If you watch any of the crappy “hot take” shows, we envy you. Skip Bayless is out there shouting about how his Cowboys will win the Super Bowl even though Dallas has two playoff wins in the past two decades. Stephen A. Smith is screaming because he ran out of words in his pocket thesaurus. Meanwhile, while these guys get paid millions of dollars to spew crap out of their mouths, we are crunching the numbers trying to predict what’s going to happen in the next NFL season.
While most of the NFL and its fans are focused on quarterback play, no QB would be successful without an elite wide receiver. Do you think Peyton would have been anything early on without Marvin Harrison? Do you think Brett Favre would have been as good without Freeman, Sharpe, Driver, or Brooks? The receiver position is an integral part to any quarterback’s success. That’s why we care so much about where these free agent and top prospect receivers end up in 2018. That all being said, line up in the slot, get of the jam, go deep, think of other receiver puns, and catch 15 bold predictions for where these wide receivers will end up next season. We’ll also throw in a wrench of including some college studs and where they’ll start their NFL careers.
15. Sammy Watkins – Carolina Panthers
It’s a homecoming for Rams wide-out and former Clemson receiver, Sammy Watkins. Throughout his career, Watkins has not lived up to his pre-draft hype. He was supposed to be the next great receiver in the NFL, but has fell flat on that goal. In 2017 with the Rams, Watkins has been all but shut down, despite Jared Goff and the Rams finding success as a young team coming into their own. His rookie contract is up at the end of the year, and he probably will jump ship out of Los Angeles.
Where to exactly? Why not the Carolina Panthers? The team just traded away Kelvin Benjamin and they can’t rely solely on Devin Funchess to be their no.1 receiver going forward. Newton could utilize Watkins’ skills, and help bring Carolina back to the explosive offense they had a couple of years ago. We’ll see how it all works out, but Watkins needs to find his forever home.
14. Marqise Lee – Los Angeles Rams
The former USC receiver has yet to make a serious mark on the NFL. He’s shown flashes of explosiveness and brilliance, yet hasn’t been consistent. Through half of the 2017 season, Lee’s production has been minimal and despite Allen Robinson being out for the year, Lee’s production hasn’t gone up, despite more snaps. In the past, he’s taken a back seat to fellow young Jaguar receivers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. We think that Lee will make a homecoming to Southern California in the offseason.
The Rams have exceeded expectations this year, and Lee would be a great addition to a below average receiving corps. Sean McVay will be able to utilize Lee’s big play ability and maybe the Rams can bring home an NFC West title in the process. He will have to compete with fellow receivers Austin, Kupp, and Woods, but can still fit into Los Angeles’s game plan.
13. Jarvis Landry – New York Giants
Landry has to be one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL. He has the speed to torch the defense, but has developed his short and intermediate game in the past few years. The only problem is that Miami has not had an elite quarterback getting him the ball. Things have gotten even tougher this year, with Tannehill being out for the year and QBs like Jay Cutler and Matt Moore throwing him the ball. Landry needs to go somewhere we he can shine under the bright lights.
There is no better place to shine than the Big Apple. Landry will join former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., and torch secondaries in the NFC East. Eli Manning may not be what he once was, but he’s still capable of getting the ball out. Plus, with the way this season is going, it looks like the Giants may be getting ready to draft Eli’s replacement in the 2018 draft.
12. Calvin Ridley – Chicago Bears
The Bears need some help in the passing game. Alshon Jeffery left in free agency, Cameron Meredith is out with an ACL, Kevin White is out with a broken collar bone, and newcomer QB, Mitchell Trubisky, has almost no talent on the outside. In fact, they were able to beat the Carolina Panthers, 17-3, with two defensive touchdowns and Trubisky throwing a total of four completions. No, that’s not a typo, they only had four completions.
Calvin Ridley would make a perfect fit for the Bears offense. Currently, he is ranked third among draft eligible receivers, and could go in the first or second round. He doesn’t have a huge frame, at only 6’1″, 190 lbs., but has the play-making ability that the Bears need. Expect Chicago to take him in the late-first or early second-round.
11. Martavis Bryant – Cleveland Browns
Martavis Bryant is one of the biggest divas in the NFL. Currently, he’s upset because he’s not being used enough in the offense and has demanded a trade. The Steelers don’t need Bryant and plan on benching him for the indefinite future. Despite him causing a distraction, he’s still a talented receiver and could help the team out in case of an injury. But in the offseason, I would trade him to none other than the Browns.
Why Cleveland? Because the front office in Pittsburgh needs to teach Bryant a lesson: the team comes before the individual. Right now in the Steel City, there are too many roosters in the hen house. Bryant is now on the chopping block, and should have just kept his mouth shut. Plus, it’s not like Cleveland wouldn’t want him. They finally have Josh Gordon back and building a one-two tandem of Gordon and Bryant could finally give the Browns a respectable receiving corps.
10. Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
There is no way that Jacksonville lets Robinson go in free agency. He’s played on a different level and is a franchise player. Since he came into the league as Jacksonville’s second round pick in 2014, the former Penn State receiver has been nothing but sensational. In 2015, Robinson caught 153 balls for over 1,000-yards, despite the Jaguars going 5-11 on the season. Unfortunately for Robinson, after only grabbing one ball for 17 yards in 2017 against the Texans, he tore his ACL and was ruled out for the season.
Hopefully, Robinson will make a full recovery, and be back in position to lead the Jaguars to an AFC South title. Now, Jacksonville just needs to bring in a quarterback better than Blake Bortles, and they might be successful.
9. Equanimeous St. Brown – Cleveland Browns
Move over Haha Clinton-Dix and Jim Bob Cooter, Equanimeaous St. Brown will grab the title as the best name in the NFL in 2018. I think his parents just wanted to use every vowel possible in his first name. The receiver out of the University of Notre Dame has been catching scouts’ eyes, despite the Fighting Irish’s lack of a pass game. In 2016, St. Brown hauled in 58 receptions for 961 yards and 9 TDs. His production has dropped off in 2017, but he has the tangibles to be a great receiver in the NFL.
Queue the Cleveland Browns. I fully expect them to grab St. Brown in the early second-round of the 2018 draft. Cleveland needs a big play receiver, and the 6’5″ wide-out could bring in a whole new dimension to their dismal offense. St. Brown will need some help at QB though, since the Browns will most likely take Rosen, Darnold, or Allen in the first-round.
8. Eric Decker – Seattle Seahawks
Decker, who once was a big play receiver at Denver and New York, has not made an impact with the Titans offense. The 30-year-old out of the University of Minnesota has not been a fit in the Titans offense and we fully expect him to jump ship once his contract is up. Many think that Decker is done and will retire, and go home to his stunning wife, but we think that he still has some gas left in the tank.
The best landing spot for Decker is definitely the Seattle Seahawks. They have their lead receiver in Doug Baldwin, but Decker’s big body would be a great weapon in the Seahawks offense on the other side of the field. He is not someone who is going to great in the fantasy game, but can surely make an impact on the field.
7. Danny Amendola – Denver Broncos
Doesn’t it feel like Amendola is a lesser version of Wes Welker? A short, white receiver that catches short to intermediate route when needed. It’s pretty much a requirement for Belichick’s offense. Through 2017, Amendola has made an impact when he is healthy, but after this season, Amendola will be a free agent, and since he is so injury-prone, I doubt the Patriots will sign him again.
Just like Wes Welker did at the end of his career, we expect Amendola to sign with the Denver Broncos. Emmanuel Sanders has been injury-prone, and Denver could use a possession receiver to help move the chains. Amendola would be a perfect fit in Mile High, as long as Mr. Elway can look past his history of injury.
6. Christian Kirk – Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a damn good football team. Dak Prescott has turned out to be a true player, and Elliot can run it down the throat of any opposing defense (despite his upcoming six game suspension). Their defense has stepped it up in this year, and they are tenth overall in total yards allowed. Dallas should be a contender for years to come.
That being said, other than Dez Bryant, they lack big play makers on the outside. Queue top WR prospect out of Texas A&M, Christian Kirk. He’s a player that could develop into a number one receiver, and Jerry Jones could bring in an in-state hero! We’ll see if Dallas has a high enough pick to take Kirk, but it would be a great story to see him stay in the state of Texas.
5. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Again, not another hot take, because Davante Adams will remain a Green Bay Packer. Despite going out with a vicious hit from Danny Trevathan, Adams has been productive when he’s on the field.
Fellow receiver, Jordy Nelson, is getting old at 32 years old, and the young star, Adams, is slotted to be Green Bay’s next number one guy. Adams will be Rodgers’ favorite target for years to come.
I want to take a step back and commend Green Bay for developing wide receiver talent. Let’s take a look at their top guys since Rodgers took over. First, it was Donald Driver and Greg Jennings that dominated from 2008-2012. Then, Jordy Nelson dominated and now it’s Adams’ turn. The Packers have done an amazing job at developing receiver talent from the draft, and that’s why Adams will continue to remain with Green Bay.
4. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald will be a free agent at the end of the 2017 season, but is there any doubt that he will remain an Arizona Cardinal? Absolutely not! Fitzgerald is a sure fire hall of famer and will have his jersey retired at the end of his career. Arizona will probably sign him to a one- or two-year deal, so that he can retire on his own terms. Rumor has it that both the Patriots and the Bills are interested in the former first round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, but that won’t happen. He’s a legend in the desert, and is just an all-around great guy. The 10-time pro-bowler holds multiple NFL records, but has yet to grab a Super Bowl victory. We’ll see if he his desire to win a championship outweighs his desire to remain a Cardinal next season.
3. Mike Wallace – San Francisco 49ers
Wallace has bounced around the NFL the past few years, from Pittsburgh, to Miami, and now at Baltimore, but still has some fight left in him. He is the prototypical deep threat receiver who has proven him self, but is getting up there in age. The 31-year-old speedster out of the University of Mississippi can still take the top off the defense. In Baltimore, they are not utilizing Wallace to his full potential, and since he will be a free agent in 2018, we expect him to look for other opportunities.
A great fit for Wallace is San Francisco. The 49ers could get him at the veteran minimum, and help out Jimmy Garoppolo or any potential rookie quarterback they take in the draft. On the other side of Pierre Garcon, Wallace could regain his deep threat capability and look like the Mike Wallace of Steelers lore.
2. Alshon Jeffery – Detroit Lions
Jeffery has finally found an offense that fits him in Philadelphia. Carson Wentz knows how to get him the ball when it matters, and the Eagles’ offense looks unstoppable. Jeffery’s numbers may not scream number one receiver, but the former University of South Carolina Gamecock has made plays when they need him most. It’s even been written that Jeffery has put aside his diva-like nature, and is now only worried about winning a championship.
So, with all that, you think that the Eagles would re-sign Jeffery for another season. We don’t think that’s the case. Jeffery will jump back into his old division and join the Detroit Lions for the 2018 season. He has the big body and playing style that Detroit needs to get to the next level, and Stafford will feed him the ball, just like they did to Calvin Johnson.
1. Terrelle Pryor Sr. – Cincinnati Bengals
The real question we all have is: what exactly is Terrelle Pryor? At Ohio State, he dominated at quarterback, but his athleticism did not translate to NFL QB success. So, he moved to wide receiver where in 2016, he caught 77 balls for 1,007 yards for Cleveland. Despite being offered a similar amount to stay with the Browns, Pryor jumped ship in 2017 to head to the Washington Redskins. So far in 2017, he has performed well below his expectations.
Pyror clearly possesses talent, and needs to be in an offense that utilizes his skills. The Cincinnati Bengals are the perfect team for Pryor. The coaches in Cincinnati are familiar with him, and he would be a perfect no.2 to A.J. Green. Not to mention, once John Ross gets healthy, that passing attack could be one of the best in the NFL.
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