We all know the big-name wide receivers.
Ja'Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, and a long list of other players normally find themselves near the top of the wide receiver mountain. But while most, if not all, of the aforementioned players will receive their fair share of praise and adulation, a handful of wideouts deserve more love than they are currently receiving.
They may not have the most prominent names or the flashiest games, but several wide receivers have quietly flown under the radar, but not anymore.
With the 2022 NFL season just a few months away, we want to take notice of those players who don't typically get the spotlight shone in their direction or are given mammoth-sized contracts. These are the receivers who will make a timely first-down catch and rack up over a thousand yards.
By the conclusion of the new year, your typical suspects will emerge as All-Pro and Pro Bowl receivers. Be that as it may, several wideouts will be nipping at their heels.
So who are the five most underrated receivers in the NFL currently? We'll fill you in right now.
5 NFL wide receivers who deserve more recognition
#5 - Tyler Lockett
We're still trying to figure out exactly how Tyler Lockett was selected as both a Pro Bowler and All-Pro during his rookie season. Whatever the reason, Lockett's 664 receiving yards were simply undeserving.
Lockett has flown under the radar regardless of how that ultimately played out. Over the past three seasons, in particular, Lockett has been deserving of Pro Bowl honors. With three consecutive seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards, including last year, where he caught 73 balls for 1,175 yards, Lockett has become one of the most consistent wide receivers in the entire league.
More than simply his production, Lockett is always in the lineup. Since being drafted in 2015, he has missed two games. They always say that the best ability is availability, and Lockett doesn't disappoint in that department.
#4 - Tyler Boyd
The spotlight in Cincinnati was focused entirely on Tyler Boyd at one point. While he may have gotten off to a relatively slow start in his career, starting only three of his first 26 games, Boyd took a significant leap forward in years three and four.
As a full-time starter, Boyd became a thousand-yard receiver, officially registering 1,028 and 1,046 receiving yards in 2018 and 2019. Ultimately, his time in the sun faded this last season. Rookie sensation Ja'Marr Chase lit the NFL world on fire, going for 1,455 receiving yards and 13 scores. Tee Higgins was also impressive, racking up 1,091 yards in his own right.
As a one-two punch, both Higgins and Chase receive the lion's share of the attention, which they should, but Boyd is a more than capable thousand-yard receiver who will continue to put up enormous numbers in a role where he isn't given a ton of attention.
#3 - Amari Cooper
The talent has always been there for Amari Cooper, but his burning desire is often heavily questioned. His inability to show up in big games became puzzling even with back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 yards in 2019 and 2020.
As the number one option for the Dallas Cowboys, the franchise believed they needed more pizazz and big play ability. With Cooper packing his bags and taking his talents to Cleveland, he'll become the number one option for Deshaun Watson on a team that is somewhat bereft of talent from the receiver position.
Cooper has yet to show that he can carry the offensive load for an entire season. Also, soon-to-be 28, he is already on his third team, another red flag.
For the most part, Cooper should be able to fly under the radar this season. The Browns have always been a run-heavy team, and that shouldn't exactly change. Due to his soft-spoken personality and vagarious play, Cooper will keep a relatively low profile. But by the time the 2022 season comes to an end, expect his name to be mentioned amongst the top pass catchers in the league.
#2 - Terry McLaurin
Terry McLaurin, a former third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has dealt with a not-so-flattering lineup of quarterbacks throwing him the ball. From players such as Case Keenum, Kelvin Harmon, and Taylor Heinicke—McLaurin is still searching for the QB. Still, that hasn't stopped him from squeezing the most out of what he's been given.
During McLaurin's rookie season, he was terrific, finishing his first year in the league with 919 yards. He officially broke through the thousand-yard barrier these past two seasons and has done his best to keep the mundane offense of the Washington Commanders afloat.
As always, Washington head into a new season with a huge question mark surrounding their quarterback. At one point, Carson Wentz was viewed as a generational talent, more than capable of pushing his teams over the finish line. However, it's unknown what you'll get from him from game to game.
If McLaurin can finally get a consistent quarterback, he'll morph into one of the best receivers in the game. However, he'll continue to put up excellent numbers on a middling franchise until then.
#1 - Michael Thomas
Oh, how quickly they've forgotten.
When prognosticators, media pundits, and even fans were asked who was the best receiver in the game, universally, Michael Thomas was the first one mentioned.
From 2016 to 2019, Thomas recorded at least 1,137 receiving yards per year. He easily led the league in total catches with 125 and 149 in back-to-back seasons. He was also named to back-to-back All-Pros and Pro Bowl squads. In 2019, Thomas had everything clicking. He wrapped up his fourth season in the league with 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
At his best, Thomas is a big physical receiver who punishes smaller defenders. But, his physicality may have ultimately cost him. In 2020, Thomas played in only seven games. This past season, Thomas failed to step onto the turf at all.
With injuries taking their toll on Thomas, his name isn't mentioned when discussing the best receivers in the game today. Nevertheless, if Thomas can put together a healthy year, we believe that he'll aggregate some of the best stats league-wide.