Which NFL Team Has The Best Pass Catchers? Round Of 32

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This is the debut of a new project of mine here at The Draft Network. The ultimate goal is to rank the top group of pass catchers in the NFL.

In order to do so, I’ve created a 32 team bracket while listing the pass catchers for each squad. By “pass catchers” I generally mean each team’s wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.

There had to be some structure within this tournament, so let me explain how I viewed each unit. Below, I’ve listed the depth chart of each team with their top 4 wide receivers, top 2 tight ends and top 2 running backs. Beneath that, there are the major depth pieces for all three positions.

Things can get hairy when applying strict numbers to a group of players, take the Steelers for example. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer, James Washington, Eli Rogers and Donte Moncrief make up a deep group of wide receivers. Cutting them down to just four players was a difficult task. It’s possible that you won’t agree with some players relegated to the “depth” section, but those borderline players impact the group a bit less anyway.

Something that should be noted is that these aren’t necessarily listed by standing on the team’s actual depth chart. While the Eagles are likely to give Jordan Howard a strong portion of the playing time, I’d expect them to feature Miles Sanders and Corey Clement more in the passing game. Since the passing game is what we’re looking at, that puts Howard into the depth category.

Additionally, these lists needed to be cut down to not include every player on the 90-man rosters. So while I like your favorite team’s late round picks and undrafted free agents too, they didn’t necessarily make the cut here. The players listed are those that I expect to have an opportunity to make an impact this season.

Lastly, some players are facing suspension or coming back from injury. Those players have mostly been relegated to the “Depth / Unknown” section, as their future usage is up in the air. These players are valued when comparing them to other teams, but it’s difficult to gauge just how effective they will be moving forward.

To structure the tournament, teams will start by competing against their own divisions first. Each team that finished in 1st in their division last season start off by facing off against the teams that finished in 2nd place. Likewise, 3rd place faces off against 4th place. Eventually, the East division champion will match up against the West division champion. The South champ will eventually meet the North champ.

Today, we’ll just be looking at the round of 32. The subsequent rounds will be posted within the coming weeks, so be sure to keep your eyes out for those.

Let’s get into the depth chart of each team in the AFC.

New England Patriots

WR Julian Edelman

WR N’Keal Harry

WR Dontrelle Inman

WR Phillip Dorsett

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

TE Matt LaCosse

RB James White

RB Sony Michel

Depth / Unknown

*WR Demaryius Thomas

*WR Josh Gordon

WR Jakobi Meyers

WR Maurice Harris

RB Rex Burkhead

*TE Ben Watson

Miami Dolphins

WR Kenny Stills

WR Albert Wilson

WR Jakeem Grant

WR DeVante Parker

TE Mike Gesicki

TE Dwayne Allen

RB Kenyan Drake

RB Kalen Ballage

Depth / Unknown

WR Leonte Carroo

WR Brice Butler

WR Preston Williams

RB Myles Gaskin

Buffalo Bills

WR John Brown

WR Cole Beasley

WR Zay Jones

WR Robert Foster

TE Tyler Kroft

TE Dawson Knox

RB Lesean McCoy

RB Frank Gore

Depth / Unknown

WR David Sills V

RB TJ Yeldon

RB Devin Singletary

New York Jets

WR Robby Anderson

WR Quincy Enunwa

WR Jamison Crowder

WR Deontay Burnett

TE Chris Herndon IV

TE Trevon Wesco

RB Le’veon Bell

RB Elijah McGuire

Depth / Unknown

WR Josh Bellamy

TE Eric Tomlinson

Kansas City Chiefs

WR Sammy Watkins

WR Mecole Hardman

WR Demarcus Robinson

WR Byron Pringle

TE Travis Kelce

TE Blake Bell

RB Damien Williams

RB James Williams

Depth / Unknown

WR Gehrig Dieter

RB Anthony Sherman

*WR Tyreek Hill

Los Angeles Chargers

WR Keenan Allen

WR Mike Williams

WR Travis Benjamin

WR Dylan Cantrell

TE Hunter Henry

TE Virgil Green

RB Melvin Gordon

RB Austin Ekeler

Depth / Unknown

RB Justin Jackson

Denver Broncos

WR Emmanuel Sanders

WR Courtland Sutton

WR DaeSean Hamilton

WR River Cracraft

TE Noah Fant

TE Jeff Heuerman

RB Phillip Lindsay

RB Royce Freeman

Depth / Unknown

WR Juwann Winfree

WR Tim Patrick

TE Jake Butt

TE Troy Fumagalli

RB Devontae Booker

Oakland Raiders

WR Antonio Brown

WR Tyrell Williams

WR Hunter Renfrow

WR Marcell Ateman

TE Luke Wilson

TE Foster Moreau

RB Josh Jacobs

RB Jalen Richard

Depth / Unknown

WR Ryan Grant

WR Dwayne Harris

WR JJ Nelson

RB Doug Martin

Baltimore Ravens

WR Marquise Brown

WR Willie Snead

WR Miles Boykin

WR Chris Moore

TE Mark Andrews

TE Hayden Hurst

RB Mark Ingram

RB Justice Hill

Depth / Unknown

WR Jordan Lasley

TE Nick Boyle

RB Gus Edwards

Pittsburgh Steelers

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

WR Diontae Johnson

WR Donte Moncrief

WR Ryan Switzer

TE Vance McDonald

TE Zach Gentry

RB James Conner

RB Jaylen Samuels

Depth / Unknown

WR James Washington

WR Eli Rogers

RB Benny Snell Jr.

Cleveland Browns

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

WR Rashard Higgins

WR Jarvis Landry

WR Antonio Callaway

TE David Njoku

TE Seth Devalve

RB Nick Chubb

RB Duke Johnson

Depth / Unknown

WR Damion Ratley

Cincinnati Bengals

WR AJ Green

WR Tyler Boyd

WR John Ross

WR Alex Erickson

TE Drew Sample

TE C.J. Uzomah

RB Joe Mixon

RB Giovani Bernard

Depth / Unknown

RB Trayveon Williams

*RB Rodney Anderson

*TE Tyler Eifert

Houston Texans

WR Deandre Hopkins

WR Will Fuller

WR Keke Coutee

WR Deandre Carter

TE Jordan Akins

TE Jordan Thomas

RB Lamar Miller

RB Dont’a Foreman

Depth / Unknown

WR Vyncint Smith

TE Kahale Warring

Indianapolis Colts

WR T.Y. Hilton

WR Parris Campbell

WR Devin Funchess

WR Chester Rogers

TE Eric Ebron

TE Jack Doyle

RB Marlon Mack

RB Nyheim Hines

Depth / Unknown

WR Zach Pascal

TE Mo Alie-Cox

RB Jordan Wilkins

Tennessee Titans

WR Corey Davis

WR A.J. Brown

WR Adam Humphries

WR Taywan Taylor

TE Delanie Walker

TE Jonnu Smith

RB Derrick Henry

RB Dion Lewis

Depth / Unknown

WR Tajae Sharpe

WR Cameron Batson

Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Marquise Lee

WR Dede Westbrook

WR Keelan Cole

WR Chris Conley

TE Geoff Swain

TE Josh Oliver

RB Leonard Fournette

RB Alfred Blue

Depth / Unknown

WR D.J. Chark

RB Ryquell Armstead

*Denotes player that is a surefire talent, but have an unsure outlook on their availability

New England Patriots def. Miami Dolphins

New England’s situation is up in the air without knowing what they’ll get out of Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas. Even with that unknown, their outlook is brighter than the Dolphins.

Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry might be the two most talented receivers in this matchup, and James White is one of the best pass catching running backs in the entire league. They have athleticism at tight end with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse, and their depth receiver pieces of Dontrelle Inman and Phillip Dorsett gives the overall group solid potential. If they get any production from their “unknown” players Gordon, Thomas and Ben Watson, their group will far outweigh the effects from the Dolphins mostly uninspiring group.

New York Jets def. Buffalo Bills

Both of these units have improved this offseason, and there isn’t much separating the two. However, the Jets group offers a much higher ceiling.

Between Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder, the Jets have a legitimate top 3 wide receiver group. Add in promising second-year tight end Chris Herndon IV and one of the best pass catching running backs in NFL history in Le’Veon Bell, and their 11 personnel grouping could become lethal. Cole Beasley and John Brown improves the Bills pass catchers, but the Jets simply have the better talent.

Los Angeles Chargers def. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are obviously boosted by the presence of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but they’ve become a bit thin on depth this offseason. Tyreek Hill taking the field would give them an obvious boost, but they could be a bit weak behind him as Sammy Watkins continues to underwhelm throughout his career.

Los Angeles has an outstanding, balanced unit with wide receiver Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, tight end Hunter Henry and multiple pass-catching running backs highlighted by Melvin Gordon.

Oakland Raiders def. Denver Broncos

Oakland’s wide receiver overhaul under head coach Jon Gruden has been wildly successful. Antonio Brown is still one of the best wide receivers in football, and Tyrell Williams is a solid WR2. Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs were some of the safest prospects in the NFL Draft and will likely contribute immediately.

Denver has potential in their group with their second-year players Courtland Sutton, DeaSean Hamilton, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, so they could overtake the Raiders by the end of the season. For now, the presence of Antonio Brown puts Oakland over the top.

Pittsburgh Steelers def. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore had one of the least inspiring groups of pass catchers last season and then lost two top contributors in wide receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown. They felt the need to add talent at wide receiver through the NFL Draft, selecting Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin.

Despite those additions, the Steelers depth at wide receiver is outstanding. They have 6 players that most teams would consider in their top 4 or better. Tight end Vance McDonald had a breakout season last year, while running backs James Conner and Jaylen Samuels are both plus pass catchers. They have Baltimore beaten by a fair margin.

Cleveland Browns def. Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland’s talent acquisition over the past two offseasons has drastically improved their standing among pass catching groups. Their comparison against Cincinnati is an interesting case study.

Odell Beckham Jr. and AJ Green are similar talents, as are Jarvis Landry and Tyler Boyd. Rashard Higgins has always been intriguing, but for his faults, so has John Ross. Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb are good pass catching running backs, but Cincinnati has Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. David Njoku is dripping with potential at tight end, but so does Tyler Eifert when he’s healthy. So where does the separation come from?

A.J. Green is on the wrong side of 30 years-old And is coming off an injury. Meanwhile, Odell Beckham is a spry 26 and is as naturally talented as any receiver in the NFL. As far as each squads WR1 goes, Beckham currently has a step up on Green. That’s enough for me to lean Cleveland in this matchup.

Indianapolis Colts def. Houston Texans

This matchup comes down to Indianapolis’ strengths around their wide receivers. Both tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle are talented, as are running backs Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack. Adding them to Indianapolis’ 1-2 punch of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and draftee Parris Campbell, and they have a pass catching group perfectly built for quarterback Andrew Luck.

It’s hard to pick against wide receiver Deandre Hopkins, but the Texans don’t have the surrounding talent at other positions that Indianapolis does.

Tennessee Titans def. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville has a young group of wide receivers who all have potential, but no dominating presence or players with a WR1-caliber ceiling.

Tennessee’s free agent wide receiver addition of Adam Humphries and draft pick of A.J Brown gives them a complete wide receiver room to pair with dynamic pass catching running back Dion Lewis. Delanie Walker is still an above average tight end when healthy. They have a pass catching group that is far deeper and more talented than Jacksonville.

Now let’s take a look at the NFC side:

Dallas Cowboys

WR Amari Cooper

WR Michael Gallup

WR Randall Cobb

WR Allen Hurns

TE Jason Witten

TE Blake Jarwin

RB Ezekiel Elliott

OW Tony Pollard

Depth / Unknown

WR Tavon Austin

WR Noah Brown

WR Cedrick Wilson

TE Dalton Schultz

TE Rico Gathers

RB Mike Weber

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Alshon Jeffery

WR Nelson Agholor

WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

WR Desean Jackson

TE Zach Ertz

TE Dallas Goedert

RB Miles Sanders

RB Corey Clement

Depth / Unknown

RB Jordan Howard

RB Wendell Smallwood

Washington Redskins

WR Paul Richardson

WR Josh Doctson

WR Terry McLaurin

WR Trey Quinn

TE Jordan Reed

TE Vernon Davis

RB Derrius Guice

RB Chris Thompson

Depth / Unknown

WR Kelvin Harmon

RB Adrian Peterson

New York Giants

WR Golden Tate

WR Sterling Shephard

WR Darius Slayton

WR Cody Latimer

TE Evan Engram

TE Rhett Ellison

RB Saquon Barkley

RB Wayne Gallman

Depth / Unknown

WR Corey Coleman

WR Bennie Fowler

Los Angeles Rams

WR Brandin Cooks

WR Robert Woods

WR Cooper Kupp

WR Josh Reynolds

TE Gerald Everett

TE Tyler Higbee

RB Todd Gurley

RB Darrell Henderson

Depth / Unknown

RB John Kelly

RB Malcolm Brown

Seattle Seahawks

WR Tyler Lockett

WR DK Metcalf

WR David Moore

WR Jaron Brown

TE Nick Vannett

TE Will Dissly

RB Chris Carson

RB Rashaad Penny

Depth / Unknown

WR Gary Jennings Jr.

TE Ed Dickson

RB C.J. Prosise

San Francisco 49ers

WR Dante Pettis

WR Marquise Goodwin

WR Deebo Samuel

WR Jordan Matthews

TE George Kittle

TE Garrett Celek

RB Tevin Coleman

RB Jerick McKinnon

Depth / Unknown

WR Jalen Hurd

WR Trent Taylor

RB Matt Breida

RB Kyle Juszczyk

Arizona Cardinals

WR Larry Fitzgerald

WR Christian Kirk

WR Andy Isabella

WR Hakeem Butler

TE Ricky Seals-Jones

TE Maxx Williams

RB David Johnson

RB Chase Edmonds

Depth / Unknown

WR KeeSean Johnson

WR Chad Williams

TE Charles Clay

Chicago Bears

WR Allen Robinson

WR Taylor Gabriel

WR Anthony Miller

WR Riley Ridley

TE Trey Burton

TE Adam Shaheen

RB Tarik Cohen

RB David Montgomery

Depth / Unknown

WR Cordarrelle Patterson

WR Javon Wims

RB Mike Davis

Minnesota Vikings

WR Adam Thielen

WR Stefon Diggs

WR Laquon Treadwell

WR Dillon Mitchell

TE Kyle Rudolph

TE Irv Smith Jr.

RB Dalvin Cook

RB Alexander Mattison

Depth / Unknown

WR Olabisi Johnson

WR Chad Bebee

Green Bay Packers

WR Davante Adams

WR Geronimo Allison

WR Equanimeous St. Brown

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

TE Jimmy Graham

TE Jace Sternberger

RB Aaron Jones

RB Jamaal Williams

Depth / Unknown

WR J’Mon Moore

WR Jake Kumerow

TE Marcedes Lewis

RB Dexter Williams

Detroit Lions

WR Kenny Golladay

WR Marvin Jones Jr.

WR Danny Amendola

WR Travis Fulgham

TE T.J. Hockenson

TE Jesse James

RB Kerryon Johnson

RB Theo Riddick

Depth / Unknown

WR Brandon Powell

WR Andy Jones

RB CJ Anderson

New Orleans Saints

WR Michael Thomas

WR Tre’Quan Smith

WR Ted Ginn Jr.

WR Cameron Meredith

TE Jared Cook

TE Josh Hill

RB Alvin Kamara

RB Latavius Murray

Depth / Unknown

WR Austin Carr

WR Keith Kirkwood

TE Alize Mack

OW Taysom Hill

RB Javorius Allen

Atlanta Falcons

WR Julio Jones

WR Calvin Ridley

WR Mohamed Sanu

WR Justin Hardy

TE Austin Hooper

TE Luke Stocker

RB Devonta Freeman

RB Ito Smith

Depth / Unknown

WR Russell Gage

TE Eric Saubert

TE Logan Paulsen

Carolina Panthers

WR D.J. Moore

WR Torrey Smith

WR Curtis Samuel

WR Jarius Wright

TE Greg Olsen

TE Ian Thomas

RB Christian McCaffrey

RB Cameron Artis-Payne

Depth / Unknown

WR Chris Hogan

RB Jordan Scarlett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR Mike Evans

WR Chris Godwin

WR Justin Watson

WR Breshad Perriman

TE O.J. Howard

TE Cameron Brate

RB Ronald Jones

RB Peyton Barber

Depth / Unknown

WR Scotty Miller

WR Damarkus Lodge

Philadelphia Eagles def. Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia is going to be one of the toughest outs during this competition, as their pass catchers are incredibly stacked up. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Desean Jackson might be the best 1-4 grouping in the league. On top of that, they have one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Zach Ertz. Dallas Goedert and the running backs aren’t slouches, either.

Dallas has improved their group over the past calendar year, but currently don’t compare to the unit Philadelphia has acquired.

New York Giants def. Washington Redskins

Washington’s major pass catching strengths come from their tight ends and running back, but New York has equal talent at those positions in Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. The Giants separates themselves with their wide receiver core.

Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are better than any of the Redskins wideouts. While Washington has intriguing young talents in McLaurin, Quinn and Harmon, they’re just not as established as the Giants group.

Los Angeles Rams def. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle drafted my #1 overall wide receiver in DK Metcalf, but are a bit lacking beyond him and Tyler Lockett. Meanwhile, the Rams are stacked.

Los Angeles has one of the two best trios of wide receivers in the NFL in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp on top of a dynamic pass catching running back in Todd Gurley. They’ve even gotten good production from their tight end position in recent years with Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Consider them one of the favorites to win this entire tournament.

San Francisco 49ers def. Arizona Cardinals

While Arizona has legendary wideout Larry Fitzgerald and added some intriguing talents at the position through the NFL Draft in Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson, but there’s a lot of unknown for now. Meanwhile, San Francisco added some equally intriguing prospects in Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, while being in better shape with their returning starters.

Between George Kittle at tight end and talented receivers Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco suddenly has one of the deepest groups of pass catchers in the league.

Chicago Bears def. Minnesota Vikings

This is a heavyweight title fight that comes multiple rounds too early, reminiscent of that famed Kentucky vs. Wichita State NCAA tournament game a number of years ago. When it comes down to it, Chicago’s unit offers similar overall talent with better depth. Their wide receiver depth is at an all-time high, and they compound that with talented pass catchers at both tight end and running back with Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen, respectively.

Minnesota has the two best players in this matchup in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, which is usually enough to secure victory. However, Chicago isn’t too far off with their top targets (Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller), and more than make up the difference with the rest of the unit. Chalk this one up as the most difficult decision of the first round.

Detroit Lions def. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay has the best skill player in this matchup in Davante Adams, but not much established talent around him. Between Detroit’s Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, the Lions have the better 1-2 punch than anything the Packers can offer.

While Green Bay does have raw talent at tight end, Detroit’s offseason additions of Jesse James and T.J. Hockenson matchup well at that position. Add in Theo Riddick as a pass catching running back, and Detroit has Green Bay’s overall unit beat.

Atlanta Falcons def. New Orleans Saints

Along with Los Angeles, Atlanta has one of the best trios of wide receivers in the NFL with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu. Their group has added strengths in tight end Austin Hooper and running back Devonta Freeman, making them one of the most complete groups around the league.

New Orleans has two elite talents in wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, as well as veteran tight end Jared Cook. Their talent around them just isn’t currently as strong as Atlanta’s group.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers def. Carolina Panthers

This matchup was difficult, as Carolina has unique talents such as running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore. Despite their presence, their group feels a bit incomplete. They added veterans to fill in those needs this offseason, but Chris Hogan and Torrey Smith are on the downside of their careers.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has a great duo of pass catching tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. But their best weapon is elite wide receiver Mike Evans, who is currently head and shoulders above any Panthers wideout. Add legit WR2 Chris Godwin into the mix, and the Bucs are the superior unit.