Who Is The Best Wide Receiver Duo Heading Into 2015?
The amount of talented wide receivers in the NFL right now is unprecedented. When you have this many players capable of terrorizing defenses on a consistent basis, you're bound to get an influx of talented wide receivers on the same team, duos that will really keep defensive coordinators up at night.
And this leads us to everyone's favorite type of analysis: rankings! So with a plentiful array of dynamic wide receivers in the NFL today, which team has the best duo? Let's find out.
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Okay, so right off the bat this one is a little complicated since Bryant isn't technically a starter at this point. But it's hard to keep Bryant off this list, given the potential we saw from him last season. If there was one thing synonymous with Bryant's rookie season, it was big plays. Bryant hauled in seven passes of 20 yards or more last season, and he missed the first six games of the season, and wasn't even getting starter snaps the rest of the way.
At 6'4" and with a 4.42 40 yard dash, Bryant is approaching Calvin Johnson-type measurables. And that's freakish territory to be put in. What Bryant needs to improve on in his sophomore season is his route running and hands. Bryant dropped four passes last season, and with only 31 receptions to boot; that's way too many drops.
Bryant still needs some refinement in his receiving abilities, but he has a distinct advantage over his peers: god-given talent. If Bryant comes close to reaching his potential this year through a full season's worth of production, this tandem will be number one on this list.
Bryant's 5'11" counterpart in this Pittsburgh Steelers' offense plays more like a receiver his size. Brown is exactly how you want a receiver to play the ball, with aggression that makes him a bully on the field. Brown is one of those rare receivers who makes throwing him the ball when he isn't open is a good play.
Brown's ability to haul in a football is arguably the best in the league, and that's part of the reason quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was so comfortable throwing him the ball 178 times last season. What's the other reason, you ask? Brown knows how to get open with his savvy route running ability, which is arguably the best in the league.
Statistically and on tape, Brown was the most dominant wide-receiver in the NFL last season.
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Along with Dez Bryant, Thomas was just handsomely rewarded with a five-year, $70 million contract this offseason and for good reason; Thomas is a match-up nightmare for defenses and the scary part is he is not even a finished product at this point.
His route running could still use refining, but when he improves this facet of his game, he could be the most dominant wide receiver in the NFL. At 6'3" and 229 lbs, Thomas is one of the most athletic players at his position, and uses his strength and explosiveness to blow past defenses.
On the inside of Thomas, we have Sanders. Sanders was a free agent addition for the Denver Broncos last offseason and is now one of the biggest bargains in the NFL. The fact that the Broncos are only paying him $5 million (per year) should be criminal.
Sanders has great hands and is able to make even the most difficult catches; he only dropped two passes last season and proved to be a more than reliable target for Manning, amassing 101 receptions with 1,409 yards.
Sanders is explosive and knows how to make defenders look silly on a consistent basis.
With the type of production Sanders is expected to have this season, the Broncos better find a way to move some money to the side for him because there is no way he will settle for his contract much longer.
1. Calvin Johnson & Golden Tate
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We head to Detroit for the number one spot on our ranking. Let's start with Tate. Tate was that free agent addition last offseason that opposing general managers are kicking themselves right now for not signing. During Johnson's struggles with injuries last season, Tate proved himself capable of being the number one option on a receiving group. Tate garnered 1,331 yards on 99 receptions last season, premier production for an NFL wide receiver.
The most exceptional part of Tate's game is his ability to stop and change directions in a flash.
Tate's lethal combination of agility, vision, and strength makes him a threat to break a play wide open whenever he has the ball in his hands. Add to this great route running, solid hands and good speed, and you have one of the most dangerous slot-receivers in the NFL on your hands.
Thoughts from Lions/Jets: Golden Tate is underrated. Quickness on underneath routes is nearly uncoverable.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 14, 2015
Outside Tate at wide receiver is Johnson. Much has been made about Johnson's injury-riddled season last year. For the first time in his career, Johnson is being underrated by pundits who claim he is in decline. But guess who was Pro Football Focus' second highest graded wide receiver the last five games of the regular season? That's right: everyone's favorite Transformer, Megatron.
The skepticism toward Johnson is confusing. Sure, he missed the most games he's every missed in his career last year (three), but he will only be turning 30 this upcoming season. In today's NFL wide receivers don't take nearly the amount of punishment they did in years past. Johnson is still in his prime and ready to make a mockery out of defensive backs this season.
One thing is clear: no player can match Johnson's size, speed, athleticism and polish as a wide receiver. And that's why he's still the NFL's best wide receiver, and one half of the NFL's best wide receiver duo.