Analysis

Top 5 pass-catching skill groups in the NFL

Everyone knows the NFL is a passing league. Teams rely on passing the ball more and more every season. Quarterback is obviously the most important player, but athletic wide receivers, tight ends, and pass-catching running backs make throwing the ball much easier.

If you take the quarterback off every team and replace them with a league average quarterback, who is the best equipped at the skill positions to elevate the quarterback on passing plays? Doesn’t matter who’s on the offensive line or how good at running the ball a team may be. This is strictly pass catchers. Here’s the top 5 teams.

5. Dallas Cowboys

Key players: WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Gallup, WR CeeDee Lamb

There’s no question Dallas has one of the top offenses in the NFL. In 2019 the Cowboys averaged the most yards per game and were second in passing yards per game. Then they went out and drafted one of top rookie wide receivers in CeeDee Lamb. Lamb joins an impressive wide receiver core that features Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup who broke out in 2019 with 1,109 yards. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is no slouch as a receiving back with 54 receptions in 2019.

The Cowboys have the potential to be higher, but Gallup only has one successful season under his belt and while Lamb has the potential to be a star it’s difficult to predict how rookies will adapt to NFL competition. Also, while tight end Blake Jarwin is reliable at tight end, he’s not a game changer. Every other team on here has a tight end or two better than Jarwin.

4. New Orleans Saints

Key Players: WR Michael Thomas, TE Jared Cook, WR Emmanuel Sanders

Not only do the Saints have the luxury of having future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees at the helm, they also have a lot of pass catchers around him. Michael Thomas is one of the top wide receivers in the league and maybe the best route runner. Jared Cook is one of the most underrated tight end in the league and Alvin Kamara is a very good receiving back.

The Saints added veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders which adds some much-needed depth. Sanders gives the Saints a true number two wide receiver and gives the Saints an experienced and productive receiver opposite of Thomas.

While the wide receiver core falls off after that, “quarterback” Taysom Hill is a threat in the passing game and as a receiver and gives the Saints an element no other team in the NFL has.

3. Cleveland Browns

Key Players: WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Hooper

The Browns had a lot of hype coming into 2019 and a lot of that was because of their skill positions. While that led to a very under whelming 6-10 record, they’ve actually gotten even better at the skill position this offseason.

The Browns signed tight end Austin Hooper to a 4 year, $44 million contract and solidified the position by pairing him with David Njoku. While Njoku has expressed wanting out of Cleveland, the Browns will still be loaded. They have two of the top wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. While Beckham has battled injuries and seen his production dip the last couple of years, there’s no questioning his talent. Complementing him is Landry who runs great routes and seems to catches everything thrown his way.  The Browns will also get a full season of Kareem Hunt who is a threat catching passes out of the backfield.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Players: WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski

Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Tom Brady and do you know why? It’s because of the weapons he gets to throw the ball to. Mike Evans has recorded over 1,000 receiving yards all six seasons he’s been in the league and it one of the top deep threats. And on the other side of Evans is one of the best kept secrets in the NFL, Chris Godwin. In 2019, Godwin was third in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,333 yards and tied for fifth with 9 touchdowns.

What might be even more impressive than the duo at wide receivers, is the trio at tight end. Cameron Brate and OJ Howard have been strong for the Bucs the last couple of seasons. Now bring in legend Rob Gronkowski and you have the best tight end room in football. Gronk probably won’t be the same player he was in New England, but he’ll be the best fourth or fifth option in the NFL.

The Bucs and Browns have a real case for being the top team on this list, but speed kills and nobody has more speed than my number one team

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Key Players: WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, WR Sammy Watkins

The Kansas City Chiefs have the best player in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but even without Mahomes they have the best group of pass catchers in the NFL. They have the fastest player in the NFL in Tyreek Hill and another top 5 speed threat in Mecole Hardman. They make it much easier to take the top off of defenses. And if safeties start playing back to give up the big play guess who’s waiting underneath? The best tight end in Travis Kelce. Kelce is a nightmare matchup. He’s too fast and quick for linebackers and too big for safeties.

I haven’t even gotten to Sammy Watkins. Watkins may not have lived up to his initial contract with the Chiefs, but he has still been a productive receiver. He runs crisp routes and is hard to bring down in the open field.

The Chiefs also added tight end Ricky Seal-Jones and drafted running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, both of whom are expected to be added threats in the passing game.

The Legion of Zoom is the most dangerous group of pass catchers in the NFL and they have the best quarterback throwing them the ball.

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