Ranking the top 5 WR corps in the country

We take a look at the PFF numbers to count down the best receiving units in college football.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

(AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

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.

Vinnie joined PFF as an analyst in 2015. College football will be his primary focus throughout the season.

  • Rjd Omaha

    My Husker grandfather is turning in his grave now. Husker receivers #4 in any country is an armageddon, hell frozen over stat.

  • Robert Lloyd

    This only shows the wrong direction that Nebraska has been heading in recent years with now 3 offensive coordinators (Watson, Beck, and Langsdorf) all throw first ideologies. Nebraska will never be a consistent winner (as in the past) with this type of thinking. Been a fan for a half a century since the start of the sellout streak. I know my Huskers.

    • Mick Hanson

      Times change football rules change the forword pass is here to stay

      • wyobraska

        Give Riley a chance. Look how close he is to a great season in his first year. In year 3 and 4 the Huskers are in the top ten!!

    • Tim Novacek

      i appreciate your a long term fan.. I have a question.. It gets really cold In new England. Should they change there pass first approach so they can win more games in the long run??????? Don’t you think we can win however as long as we have the correct players for a system? Don’t you think Nebraska coaches have adapted to our talent and met in the middle? Could you possibly have more patience than a few games to make these conclusions? just some things to think about. maybe your right.

      • Mark

        How do you explain the play calling that has put us in third and long more than any team I can remember? We are putting the game on Tommy’s arm and in third and long we are depending on a 53% passer?
        What would Tommy’s completion percentage be without these 1st and 2nd down passes that go nowhere but still count as a catch? What about coming out of the locker room at the half against Illinois and what do we do???? Throw the bomb against a 30mph wind!!! The 3 and out against Wisconsin with a minute left in the game and Wisky had no time outs!!!! I could go on and on about the management of these games. Even against Minnesota with 11 minutes left and a 16 point lead, we are throwing on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down and then punting!!!! Anyone that knows football knows that the clock was the enemy of Minnesota, yet we insist on throwing incomplete passes to stop the clock!!!! That game could have easily turned into a disaster!!!! Then we would be 2-5!!! How can you defend the stupidity of the play calling and game management? I think we are screwed for a few more years. This staff doesn’t have it and it’s glaring.

        • Dan Johnson

          Why are you not in coaching. Since you obviously know more than the coaching staff of mist schools if not all;) Though I sometimes wonder about some of the ay calling, to put the blame on coach Riley is erronious. And Langsdorf is/was a very highly regarded QB coach so I think he knows what he is doing more than you. You ever think maybe on the pass into the wind they were trying to catch opposing team off guard? Let me know when you land that coaching job n where;)

          • Mark

            I am not going to 2nd guess my opinion that having Tommy throwing bombs into a 30 mph wind is stupid or clever. I believe it is stupid. Play calling, especially in the 4th quarter has been horrid. Running pass plays that put us in a punting situation with 11 minutes left in a game and a 16 point lead is stupid. The clock is our friend, use it!!! Run the ball and make it much tougher for the other team. Don’t help the other team. And that has happened all too often. We are helping the other team late in these games and it is glaring. You don’t have to be a coach to know this.

    • Adam Fisher

      Because you want them to run the option again. To me this shows we are headed in the right direction.

    • Bob-o

      Robert Lloyd = major idiot

  • Bob-o

    With Nebraska’s amazing new offensive coordinator and the best WR coach in the country, I can see Husker WR corps moving up this list and staying in the Top 5 for many years to come!

  • Mark

    I agree with Robert. NU is heading in the wrong direction AGAIN! I’m not advocating the option game per se but, all good teams run the ball first. There are no good teams that throw the fly pattern against a 30mph wind on first down, then after 2 more incomplete passes, punt. The weather on the west coast can permit pass first offenses, but even at that, the better teams are able to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball. 3rd downs are more manageable and if you need a yard on 4th down, you can get it. These Watson, Beck, and Langsdorf offenses won’t be successful the majority of the time. Even with better players, it is not going to win any kind of championship.

    • Bob-o

      The weather argument is total BS … have the Green Bay Packers or New England Patriots ever given up on the pass because they’re in the north. NO! … And guess what Mark the Moron, through 7 games the Huskers have 255 runs and 244 passes so your idiotic point is mute anyway. http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=210320194

      Langsdorf is an offensive genius and will bring Nebraska to the top!

      • Mark

        You are right about these pro teams being able to pass. But I would guess that both teams that you mentioned are not 3rd and 10 as much as we are. They both control the line of scrimmage and both use the run well. We do not run the ball well. It is scary to me to see Newby in there on 4th and one. We aren’t getting the push from our offensive line to allow that type rb to succeed.

      • bobbo

        moot. just for future reference.

      • bobbo

        and, by the way, I like your name.

        • Bob-o

          Had it my entire life.

  • Mark

    One more thing about this HC and staff. We are making serious game management mistakes so far this season. Some of these mistakes would make a High School coach cringe.

    • Bob-o

      Please go root for Iowa. You’re not a Husker fan but a troll … and a stupid one at that.

      • Mark

        Don’t take this personal, but the day will come very soon that I will be telling you: I told you so!!! You do seem a little immature Bob-O. If you don’t agree to disagree with me, you resort to name calling. That’s classy!!

  • Pepe Le Pew

    If Nebraska had an accurate QB, they would be higher. But I guess the OC’s dogged stubbornness and insistence to throw the ball despite what the situation may call for increases their receiving number too so maybe it is a wash.

  • Tiger92

    If Mike Williams hadn’t hurt his neck Clemson is hands down the best WR 5

  • Dan Johnson

    Imagine where the Huskers would be ranked if yhey had a QB who coud consistently throw on target to his receivers? Armstrong does ok but lately reverting to his bad throwing habits. Too bad its not O’ brien at the helm;)