FOOTBALLSTORIES TOP TEN NFL RECEIVERS GOING INTO 2023
It’s the NFL Offseason and with that comes the swirling rumors, PR puff pieces, and of course everyone’s favorite, scorching hot takes.
While these hot takes are mostly driven by media members and any fan with a social media handle, we occasionally get them straight from the source, the athletes themselves.
These tend to be my favorite because of the way they really energize the discussion around the topic and get the cognitive juices flowing.
This is exactly what happened to me when I heard Philadelphia Eagles starting WR DeVonta Smith put his name in the top 10 Wide Receivers in the NFL discussion while guesting on the Paper Route Podcast with Ashley Nicole Moss and former NFL WR Brandon Marshall.
He bristled at the idea of being mentioned in the top 5 based off his limited experience in the league compared to that of the upper echelon but spoke with clarity when saying “I’m definitely a top 10 WR”.
This got me thinking and led me here to breakdown who I believe are the league’s top 10 WR’s and where I believe Smith may fit into that discussion.
No. 1 - Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings
The irony here is that the Eagles had an opportunity to take Jefferson in the 2020 NFL Draft but instead went with Jalen Reagor one pick beforehand and if they would have landed on the correct player there is a good chance Smith never comes to Philly.
His silky-smooth route running allows for him to win quickly from the inside or outside and his contested catch ability makes him one of the most dynamic “just throw it up” receivers in the game.
Coming off a season in which he led the league in both receptions (128) and yards (1,809) on route to an Offensive Player of the Year Award, he’s poised to just keep pushing forward.
No. 2 - Davante Adams – Las Vegas Raiders
After 8 seasons with QB Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the last four of which he spent in consideration for the top spot here, Adams put up similar numbers (100 receptions, 1,516 yards, and 14 TD’s) with worse QB play.
Hard to knock him down this list too far and considering the style similarities of him sharing all of Jefferson’s strengths in an older body, he still deserves this rank going into 2023.
No. 3 - Ja’marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals
Coming into the league during the same 2021 NFL season as Smith, Chase has done nothing but rekindle and even further build the connection him and QB Joe Burrow shared at LSU.
Even with missing five games due to injury he posted his second straight 1,000-yard season along with 9 TD’s proving to be one of the league’s premier young big play threats.
No. 4 - Tyreek Hill – Miami Dolphins
After Patrick Mahomes signed a deal worth $450 million in total, Hill left for Miami to secure his own bag and just kept on prospering even without him and offensive mastermind Andy Reid.
Hill posted career highs in receptions (119) and yards (1,710) while playing only 13 of 17 games with QB Tua Tagovailoa proving his production can prosper even without perfect QB play.
No. 5 – AJ Brown – Philadelphia Eagles
While Smith may not think of himself as worthy of the top 5 discussion, his running mate who also set career highs in receptions (88), yards (1,496), and tied his high in TD’s (11), is surely worthy.
His arrival in Philadelphia not only benefited him but can be seen as the turning point for QB Jalen Hurts while opening up more opportunities for Smith to thrive.
No. 6. – Stefon Diggs – Buffalo Bills
Stefon Diggs has been the model of consistency ever since arriving in Buffalo putting up three straight 100 receptions and 1,000-yard seasons.
Last year saw Diggs also post a career high with 11 TD’s and his ability to break down a defense downfield along with QB Josh Allen’s cannon for an arm isn’t going anywhere soon.
No. 7 - Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
The only reason why after a 2021 season that saw him win the WR Triple Crown leading the league in receptions (145), yards (1,947), and TD’s (16) that he slipped this far is health.
Kupp missed eight games last year after needing ankle surgery and it’s yet to be seen how effective he can remain but deserves the benefit of the doubt that he could bounce back in a big way in 2023.
No. 8 - Deebo Samuel – San Francisco 49ers
While Samuel is another great talent who was hampered by injuries in 2022, his ability to contribute as a pass catcher or rusher makes him a dynamic offensive weapon worth betting on upside with.
Rushing for 3 or more TD’s in three of his four seasons along with remaining a threat to score from anywhere on the field as a receiver gives him a leg up on most.
No. 9 – Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With life after Tom Brady, we may not see Evans hit the numbers we have grown accustomed to seeing but then again, he’s riding a nine-year streak of 1,000-yard seasons dating back to his rookie year, most of which were with below average QB play.
This measure of consistency, being a big target for whoever is under center to look for, has helped Evans carve out a role as one of the game’s best since 2014.
No. 10 – DeAndre Hopkins – Free Agent (Formerly Arizona Cardinals)
The Arizona Cardinals pressing the reset button this offseason has temporarily left one of the game's best without a home but with rumors building about Kansas City and Buffalo competing as top suitors, he should land on his feet just fine.
Hopkins has battled injuries and suspensions over the last 2 seasons but after being considered the league’s best for several years before that there is optimism that he can return to the same dominating form.
No. 15 – DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles
After the top 10 I have two division rivals in Washington’s Terry McLaurin and Dallas’s CeeDee Lamb along with Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf and Miami’s Jaylen Waddle ranked slightly above Smith.
I agree with Smith’s own assessment that he hasn’t done as much in the league as some of the guys he’s in conversation with and also agree that his ceiling to surpass them is purely based on opportunities in production.
After 2022 saw him set the Eagles single season record of receiver receptions with 95 along with just shy of 1,200 yards the sky truly is the limit and I for one am betting on him inching closer to that top 10 after 2023.
6043: No. 1 - Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings. Photo by Andy Lewis.
8523: No. 8 - Deebo Samuel – San Francisco 49ers. Photo by Andy Lewis
9149: No. 5 – AJ Brown – Philadelphia Eagles