NFL's five most underrated receiving corps in 2017

Before the Chicago Bears broke camp for the summer, one of their new receivers, Markus Wheaton, said the team boasts one of the more underrated receiving corps in football. While a player should believe that about his team, a lot of moving parts need to work out for the Bears to have a successful aerial attack this season.

But Wheaton got us thinking. Which teams might actually boast the most underrated receiving groups in the NFL as we head toward training camp?

Here's my run at the top five ...

1) Minnesota Vikings

Top returning targets:

» Stefon Diggs (84 receptions, 903 yards, three touchdowns)
» Adam Thielen (69 receptions, 967 yards, five touchdowns)
» Laquon Treadwell* (1 reception, 15 yards)

Why are they underrated?

The Vikings led the league last year in cumulative catch percentage for a wide receiver. The intermediate air attack was definitely a contributing factor, but attributing that mark solely to the team's dink-and-dunk system doesn't fairly account for the fact that Diggs and Thielen (who caught 75 percent of the balls thrown their way) both adjusted to a new quarterback post-camp and a new offensive coordinator after just a few weeks. As for the asterisk (*), I decided to include Treadwell based on a conversation I had with outgoing Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who told me at the Pro Bowl that offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur planned on utilizing his weapons more effectively in 2017. With an entire offseason under his belt as OC, Shurmur should be able to make the most of Treadwell's first-round talent.

2) Los Angeles Chargers

Top returning targets:

» Tyrell Williams (69 catches, 1,059 yards, seven touchdowns)
» Travis Benjamin (47 catches, 677 yards, four touchdowns)
» Keenan Allen (6 catches, 63 yards)

Why are they underrated?

Even without Allen last year, Chargers wideouts combined to have the NFL's third-best average in yards per reception (12.6), as well as the second-most explosive plays (catches of 40 yards or more), behind only the Atlanta Falcons. While this, in large part, is thanks to Philip Rivers making his supporting cast better -- after all, I didn't even include Dontrelle Inman above, and he racked up 810 yards receiving last year -- the Chargers did supply their quarterback with a top-tier receiver in rookie Mike Williams and should get Allen back by training camp.

3) Indianapolis Colts

Top returning targets:

» T.Y. Hilton (91 receptions, 1,448 yards, six touchdowns)
» Phillip Dorsett (33 receptions, 528 yards, two touchdowns)
» Donte Moncrief (30 receptions, 307 yards, seven touchdowns)

Why are they underrated?

I still don't think Hilton gets enough respect as a No. 1 in this league. The explosive pass catcher more than doubled the next-most targeted receiver on the Colts last year (tight end Jack Doyle) and still managed a catch percentage near 60 at 155 targets from an injured Andrew Luck. Hilton was sky high on Football Outsiders' Yards Above Replacement ranking, finishing just behind Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Jordy Nelson. Assuming a healthy Moncrief can contribute more on the receiving end, this could once again be a big-time offense.

4) Seattle Seahawks

Top returning targets:

» Doug Baldwin (94 receptions, 1,128 yards, seven touchdowns)
» Tyler Lockett (41 receptions, 597 yards, one touchdown)
» Jermaine Kearse (41 receptions, 510 yards, one touchdown)

Why are they underrated?

I believe Baldwin is still the most underrated receiver in the NFL. Period. He finished eighth in Football Outsiders' rankings from 2016 and maintains one of the highest catch rates in the league. Without Baldwin, the Seahawks would have had a terrible cumulative catch rate (62.8 on the year). At times, he single-handedly keeps Russell Wilson afloat during games when Wilson does not have his best stuff.

5) New Orleans Saints

Top returning targets:

» Michael Thomas (92 receptions, 1,137 yards, nine touchdowns)
» Willie Snead (72 receptions, 895 yards, four touchdowns)
» Brandon Coleman (26 receptions, 281 yards, three touchdowns)

Why are they underrated?

Had the Saints kept Brandin Cooks, they wouldn't even qualify for the underrated category. Thomas alone gives this group plenty of juice after his stunning rookie season: He caught 76 percent of his passes and posted an incredible 429 yards above replacement, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. His EYards (effective yards) were also incredibly high. Thomas is not yet in the same market as a receiver like Mike Evans, but his rookie season compared favorably with the Bucs pass catcher's first year.

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