Wide receivers tend to see their production go up and down through years. Besides Antonio Brown, every receiver needs to have a good situation to succeed. Whether it be a better offensive scheme, better quarterback, or better health, certain changes for the better are what help receivers go from mediocre production to elite production. Let’s look at five receivers who will have better seasons this year.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is the exception on this list. Unlike the other receivers on this list, he had no major changes to his supporting cast, outside of rookie Calvin Ridley. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will also be calling the plays once again for Atlanta. Jones also already has the reputation as an elite receiver and had 1444 receiving yards last year. However, Jones only had three touchdowns last year and struggled in the Red Zone. Atlanta struggled as a whole, as they only had a 49.18% Red Zone Touchdown Scoring Percentage. “It’s very important for me and Matt (Ryan) to be on the same page down there in the red zone,” Jones said to Vaughn McClure of ESPN. As Jones looks to improve his Red Zone production and Sarkisian looks to improve Atlanta’s Red Zone efficiency, the common denominator is Jones getting more opportunities in the Red Zone. That should all lead to Jones seeing his touchdown total go back up and once agin living up to the hype of one of the game’s receivers.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Drafted #5 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Corey Davis struggled with injuries last season and failed to make a big impact. However, Davis should have a much better sophomore season. Davis did miss some practice time with a hamstring injury, but the injury looks to be minor. As long as he stays healthy during the season, he has a clear line to being the top receiver in a receiving corps that currently lacks a #1 caliber receiver. In a divisional round loss to the Patriots last year, Davis had two touchdowns. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that Davis and quarterback Marcus Mariota already share the chemistry needed to succeed. As Mariota looks to take a step forward this season, expect for him to rely on Davis to be his main target. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that meant a 1000 yard season for Davis.
TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Last year was the first year that TY Hilton didn’t eclipse 1000 receiving yards since his rookie season. The main reason for that was that quarterback Andrew Luck missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. With Luck back in training camp, it’s looking more and more likely he’ll be cleared to play this season. Assuming he stays healthy, Hilton’s production should skyrocket this season. Luck and Hilton’s chemistry seems to have not taken a beat, as according to new coach Frank Reich, “they’re completely in sync.” As Luck tries to get back in the groove and shake off the rust, he may even rely on Hilton a little more as his safety target. Remember, Hilton led the league in receiving in 2016 with Luck, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he did agin this year with Luck back healthy.
Jake Butt, Denver Broncos
During this series, there has been a rookie considered in each one of these articles. Since Broncos tight end Jake Butt missed his entire rookie year with a knee injury, we’ll consider him a rookie. Butt’s great hands and potential as an elite receiving tight end would’ve made him a first round pick, if not for him suffering a Torn ACL is his last ever college game at Michigan. According to Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Butt looks “totally healthy”. That’s great news for the Broncos and for Butt, as he should become the team’s top tight end. There’s not much competition for the spot, as he should easily beat out Jeff Heurman for the starting job. Butt has already earned praise for new quarterback Case Keenum, who was quoted saying that Butt “wants the ball and I love that. He’s hungry right now for knowledge, for how to run routes, for how to maneuver with leverage “. If Butt can earn Keenum’s trust, which is seems like he has, he could be in line for an excellent 2018 campaign.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
Drafted in the first round in the 2017 draft, tight end Evan Engram had an excellent rookie season, with 722 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. He did all of that amidst ll the chaos with former head coach Ben McAdoo and with an offense that had no running game or threats around him. That’ll change in 2018. Former Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer takes over as the head coach, and has already made an impact in putting stability in place in the locker room. The Giants drafted running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick, which opens it up for Engram, who could be a major threat in play action. Barkley has also lined up at receiver, which is critical. If a safety has to switch to Barkley, than that leaves Engram lined up in a mismatch with a linebacker, which Engram will surely take advantage of Engram won’t be the only receiving threat this year, as star reciever Odell Beckham Jr. is set to return from an ankle injury he suffered in Week 5 last season. With so many weapons to concentrate on with the Giants offense, Engram may be the overlooked one by defenses, and will likely have a monster season as a result.