4 NFL Teams Primed to Fill Vacant WR1 Roles


Highlights NFL teams in need of a dynamic WR look to the draft for premier talent to elevate their offenses.
Patriots, Cardinals, and Giants seek top WRs to support their quarterbacks and add firepower to their pass-catch corps.
Aerial artistry enthusiasts can expect a season of rookies and trades shaping the league’s wide receiver landscape.
Fans of aerial artistry rejoice, because the upcoming NFL season is the year of the wide receiver.
The 2024 NFL Draft features another impressive collection of future studs at the position (GIVEMESPORT ranks three WRs among our top five draft prospects, with a total of six in the top 30), and there are a number of name-brand wide receivers (allegedly) on the trade block. Most notably, there are several teams in desperate need of a primary perimeter playmaker.
There’s recent but ample evidence of first-year wide receivers setting opposing defenses on fire. That includes players in the first year of their careers, a la Ja’Marr Chase in 2021, and those playing the first year with a new team, i.e. Stefon Diggs (who has been showing signs of frustration in Buffalo) in 2020 with the Buffalo Bills and A.J. Brown in 2022 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Considering the number of teams lacking anything close to a dynamic outside receiver that can affect defenses on multiple levels, the demand to add such a player will be high for the remainder of the offseason, especially at the draft.
Related Top 4 Landing Spots for Stefon Diggs Following Cryptic Tweet Predicting four potential trade destinations for Buffalo Bills wideout Stefon Diggs following a cryptic tweet.
New England Patriots Must Pair QB with Dynamic Pass-catcher
Draft capital: 8 total picks | Top 100 picks: 3
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Barring the shock of the century, the Patriots will usher in the post-Bill Belichick era with a rookie quarterback. They’re stationed at pick No. 3 in next month’s NFL Draft with three premier passers atop the board.
Some in the industry suggest the Patriots couldtrade back and lean on journeyman Jacoby Brissett as their bridge quarterback. Perhaps … but that’s a tough sell for an organization still reeling in the wake of Tom Brady’s departure.
Ignoring the requisite coach speak for a moment—we know everyone has to earn his role—the Patriots’ pass-catching corps is begging for an injection of juice and playmaking quality. No disrespect to Julian Edelman, but that’s something they haven’t had since 2017 when the passing attack featured Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski. (Speaking of Gronk, maybe there is a scenario that sees the Pats call Brock Bowers’ name?)
GIVEMESPORT Key Stat: Demario Douglas’ 561 yards led the Patriots in that department in 2023, but they also represented the smallest yardage total for a team’s WR1 in the entire NFL by a pretty significant margin.
Demario Douglas was New England’s leading receiver in 2023, but “leading” can certainly be used loosely here. Douglas averaged 11.4 yards per catch while commanding a paltry 79 targets and 14.6 percent target share.
In the event New England stands pat at No. 3, even an alleged “second-tier” wide receiver prospect will enter the season primed to emerge as the go-to target and produce right away. If they do go wideout with their first selection and roll with Brissett in 2024, they’ll be able to take their pick of the Holy Trinity of 2024 WR prospects: LSU’s Malik Nabers, Washington’s Rome Odunze, and Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr.
Cardinals Can Provide Kyler Murray with Top WR
Draft capital: 11 total picks | Top 100 picks: 6
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals, their 4-13 record notwithstanding, are in an enviable spot entering April. Not only are they armed with premium draft capital, including the No. 4 overall selection, which they can use on one of the elite WR trio mentioned above, but they have a quality, reasonably priced quarterback in Kyler Murray.
“Reasonably priced” doesn’t equate to “bargain”, so the Cardinals will probably focus on their draft day options as opposed to a trade. But with so much draft capital—and the potential to add even more if a QB-needy team comes calling—they’re the type of team that could theoretically pry away Tee Higgins or Stefon Diggs from their respective teams.
Whomever they tab to fill their No. 1 wide receiver role will enter a pass-catching group tasked with filling 206 vacated targets—or 38.1 percent of the Cardinals’ 2023 target pie.
Last year’s leading pass-catcher wasn’t even a wide receiver. Tight end Trey McBride led the team with 106 targets and 81 receptions. And Michael Wilson, the leading receiver after Marquise Brown’s departure, compiled a modest 38 receptions on 58 targets. McBride and Wilson are both young players with some promise, but neither will stand in front of a pure No. 1 earning a full plate of targets.
Chargers Can Provide Justin Herbert with a Dynamic Playmaker
Draft capital: 9 total picks | Top 100 picks: 3
“Hitting the jackpot”—a familiar phrase that applies to whomever the Los Angeles Chargers select to serve as Justin Herbert’s top receiving target. To put it plainly, the young man that the Chargers select at No. 5 overall—assuming they stay there—will walk into a perfect storm.
The aforementioned Herbert is justifiably considered among the league’s upper-echelon quarterbacks; new head coach Jim Harbaugh’s fingerprints are already gracing the roster as he pursues his guys; and nearly 50 percent of last year’s target pie departed via free agency.
Chargers Offensive Losses Player New Team 2023 Offensive Snap % Austin Ekeler, RB WAS 54.4 Mike Williams, WR NYJ 14.4 Keenan Allen, WR CHI 67.3 Gerald Everett, TE CHI 49.4 Joshua Kelley, RB Free Agent 33.9
Meanwhile, incumbents Quentin Johnston—the Chargers’ 2023 first-round pick—and Josh Palmer have not demonstrated WR1 chops up to this point in their respective careers.
And thus, one of Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers will walk into a Greg Roman offense and become a chic pick to claim Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2024.
Roman coordinated Harbaugh’s 49ers offenses from 2011-2014. His top wide receivers (by total targets) over that span were Anquan Boldin (2013-14) and Michael Crabtree (2011-2012). Their target share percentages beginning in 2011: 25.6 (Crabtree), 29.4 (Crabtree), 31.4 (Boldin), 27.1 (Boldin). And their touch share percentages: 9.4, 11.0, 11.6, 11.0.
Long story short, there is a platter of opportunity on the table for the Year 1 wide receiver the Chargers pair with their franchise quarterback.
New York Giants Desperately Need WR Juice in Offensive Equation
Draft capital: 6 total picks | Top 100 picks: 3
Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Giants’ surprise run to the playoffs in 2022 provided a false sense of their long-term trajectory. As currently constructed, their quarterback room is a major question mark, and they lack a single supporting player who can help extract an answer.
A bare cupboard of playmakers combined with no long-term commitment to a quarterback means the Giants can go in a number of different directions on draft day. But if they opt to address weaponry first—they’re being linked to Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy—they’ll inject a receiver into a lackluster position group.
Even accounting for poor quarterback play, it’s fair to call the G-Men’s wide receiver production abysmal. They haven’t had a receiver capable of stressing defenses since Odell Beckham Jr.’s final season in 2018, as no WR has topped 800 yards in the five years since. And making matters worse, Saquon Barkley, their best player in 2023, departed for a division rival.
Giants Leading Receiver 2019-2023 Year Player Receptions Yards 2019 Darius Slayton 48 740 2020 Darius Slayton 50 751 2021 Kenny Golladay 37 521 2022 Darius Slayton 46 724 2023 Darius Slayton 50 770
Regardless of whether Harrison Jr., Nabers, or Rome Odunze joins Big Blue, neither Darius Slayton nor Wan’Dale Robinson will block his path to the top of the wide receiver hierarchy.
Complete and unbridled enthusiasm for a potential shiny new perimeter weapon in New York is only quelled by the presence of Daniel Jones at quarterback. He’s played his best football under the current regime, but the final results have still been, shall we say, less than stellar.
Still, it looks like Jones is the guy for now. And if there’s a chance for him to convince a general manager he’s one of the world’s best 64 quarterbacks, having a true No. 1 option will be a significant benefit. It will also be a huge boost to a coaching staff under the microscope after a poor season on and off the field.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless stated otherwise.


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