The NFL’s top 10 receiving corps by PFF rating

Which teams have the best receiving corps in the NFL? Nathan Jahnke ranks the top 10, according to our PFF ratings.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The NFL’s top 10 receiving corps by PFF rating


Our quest to find the top 10 units at each position group continues; this time looking at the receivers. There is plenty of debate to who the best receiver is, or the best receiver duos. It’s great to have an all-star receiver, but if they are facing a team with an all-star cornerback or two, then the quarterback also needs to rely on their third and fourth options.

Here is our ranking of the top 10 receiving corps in the NFL, accounting for the top three receivers as well as the top receiving tight end.

1. Indianapolis Colts (79.0 average PFF rating for starter)

The Colts hit a home run with Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft, and followed it up with an impressive collection of pass-catchers in Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton. At this point all of them should be at their prime. Even though Andre Johnson isn’t the player he once was, he still graded out as an average receiver in 2014 — which is an upgrade over what they had in Reggie Wayne. Finally, when Luck threw at third wide receiver Donte Moncrief last year, he had an NFL passer rating of 122.0 — which was sixth-best of all NFL receivers, and took place during Moncrief’s rookie year. While no single player is among the best at his position, the Colts have weapons all over the field.

2. Dallas Cowboys (78.9)

There are only six teams in the league who have both a wide receiver and tight end with PFF ratings above 80. The only one with a pair both above 83 are the Cowboys with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten — and both are above 87. While Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley aren’t big names, they aren’t liabilities to the team, either. Williams averaged 18.3 yards per catch last year with only three drops. Beasley had only one drop, and forced 11 missed tackles.

3. Denver Broncos (78.3)

The Broncos are a receiving group that keeps getting better. Last year, the addition of Emmanuel Sanders gave them arguably the best one-two punch at wide receiver in the NFL. They are the only team with both starting wide receivers with a PFF rating above 84. They added Owen Daniels in free agency, who is one of five tight ends to receive a positive receiving grade each of the last four years. The rest of that list? Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. This leaves the only unknown as Cody Latimer, who had just 37 snaps as a rookie.

4. New York Giants (77.6)

Having the best wide receiver in football certainly helps a team on a list like this, but the Giants also have a nice surrounding cast for Odell Beckham Jr. Rueben Randle forced 13 missed tackles on his catches last year, which was 10th-best for all wide receivers. He was also very consistent, with no fumbles and just four drops. Victor Cruz returns as the Giants’ slot receiver, after ranking seventh in the NFL from that position in our yards per route run metric (before his injury). Throw in tight end Larry Donnell, who is a poor blocker but an average receiver, and you have a strong group of targets.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (77.0)

Headlining the Steelers receivers is Antonio Brown, who was our highest-graded WR last year. Even though Martavis Bryant was the Steelers’ third wide receiver, Martavis Bryant had the third-highest yards per route run average among 90 qualifying receivers – a sign of just how efficient he was as a rookie. Heath Miller and Markus Wheaton round out the group, and they are both average players at their positions. Most teams experience some change from one year to another in their receiving unit, but this is one team that will look exactly the same.

6. San Diego Chargers (76.7)

Few teams are as experienced at the receiver position as the Chargers, and what they perhaps lack in excitement they make up for in dependability. Tight end Antonio Gates is no longer playing at an All Pro level, but his drop rate was second-best for tight ends last year. Receiver Malcom Floyd isn’t a household name, but he hauled in 13 deep passes, which was tied for sixth-most in the league last year. Stevie Johnson had a relatively quiet year for the 49ers, but his yards per route run average was 16th-best among receivers. He will make a nice addition to this receiving corps. That just leaves Keenan Allen, who will continue to draw opposing teams’ best coverages.

7. New England Patriots (76.6)

If this were just a list rating the wide receiver groups, the Patriots wouldn’t be nearly this high. However, this includes tight ends, and having the best tight end in the game in Rob Gronkowski certainly helps. He was far and away our No. 1-graded TE last season both overall and as a receiver. Having Julian Edelman also helps the group. From Week 9 on, when Edelman was targeted, the Patriots had an NFL passer rating of 119.3, which was fourth-best for the 30 receivers with the most targets over that span. Brandon LaFell was also a pleasant surprise, with nine touchdowns and 13 forced missed tackles.

8. Arizona Cardinals (76.4)

Now that Larry Fitzgerald is about to celebrate his 32nd birthday, the Cardinals don’t have one clear No. 1 wide receiver, but they have more depth than most teams. Michael Floyd had 482 deep receiving yards and five deep touchdowns which were both among the top eight for wide receivers. John Brown had 696 receiving yards, which was second-most of all receivers who were third on the depth chart last year.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (76.2)

A year ago the Chiefs would have been much lower on this list. Since then they had Travis Kelce emerge as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He ranked No. 2 in the league among tight ends in yards per route run, just behind Rob Gronkowski. In free agency they added Jeremy Maclin, who had the lowest drop rate among all wide receivers last season at 1.16. Rookies both De’Anthony Thomas and Albert Wilson played decently on small sample sizes last season, and should help make the group look better than it has in the past.

10. Seattle Seahawks (76.0)

The Seahawks round out the top 10 thanks to a deep receiving core of adequate receivers as well as the addition of Jimmy Graham, who is a season removed from being our top-graded receiving tight end. WR Doug Baldwin has the right combination of sure hands and ability to make defenders miss. Over his last 15 games he dropped only one pass, and forced eight missed tackles after the catch. After a 100-yard performance in the Super Bowl, Chris Matthews should begin this year as the Seahawks’ third receiver. Even though it didn’t factor into these rankings, high draft picks Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett will also compete for playing time and make the group better in the future.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Jonathon

    Out of curiosity, where would Green Bay have ranked if Nelson was included?

    • Jephree Dagenais

      That was the first thing I thought as well.

    • Brian

      That’s a good question. Green bay should be top 10 even without nelson.

  • jordan

    detroit lions?

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  • TKIY

    Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate aren’t even in your top ten?!

    • bobrulz

      I suppose the problem is they have nothing beyond that, plus Johnson had a down year by his standards.

  • En Cee

    Because ebron was crap I assume

    • TKIY

      Even then CJ/GT3 can cover up a lot of flaws.

      • En Cee

        They’re best tandem but they had a problem with wr3 and TE last year so two great (one of whom missed a lot of games) and two poor equals average to be fair. I’m a Lions fan but see where they’re coming from.

  • Tim Clark

    Damn surprised that Vikings don’t make it with Rudolph, Johnson, Wright, Thielen and Wallace. Will be very highly ranked next year at this time.

  • David K

    Patriots? Minus gronk none would start on other teams. Same with Seattle…Dallas is way overrated

    • Isaac Kaufer

      Edelman would easily start on almost all of the teams… He is basically Wes Welker in his prime, and nobody would put Wes outside of a starting job two or three years back. He caught over 100 catches 2 years ago, and caught 92 this year (Not to mention he THREW for a TD in the playoffs?!?!). Plus he is among the best punt returners in the NFL. He is an incredibly valuable slot receiver

      • Andrew Prince

        Edelman is a utilty 3rd-4th WR at best on any other team.
        He is as much of a product of the hoodie as Matt Cassel was.

        • Brian

          Edelman is one of the toughest covers in the entire league right now. The LOB which might be the greatest secondary of all time had no answer for him. Edelman is a top 20 wr and that might even be shorting him. As far as slot wrs go Id put Cobb 1a and Edelman 1b. I’ll admit many of new England’s players are a product of belichick and or Brady but Edelman is not one of them. His quickness and agility in game was unrivaled last season aside from a handful of players.

          • Andrew Prince

            Edleman is the same as every other WR Brady throws to.
            Fast release, check down, move the chains.

          • David Stinnett

            LOB was down TWO starting CB’s.

          • Brian

            What are u talking about?? The lob wasn’t missing two starting cbs. They started the game with their ENTIRE starting defense intact. Lane broke his arm in the 1st quarter. And they had BOTH of their best pass rushers until Avril was out for the second half. Michael bennett who is their best pass rusher was in for the entire game dominating until the fourth quarter when the pats wore him down by way of 50 plus pass plays. Yeah they had injuries in the secondary and all over their roster just like every single other super bowl team does. Jerod mayo, the pats best lb b4 the season began was out for the super bowl. Hightower, the pats best lb now had a torn labrum in the super bowl. But he made the game saving tackle on lynch. Edelman got destroyed by chancellor and probably had a concussion but kept playing. The point is injuries are not in any way an excuse. The majority of players are injured by the time the super bowl rolls around. And the pats offense dominated that defense for almost the whole game. Brady shot himself in the foot with the two picks but aside from that they pretty much moved the ball at will. I knew they couldn’t completely stop gronk bc Noone can but I didn’t think they’d have so much trouble with edelman. He really is a tough cover. I’ve noticed the wrs Seattle does struggle against mostly are faster or quicker more agile guys. I’m not saying anything less of Seattle’s defense bc I think it is probably the greatest of all time. But I’m also conceding that at this point Brady is pretty much the greatest qb of all time which in my opinion is indisputable at this point given his postseason AND regular season accolades. But Brady couldn’t do it alone and in my opinion without edelman Seattle wins

    • Eric

      wait and see about dallas.

  • Brian

    Wow there is NOWAY seattle should be included in this list. Even w jimmy graham they still have no business on this list. Also I question how big of an impact graham will make and for how long. People forget that graham is already almost 29 and his game is much more dependent upon his athleticism than for arguments sake gronkowksi. Gronks game will age better than grahams. Graham isn’t like Gonzalez who will be effective into his 30s. Personally I thought graham looked like he was declining a tad last season.

    • JohnPaul Sein

      He was injured….LMAO

      • Brian

        Half the league is injured but that’s not an excuse. If a player is injured and isn’t himself for a few games I don’t see an issue but if it affects him throughout the entire season then I think u have to look at it from the perspective that age may be a factor. The truth is graham may be reaching the end of his physical prime and based on his play last season, his age, & him relying so heavily on his athleticism I think it’s fair to compare him to a Julius Thomas type. Graham has been a below average blocker at best & I don’t think he’s the guy that can put up 1300 yards and 16 tds like he did before. Especially when considering the offense Seattle runs I don’t see the transcendent change most are expecting. Graham isn’t a gronkowski that can block like a tackle or catch like a megatron.

      • Javen Cook

        LOOOL

  • Andrew Prince

    Really, no Bills love?

    Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay & Shady/Freddie catching out of the backfield.

    No wonder people think NFL media is getting lazy.
    How is N.E. or Seattle or K.C. ( a team that didn’t have a single TD from a catch) better than Buffalo?

    • Cory Tyler

      N.E. and Seattle didn’t have a single TD from a catch? What season were you watching, because it clearly wasn’t last season. You realize NE and Seattle were in the superbowl last year? Pretty god damn explanatory holy shit.

      • Andrew Prince

        Nice reading comprehension Cory.
        Tell us about the K.C. WR’s from last year…

    • Jonny

      That was in 2014… we have Jeremy Maclin now so… these are based off 2015.

  • JohnPaul Sein

    I am TOTALLY surprised that Seahawks even sniffed the top 10 considering how badly the WR Corps has been perceived by national media and ESPN.. I am happy though! and Green Bay should have been on this list… i forget the mans name #17 but Cobb is going to be ok and #17 did well against the Seahawks in the NFCC..

  • ironcity dave

    How can you not factor receiving yards from RBs when it comes to rating receiving corps? With Bell, the Steelers should easily be top 5 if not 3. Also, how can you rate the Chiefs as top 10, when they had zero TDs from WRs?

  • David Stinnett

    Doug Baldwin was the first undrafted rookie to lead his team in receptions and receiving yards since 1960.

  • Jonny

    I would put…
    1. Packers
    2. Broncos
    3. Lions
    4. Patriots
    5.Steelers
    6. Cardinals
    7. Chargers
    8. Bengals
    9. Chiefs
    10. Seahawks