Which NFL Teams Are The Best At Drafting Receivers?


The task of nominating who is the best and worst at drafting receivers was rather tough compared to some other positions. There were a few teams deserving to be on the list below for being successful and lousy at drafting receivers.

Realistically, due to the amount of receivers on the field at one time, the chances of finding success and production eventually transpires blurring the reality of a teams ineffectiveness at drafting true talent. Several of the top teams ranked near the top left little question about their scouting department’s ability to gauge the talent of a prospect and their destined success in the NFL.

Over the last decade (or longer), it appears clear which teams have been able to first identify a receiver prospect and develop that particular player into one worthy of starting and being successful in the NFL. Below are some of the best and worst team’s in the NFL that draft receivers.

Who Drafts the Best WR’s 

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers should lease their scouting department to the teams below who are listed amongst the worst teams in the NFL to draft receivers. The Packers are near the top, if not the very best in the NFL evaluating the position and coming up time and time again with superb results.

In 1935 Elvis Presley was born and so was the day the NFL saw its first NFL receiver.

Green Bay has been beating the competition to extracting the top receivers in the NFL before the NFL Draft existed. Players could sign with any team they wanted and Packers head coach Curly Lambeau identified Don Hutson as the guy to make the Packers’ offense thrive. His position was known as split end and Huston is considered by many to be the first modern day receiver. Huston was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Another Hall of Fame receiver the Packers drafted was James Lofton with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft. Lofton played 15 years in the NFL and was in Green Bay between 1978-86, earning eight trips to the Pro Bowl as a member of the team.

The impressive list of drafted Packers receivers begins again in 1988 with the first-round selection (seventh overall) of Sterling Sharpe. Since that time, Green Bay has made it a habit of drafting top-shelf receivers available via the NFL Draft. The others include Robert Brooks (1992), Antonio Freeman (1995), Javon Walker (2002), Greg Jennings (2006), James Jones (2007), Jordy Nelson (2008), Randall Cobb (2011) and Davante Adams (2014).

Green Bay raised a few eyebrows this past draft after they selected former Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery. Odds are Montgomery is going to have a bright future in the NFL just due to the football receiving factory located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Thinking about the Pittsburgh Steelers as a franchise, the defense usually comes first followed then by the stout running game they have been able to deliver at a high level over the decades.

Pittsburgh quietly prospers in drafting receivers which may shock some readers.

The first two of receivers that helped put Pittsburgh on the draft-map of success regarding the position is the Hall of Fame duo of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, both selected in the 1974 NFL Draft. Lynn was their first-round pick followed by Stallworth in the fourth-round. It should be mentioned that Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert was penciled in between the pair with Pittsburgh using their second-round selection on the former Kent State star.

Louis Lipps was the 1980’s top draft selection for the Steel City. He played eight years in Pittsburgh leading the team six times in receiving yards.

The 1990’s began another era for Pittsburgh drafting another impact receiver with the choice of Hines Ward in the third-round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Ward would win two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh and become a fan favorite with his linebacker mentality at the position.

In 2000, the Steelers drafted the sometimes infamous Plaxico Burress out of Michigan State and stayed in the Big Ten Conference when they used another first-round pick on Ohio State’s Santonio Holmes in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Mike Wallace flamed in-and-out of Pittsburgh as quickly as he runs after spending four years (2009-13) with the Steelers. Wallace left via free agency and signed with the Miami Dolphins and has since been released and then signed by the Minnesota Vikings.

One year after drafting Wallace in the third-round, the Steelers drafted Emmanuel Sanders (third-round) and Antonio Brown (sixth-round). Sanders was another coveted free agent signing last March when he was quickly signed by the Denver Broncos. Brown led the NFL in catches (129) and receiving yards (1,698).

Brown is regarded as one of the top receivers in the entire game of football and he also has some new talented faces around him. Recent additions of Markus Wheaton (2013), Martavis Bryant (2014) and Sammie Coates (2015) puts Pittsburgh in the running as one of the top franchises that know how to draft receivers.

Dallas Cowboys 

The Dallas Cowboys entered the NFL in 1960 and five years later they drafted their first future Pro Football Hall of Fame player on offense with receiver Bob Hayes. He won a pair of gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games and was known as “World’s Fastest Human” and also a Super Bowl VI champion.

Dallas has been able to keep the pipeline flowing with talented NFL receivers acquired from the NFL Draft. Hayes was the first of two Cowboys enshrined into the Hall of Fame. The second is three-time Super Bowl winner Michael Irvin. While both Hayes and Irvin were considered the elite of their generations others have suited up in a Cowboys uniform with the star on the side of their helmet and been extremely successful.

Tony Hill was a third-round pick selected out of Stanford in the 1977 NFL Draft. Hill won one Super Bowl as a Cowboy and was a three-time Pro Bowl receiver with the team from 1977-86. He had 51 career touchdowns and was the team’s top receiver during the 1980’s.

Obviously the most recent addition to the arsenal is Dez Bryant. He has become one of the most feared receivers in the league and if he maintains his level of play for the duration of his career it is possible he’ll join both Hayes and Irvin in the Hall of Fame. Drafted in the first-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Bryant has kept the tradition of the team drafting top-of-the-talent.

It would be an insult not to mention 1970’s All-Decade Team member Drew Pearson, who played with the Cowboys from 1973-83. He went undrafted out of Tulsa in 1973 but credit should be given to the Dallas staff for bringing Pearson into camp and helping him become one of the most successful Cowboys receivers in the history of the team.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.