Most underrated wide receivers
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
By Kartik Mathur
Tyler Lockett is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL. He had 1057 receiving yards in 2019 while having 8 touchdowns. Everyone who knows him might think he's a deep threat just because of his speed but that's not just it, he had 17 redzone receptions ( T-2nd highest in the league for receivers ). He's fantastic at creating separation and making tight catches in a very limited amount of space.
He also had only 2 drops while securing a catch rate of 74.5%. That's second best in the league for receivers, first being Micheal Thomas. He's also highly versatile as he can play in the slot. He racked up 770 yards in the slot ( T-4th in the league ) He also tied for first with 6 touchdowns from the slot. It wasn't just 2019. Back in 2018, he had a perfect 158.3 passer rating with Russell Wilson. Yes, perfect. What makes him special is his connection with Russell Wilson. When Wilson scrambles out of the pocket, Lockett always finds a way to improvise. He has great field awareness and always makes catches on the go or even when a play goes sideways. This is an ability which all receivers do not have. Their connection just keeps on building and building. Lockett and Wilson are actually rated as on of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL. All this and It's just the beginning, we're gonna see a whole lot more of Lockett ahead.
Devante Parker caught for 1202 yards under Ryan Fitzpatrick, and lets all agree, the Fitzpatrick 'magic' era is coming to an end. The Tua Tagovailoa reign will soon begin. Parker had 9 touchdowns in 2019 but that number is just going to increase year by year. Throughout the past season, Parker proved his worth through his route running skills and more. He also has speed and poses a deep threat ( T-5th in deep targets ). This resulted in an average of 16.7 yards per catch ( T-10th in the league ). But he's the best at something else...
Parker's ability to go up in the air and make spectacular catches is where he stands out. He has an amazing jump-catch ability which makes him top-notch at possession catches. He was ranked 8th best in contested catches in 2019. This is one area where he absolutely torched the best cornerback in the league: Stephon Gilmore. Parker caught eight passes for 137 yards while matching up against Gilmore in Week 17. He definitely has more talent to unveil. All these abilities, and he's still just learning.
He's definitely a receiver who needs more appreciation. Golladay has played his 3 NFL seasons with the Lions where his past 2 years have been efficient. In both 2018 and 2019, he racked up more than 1000 receiving yards. Most of his yards came through big plays downfield. Golladay was targeted 37 times overall ( T-1st in the league ). And of course, that accumulated 11 touchdowns ( again, T-1st in the league ). He's been consistent throughout and has only been getting better.
He's pretty consistent at making difficult catches as well, especially on deep plays. Whether a ball is overthrown or underthrown, he stretches out making diving catches or pulls back adjusting himself to make a play. It's this extra effort which resulted in 1190 receiving yards ( T-6th in the league for receivers ). Golladay has been making a name for himself throughout the season making deep catches. He ended with an average of 18.3 per catch ( T-4th in the league ). He also ranked 7th in contested catches. Overall, he's a really good player who brings balance to a team. He specializes at finding the defensive back's blind spot and makes a move then, leaving the defender lost or fallen on the ground. He's just 26 years old and is now moving into his prime years.
Robby Anderson recently signed a 2 year $20 million deal with the Panthers. He's definitely underrated and has a lot of talent which has not been recognized. Robby Anderson is the type of receiver who has speed, agility and great catching skills. In 2019 a majority of his routes were streaks, posts or corners. The Jets basically used him as a deep threat. His longest play was 92 yards ( T-2nd in the league for receivers ). This means he doesn't really have experience running the entire route tree but is capable of running slants, curls and drag routes just not as smoothly. However, he seemed to have created a connection with Sam Darnold. The Jet's quarterback started targeting Anderson much more towards the end of the season and many of the balls thrown were possession catches.
Presuming Teddy Bridgewater starts for the Panthers, Anderson could have his first 1000-yard receiving season. However he'll most likely be the number 2 receiver next to D.J Moore. Anderson will be playing much more in the slot and will have to get used to the Panther's offense, which means running a wider variation of routes. He'll have competition in Carolina with Moore and Mccaffrey but could have more opportunities as well.
"I know my capabilities. I know what I want to become … and that’s the best receiver in the NFL.” - Robby Anderson
Golden Tate is one of the receivers who doesn't have MINDBLOWING stats or anything. He had a decent 676 receiving yards. Maybe it was just his quarterback Daniel Jones who couldn't form a connection between them. Whatever it was, there's a whole lot of what you can say... intelligence Tate has. His route running was fantastic in 2019. And no that's not really surprising with all the veteran experience he has. In the past 10 years, Golden Tate has the most missed tackles forced ( for wide receivers ). Leading the board, he has forced 183 missed tackles, the second most missed tackles forced stands at 108. No one's even close to Tate. This makes him absolutely lethal in the open field which also helps his RAC yardage.
Being a veteran, he's mastered the 'late hands' concept. Reaching out in the last second to catch the ball, its not an easy thing especially timing it. In 2019, he made numerous of his catches in the last second, this confuses the defender to anticipate when the ball will come arching through and when is the right time to stick their arms up and bat it down. Tate also loves stepping on the breaks the last second and turning around to make catches. Coming back to where I mentioned his " intelligence ", Tate is somehow always anticipating when he'll be hit while making a catch without even looking around. This field awareness helps him to secure the ball quickly and sometimes land in a peculiar method in order to not be hit by a safety. Tate is a target to look at especially at 3rd downs. 30 out of his 49 receptions were first down catches. It's his ability to make catches in traffic and secure the ball which makes him so good at this. As mentioned previously, he's known for forcing missed tackles which makes him even more dangerous.
Not many know this, but Golden Tate is elite at finding weak spots in zone coverages. He knows how to manipulate the defenders using his route running, eye contact and body language ( yes this is what makes the difference in route running ). When lining up before the snap, Tate's ability to quickly analyse defenses and change his release is what makes him special. He plans and executes promptly. And last thing, what's one thing every receiver should have? Good hands. He had a catchable target rate of 88.2%. Thats the second best in the league. He's almost 32 now, which could be a problem. The Giants have a decision to make, whether to keep him on the team or sign some of the other big names hitting the free agency next year, like Juju Smith Schuster, Larry Fitzgerald, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins. Wherever he goes, he has a lot still left in him and can be a game changer.