 2 of last year, the Colts could have used another starting receiver. In past seasons, Wentz has been associated with amplifying TE production. It’s worth mentioning his top receivers during that time, including the oft-injured pair of Alshon Jeffery & DeSean Jackson. The Colts may draft a TE early, but without any notable FA moves at WR, it would be a surprise if they don’t draft one. If the Colts take a receiver in the first 4 rounds, this high-powered offense makes them worth a second look in your rookie draft.
-My Pick for the Colts is Kadarius Toney out of Florida. Toney has the potential to succeed early here as a durable version of what the team needed from Paris Campbell.
The Eagles had an injury-riddled 2020 at the receiver position. Greg Ward led the team with 53 receptions & just 6 touchdowns. Travis Fulgham impressed during his 4 weeks of fantasy relevance & led the team in receiving yards with 539 and 4 touchdowns. Those were the only WRs in Philadelphia who caught more than 1 touchdown. Now in the early stages of the new coaching regime, the Eagles appear to be all in on their second-year QB, Jalen Hurts. With a clean bill of health, Jalen Reagor appears to be the clear WR1, as Deshon Jackson is now with the Rams & Alshon Jeffrey is still a Free Agent. The Eagles will likely take the most reliable target available at the 12th overall pick.
-My Pick for Philadelphia is DeVonta Smith from Alabama. Smith is an explosive route runner, who could pair well with a burner like Reagor. It’s also worth noting that the 2020 Heisman winner had some overlap with QB Jalen Hurts at Alabama.
8. Kansas City:
The season after a Super Bowl loss is always tough, however, the Chiefs are already taking steps to fix their offensive line. Entering his fourth season as a starter, QB Patrick Mahomes is already in the conversation of the top all-time talents at the position. His favorite targets last year were once again TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill with 145 & 135 targets respectively. Beyond those two, there were three other receivers with somewhere between 55 & 65 targets. These were Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, & Sammy Watkins. Watkins is now in Baltimore & Mecole Hardman was originally drafted to replace Tyreek Hill while Hill was under investigation. Demarcus Robinson has yet to miss a game in his 5 seasons with the team, however, he has also yet to reach 500 receiving yards in a single one. Hardman seems the most likely candidate to receive increased production, however, having two burners on the field together means the Chiefs could use a solid route runner. Adding another field stretcher here would likely lead to an offensive playbook that looks a lot like spaghetti, because of inertia.
-My pick for the Chiefs is Amun Ra St. Brown out of USC. St. Brown is a very technical route runner, who has a full route tree & fantastic body control to diversify Mahomes target options.
It’s no secret that Allen Robinson wanted out of Chicago this offseason, however, a lot could depend upon him having another big year. Robinson has managed to have consistent success in his career despite poor QB play, but Andy Dalton has a more impressive resume than anyone on that list. Dalton is coming off of a decent fraction of a season in Dallas, where he did just enough to remind us that he can support a highly productive pair of receivers. Aside from bringing in Dalton & veteran RB Damian Williams, the Bears offensive roster looks a lot like it did in 2020. Whether or not Robinson decides to sit out for the 2021 season, there is a good opportunity for a rookie receiver to shine in Chicago. Last year, rookie WR Darnell Mooney finished 36th in receptions and caught 4 touchdowns after being drafted in the fifth round. If the Bears draft a receiver in the first two rounds, he should be able to do more with the same role.
-My pick for Chicago is Rashod Bateman. Bateman has the size, the hands, and the separation ability to pick up most of the slack in the event of Robinson’s absence, or the two can immediately improve this offense together.
6. New Orleans:
Following the retirement of Saints legend Drew Brees, there are a lot of assumptions surrounding the QB position. Both Jameis Winston & Taysom Hill were re-signed in the offseason. The likely narrative, at least for the sake of Saints passing game, is that Winston gets the job. Winston’s most recent season as a starter was for the 2019 Buccaneers, where he threw for 33 touchdowns, led the league in passing yards and interceptions… If Winston’s LASIK eye surgery pays off, we could see a resurgence of Michael Thomas. Even if Tre’Quan Smith excels at the WR2 role, as some believe he will, there is plenty of room for an upgrade at the position after the departure of Emmanuel Sanders. In 2020 Sanders led the team in Receptions (61), receiving touchdowns (5), & receiving yards (726). With the 82 vacated Sanders targets & Winston’s vertical play style, New Orleans could use another agile field stretcher.
-My pick here is Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss. Moore has some of the best hands in his class & has demonstrated an ability to magically appear behind opposing safeties.
There are so many uncertainties in Detroit, that it’s easier to just talk about the handful of positives. The Lions franchise is finally showing full commitment to their rebuild by bringing in a new head coach & trading for Jared Goff. During his time with the Rams, Goff’s top 2 receivers remained consistent fantasy options. Though his former coach deserves much of the credit, Goff is no stranger to a productive NFL passing attack. Luckily for Goff, the Detroit offense has added a key piece early in the last two drafts. Tight End TJ Hockenson was taken 8th overall in 2019 & RB D’Andre Swift was taken 35th overall in 2020. These two combined for over 100 receptions & 1000 receiving yards last season. Other passing game pieces added this offseason include RB Jamal Williams, as well as WRs Tyrell Williams & Breshad Perriman. With the departure of Kenny Golladay & Marvin Jones, the only Lion returning at the position is second year possession receiver, Quintez Cephus.
With the 7th overall pick, the Lions are likely to take a receiver. Considering that their RB & TE are currently the most reliable targets, this may be the only true WR 1 role in the NFL that is open for a Rookie to step into from day 1. Expect Detroit to go with the top available receiver to help spread out the passing game. Barring injuries, the floor for this opportunity should be 2020 Jerry Jeudy & the ceiling, 2019 Terry McLaurin.
-My pick is Ja’marr Chase from LSU. Chase appears to be the top receiver in the draft despite taking a year off in 2020. If a franchise can be built around any of these rookie receivers, it’s Chase.
One of the most certain QB situations in the league is that of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. The NFL’s 2019 MVP had some expected regression in 2020, throwing 10 less touchdowns than in 2019. We’ve seen Jackson lead the league in passing touchdowns before, but we’ve yet to see him with multiple elite receiving targets. In 2020 Marquise Brown finished 42nd in Receptions & 40th in receiving yards, but managed to catch 8 touchdowns. Tight End Mark Andrews finished the season 5th at his position in receiving yards & scored 7 touchdowns. No other Ravens receivers finished in the top 80 in the receptions or yardage categories. With Willie Snead & Dez Bryant gone, the Ravens will have a fantasy relevant opening on their roster, alongside the newly acquired Sammy Watkins. Since being drafted 4th overall in 2014, Watkins is now on his 4th NFL team & has played less than 10 games in 3 of those seven seasons. Talent has never been the issue for Watkins & he should be Jackson’s best receiver yet. The concern is his durability, which is another reason Baltimore is likely to take a receiver in the first two rounds. Second-year receiver Myles Boykin improved only slightly in 2020 & scored 4 touchdowns, but still ended up with less than 20 receptions for 266 yards. Ideally, the Ravens can draft a large-bodied receiver with separation ability. This would allow the offense to get creative with the passing game & open things up for Jackson.
-My pick for Baltimore is Terrace Marshall Jr from LSU. A five-star recruit out of high school & 2019 National Champion, Marshall has a rare combination of elite size & athleticism. He’s demonstrated his separation ability in the open field & the red zone.
Last season the Titans finally saw some return on their Corey Davis investment as their WR2 finished 32nd in receptions and 18th in receiving yards. They also benefited from a full season of Jonnu Smith as a starter, before re-signing neither player. With the departure of Davis & Smith, there are 157 vacated targets going into 2021 & it’s also worth noting that in 2020 the pair scored 13 Touchdowns. Look for the Titans to draft a red Zone threat to complement their juggernaut run game & alpha, WR AJ Brown.
-My pick is Seth Williams out of Auburn. Williams is at the top of his draft class at winning 50/50 balls, & plays with a ferocity that perfectly fits the Titans.
Kyler Murray’s second year didn’t disappoint as he finished 9th in completions & had 37 total touchdowns. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins was as productive as could be expected. Hopkins finished the 2020 season tied for second in receptions with Devonte Adams, however, Hopkins only scored 6 times where Adams scored 18. Other target options on the outside included Christian Kirk & Larry Fitzgerald among others. Both Kirk & Fitzgerald finished outside of the top 50 in receptions & yards. This offseason the Cardinals have addressed their offensive line, & brought in AJ Green, but did not re-sign RB Kenyan Drake. These moves have led to speculation about the Cardinals taking an RB early this year, as starting RB Chase Edmonds is better known for his work on passing downs. Even if Arizona does take an early RB, we could see them take a receiver after the second round. One sure thing is that Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will pass the ball often. After an 8-8 finish last year, they could use help finding the end zone through the air.
-My pick to take on this role is Tamorrion Terry out of FSU. Terry is a huge target at 6’4 209 who just ran an unofficial 4.44 40 yard dash. He can be used from the inside out & vice versa, which would be perfect to help this Arizona offense find the endzone.
1. Green Bay
In 2020 Aaron Rodgers had a career season, breaking his personal record with 48 touchdowns. 18 of those touchdowns went to Davante Adams who led NFL receivers in the category. 11 of those touchdowns went to his second most reliable target, a 4th year TE named Robert Tonyan. With this year’s 29th overall pick the Packers could use a WR2 who can make big plays after the catch, as this is the only thing Devante Adams doesn’t do. The kind of coverage that Adams requires, is what truly makes this the most attractive rookie WR landing spot.
-My pick for the Packers is Perdue WR Rondale Moore for his elite athleticism & ability to run after the catch.