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2022 NFL preview: Ranking the NFC North wide receivers

Two teams in the NFC North have great receiver groups. The other two... not so much.

NFL: JUL 29 Minnesota Vikings Training Camp

In today’s passing-orientated NFL, having one star receiver isn’t enough. Teams across the league are stocking up on talented receiving corps to give defenses nightmares. The previous two Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, each had talented receivers to complement their star quarterback. The Buccaneers had Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, while the Rams received significant contributions from Odell Beckham Jr., Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson—although Cooper Kupp obviously shouldered a lot of the workload.

The NFC North has a fair share of talented receivers, but an eventful offseason has seen plenty of shakeups. Which team has the best receiving corps entering 2022?


Note: Players on each team are listed alphabetically.

1. Minnesota Vikings

Dan Chisena, Thomas Hennigan, Trishton Jackson, Justin Jefferson, Bisi Johnson, Myron Mitchell, Jalen Nailor, K.J. Osborn, Blake Proehl, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Adam Thielen, Albert Wilson

I went back and forth with my top spot, but I had to give the nod to the Minnesota Vikings. Justin Jefferson is already in contention for best receiver in the league as he enters his third season. When the Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs, they were hoping to match his production with the pick they received. While Diggs is still a great receiver, Jefferson is on historic pace.

Adam Thielen is nothing to scoff at either. Although he is a few years removed from his 1,000-yard seasons, Thielen and Jefferson make for an incredible one-two punch. In an underrated breakout season, K.J. Osborn tallied 655 receiving yards in 2021, solidifying the WR3 spot for the Vikings. The drop off after Osborn, however, is significant, and Minnesota is hoping a player like Ihmir Smith-Marsette or Jalen Nailor add some reliability. The depth isn’t great, but Jefferson is so good that he vaults the Vikings’ receiving corps to the top of the division.

2. Detroit Lions

Trinity Benson, Quintez Cephus, DJ Chark, Josh Johnson, Tom Kennedy, Kalil Pimpleton, Kalif Raymond, Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Corey Sutton, Jameson Williams

What a difference a season can make. Entering the 2021 season, the Lions receiving corps was untested at best, paltry at worst. For the better half of the season, the aerial attack was akin to a whimper—their top two starters entering training camp were off the team by November. It wasn’t until Amon-Ra St. Brown was let loose and Josh Reynolds was claimed that the receivers finally showed signs of life.

Not only do the Lions enter this season with dependable depth at receiver, but their front-end starters got upgraded as well. Jameson Williams and DJ Chark both have star potential, and pairing them with St. Brown and Reynolds suddenly gives the offense plenty of weapons to work with. Even Kalif Raymond had flashes in 2021 and slots in nicely as a fifth receiver.

The reason why the Lions don’t net the top spot is the question of potential. If their top four can click at the same time, the receiving corps could be a nightmare for opposing secondaries. However, that’s not a sure-fire bet. Williams and Chark have injury histories. St. Brown is still young. Reynolds was a ghost prior to arriving in Detroit. A lot could go right for the Lions, but a lot could go wrong as well.

3. Green Bay Packers

Randall Cobb, Danny Davis, Romeo Doubs, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor, Samori Toure, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Juwann Winfree

The difference between the top two teams in the NFC North and the bottom two is staggering. Whereas the Packers were once the Davante Adams show, the Packers are now left with no obvious star receiver for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Sammy Watkins may step into the WR1 role for now, but he has never lived up to his fourth overall draft status (and will start camp on the NFI list). Christian Watson has a sky-high ceiling, but the jump from North Dakota State to the NFL might slow his learning curve—not to mention that he will start training camp on the PUP. Still, rookie receivers have hit the ground running in recent years, so don’t count out Watson.

Perhaps the most dependable receiver on the roster is Allen Lazard, but he is better suited for a tertiary role. Green Bay would love for rookie Romeo Doubs or 2021 third rounder Amari Rodgers to develop quickly. Until then, it looks like Aaron Rodgers will have to do some heavy lifting. The Packers have a lot of decent receivers, but they need someone to step up.

4. Chicago Bears

Isaiah Coulter, Chris Finke, N’Keal Harry, Velus Jones, Darnell Mooney, David Moore, Dazz Newsome, Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, Kevin Shaa, Tajae Sharpe, Equanimeous St. Brown, Nsimba Webster

When Bears fans are claiming their receiving corps is underrated, you know it isn’t good. Unlike the Packers, the Bears do have a bona fide star in Darnell Mooney. Mooney was easily the most dependable aspect of the Bears offense last season to the tune of 1,055 receiving yards. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue his early career rise.

The problem for Chicago, however, is everyone else. Allen Robinson, Damiere Byrd, and Marquise Goodwin are gone. Instead, the Bears have gone for the 2021 Lions approach of acquiring a bunch of cast-offs and youngsters—they even acquired a St. Brown of their own! Byron Pringle looks like the WR2 on the team, but he looked fairly lackluster during his time with the powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs offense. The Bears drafted 25-year-old Velus Jones in the third round, a guy primarily known for his return ability. They also made a desperate attempt to alleviate their woes by trading for first round bust N’Keal Harry. The Bears are in contention for the worst receiving corps in the league.


Where do the Lions rank in the division at WR?

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