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NFL Draft

Who Has NFL’s Worst WR Unit?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 24, 2021
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A strong, reliable receiving corps is just as important as a strong, reliable quarterback and offensive line in the pass-happy NFL. Some teams have had lasting success with their passing offenses; Kansas City is chief among them, finishing the last three consecutive seasons with a top-five passing offense and leading the league last year. 

There, of course, are a number of things that have aided Kansas City’s success, but some teams aren’t as lucky. While we approach the turning point of the offseason, where rosters begin to take shape and players get acclimated during training camp, new or storied quarterbacks will have less-than-ideal receiving corps to work with. The unofficial receiving depth charts for some teams highlight some of the best and worst units across the league.

We’ve seen Super Bowl-winning turnarounds when teams prioritize their passing game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an inconsistent unit in 2019 and entered win-now mode after securing quarterback Tom Brady. In 2020, Tampa Bay had the second-best passing attack en route to hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Other teams have worked to upgrade their offenses in an effort to contend for a championship. Both teams in New York added to their offensive arsenal, and the Baltimore Ravens looked to the draft to give quarterback Lamar Jackson more talent. This is only scratching the surface in upgrades and still, there are teams severely lacking in their receiving units.

Two teams are among the most worrisome.

Both the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions have a concerning group of receivers. When looking at these two teams, in particular, New England has the edge with arguably the greatest mind in football, Bill Belichick, and a former MVP under center, Cam Newton. The Patriots drafted Mac Jones but it’s unclear if he’ll have a starting role in Year 1. New England was able to bring in new talent but is still lacking a true WR1; and why the Patriots are one of the potential destinations for Julio Jones. This, however, isn’t anywhere near as bad as the situation in Detroit; it’s safe to say the Lions have the worst receiving corps in the league. 

The team’s former top pass-catchers—including Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, and Kenny Golladay—are no longer in Detroit. The Lions went on to sign free-agents Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams, an effort by new general manager Brad Holmes to surround the young pass-catchers remaining with veteran teammates. Quintez Cephus enters 2021 as their top pass-catcher following his rookie season in 2020. It’s a dire situation for the rebuilding team, and everything Holmes has been doing, adding in veteran receivers and drafting Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round, seems like a stopgap and a concerning situation for quarterback Jared Goff. 

Detroit made the blockbuster trade for the former Los Angeles Rams passer but took its foot off the pedal when it came to adding talent around him. The Lions are hopeful they don’t need a big-name receiver on the other end of Goff’s passes, and only time will tell if this gamble was worth it. As for now, it seems foolish to think the Lions can compete with the wide receiver room as it stands now. They may also not be all that concerned anyway, as their rebuild will be a slow process, needing patience from all parties involved. 

If the Lions are able to address their still-glaring need with the $18-plus million dollars in available salary-cap space, they’ll certainly be in a better position by the start of the regular season. If not, adding a receiver will be a top priority heading into 2022.

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