Ranking the top 5 WR corps in the country
Outside of quarterback, one player rarely defines a team’s success. Whether it’s an All-American lineman, receiver, or linebacker, he can’t do it alone. It takes good, quality depth to succeed as a unit, and as a team. With that in mind, PFF looks to rank the best team units in college football, not by the success of one player, but by the performance of the entire unit.
This week, we rank the top five wide receiver corps in the nation based on their performances and standings in the PFF data.
Editors note: When analyzing grades, any receiver with less than 120 snaps was excluded from the dataset.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Cumulative Grade: 9.8
Average Grade: 1.96
All but one of Oklahoma State’s receivers have earned a positive overall grade through six weeks of the season. Marcell Ateman (+5.7) has the highest grade among Cowboy receivers, posting positive grades in every game but one this year, and even that performance was only slightly negative (-0.1 against Texas San Antonio). David Glidden (+3.3) has performed well across the board, ranking 12th nationally in WR rating (140.0), earning a top-5 catch rate (71.4) on passes thrown 20 yards or more downfield, and posting an impressive 2.73 yards per route run (YPRR) from the slot. If not for his blocking grade being one of the worst in the nation (-1.7), he would have graded out much higher overall. Brandon Sheperd (+1.2), who also ranks in the top 20 nationally for catch rate on deep passes, only adds to this already impressive group of receivers, earning them our final spot on the list of the top WR units in college football.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Cumulative Grade: 11.5
Average Grade: 2.30
Nebraska’s WR corps ranks fourth on our list, with four of their five eligible receivers having earned a positive overall grade through 6 weeks. What carried this unit into the top 5, however, was the performances of Brandon Reilly (+4.6), Alonzo Moore (+4.3) and Jordan Westerkamp (+4.2), with each ranking in the top 50 receivers in the nation. Though they’ve struggled recently, posting their first negative games of the season in Weeks 5 and 6, both Moore and Reilly had fantastic starts to the year and each ranked in the top 15 overall amongst receivers through the first 4 weeks. While Moore hasn’t put up significant yardage numbers, he has provided his QB with a reliable and productive option, posting a WR Rating of 126.0 and hauling in 4 touchdown passes. Westerkamp has presented the biggest threat from the slot for Nebraska, ranking 20th in the nation with 329 receiving yards when lined up as a slot receiver. The Cornhuskers have a well-rounded group of receivers that have provided consistent production through much of the season, earning them a spot in the top five WR units in the country.
3. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Cumulative Grade: 15.1
Average Grade: 3.78
Western Kentucky comes in at No. 3 on our list of the best wide receiver units in college football. Surprised? Don’t be. Look no further than Taywan Taylor, the Hilltoppers’ No. 1 playmaker and a receiver who is emerging as one of the best in the nation. Though he may not get much hype nationally, Taylor has been as productive as any receiver in the country this year, ranking in the top 5 in reception yards and touchdowns, and racking up the most YAC (392) in the nation through 6 weeks. Taylor’s YPRR (4.42) and WR rating (the QB’s rating when a receiver is thrown at) of 148.4 rank him 4th and 5th in the nation, respectively. Overall, Taylor has the 3rd highest PFF grade among receivers this year, at +12.7. Two of WKU’s other top options, Jared Dangerfield (+3.8) and Nicholas Norris (-2.0), got off to slow starts this season, but both players have earned positive grades in each of the last 4 games, with Dangerfield grading out as the 16th best receiver in the country over that span. Norris adds another explosive threat to this Hilltoppers offense, totaling 327 YAC, putting him in the top 10 nationally for that category.
2. Ole Miss Rebels
Cumulative Grade: 17.7
Average Grade: 3.54
While Ole Miss may not have one guy putting up staggering numbers this year, they are the definition of a “Unit”, with each of their top receivers earning a positive overall grade. Quarterback Chad Kelly has spread the wealth evenly, with three of his top 5 options totaling over 300 receiving yards and only one with less than 3 receiving touchdowns through 6 games. Laquon Treadwell is clearly still the top option for the Rebels and leads the group with a +5.8 overall grade, however both Damore’ea Stringfellow and Cody Core are close behind him with grades of +4.9 and +3.4, respectively. To round out the unit, Quincy Adeboyejo and Markell Pack each possess one of the 20 best overall catch percentages in the nation, with a rate above 80 percent for both players. Adeboyejo and Pack have also performed well in the slot, both ranking in the top 10 nationally for YPRR from that position. So while Ole Miss lacks a top receiver yardage wise, all five members of this unit have uniquely contributed to their ranking as the second best WR corps in the nation.
1. TCU Horned Frogs
Cumulative Grade: 31.5
Average Grade: 3.50
TCU has emerged as one of the most feared offenses in the nation over the past few years, particularly with their passing attack. When looking at the PFF grades of their wide receivers this season, you can certainly see why. It all starts with Josh Doctson, TCU’s go-to playmaker and QB Trevone Boykin’s favorite target. Through six games this year, Doctson ranks second in the nation in receiving yards, has graded positively in every game, and holds the highest overall PFF grade (+18.4) of any WR in the nation. While Doctson is clearly the best option on his team, he’s far from the only viable one, as all but one of TCU’s qualifying receivers have earned a positive overall grade. Freshman KaVontae Turpin (+4.6) has had an impressive start to his career, hauling in 6 touchdowns and leading the nation with 3.73 YPRR from the slot. Before breaking his collarbone in week 4, Ty Slanina (+2.3) had the third-highest catch percentage in the nation, securing 91.7 percent of passes thrown his way. Lastly, Kolby Listenbee (+3.5) leads the team with an impressive 22.4 yards per reception. Doctson’s outstanding play thus far combined with TCU’s tremendous depth at the position vaults the Horned Frogs to the top of our WR Unit Rankings.