The wide receiver position is currently thriving in the NFL. More than ever before, we’re seeing elite players make their mark at the position, all over the league. In what was a once a run-first league, the position has become one of the most important on the field, and the transition to a passing-oriented league has only helped to see that materialize. It seems like every team has their go-to receiver, the one that they trust to take over a game at a moment’s notice.
However, just because the high end of the position is some of the best we’ve ever seen, that doesn’t mean that quality is consistent throughout everyone who plays the position. The low-end wide receivers are still terrible, and just like their playmaking counterparts, just about every team seems to have one. Most teams carry five or six receivers on the active roster, and there’s just not enough to talent to go around, ensuring that they’re all superstars. Let’s have a look at some of the worst the league has to offer offer for every respective team in the league right now.
Listed below are the worst wide receivers on every NFL roster in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals: Aaron Dobson
He hasn’t played in a regular season game since the 2015 season, but Dobson is still on the Cardinals 90-man roster at the moment, and hoping to make a comeback. He was one of Bill Belichick’s patented wide receiver picks who was a bust in short order, and the former 2nd-round selection is looking to re-establish himself.
He picked a good offense to do it in. Bruce Arians throws the football a lot, and isn’t afraid to call anything in the playbook, in any situation. The issue is that Dobson isn’t very good, and he’s not proven in a game situation for several years now. Still, with the departures on the Cardinals’ receiving corps over the last year, he could make the active roster. Just don’t expect him to set the world on fire.
Atlanta Falcons: Mohamed Sanu
Considering the fact that Sanu got a four-year contract before the 2016 season, based off of very little production with the Bengals, it’s fair to say that his first season in Atlanta didn’t go as well as the team had hoped. Sure, he showed flashes of a competent second option behind Julio Jones, but other players like Taylor Gabriel proved to be more dynamic, the longer the season went on.
There’s no question that Sanu is playing for his future in Atlanta this season. Another year of somewhat underperformance could signal his way out the door. He needs to prove that he can be more consistent, and not just have a good game out of every three to four that come along. Right now, he’s been pretty disappointing, and the Falcons will be looking for more production.
Baltimore Ravens: Michael Campanaro
As a former 7th-round pick, nobody really expected Campanaro to do anything at all in the NFL, and despite this, he’s carved out a decent career for himself under the circumstances. He was on the Ravens’ roster for the past three seasons, but that may be coming to an end. He got only a single target to his name last season, and there’s little reason to expect that to improve.
He may still be valuable on special teams, but there’s no question that he’s easily the worst receiver on the Baltimore roster at the moment. He may continue to defy the odds and stay on the team, but there’s also a chance he could be cut. Either way, it’s impressive he was able to make the roster at all, but with far better options available in the paling game, the Ravens may want someone who has the ability to play special teams, and a standard position as well.
Buffalo Bills: Corey Brown
A peripheral receiver on the Panthers for the past few seasons, there weren’t any high expectations attached to Brown, but that still doesn’t mean he’s any good. The issue is, the Bills may need him to see some significant number of snaps. Sammy Watkins is a great frontline receiver, but he’s always hurt, and it’s a lea of faith to assume that he won’t be this year. Zay Jones is only a rookie, and figures to be a possession receiver.
Brown may have some experience, but he also has never been able to carve out a starting role for himself, despite ample opportunity in Carolina. It should be more of he same with the Bills, as he struggles to make an impact on the roster, but his versatility should keep him around for the time being. Still, Brown shouldn’t be an enticing target for Tyrod Taylor this season.
Carolina Panthers: Devin Funchess
Few receivers in the league have been as disappointing as Funchess has over the past couple of seasons. A 2nd-round pick paired with Cam Newton’s big-arm playing style was thought to have instant results, and many people were excited at the prospect of them playing together. Instead, Funchess has been middling as a spot starter, failing to make an impact despite significant opportunity.
With Kelvin Benjamin definitively back in the fold for the Panthers, how much time does Funchess have left to make an impact? Probably not much, as he’s creeping up on the end of his rookie deal. Without a complete turn around in 2017, he’s likely going to walk in free agency, and be forced out of Carolina relatively quickly.
Chicago Bears: Rueben Randle
By far one of the laziest receivers in the league, Randle is big on talent, and short on work ethic. After leaving the Giants in 2016 after four seasons with them, he failed to make Philadelphia’s roster, despite the fact that they were depleted at the receiver position. He spent the 2016 season without playing a single snap for any team during the regular season.
It’s unlikely that rebuilding Chicago will be able to turn his career around. Randle has established a reputation for himself at this point, with little chance of seeing the light and putting in the work. Consider him a long-shot to be productive, and he may not even make the Bears’ roster when it’s all said and done. He’s a waste of talent if there ever was one.
Cincinnati Bengals: Brandon LaFell
LaFell’s bulk statistics may not be too bad, but he’s still not a good receiver. He’s actually one of the luckiest ones in all of football. He spent two years with the Patriots, whose system has the ability to make just about any receiver look good. Then, he goes to the Bengals, and has the luxury of playing alongside A.J. Green, who is one of the best receivers in the game today. Talk about a good break.
The reality is that LaFell isn’t very good, and if it were up to him alone, he would struggle to put up half the numbers that he has at times during his career. The simple eye test says he is not a good player, and he has failed every time he hasn’t been surrounded with elite talent.
Cleveland Browns: Ricardo Louis
The Browns spent a boatload of picks on wide receivers during the 2016 draft, and almost none of them materialized into productive starters. Louis was a 4th-round selection, and was wholly unremarkable in his rookie season last year. Even with a ton of different quarterbacks throwing him the ball, it would have been nice to see more production.
Really, any of the Browns’ receivers could have been listed here, but Louis was simply the most mediocre, at a reasonable draft position. Maybe a second year in Hue Jackson’s system can turn his play around, but it’s looking like a long-shot as of right now. He doesn’t have many receivers to beat out for playing time, but if he doesn’t improve, he won’t last long in the league.
Dallas Cowboys: Brice Butler
Nothing more than a fly-by-night insurance policy for Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley on the Dallas receiving corps, Butler is a castoff from the Raiders that joined the Cowboys in 2015. His most likely opportunity for more targets would be to overtake Terrence Williams on the depth chart, but it just hasn’t happened yet, and Butler remains squarely on the bottom half of the position group.
He’ll likely make the team this year, but still won’t be anything more than a peripheral target in 2017. Butler is nothing more than dead weight on a team with a ton of offensive weapons, and you won’t see him lighting up the stat sheet this season. You wouldn’t expect much more from a 7th-round pick, but that’s the situation currently at hand for Butler.
Detroit Lions: T.J. Jones
Jones has struggled to get on the field for the Lions, amidst a crowded receiver corps, and his own limitations as a player. As a former 6th-round pick, he wasn’t expected to do much, but he’s hung around on the roster, now heading into his third season in the league. There’s not much reason to expect his fortunes to change anytime soon, still sitting behind Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and others on the receiving corps.
It’s certainly not his on-field ability that will make him stay in Detroit. As a receiver, Jones’ production has been paltry, and he hasn’t been able to give himself much of an opportunity for more targets. He’s a fringe player on the roster, and nothing more.
Denver Broncos: Bennie Fowler
As an undrafted player out of Michigan State, Fowler has defied the odds and stuck on the Broncos’ roster for the past couple of seasons. Despite adequate size, and a fluid style of play, he just hasn’t been able to get on the field much. It doesn’t help with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders playing in front of him, but the end result is the same.
Fowler could stick around as a depth receiver, or he could be cut before training camp ends. His situation is very much up in the air, and it really depends on how well he’s able to gel with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch this offseason, to see if he can make the cut. It’s not a surefire bet, but he still may be on the roster, just barely.
Green Bay Packers: Geronimo Allison
The Packers have a really good receiving corps, and one of the best quarterbacks in the sport so it’s fair to say that Allison got lost in the shuffle last season. He only played limited snaps, and rests as the fourth receiver on the Green Bay depth chart. He didn’t do much to earn more playing time, but with Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson in front of him, that would prove a difficult task for anyone in his position.
We’ll see if a new season, and a second year in the league yields better results for the undrafted Allison, but ultimately it seems his role is that of a depth player and nothing more. He may improve on his next-to-nothing production from last season, but won’t become one of the favorite targets for Aaron Rodgers.
Houston Texans: Jaelen Strong
Eventually expected to take over a leading role in the offense as a former 3rd-round pick, Strong has fallen significantly down the Texans’ depth chart, with little recourse to rebound this season. He’s been utterly ineffective the past two seasons, and it’s just a matter of time before Houston feels the need to move on from him.
If you come to think of it, Strong just isn’t a very good player. While the Texans haven’t had a stable quarterback situation over the last few seasons, most would expect a 3rd-round pick to overcome it to some degree, and prove why they were taken in the top-half of the draft, but Strong has failed to do that. His days with the team may be waning, and he’ll have to do a lot to prove that he deserves significant targets in 2017.
Indianapolis Colts: Phillip Dorsett
Dorsett has had every opportunity to succeed in the NFL, but just hasn’t been able to put it together. A former 1st-round pick by the Colts, he was immediately paired with one of the best deep ball throwers in Andrew Luck, which should have put him on his way to a massively productive career. But he proved himself to be a one-trick pony, relying on speed, and little else to make an impact.
Certainly, Dorsett is going to get some targets this season, but it seems like Indy is really starting to sour on him. He’s really playing for his future with the team right now, and it’s not definite that he has the skill set necessary in order to live up to his draft position. Dorsett has been a major disappointment since coming into the league, even though he walked into a pretty good situation, all things considered.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Arrelious Benn
While injuries have prevented him from some playing time during his career, Benn wasn’t productive even when he was on the field consistently for the Buccaneers. A former 2nd-round pick, many were high on Benn coming out of Illinois, and they expected him to turn into a frontline receiver in the NFL. That didn’t happen, and now Benn is struggling to even stay on an active roster.
The Jaguars have other enticing options at receiver, and they certainly don’t need to keep Benn around to be successful. If he makes the team, it’ll be as a depth target that can fill space if needed, but even that’s not a guarantee. He just hasn’t lived up to his draft position, and just isn’t a threat in the grand scheme of things.
Kansas City Chiefs: De’Anthony Thomas
A confirmed gadget player and kick returner at this point, Thomas unfortunately will not be able to aid the Chiefs’ receiving corps, even when they desperately need the help right now after releasing Jeremy Maclin. Thomas isn’t an every-down player, and is instead a specialist. He’ll have a role on the team, but he’s not going to be able to fill the void that a go-to receiver left.
Some would say that kind of return on a 4th-round pick is good enough, but for Thomas to remain stagnant as a player is kind of disappointing. He’s had several years to improve into some kind of an offensive threat, but it just hasn’t happened. As we’ve seen with other players on this ranking, returners are definitely valuable, but that doesn’t make them good receivers. Thomas is just another example of this.
Los Angeles Chargers: Travis Benjamin
After a 2015 season where he seemed to emerge as a frontline receiver on the Browns, Benjamin’s first year with the Chargers didn’t really go as planned. He wasn’t able to equal his production in Cleveland from the year prior, and there are real questions as to whether he’ll survive long-term on the depth chart.
The Chargers saw other players make a name for themselves in Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman last year, leaving Benjamin mostly in the dust. If Keenan Allen can stay healthy, and rookie Mike Williams makes an immediate impact, we may see Benjamin off the roster sooner than we expected. While the other receivers on the Chargers’ roster are flourishing, his play has been underwhelming, and he’s going to run out of opportunities.
Los Angeles Rams: Robert Woods
For some reason, the Rams deemed it necessary to give Woods a five-year contract this offseason, for upwards of $10 million. It was a head-scratcher to say the least, as Woods has been underwhelming during his time in Buffalo, where he’s gotten plenty of opportunity to show that he belongs as a frontline receiver.
He’ll likely start on the outside for the Rams this year, but they actually have a lot of other receivers with far more long-term potential. Tavon Austin, Cooper Kupp and even Pharoh Cooper deserve to get more looks than Woods does, although it is unlikely to happen. Woods isn’t a good player, and Los Angeles was desperate for another presence at receiver after losing Kenny Britt to free agency. Otherwise, he never would have gotten such a contract.
Miami Dolphins: Leonte Carroo
Granted, the jury may still be out on Carroo, since last season was just his rookie year after being drafted in the 3rd round of the draft. He’s also buried on the depth chart behind Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, so he’s not going to get the most opportunity to begin with. He’ll need to earn his playing time in the future, but the early indications weren’t good last year.
He started two games last year, played in 14, and never was able to stand out with the limited opportunity. His numbers were pedestrian; exactly what you would expect from an underwhelming mid-round rookie. While he should see marginally more targets this year, he’s unlikely to up his production to the point where he overtakes any of the big-name receivers on the Dolphins roster right now.
Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell
He was one of the most coveted receivers in the 2016 draft, and now Treadwell may be fighting for his future in Minnesota this season. He barely got on the field, and almost failed to register a single statistic in the 2016 season, despite being healthy for the majority of it. That’s really not a good sign from someone who was a top-20 pick. Actually, it’s the least ideal thing that could have happened.
There’s time for Treadwell to turn it around, but if his trajectory stays anywhere near where it is right now, he’s going to end up being one of the biggest busts of his generation. The Vikings are not loaded at the receiver position, so there’s no reason why he should be so low on the depth chart. It looks like Treadwell may be a botched pick, which would really hurt the Vikings.
New England Patriots: Andrew Hawkins
A confirmed journeyman at this point in his career, Hawkins is going to have to compete for a spot on the Patriots’ roster this year. He’s a former Bengal and Brown, excelling in neither of those places. His best season came during the 2013 campaign in Cleveland, where he failed to breech 850 yards receiving, even though he got 112 targets. That’s not a good look.
The Patriots usually have no problem with bringing in new receivers, but Hawkins isn’t one that will likely stick around. He’s an aging veteran with not much left in the tank, and New England has already established a receiving corps loaded with talent, that can work more cohesively with Tom Brady. Hawkins will have to play above his skill level, and it’s just not likely to happen.
New Orleans Saints: Ted Ginn
The Saints have one of the best young receiving corps in the league. Ginn is the lone veteran, and also the worst of the bunch. After being a top-10 pick many moons ago, Ginn hasn’t lived up to his billing in the NFL, and has only been effective as the occasional deep threat. That skill set may be valuable to a great quarterback like Drew Brees, but it doesn’t make Ginn any better of a receiver.
Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas are all younger and better, and will get the lion’s share of the targets this season. Expect to see Ginn on the field in certain packages to make use of his speed, but his skill level doesn’t warrant anything more than that. He’s been an underwhelming player in the NFL, and that isn’t going to change now, in the twilight of his career.
New York Giants: Dwayne Harris
The Giants put a lot of effort during the past few seasons into making their receiving corps one of the best in football. Now laying claim to Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall, they seem to have accomplished that feat. One name who isn’t good however, is Harris, and he’s hanging on by the skin of his teeth.
Harris is a solid return-man, but has little value on the field outside of special teams. He barely registered a statistic as a receiver last season, and that’s been the case for most of his career, outside of his first year in the New York. He’ll likely make the Giants’ roster as a returner, but is really one of the most limited receivers in the league. He’s a one-trick pony, but every team needs a good returner, so he’s able to stick around.
New York Jets: Devin Street
Street has been on both the Colts and Cowboys, and been a mediocre target in both offenses for the past three years. He stands a decent chance to be a bigger player on a depleted Jets offense, which is desperate for any playmakers they can find. Unfortunately, Street isn’t likely to be one. He’s underperformed in every situation he’s ever been in. ‘
His 2016 season with the Colts yielded six total targets for the entire season and that doesn’t bode well for him this year in New York, especially with no established quarterback in the fold. Street is looking at being a peripheral player at best, and won’t end up redeeming himself with the Jets this year.
Oakland Raiders: Cordarrelle Patterson
The Raiders were able to land Patterson this offseason from the Vikings, but even the presence of the best offense in football is unlikely to turn his game around. For one, he’s definitely behind Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper on the depth chart, and probably a few others. Second, there is no reason for Oakland to give him significant targets when he’s struggled so much in Minnesota.
It’s fair to say that without his kick returning ability, that Patterson would be one of the biggest wide receiver busts of the last 10 years, and that still may be the case. He’s been utterly underwhelming in every situation he’s been put in as a receiver, and is now just hoping that his return ability gets him a few more years in the league. Oakland doesn’t need him to be a great receiver, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been a big disappointment.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor
Agholor is easily one of the biggest busts of the last decade for the wide receiver position. Selected in 2015 to anchor the position group, he’s almost done the exact opposite, and made the position a major question mark for the Eagles. Agholor has terrible hands, exhibits mental errors on the field, and psychologically can not get a grip on the game, even having to sit out of a game last season because he essentially psyched himself out.
Now, with Philly’s receiving corps looking much better in 2017 with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Agholor is likely to move several slots down the depth chart. He’ll get another year to prove himself, but the clock is ticking, and everyone knows it. The Eagles can’t afford to provide Carson Wentz with sub-par weapons at skill positions. If Agholor isn’t able to improve rapidly, this will be his last year on the Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Darrius Heyward-Bey
The story of Heyward-Bey’s selection in the draft is one of Al Davis’ infatuation with pure speed, and a lack of overall talent evaluation. There’s no denying that he was fast, but that’s not the only reason a player should be taken at 7th-overall. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what Davis and the Raiders did in the 2009 draft.
Heyward-Bey proved early that he had terrible hands, and as a result wasn’t cut out to be a true go-to receiver in the NFL. In fact, his game had glaring flaws in just about every area except for pure speed, and it’s caused him to bounce around the league, seeing him currently buried on the Steelers’ depth chart, behind the likes of Antonio Brown. That doesn’t bode well for his chances to suddenly get a ton of targets this late into his career.
San Francisco 49ers: Bruce Ellington
It’s make-or-break time for Ellington, who has sent his first two years in the league as a peripheral receiver in San Francisco. He needs to prove that he can be a productive NFL player, and maybe Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is the catalyst to make that happen. Otherwise, Ellington is dead in the water, and may not even make it to the end of his rookie deal, given his poor play so far.
There likely are no favorites right now on the 49ers roster, and it is probably more or less an open competition at most positions. Ellington should take advantage of this, because it’s the best chance he’s going to get to turn his career back on track. It’s not likely to happen, but at least he has somewhat of a fighting chance.
Seattle Seahawks: Paul Richardson
Another big 2nd-round draft disappointment, but the difference is that Richardson has had a consistently great quarterback, and not suffered massive injuries that could have derailed his career. He simply wasn’t worth the high selection, and his production has never been good in the three years he’s been in the league. With just two touchdown catches since he’s been in the league, Seattle was hoping for far more.
Richardson likely will sit on the bottom half of the Seahawks depth chart in 2017, but he’s unlikely to stick around after his rookie deal is up. He has the raw athleticism to be a good receiver, but he can’t put it all together, and he’s going to be looking for a new team sooner rather than later. Even the presence of Russell Wilson hasn’t been enough to turn his career around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Huff
Released from the Eagles in the middle of last season due to a firearms and marijuana charge, Huff is trying to rebuild his career in Tampa Bay. There was once a time when some people thought that the former 3rd-round pick was going to be a key cog in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia. But that notion, as well as Chip Kelly himself, have vanished in just a few years, and Huff is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The advantage for Huff, is that while he’s only a gadget receiver on offense, he is a great kick returner. Actually, he’s one of the best in the entire league. He has a very good chance of keeping a roster spot because of that, although as mentioned, his skills as a receiver are not up to par with those of nearly everyone else on the Bucs’ very talented players at the position.
Tennessee Titans: Harry Douglas
Once upon a time, Douglas was a 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL, if only for a single year with the Falcons. Now, he’s barely scratching the Titans’ roster, which has a bevy of talent at wide receiver. Last season in Tennessee was his worst yet in the NFL, and Douglas’ time in the league could be wearing thin.
How valuable is he to the Titans when they have Richard Matthews, Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe and now Eric Decker in the receiving corps? Probably not very much. To make matters worse, there are likely younger players on the roster who can play better on special teams, while filling a depth receiver position. Needless to say, Douglas just doesn’t carry much value anymore, at this point in his career.
Washington Redskins: Brian Quick
We’re not sure what compelled the Redskins to acquire Quick in the offseason, but it certainly wasn’t his play with the Rams over the past five years. Despite being a 2nd-round pick, he’s been a faceless, mediocre receiver ever since he’s been in the league. Even on a receiving corps as historically depleted as the Rams’ has been, he hasn’t been able to get on the field much.
And he doesn’t stand much of a better chance with the Redskins. He’ll sit behind Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder on the depth chart, and probably do very little that warrants him moving up. It’s a curious signing in the first place, but it’s even stranger because Washington already seems to have their confirmed receivers in place for 2017.
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