NFL Medalists

Best NFL wide receivers heading into 2021 season? Analysts reveal gold, silver, bronze picks

In honor of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, we're highlighting the best of the best across the NFL. Heading into the 2021 season, who are the premium players in five marquee areas: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, pass rusher and cornerback? Twenty-five analysts individually ranked their top three in each category, and then we tallied all of the votes via this simple formula:

Each first-place vote: 3 points
Each second-place vote: 2 points
Each third-place vote: 1 point

Below, you'll find the wide receiver podium -- highlighting the gold, silver and bronze medalists from our accumulated ballots -- as well as additional intel on the position. Check back all week as this series continues.

THE WIDE RECEIVER PODIUM

GOLD
Davante Adams
Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers · WR

Total points: 63 (1st: 17; 2nd: 6; 3rd: 0)


Judy Battista: The NFL is so flush with great receivers that we could put together a second podium with those who didn't make our medal stand. Davante Adams would still be at the top. He is coming off one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, with 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns. In only 14 games. No wonder Aaron Rodgers, who clearly isn't thrilled with everyone in Green Bay, wrote Adams a note last season to tell the receiver how important he is to him.

SILVER
DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins
Arizona Cardinals · WR

Total points: 34 (1st: 5; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 9)


Cynthia Frelund: Since 2013, no receiver has caught more passes than Hopkins. And last season, his first in Arizona, Hopkins improved in every way I measure wide receiver impact -- both when targeted and when he was not the subject of the target. The icing on the cake? Pro Football Focus credited Nuk with a career-high 22 forced missed tackles in 2020. Hopkins could certainly surpass Adams for gold next season.

BRONZE
Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill
Kansas City Chiefs · WR

Total points: 26 (1st: 1; 2nd: 10; 3rd: 3)


Nate Burleson: Stefon Diggs has climbed his way to my personal WR mountaintop (see: individual ballots below) after an extremely successful first season with Josh Allen in Buffalo. Davante Adams holds my second spot, thanks to his trusty hands and dominance in the red zone. That brings me to Tyreek Hill, whose God-given talent pumps fear into opponents the way Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Deion Sanders did. "Cheetah" is an exceptional route runner with great hands, and he can win vs. double or triple coverage. When he gains even a half step, the defense is toast.

Also receiving votes: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (19 total points); D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (3); Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans (2); Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears (2); Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (1).

INSIGHTS INTO THE WR VOTING

WR RECORD HOLDERS

SINGLE SEASON

CAREER

  • Receptions: 1,549, Jerry Rice
  • Receiving yards: 22,895, Jerry Rice
  • Receiving TDs: 197, Jerry Rice

FASCINATING WR STATS FROM NFL RESEARCH

  • The two wide receivers with the most receiving yards in 2020 -- Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins -- were both acquired via trade prior to the season. Diggs (acquired from Vikings) finished with 1,535 receiving yards, while Hopkins (acquired from Texans) had 1,407.
  • Three of the top five WRs in receiving yards in 2020 were drafted in the first round: Hopkins (1,407), Justin Jefferson (1,400) and Calvin Ridley (1,374). Non-first-rounders include Diggs (1,535; fifth-round pick) and Davante Adams (1,374; second round)
  • There has not been a wide receiver to lead the NFL in receiving yards in consecutive seasons since in Calvin Johnson 2011 and '12. Johnson sits alongside Andre Johnson (2008-09) and Jerry Rice (1989-1990 and 1993-95) as the only WRs to lead the league in receiving yards in consecutive seasons in the Super Bowl era.
  • The 2020 season featured eight players with at least 100 receptions, third-most in NFL history behind 2018 (11) and 1995 (9).
  • The 2020 season also saw five rookie wideouts with 800-plus receiving yards (T-most in NFL history, 2014): Justin Jefferson (1,400, rookie record), CeeDee Lamb (935), Tee Higgins (908), Chase Claypool (873), Jerry Jeudy (856).
  • Top speed reached by a wide receiver since 2018 (Next Gen Stats): 22.23 mph, Cordarrelle Patterson (46-yard run at Denver in Week 2 of 2019)

INDIVIDUAL BALLOTS

Table inside Article
Voter Gold Silver Bronze
Judy Battista Davante Adams Stefon Diggs DeAndre Hopkins
Jeremy Bergman Davante Adams Stefon Diggs Tyreek Hill
Ali Bhanpuri DeAndre Hopkins Tyreek Hill Julio Jones
Tom Blair DeAndre Hopkins Davante Adams Stefon Diggs
Gil Brandt Davante Adams Stefon Diggs DeAndre Hopkins
Kyle Brandt Davante Adams Tyreek Hill Allen Robinson
Nate Burleson Stefon Diggs Davante Adams Tyreek Hill
David Carr Davante Adams Tyreek Hill DeAndre Hopkins
Brooke Cersosimo DeAndre Hopkins Davante Adams Stefon Diggs
Jeffri Chadiha Davante Adams Tyreek Hill DeAndre Hopkins
Gennaro Filice Tyreek Hill Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins
Cynthia Frelund Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins Justin Jefferson
Chase Goodbread Davante Adams Tyreek Hill DeAndre Hopkins
Marcas Grant Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins Stefon Diggs
Maurice Jones-Drew DeAndre Hopkins Davante Adams Stefon Diggs
Dan Parr Davante Adams Tyreek Hill Stefon Diggs
Kevin Patra Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins Allen Robinson
Adam Rank DeAndre Hopkins D.K. Matcalf Stefon Diggs
Marc Ross Davante Adams Tyreek Hill DeAndre Hopkins
Marc Sessler Davante Adams Tyreek Hill DeAndre Hopkins
Nick Shook Stefon Diggs Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins
Joe Thomas Davante Adams Tyreek Hill Stefon Diggs
LaDainian Tomlinson Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins Julio Jones
Jim Trotter Davante Adams DeAndre Hopkins Tyreek Hill
Lance Zierlein Davante Adams Tyreek Hill D.K. Metcalf

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