Welcome back to the NFL PRR! In this series, leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, I will be ranking the top 12 players at each position for the previous season. This is not where I believe they will rank at the end of 2021, just where they stand now. Because of this, incoming rookies will be exempt from the "Following the 2020 Season" blogs. After the draft, leading up to the 2021 NFL season, I will be ranking where I believe each player will rank after the 2021 season, including incoming rookies.
These lists will be controversial, they will raise some eyebrows, but, most importantly, they will open some eyes towards who is actually dominating in the NFL today. Without further ado, here are my top 12 wide receivers for the 2020 season:
12. Mike Evans
Evans has been a top receiver since he entered the league. With spotty QB play for most of his career, it's surprising that he's been able to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards every year he's been in the NFL. 2020 was no different, except now, he had the GOAT at the helm. On 109 targets, Evans hauled in 70 receptions for 1,006 yards and a career-high 13 TDs. He had only 4 drops on the year, and Brady posted a 126 passer rating when targeting him. It helps having Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown in the receiving mix, but the fact he put over 1,000 yards with all this talent around him still highlights his significance to the Buccaneers.
11. Tyler Lockett
The speedster out of Seattle is one of the best deep-ball threats in the NFL. On 132 targets, Lockett caught 100 passes for 1,054 yards and 10 TDs, tying his career-high. He had minimal help, with Wilson being pressured more than any other QB, and an injured backfield for a good chunk of the year. Lockett also dropped a career-high 8 passes. Regardless, his production was the best we've seen out of him, as he posted 1.87 yards per route run, where Evans had only 1.61, thus putting Lockett ahead of Evans.
10. Keenan Allen
After an injury-plagued start to his career, Allen has emerged as a top 10 receiver in the NFL. In 14 games, he caught 100 passes for 992 yards and 8 TDs, tying his career-high. He dropped only 3 passes and would have recorded 114 receptions, 1,134 yards, and 9 TDs on a 16 game pace, giving him a career-high in receptions and TDs. Given Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler struggled with injuries throughout the course of the season, and Allen had to work with a rookie QB, the fact he had the season he did show the high-level Allen plays at on a game to game basis.
Photo: Associated Press
9. Calvin Ridley
Calvin might be the best receiver in Atlanta after the 2020 season. With Julio missing 8 games, Ridley stepped up and made big-time plays. In 15 games and 143 targets, Ridley posted 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and 9 TDs. This came with a non-existent run game, a spotty offensive line, and having minimal weapons around him to take the pressure off. Even with 6 drops, Matt Ryan still threw 5 interceptions when looking his way, and somehow managed a 101 passer rating when targeting Ridley. That goes to show how well Ridley can get open and create space. On top of this, Ridley tied Keenan Allen with a PFF grade of 84.9, ranking 11th overall.
8. DK Metcalf
I have no idea how the Seahawks snagged this stud at the end of the second round in 2019. On 129 targets, DK caught 83 passes for 1,303 yards and 10 TDs. 363 of those yards came after the catch, and Wilson had a 110.7 passer rating when targeting him. With this, DK posted the 15th highest receiver PFF grade with an 82.5 overall grade. DK also had 8 drops, so if he cleans those up in year 3, he could be in for a big season in 2021.
7. AJ Brown
AJ made good work off of his rookie season. In 14 games and 106 targets, Brown hauled in 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 TDs. He had 5 drops on the year, and Tannehill had a 126.1 passer rating when targeting Brown. In addition, almost half of Brown's yards came after the catch with 432. Combine this with a 90.4 PFF grade, tied for 2nd amongst all receivers, AJ proved he can be a top 5 receiver in this league by the end of next season.
6. Justin Jefferson
The 5th receiver taken off the board in 2020 finds himself near the top of the receiver's list after his rookie season. On 125 targets, JJ caught 85 passes for 1,400 yards and 7 TDs. His yardage was the most ever for a rookie receiver in NFL history. He dropped only 2 passes and gave Kirk Cousins a 112.7 passer rating when targeted. Pair this with the second-highest PFF grade for a receiver with 90.4, tied with AJ Brown, Jefferson is very well deserving of ranking this high as a rookie. If he brings his TD total up, he may find himself in the top 3 for 2021.
5. Tyreek Hill
The fastest player in the league had a career year in 2020. In 15 games, Hill was targeted 135 times and caught 87 passes for 1,276 yards and 15 TDs. He also carried the ball 13 times for 123 yards and 2 TDs, giving him 17 total TDs and a league-leading 14 yards per touch. He had 5 drops, but Mahomes posted a 129.1 passer rating when targeted, the second highest in the league among wide receivers with at least 50 targets. He should also have another TD and an additional 40 yards for a catch that was not challenged against the Broncos. Hill is no longer just a fast guy who can get open due to his speed; he has transformed into a crisp route runner, elusive playmaker, and has some of the strongest hands in the league.
Photo: USA Today
4. Allen Robinson II
If Robinson had a competent QB, he could easily be the best receiver in the NFL. On 151 targets, Robinson caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards and 6 TDs. He had 3 drops and Bears QBs posted a 92.3 passer rating when targeting Robinson. If you take his dropped passes away, his catch percentage sits at 68.9%, the 33rd highest catch percentage in the league. He posted the 5th highest PFF grade among receivers with an 88.3, and he dealt with a QB carousel of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles. Now he has to catch passes from Andy Dalton in 2021, so his case for the best receiver in the league will most likely hold off for another season. Nevertheless, his production is at the top of the league, and anyone not putting him in their top 5 needs to give Robinson more thought and consideration.
3. DeAndre Hopkins
On a new team and in a new scheme, D-Hop showed out again and proved he is still one of the best receivers in the game. On 160 targets, D-Hop hauled in 115 receptions for 1,407 yards and 6 TDs. He also became the 49th receiver to eclipse 10,000 yards in a career, and he is one of five active players to hold this milestone. With only 2 drops on the year, Kyler Murray posting a 105.9 passer rating when targeting D-Hop, and the 7th highest overall PFF grade amongst receivers with an 87.1, Hopkins made a big-time impact on a new team, while showing he can get it done year after year.
2. Stefon Diggs
Another receiver in a new town and scheme in 2020, Diggs put up career numbers this past season. On 166 targets, Diggs caught 127 passes for 1,535 yards - both league-high numbers - and 8 TDs. Although he dropped 8 passes, Josh Allen posted a 115.4 passer rating when targeting Diggs and he had the 4th highest PFF grade amongst receivers with a 90.2. After being considered a borderline #1 receiver for most of his career, he came to Buffalo and showed he's not only a true #1 receiver but one of the best in the league. Scary to think he's just 27 years old and will barely be 28 at the end of 2021.
1. Davante Adams
Another PRR list, another clear choice for the number 1 spot. How can it not be Davante? He is the best receiver in the NFL, and it's not even close. In 14 games and 149 targets, Adams caught 115 passes for 1,374 yards and a league-leading 18 TDs. On a 16 game pace, he would have caught 131 passes for 1,570 yards and 20 TDs, all of which would have led the NFL. He dropped only 1 pass, and Rodgers had a 136 passer rating when targeting Adams, the highest on this list and the highest among wide receivers with more than 50 targets. In addition, he led all receivers in yards after the catch with 597 yards. If you still aren't convinced, he had the highest PFF grade among all receivers with a 92, and the 8th highest grade among ALL NFL PLAYERS!!! Davante has gone from barely being considered a top 10 receiver, to the best in the league within 3 seasons.
Photo: Associated Press
Sources: Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference
Most of these receivers have a really good QB, some of which include Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady. Others have a lot of weapons and offensive talents around them, such as the Buccaneers, the Chiefs, and the Packers. Some names that didn't make the cut were Adam Thielen, Terry McLaurin, DJ Moore, Brandin Cooks, and Amari Cooper. All five of these receivers are great but didn't have as many touchdowns or yards as some of the other names on this list.
Join me next time as I cover the top 12 linebackers for 2020!