We’ve all read plenty of clippings about the strength of the 2020 NFL Draft class. Not only are there studs at the top of the board in Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb but the depth of possible strong contributors goes well beyond the capacity of the draft’s first two days.
It couldn’t have come at a better time because when you spin around the league, there are some downright brutal wide receiver corps.
Here, I’ll look at the top 10 teams that are in the worst shape at wide receiver and who’ll need to add a few players in the 2020 NFL Draft.
No. 1 — New York Jets
Sam Darnold has to look across the AFC East to see what the Bills have done for fellow 2018 NFL Draftee, Josh Allen, and feel some frustration. Buffalo has acquired two of the best separators in the league in each of the last two offseason in Stefon Diggs and John Brown.
The Jets have added Breshad Perriman.
Jamison Crowder is a fine option in the slot but make no mistake: That is the only proven piece of this receiver room. Perriman played good football as a spot deep threat toward the end of 2018 and 2019 on two separate teams. Perhaps he brings some that to New York but even then, the depth chart is ghastly after that.
The Jets could take a receiver No. 11 overall and then double-dip later. Asking Darnold to play with a group even resembling what they have here in early April would be a disservice to their young quarterback. Another USC product in Michael Pittman would help out Darnold.
No. 2 — Las Vegas Raiders
The newly minted Las Vegas Raiders do not have an enviable wide receiver depth chart. To put it plainly, Zay Jones currently inhabits a starting spot in 11 personnel packages. That is not what you want. Tyrell Williams showed last year he’s a strong option as a starting outside receiver with needed big-play juice while second-year player Hunter Renfrow is a more than capable in the slot. They also signed Nelson Agholor.
The Raiders desperately need a No. 1 type receiver to take this offense further. With a Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb on board, suddenly a quartet of that rookie, Williams, Renfrow and the enthralling tight end Darren Waller looks quite good.
No. 3 — Minnesota Vikings
It’s hard to argue with the return the Vikings got for Stefon Diggs. Considering Diggs had essentially been live-tweeting his plans to escape for two years, they did well despite losing a star in the midst of a contending window.
The bad news is, they’ll probably have to turn right around and spend either the Bills first-round pick or their own to secure his replacement. With Diggs gone, this is now one of the worst wide receiver groups in the league.
The team can feel reasonably confident that the 29-year-old Adam Thielen can return to his pre-2019 form but the depth chart after him is hideous. They signed Tajae Sharpe to a one-year, $1 million contract in March. He’s currently the most proven receiver behind Thielen.
His career-high 522 yards came in 2016.
Minnesota can be as run-heavy as they want but they can’t field a receiver corps like this in the regular season.
No. 4 — Philadelphia Eagles
If Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are completely washed up, then you can easily argue the Eagles should be higher on the list. If they can still offer just one more season of production, Philadelphia need only look for a rookie to push one of them down the pecking order in Year 1.
Realistically, the Eagles should not rely on either veteran for this season, especially considering their ability to stay healthy. Behind them rests slot man Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who is coming off a poor rookie season. Not one thing to get too excited about.
The Eagles can feel all right with a dampened receiver room considering they have two gifted pass-catching tight ends. However, it’s past time to give Carson Wentz a gifted young wideout to grow up with. Philadelphia should have no shortage of options in this draft and can go in plenty of different directions.
A big slot receiver could make an instant impact. A vertical threat could make an instant impact. An after-catch specialist could make an instant impact. This team just needs help.
No. 5 — Washington Redskins
Washington made a run at Amari Cooper in free agency. The organization knows they need major help at the top of their receiver depth chart and were willing to pay big money for it.
Washington begins a run of teams on this list with an extremely promising player in the No. 1 spot but problematic depth behind him. These squads are tough to sort.
Terry McLaurin showed legitimate star-level traits as a rookie. His route running is clean and he snared tough catches in tight windows, but there’s work to be done behind him. Fellow 2019 rookies Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims also showed promise in their inaugural NFL campaign.
If you squint at them, you can see the makings of a true No. 1 in McLaurin, a rugged possession No. 2 in Harmon and a flashy utility slot man in Sims. Of course, that’s assuming all three reach their full potential. By pursuing Cooper, Washington has already shown they’re rightly not making a blind assumption that happens. Expect that to once again show in their draft class this April.
No. 6 — Baltimore Ravens
Marquise Brown is wildly promising as both a spectacular deep threat and a full-field route runner. After dealing with some hangover following a foot injury in college, he played in 14 games and scored seven touchdowns. The best is yet to come for this player.
There are certainly questions after that but the cupboard isn’t completely bare. Willie Snead is a competent slot receiver who has had two solid seasons for Baltimore. Miles Boykin was a strong prospect in last year’s draft. He flashed potential in limited glimpses after being drafted in the third round. He’s far from a sure thing but at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, he should be the perfect theoretical complement to Brown.
The Ravens can obviously do better and another rookie to push Snead/Boykin would go a long way. Ultimately, if Brown takes another leap forward toward stardom, that’s probably good enough for a run-heavy team with a strong tight end room.
No. 7 — San Francisco 49ers
Emmanuel Sanders proved to be a godsend for a woebegone receiver corps in 2019. He left the team in free agency, setting San Francisco back a step.
Luckily, Deebo Samuel stepped up last season. As a rusher/receiver, he brought the same versatile and bully-ball brand of play to San Francisco that he did in South Carolina. He also showed up better than expected as a downfield receiver on post and dig patterns.
With Kendrick Bourne just a solid rotational player, Jalen Hurd an unknown, and Dante Pettis coming off a mysterious second season, there’s work to be done here. The 49ers snagged the 13th overall pick from the Colts in the DeForest Bucker trade. Don’t be shocked if they turn that pick into a receiver like CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy if either falls past New York and Las Vegas.
No. 8 — Denver Broncos
Any of the teams listed ahead of the Broncos here would love to have a top receiver like Courtland Sutton. Entering into his third-year, Sutton has shown all the signals you want out of a true No. 1 receiver. Despite a quarterback roller coaster, Sutton produced steady numbers while dominating at the catch point and taking big steps as a route runner. He’s such an impressive player, he alone keeps Denver from climbing up this list.
Beyond Sutton, the Broncos are quite bad. It’s not unreasonable to keep a candle lit for slot receiver DaeSean Hamilton but it’s flickering after a letdown in 2019. He did show some chemistry with Drew Lock late in the season, with 44 percent of his yards coming in the final two games.
Denver holds the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Speedster Henry Ruggs is a popular mock draft pick for them in that spot. He’d be a slam dunk if available but expect more than one receiver to be a part of this team’s draft class.
No. 9 — New England Patriots
In the wake of Tom Brady’s departure, it’s hard to ignore just how brutal the Patriots offensive depth chart appears on paper. The backfield is murky and the tight end room is bereft of anything promising.
The receiver room isn’t much better but there are makings of something competent here. Julian Edelman is one of the league’s premier slot receivers. Mohamed Sanu is a solid veteran who played hurt in 2019. N’Keal Harry got off on the wrong foot with injuries during the offseason but shouldn’t be written off in just his second season.
Nevertheless, New England needs to add a body or two. They’ll be breaking in a new starter at QB in 2020 and right now, the roster isn’t equipped to support an inexperienced passer.
No. 10 — Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams is one of the five best wide receivers in the NFL, so that gives the Packers a big bonus that none of the other teams on this list comes close to boasting. He kept them from cratering in this exercise.
For Aaron Rodgers’ sake, however, let’s all hope this team attacks the pass-catching positions as if they do indeed have one of the two or three worst corps in the league. Too long has this organization asked Rodgers to do more with less and at this stage of his career, that’s too big of a burden.
Beyond Adams, Allen Lazard and Devin Funchess are the most promising players on the roster. That tells you all you need to know. Those guys should be good options for the No. 3 and 4 positions, at best. Green Bay needs to go all-in on making Rodgers’ life easier in the twilight of his NFL life. A few receivers in the draft are a must.
Close — but it could be worse
Despite making the worst trade of all time involving their All-Pro wide receiver, the Texans aren’t a complete train wreck at the position. They're in better shape with a quartet of Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, Randall Cobb, and Keke Coutee than a lot of teams out there despite making such a hideous trade. That’s still quite a volatile group and they will surely draft a receiver at some point.
A sentence we never thought would read true: DeVante Parker played legitimately awesome last year for the Dolphins. Preston Williams was also quite good in his rookie season and there could be a solution in the slot between Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford. They’ll make an addition but have bigger needs.
T.Y. Hilton should breathe a sigh of relief with a veteran quarterback back in his life to revive the short game for the Colts. Parris Campbell needs to be healthy after a lost rookie season but has promise. Don’t sleep on Zach Pascal as a competent piece in the rotation. Again, they’ll add some more options but nothing major.