The NFC North is packed with receivers. Even with the recent departure of Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, the division feels overflowing with talent at the position. You could argue that at least six receivers in the division at the moment (the five on the list and Danny Amendola) were among the most dangerous in the league at some point in their career.
This makes ranking the top five somewhat hard, as choosing the five members itself is easy, but finding the order to put them in feels tough. The placements on this list feel like they are splitting hairs.
Allen Robinson is stuck in hell.
The wide receiver has showed incredible talent so far in his six-year career but has been stuck with the worst quarterbacks possible. his first four years in the league saw him catching passes from Blake Bortles after the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. Robinson then made the move to Chicago in 2018, only to be stuck with midwest Bortles in Mitchell Trubisky.
Despite this, the receiver has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in two of the five years where he played more than one gam—a knee injury limited his 2017 season. In every healthy year since his rookie season he has totaled over 750 yards.
Now Robinson is stuck with Nick Foles, a man who was benched for a sixth-round rookie last season. Foles will likely be the best quarterback Robinson has played with in his career thus far, though, so do not be surprised if he takes off once again in 2020.
4. Marvin Jones Jr. (Detroit Lions)
Calling Marvin Jones the second fiddle in Detroit will always be unfair. The receiver arrived in 2016, and mainly lived in the shadow of Golden Tate. Once Tate left the picture in 2018, teammate Kenny Golladay erupted as another elite receiver for the Lions. Jones is yet to truly become the alpha for the Lions, but he has been amazing in his own right.
Jones has totaled over 3,300 yards and 27 touchdowns in the 53 games he has played as a Lion. He has also stuffed highlight reels with his incredible ability to make contested catches.
The receiver would be a WR1 almost everywhere else in the league, but Jones has made a name for himself as a WR1.5 for the Lions. He has thrived in a situation where he gets to play off of another extremely talented player, and expect that to continue as Golladay gets even better over time.
Thielen has gotten a lot more universal attention than Jones, but until 2020, he was stuck in a similar situation. Now, with Diggs out of the picture, he finally gets to be the alpha in Minnesota and prove he can stay productive without an elite receiver playing across the field from him.
2019 was the least productive year of Thielen’s career since he broke out in 2016. In an injury-riddled season, he caught 30 passes for 418 yards in 10 games but did find the end zone six times. Now without Diggs around, the Vikings are hoping that he will be able to return to form—and health—in 2020.
The Vikings will also need Thielen to take off this season. He is the only established receiver on the roster at the moment, and the team will hope to be right back in the playoff race this season after extending Kirk Cousins in March. If things go his way, he may be among the league leaders in receiving this season, and if he is not, the team’s season might be a failure.
2. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers)
Davante Adams came out of nowhere. In 2016, he burst on to the scene as the favorite target of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He scored 35 receiving touchdowns between 2016 and 2018, seven more than every player other than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown.
He has largely been doing it alone, too. The Packers have a famously bad receiving corps, and it has just been Adams playing alongside a group of late-round picks and UDFAs with Rodgers. This makes what Adams has done even more impressive.
The receiver is one of the league’s best route runners, and he is near impossible to contain. He has been absorbing double teams his entire career and thriving despite them. Now Devin Funchess will be playing across from him, giving something else for defenses to think about. Adams may reach a new level in the coming year.
1. Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions)
Detroit’s young receiver erupted as a star in 2019. His 11 touchdown receptions led the league, and he still managed to perform despite being stuck playing with backup quarterbacks for the second half of the season. One has to wonder if he can do even more getting to play the whole year with Matthew Stafford.
He has now topped 1,000 yards in two straight seasons, and he is doing it on an impressive 18 yards per catch. Golladay is one of the best deep threats in the league, and he plays eerily similar to former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (just without the blazing speed).
Golladay has potential to be the number one receiver in the entire NFL in 2020, and if Detroit keeps him around, he could potentially be the future face of the franchise.