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There were not many surprising wide receiver landing spots that avoided competition in the NFL Draft. Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the New York Giants were all widely speculated to take a wide receiver in the NFL Draft and did so. Below are the beneficiaries of their team’s decisions at the wide receiver position in the NFL Draft.
In 2019, John Brown showed the upside many thought he had. Unfortunately, 2020 showcased his injury concerns. Brown was cut by Buffalo before signing with Las Vegas this offseason. The Las Vegas passing game has Darren Waller but few other established options. Second-year players Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards have failed to establish themselves as legitimate threats and the Raiders did not address the position in the NFL Draft. This situation leaves Brown the opportunity to be a better version of 2020 Nelson Agholor. Totalling 110+ targets and a WR2 finish is not out of the question.
There was plenty of speculation Kansas City was going to address the wide receiver position in the NFL Draft but the team only addressed the position in round five with the selection of Cornell Powell. In two seasons, Hardman has seen promise and hype, that has failed to translate to on-field success. Hardman has averaged 34.3 yards per game in his career but should see more opportunity, particularly with Sammy Watkins departing in free agency. 2021 is a make or break season for Hardman, with 100 targets within his range of outcomes if he takes a step forward.
An afterthought for much of his time with the Rams, Josh Reynolds signed with Tennessee in free agency. The offense could look significantly different without former Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith at the helm. Likewise, there is a big opening with Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis signing with the Patriots and Jets respectively. Reynolds has been a below-average efficiency player through four years with the Rams, but the Tennessee offense provides an opportunity for more volume.
Brandin Cooks has been hyper-efficient during his seven years in the NFL. He enters the 2021 season as the de facto WR1 in the Houston offense with Houston selecting only Nico Collins during the draft. There is still a chance Deshaun Watson returns to Houston, but if he does not Cooks has Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills as potential quarterback options. Cooks can be a WR2 at a WR4 type price in 2021 with the possibility of career-high volume.
Detroit's Wide Receivers
The Detroit Lions waited until day three of the NFL Draft to address the wide receiver position. This is a good sign for Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman who joined the team in free agency this offseason. It is uncertain who will have the big volume role in the offense, but this situation warrants monitoring over the rest of the offseason. One deeper name to keep an eye on is second-year receiver Quintez Cephus who was efficient on his opportunities last season.