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Top 10 wide receivers entering the 2022 NFL season

NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2022” — voted on by the players themselves — concludes on Sunday, Aug. 28. Players ranked 20-1 will undoubtedly be revealed during the period of three hour-long episodes, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Five superstar wideouts sit on the list of 20 unnamed players remaining in this epic countdown. Knowing that, former NFL defensive back Jason McCourty, who retired in July following a 13-year career, provides his ranking of the very best 10 receivers heading in to the 2022 season.

Just what a great offseason to become a wide receiver, as six of the 10 players on my list below signed new contracts. However before we jump in to the hierarchy, I must acknowledge the forgotten three: DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson and Michael Thomas.

Hopkins and Thomas are two of the league’s best receivers when healthy, but injuries took a toll lately — and Hopkins is defined to skip the first six games of the season after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Robinson, however, finally joins a team with a top-10 quarterback after spending nearly all his career with subpar play at the positioning. The league is way better when these three talented wideouts are in their finest; hopefully, we’ll note that this fall.

And I’d be remiss easily didn’t give some want to another band of receivers. Four youngsters who just missed my top 10 — the Bengals’ Tee Higgins, Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb, Commanders’ Terry McLaurin and Seahawks’ DK Metcalf — could definitely play themselves in to the ranks of the elite in 2022.

Alright, enough preamble. Let’s reach the rankings!

Keenan Allen

LA Chargers Age 30

Allen is probably not the fastest guy on the field, but his releases off the type of scrimmage — I’d rank him second in the NFL of this type, behind only Davante Adams — allow him to obtain ahead on his routes from the snap. He runs on the crossover-like proceed to beat defenders and routinely offers a reliable target for quarterback Justin Herbert, who’s improved in all of his two pro seasons. Allen has proved he’s among the league’s best wideouts with 95-plus receptions in each one of the last five seasons. He’s especially dependable on third and fourth down, with a league-most 70 catches on such downs since 2020. If I’m an NFL quarterback, I’d like this kind of receiver in the huddle.

A.J. Brown

Philadelphia Eagles Age 25

When I was with the Patriots in 2019, we competed contrary to the Titans in joint practices in Nashville. I didn’t know who Brown was entering that week, nonetheless it only took several practices for the second-round pick to persuade me he absolutely belonged in the league. Brown promptly proceeded to lead the Titans in catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs in all of his three seasons in Tennessee. Now in Philadelphia following a draft-day trade, Brown’s fueled by the way the deal transpired. He must have no issue fitting in with Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith and Co. He also shouldn’t are having issues getting back again to turning up 1,000-yard seasons, given his capability to make the contested catch, accumulate yards following the catch and break tackles, qualities that produce him a top-tier wideout.

Mike Evans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Age 29

Evans is Mr. Consistent. No matter who’s throwing him the ball — he’ll reach least 1,000 yards. In the end, that’s just what he’s done in all of his eight NFL seasons, producing the longest such streak to begin with a lifetime career in league history. Evans is probably not the loudest or flashiest receiver; he’s only a guy who performs regardless of the problem, typically letting his production do the talking. With Tom Brady throwing him the rock — and finding him for 27 scoring strikes in the last two seasons — the 29-year-old is finally needs to obtain the national attention he deserves. Evans has been this best for years and really should continue being a matchup nightmare for defenses in 2022 barring injury.

Deebo Samuel

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA 49ers Age 26

There is so much discuss Deebo’s usage as a running back last season, but he still had 1,405 receiving yards, best for fifth in the league. Kyle Shanahan does an excellent job using jailbreak and bubble screens, but those only work very well with a particular talent like No. 19, who compiled 779 yards following the catch in 2021 (second in the NFL). I’m excited to view Samuel back up last year’s performance after he signed a lucrative three-year extension during training camp.

Tyreek Hill

Hill’s insane speed makes him a complete nightmare to guard. Defenses can put their fastest cover man on him — plus a supplementary safety — and still can’t stop him. With the Patriots, I played against Hill and the Chiefs twice in the 2018 season, like the AFC Championship Game. In the regular-season matchup, that was a Sunday Night Football game, he caught seven balls for 142 yards and three touchdowns. In a single possession late in the 3rd quarter, we got supported in to the red zone and also thought we were within an OK position because Hill couldn’t beat us vertically. Then Andy Reid put Hill in the slot and the guy burned us to the corner of the finish zone. In the fourth quarter, he supplied his typical downfield dynamism with a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown. His capability to accelerate to full speed immediately off the type of scrimmage is the greatest I’ve ever seen. Having said that, I appreciate the truth that Hill hasn’t just relied on his raw explosiveness recently; he’s continued to build up as a route runner. This is ideal for Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.

Stefon Diggs

Diggs was an extremely good player in Minnesota. I faced him in Week 1 of 2016, Diggs’ second NFL season, and clearly remember one catch he manufactured in the fourth quarter. In one-on-one coverage down the sideline, Diggs made a heck of a grab with late hands. The former fifth-round pick spent some time working his way in to the upper echelon of NFL receivers by making similar plays each and every time he takes the field. Diggs has been well worth the first-round pick Buffalo quit for his services, logging 2,760 receiving yards and 18 TDs on 230 receptions over two seasons with the Bills. Diggs dictates coverage, often demanding safety help outrageous, and opens up so many opportunities for all those around him. There is no doubt that he’s helped Josh Allen become among league’s top quarterbacks, inherently tossing the Bills directly into the thick of Super Bowl contention.

Ja'Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals Age 22

I got eventually to watch Chase close up in Week 3 of the 2021 preseason, when my Dolphins played in Cincinnati. For the reason that game, the rookie had his fourth drop in five preseason targets. I recall hearing rumblings from people questioning if he’d ultimately turn into a premium playmaker for Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense. Then your regular season started, and all Chase did was make plays. He dominated cornerbacks beyond your numbers on the standard, helping him set an NFL rookie record with 1,455 receiving yards. Coming off that monster first season, he’s in an excellent situation to duplicate his success in Year 2 — similar to the next guy with this list did in 2021.

Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings Age 23

Many people thought it had been crazy to trade Stefon Diggs, but his replacement has provided the Vikings with staggering production. Actually, no-one in NFL history has logged more receiving yards in his first two seasons than Jefferson (3,016). His rookie campaign was impressive alone, but the proven fact that he exceeded that output over the board in Year 2 — following the league had a whole season of film on him — is pretty remarkable. We’d be foolish to believe we’ll see anything not the same as him in Year 3. Cue the Griddy.

Cooper Kupp

LA Rams Age 29

Kupp captured the receiving triple crown last season with 145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 receiving TDs. Then continued to ball out in the postseason, establishing the game-winning field goal in the Divisional Round and providing an MVP performance in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI triumph. But that which was most impressive if you ask me, being an NFL cornerback, was his break down of a play during an interview with my NFL Network colleague Bridget Condon following the Rams’ Week 13 victory over Jacksonville. Gerald Alexander, my DBs coach in Miami last season, showed our unit that interview, and I recall being amazed by Kupp’s degree of understanding from the defensive back’s perspective. He knew wherever to go and what he had a need to do to possess success. To possess that kind of knowledge — together with his physical talent — is incredible.

Davante Adams

NEVADA Raiders Age 29

Having played against Davante multiple times within my career, this is a no-brainer for me personally. Adams’ raw production speaks for itself, as he leads the NFL in receptions (432), receiving yards (5,310) and receiving touchdowns (47) since 2017. Sure, he’s racked up those crazy numbers with a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, however the receiver is equally talented and did as much for the Packers during the last few seasons because the back-to-back MVP. Now he’s using a vintage friend and college teammate — Derek Carr — in something that absolutely will showcase his abilities. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is superb at getting his best offensive players the ball. I practiced against his units for 3 years in New England, and the offense is tough to guard at any time, aside from when he’s dealing with elite players. Combine that with Adams’ unparalleled capability to get open off the type of scrimmage — and stay open — which is really a match manufactured in heaven.

Follow Jason McCourty on Twitter.

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