The receiver position will be deep in 2022, and it only gets better as this year’s draft class looks solid and will offer at least seven immediate starters, but also has quality depth throughout the class. I recommend taking one of the players from the top six to ensure you have an elite and reliable playmaker at the position. After A.J. Brown they all have blemishes, but they also have upside. Pocket your top six stud and you will feel better about chances with the rest. I wouldn’t mind starting a draft with Deebo Samuel (6) and waiting until Michael Pittman Jr. (23) to get your second wideout. The position has studs and depth to offer. Let’s begin our breakdown with the top 40.
1. Justin Jefferson | 22 | Vikings
2. Ja’Marr Chase | 21 | Bengals
3. Tyreek Hill | 27 | Chiefs
4. Cooper Kupp | 28 | Rams
5. Davante Adams | 29 | Packers
6. Deebo Samuel | 25 | 49ers
7. Jaylen Waddle | 23 | Dolphins
8. A.J. Brown | 24 | Titans
9. CeeDee Lamb | 22 | Cowboys
10. D.K. Metcalf | 24 | Seahawks
11. Tee Higgins | 22 | Bengals
12. Stefon Diggs | 28 | Bills
13. Diontae Johnson | 25 | Steelers
14. Terry McLaurin | 26 | Commanders
15. Mike Evans | 28 | Buccaneers – Mike has the most consecutive 1,000 yards receiving seasons to start a career (8) in the NFL. Measuring at 6’5″ with long arms and good hands, Evans can high-point a ball even as he slows down later in his career. Losing the GOAT to retirement won’t help his prospects, but six of his eight consecutive thousand-yard seasons came sans Brady. Under contract with Tampa until 2024. This four-time Pro Bowler will continue to be a dependable source for touchdowns and yardage into his early 30s.
16. DeAndre Hopkins | 29 | Cardinals – The offense was allayed in Arizona without DeAndre Hopkins. This makes sense because the former 1st round pick has a Hall of Fame career: 10,581 yards, 68 TDs, and 789 receptions on 1275 targets. Three years remain on his current Cardinal contract. The nine-year veteran says he is ahead of schedule in his rehab from knee surgery and is poised to reach his 7th 1,000 yard season in 2022.
17. Chris Godwin | 25 | Buccaneers – After a 2021 season in which he set career highs in catches (98) and targets (127) Godwin will be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market in 2022. His quarterback will be important, but equally important will be his wide receiver teammates. Godwin excels as a slot receiver, so finding a team with a good outside receiver (a la Mike Evans) is imperative.
18. Amari Cooper | 27 | Cowboys – That age 27 is surprising to see. It seems like he’s been around forever. The former Bama receiver is not old, he’s just that good. Cooper has a Rolodex stuffed with moves, and the four-time Pro Bowler has been getting open for nearly a decade, healthy or otherwise. He offers steady production but also has big boon potential. 7,076 yards and 46 touchdowns in his eight-year career, Amari’s not done yet. The 4th overall pick of the 2015 draft is under contract in Dallas for three more seasons.
19. Keenan Allen | 29 | Chargers – 730 receptions, 8,535 yards, 48 touchdowns 1070 targets over his nine-year career. Allen remains under contract for three more seasons with Justin Herbert in Los Angeles. A great place for Keenan to continue to build his Hall of Fame resume.
20. D.J. Moore | 24 | Panthers – I have always thought there is more in Moore, we just havent seen it yet. The former Maryland Terrapin has always struggled with drops and his struggles continued in 2021, dropping eight passes. 2021 wasn’t all bad; the former 1st round pick reached career highs in receptions (93) and targets (163), but could only muster 1157 yards and 4 touchdowns with all that added volume. His career numbers are solid (300 catches, 4,300 yards in four seasons) but not spectacular. Improved play from the Quarterback position and a few more trips to the endzone (only 14 career touchdowns) would help put this D.J.’s career on the right track.
21. DeVonta Smith | 23 | Eagles – Lithe athlete (6′, 170lbs) who put up decent numbers (64 reception, 916 yards, and 5 touchdowns) in a rookie season that many have referred to as a disappointment. Eagles’ first-year head coach Nick Sirianni improved as a play-caller as the season progressed, and I am sure he is working on ways to optimize the passing attack in 2022. I tend to think the former Heisman winner and 10th pick of the draft will be heavily involved in that game plan.
22. Marquise Brown | 24 | Ravens – Brown’s career has progressed with great alacrity. He has improved in almost every statistical category during his first three seasons in the NFL. Receptions went from 46 to 58, to 91. Yards: 584, 769, 1,008. He has maintained a career 12 yards per catch average, so he hasn’t lost his big-play ability. Hollywood Brown is ready for stardom, and I think he can become the leading (target) man in an action-packed Ravens passing offense.
23. Michael Pittman Jr. | 24 | Colts – Huge leap in year two, but he can only be as good as his QB allows. A big athletic receiver (6′ 4″ 225lbs) who runs a 4.52 40-yard dash. No Pittman is a special player who can get open against the tightest coverage. This is a buy-high player for me.
24. Gabriel Davis | 22 | Bills – The group of WR in Buffalo is talented and deep. Gabriel Davis may have the best raw tools out of the ensemble. 6′ 2″ 210lbs with a 4.5 forty, it is easy to fall in love with the measurables, but what has me optimistic is his commitment to improving. Davis started all 13 games in his true freshman season with UCF. The Golden Knights went undefeated that season and their star true freshman WR totaled 27 receptions, 391 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Gabriel followed that with a 53 catch, 815 yards, and 7 TD sophomore season. Davis’s junior season was even better 72 receptions, 1,241 yards, and 12 TDs. His two seasons in Buffalo are nearly statistically identical 35 catches, 575 yards, and 6-7 TDs. But, his 4 touchdown game against the Chiefs in Kansas City has people thinking Davis could leap forward in 2022. Count me in with that lot.
25. Chase Claypool | 23 | Steelers – 6’4″ 240lb and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, that’s a good place to start. Chase has the tools to be one of the best WR in the NFL. He has been good but not great so far. The first two NFL seasons look similar, with about 60 catches on roughly 115 targets for 870 yards. A new Steelers QB in 2022 could bring more looks in the passing game. Claypool is a solid bet to improve those numbers.
26. Tyler Lockett | 29 | Seahawks – The guy makes plays. Has been doing this for years and will continue to put up quality numbers. This former K-State Wildcat posted a 73 catch, 1,175-yard season in 2021. His third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Lockett accomplished the feat in 2021 on the strength of the big play. He averaged 16.1 yards per catch, the second-highest of his seven-year career (Lockett averaged 16.9 yards per catch in 2018). Tyler has gotten the most out of his 5’10’ 175 body, so this production is likely his ceiling, but it’s a beautiful vaulted ceiling, with a gorgeous skylight window free from any feces (bird or otherwise). Lockett can sustain this production for the remaining four years of his contract.
27. Hunter Renfrow | 26 | Raiders – An inventive route runner is a QBs best friend and Derek Carr and Hunter Renfrow have matching half heart neclaces. The Raiders 5th round pick in 2019 became their top weapon on offense in 2021 putting up career highs in receptions (103), targets (128), yards (1,038), and touchdowns (9). Look again to the targets (128) and receptions (103), that’s a pretty good success rate. I expect Derek Carr noticed the success and will continue to feed Refrow passes. New Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels was in New England during the Wes Welker and Julien Edelman days, Hunter Renfrow is prepared to follow in their footsteps.
28. Kadarius Toney | 23 | Giants – All upside pick here. 6′ and 195lbs and he runs a 4.39 forty. The Porsche needs to escape the garage in New York. Kadarius is a hold your breath type of player. He can take it to the house from any spot on the field. He doesn’t have the production of Tyreek Hill, but opposing team’s fans get a similar lump in their throats when he has the ball. New Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll needs to be singing Tony! Toni! Tone! every day of the offseason. Whatever it takes to get the ball to this young playmaker.
29. Amon-Ra St. Brown | 22 | Lions – Got better as the year progressed. If the second half of 2021 is any indication of his future, we may have a top 25 player at the position. The fourth-round pick from USC proved to be a capable possession receiver in Detriot hauling in 90 passes for 912 yards and 5 touchdowns. St. Brown lacks top-end speed and size, so his future is likely inside at the slot receiver position. If he continues to create space from defenders and reliably catch the ball, he could have a nice career.
30. Elijah Moore | 21 | Jets – 5′ 9″, 180lbs waterbug is quick as a hiccup and could be a dynamic playmaker if the Jets can ever get their offense off the ground. The former Ole Miss Rebel had a solid rookie season putting up almost 600 total yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. Elijah ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at his pro day in Oxford, with that kind of speed, more big plays are ahead.
31. Calvin Ridley | 27 | Falcons – On Halloween, one week after missing the team’s trip to play in London, Calvin Ridley announced he was taking a break from football to work on his mental health. The break lasted the entire season. Calvin will enter free agency in 2022. His story will be among the most interesting of the offseason. Ulitmate boom or bust player.
32. Odell Beckham Jr. | 29 | Rams – A new lease on life after a move to Los Angeles, Beckham is ready for the spotlight. Injured his knee during the Super Bowl and his absence affected the Rams offense in a big way. Odell looked comfortable on the big stage before the injury with 2 catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. The three-time Pro-Bowler has stated he will restructure his contract to stay with the Rams (he will need to, they have Robert Woods under contract until 2025). It all comes down to the health of his knee.
33. Mike Williams | 27 | Chargers – The 7th overall selection of the 2017 draft is set to hit free agency after setting career highs in receptions (76) targets (129), and yardage (1,146). The Chargers would love to keep him in L.A. but they will have plenty of competition for his services. I will be interested no matter where he winds up, but a return to the Bolts would be the best-case scenario for all parties involved.
34. Darnell Mooney | 24 | Bears – The Bears struck gold when they drafted Mooney with the 173 selection of the 2020 NFL draft. This speedster from Tulane followed his solid rooking year (61 catches 673 yards) with an even better second season in Chicago (81 catches for 1,055 yards). Darnell’s blistering speed and breakaway ability complement Justing Fields skillset well. I expect he Mooney will see 130+ targets in 2022.
35. Brandon Aiyuk | 23 | 49ers – Aiyuk has the potential to be one the best after-the-catch players in the league. Brandon’s challenge is execution before he catches the ball. The former Arizona State Sun Devil arrived with 49ers as a route running neophyte. He’s hung in there for his first two seasons in The Bay providing similar production– about 800 total yards and 7-5 touchdowns. The former first-round pick could leap with improved quarterback play in 2022.
36. Jerry Jeudy | 22 | Broncos – Former 15th pick of the draft and Biletnikoff Award winner needs to step up and be a playmaker in 2022. Even with early career struggles, Jeudy has an average of 14.7 yards per catch. He is a great route runner with incediary speed. This is a player that could break out in 2022, and if he gets a better QB, there could be a fantasy difference-maker.
37. Allen Robinson II | 28 | Bears – Robinson has had four very good seasons in his career and all three required 150 targets. The former Penn State Nittany Lion is a volume-based player. His skills would work best with a team that runs a short to intermediate west coast passing offense.
38. Brandin Cooks | 28 | Texans – A seven-year career in which he’s totaled 8,000 yards and 48 touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who many colleges didn’t think could play WR. Most schools recruited him as DB. Head Coach of the Oregon State Beavers Mike Reilly believed in Cooks and played him at WR, the rest, as they say, is history. Unlike Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks can put up production without 150 targets, due to his speed and big-play ability. Brandin has plays of 64, 71, and 98 yards in his career. This is a great bargain at 38.
39. Michael Thomas | 28 | Saints – Big news dropped on Sunday for Michael’s future in the NFL. He and the Saints plan to make it work for the 2022 season. New Orleans is facing some salary cap issues and they could save a load by trading Thomas, so I question the team’s motivation to have him play for them in 2022. The relevant part of the story is that Michael Thomas appears to want to play football again. If he does, whether it be in the Bayou, or elsewhere, you want him on your team. His last full season in 2019 went like this: 149 (single-season NFL record) receptions for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. If the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year is fully recovered from his ankle injury, he could jump into the top 10 of the list.
40. Rashod Bateman | 22 | Ravens – The first-round pick from Minnesota was injured during the preseason and missed the first five games of the 2021 season. Bateman had a solid 12 game rookie season, 46 receptions for 515 yards, and a touchdown. Rashod has room to improve in 2022, but I am concerned he will be no better than the third target in the Ravens’ passing game.