NFC North wideouts offer some talent at the top, but little or no depth

  • Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) celebrates his touchdown with Jesper Horsted in the win over the Giants last season. Robinson is one of only three true No. 1 receivers in the division, possibly a hair behind Davante Adams and a hair ahead of Adam Thielen.

    Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) celebrates his touchdown with Jesper Horsted in the win over the Giants last season. Robinson is one of only three true No. 1 receivers in the division, possibly a hair behind Davante Adams and a hair ahead of Adam Thielen. Associated Press

 
 
Posted5/16/2020 1:00 AM

Third in a series

In this series we rank the NFC North clubs at every position. Rankings are based on performance to date, scouting reports and evaluations from general managers, coaches and scouts around the NFL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wide receivers

1. Detroit Lions B: While it's unclear whether either is a true No. 1 receiver, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. gave the Lions one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL last year with 20 touchdown catches between them.

Golladay, with 65 receptions for 1,190 yards, an 18.3 yard avg., and 11 TDs, was third in the NFL in average yards per catch among receivers. He had more than 45 receptions and led the league with his 11 touchdowns while Jones Jr., 62-779, 12.6, 9 TDs was more the possession guy with his 9 touchdowns tied for fourth in the league.

As dangerous as Golladay is, he'll need to catch a lot more than 65 balls to be a true No. 1, and there's reason to believe he will if Matt Stafford is under center more than half the season this year.

Even at 34 years old, Danny Amendola remains one of the better No. 3s in the league as a prototypical slot receiver.

What keeps this grade a B is there is little or nothing after an impressive top three with veteran journeymen Marvin Hall and Geronimo Allison the next best options.

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2. Bears B-: Allen Robinson is one of only three true No. 1 receivers in the division, possibly a hair behind Davante Adams and a hair ahead of Adam Thielen.

The reason the Bears are second here is that while none of the three remaining groups are impressive, the Anthony Miller of the second half of last season is the closest any of these clubs have to a true No. 2 receiver. Ted Ginn Jr. and Cordarrelle Patterson, while extremely inconsistent, are explosive weapons that Matt Nagy will use in a number of different sets to create matchup nightmares. Running back Tarik Cohen will line up at receiver and can be very productive -- he's averaged 67-511, 7.6, 3 TDs receiving over his first three seasons -- and Riley Ridley and Javon Wims may still be the most promising among NFC North threes and fours.

3. Green Bay Packers B-: Davante Adams was one of the best receivers in the league in 2018 with 111 catches for 1,386 yards, averaging 12.5 yards a catch and 13 TDs. But he missed four games due to injury last season. His production dropped proportionately in part due to the injury and in part because the Packers literally have nobody else to take pressure off him.

Devin Funchess is a nice get in free agency. But the converted tight end who was a first-round pick of the Panthers four seasons ago has averaged 41 catches for 566 yards, averaging 13.8 yards a catch and 5 touchdowns in the NFL, not enough for Carolina to pick up the fifth year of his deal and not enough to make him more than a No 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Jake Kumerow like Funchess are all 6-4 or taller and Valdez-Scantling runs like a deer, but all three were asked to claim the No. 2 spot last season and all three played like threes or fours.

While we can't really grade rookies who've never played in the league, stunningly the Packers didn't even draft one this year.

4. Minnesota Vikings C-: The Minnesota Vikings had a salary cap mess to clean up and a real need to get younger this offseason so two-time 1,000 yard receiver and arguably the best No. 2 in the NFL, Stefon Diggs is now a No. 1 in Buffalo.

Adam Thielen was a legit No. 1 in 2017 -- 1,276 yards -- and 2018, -- 1,373 yards, 9 TDs -- but nagging injuries limited him to just 30-418, 13.9, 6 TDs in just 10 games last season and after Thielen the Vikings cupboard is really bare.

The Vikings used one of their two first-round draft choices on Justin Jefferson, a truly exciting prospect, but still an unknown at the next level, and if you've never heard of Bisi Johnson, a seventh-round pick last year who caught 31 passes for 294 yards, averaging 9.5 yards a catch with 3 TDs as a rookie or Tajae Sharp who's averaged 31 catches for 389 yards with 12.6 yards per catch in three years in the league, welcome to the club.

It's not just that Mike Zimmer loves to run the football, he almost has to.

• @Hub_Arkush

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