As a former NFL quarterback, wide receivers are some of my favorite guys on the field. One great receiver makes the QB's job easier. Two great receivers and, well, you probably have one of the best offenses in the game.
With that in mind, I've put together a list of the league's finest receiver duos as we inch closer to the 2020 NFL season. Don't be surprised if the five teams mentioned below rank among the most prolific offenses this year.
Jones in 2019: 99 receptions for 1,394 yards and 6 touchdowns (15 games).
Ridley in 2019: 63 receptions for 866 yards and 7 touchdowns (13 games).
I can't say enough about Julio Jones' dominance over the last six seasons. Since 2014, Jones has 623 receptions and 9,388 receiving yards (both most in the NFL), and he's posted six consecutive seasons with at least 1,300 receiving yards, which ties Torry Holt for the longest such streak in NFL history. He can do it all even when double- or triple-teamed, which he often is, providing Matt Ryan a reliable target in tight windows. The one knock against Jones over the last few seasons has been his relative lack of touchdown production, an area in which Ridley has excelled, logging 17 TD receptions in his first two seasons. The third-year pro, who thrives after the catch and has improved his route running, is hungrier than ever to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time. He can accomplish that feat with Jones garnering so much attention from defenses. After ranking fourth in receiving yards among WR duos last season, Jones and Ridley are poised to climb the ladder in 2020.
Woods in 2019: 90 receptions for 1,134 yards and 2 touchdowns (15 games).
Kupp in 2019: 94 receptions for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns (16 games).
This pick might surprise some folks, but if you were paying attention last season, you knew just how productive this pair was in Sean McVay's offense. Woods and Kupp ranked third in receiving yards among WR duos in 2019, and I don't see their production dropping off as long as their wizard-like coach is working his magic. Rams receivers averaged 3.3 yards of target separation in 2019 (most in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats), and the averages for both Woods and Kupp were above that mark -- a testament to the scheme and their abilities. Woods has long been a reliable target for Jared Goff, yet is still underappreciated. In fact, he might be the most underrated receiver in the league right now. And Kupp would absolutely be a receiver I'd want on my team if I was still in the league. His effort and leadership ability on the field are things that every team covets.
Evans in 2019: 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and 8 touchdowns (13 games).
Godwin in 2019: 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and 9 touchdowns (14 games).
Evans and Godwin both ranked in the top four in receiving yards per game last season: Evans was fourth, with 89 ypg; Godwin was second, with 95.2 ypg. So, as you might expect given that piece of information, they led all receiving duos in receiving yards and were second in receiving TDs in 2019. Evans has been one of the best players at his position since he entered the league -- he's one of just two players in NFL history with 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of his first six seasons (joining Hall of Famer Randy Moss) -- while Godwin has steadily improved in all facets over his first three seasons to reach the standard the Bucs hoped he would when they picked him in the third round of the 2017 draft. There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, with Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy being added this offseason, but Tom Brady has made it apparent that he's excited to push the ball downfield, especially now that he's equipped with one of the most talented supporting casts he's ever had. I wouldn't put it past Evans and Godwin to repeat last year's production, but it'll be more difficult to achieve with more playmakers in the mix.
Thomas in 2019: 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns (16 games).
Sanders in 2019 (with Broncos/49ers): 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns (17 games).
Coming off a record-breaking season, Thomas will be joined by an upper-tier complementary receiver for the first time since his rookie season in 2016, when Brandin Cooks led the Saints with 1,173 receiving yards. Since then, Thomas has been the only Saints wide receiver to post 800-plus receiving yards in a season. That's all about to change. Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with the 49ers, Sanders was signed this offseason to help the team make another push toward a Lombardi Trophy before Drew Brees reaches the end of his career. We saw just how much the 49ers' offense improved when Sanders arrived at last year's trade deadline. I think he'll make a big impact on a team full of playmakers, whether it's taking advantage of one-on-one opportunities on the perimeter or drawing defenders downfield so Thomas, Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara can do damage over the middle.
Hopkins in 2019 (with Texans): 104 receptions for 1,165 yards and 7 touchdowns (15 games).
Fitzgerald in 2019: 75 receptions for 804 yards and 4 touchdowns (16 games).
The Cardinals' offense and this new WR pairing have A LOT going for them. The offensive production improved across the board in Kliff Kingsbury's first season. Most notably, the Cardinals averaged 8.5 more points per game in 2019 than they did in 2018. The acquisition of Hopkins will only take this Air Raid offense to the next level. Hopkins (29.6%) and Larry Fitzgerald (27.4%) have accounted for the highest percentage of their team's receptions since 2015. More impressively -- and, perhaps, more importantly -- both players rank in the top five in fewest drops since 2018 (min. 200 targets), per Pro Football Focus. It's going to be fun watching these two upper-echelon receivers take the field together. What a time to be Kyler Murray!
JUST MISSED: Cleveland Browns (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry).