NFL

Wide Receivers That Make The QB: Part 1

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The NFL is a quarterback’s league and has been so for quite a while. Tom Brady only played with a great wide receiver (Randy Moss) for two years and when he did he re-wrote the record books.

The impact of a great quarterback can not be diminished, but we’re going to look at a few pass catchers who help their respective quarterbacks, if not carry them.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback, but it’s scary to think about what he would be without the help of No. 11 on the outside. Jones is simply on another level at wide receiver as he runs great routes, overpowers smaller defenders and has breakaway speed.

Ryan finished one of his worst season’s as a pro in 2015 as he was surprisingly turnover prone. Even in struggle, Jones stood up for his quarterback.

“Nothing is wrong with Matt Ryan,” Jones said. “Matt Ryan is doing a good job for us. You can look at anybody’s stats and they are going to have turnovers. … Just like I’m going to drop a ball. We just have to stick together and keep fighting.

Jones is a mismatch for any and every cornerback who lines up across from him and even when he’s not catching tons of passes, he’s the game’s best decoy at the receiver position.

He alone can help keep Falcons head coach Dan Quinn employed.

“For me, just knowing the type of player that he is. Hopefully, we’ll be connected for years to come,” Quinn said about the Pro Bowl receiver. I can’t wait to get started with him. I can’t wait to partner up with him for a long time.”

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

How good is Andy Dalton?

It’s really difficult to say because we’ve seen him go down in flames so many times on a big stage. With that said, those small games that he suceeds in is due in large part to having A.J. Green on the outside.

“When you think back to when Andy first got here, he had to play,” former Bengals offensive coordinator and current Browns head coach Hue Jackson said.

“When you think back to when A.J. first got here, he had to play. They taught themselves how to play, to be honest with you. And now you’re reaping the benefits of that because they played way early.”

Green is nearly an impossible cover with his precise route running, strong hands and track speed. The threat of Green opens things up not only for the running game, but also for Tyler Eifert over the middle of the field.

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

There is no wide receiver in the NFL that makes lemonade out of lemons like the Houston Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins does. The former Clemson product has never even played with a mediocre quarterback since being drafted by the Texans, and he’s managed to help the team to a pair of division titles in his time.

“It’s fun.  He’s very talented and wants to do his best,” current Texans starting quarterback Brian Hoyer said of throwing to Nuk.  “When you have a guy like that that wants the football in crunch time and has the ability to go out and do it, it’s fun to have him on your team.”

Hopkins is productive no matter who his quarterback is, and this year Texans fans hope to see a step-up in quarterback play as they spent big money on former Broncos Super Bowl champion backup-turned starter-turned backup Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler has played with good receivers in Denver in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but Hopkins is even more athletic than both of those studs.

“I’m a level-headed player,” Hopkins said. “I don’t really get too emotional to any game because I feel like that would take me out of it. So big moments, my teammates trust me, they come to me, and it’s what I do being a football player.”

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has had a nice start to his career, and he should continue to improve as he has the ultimate security blanket in Amari Cooper. Cooper had a stellar rookie campaign in 2015 and he should build upon his success going forward.

“He’s amazing, he’s awesome and he’s one of the best in this league,” Carr said numerous times during the season, per NFL.com. “Obviously because he’s a rookie and hasn’t done it for a certain amount of time people won’t say that but he’s one of the best.”

The Miami, Florida native is among the new class of wide receivers who aren’t divas, instead just dominate on the field and make little noise off of it.

“I just try to stay humble and hungry,” Cooper said.

Cooper is already one of the best route-runners in the NFL and the way he sets up opposing cornerbacks is simply brilliant. He has no lack of deep speed and his hands are as good as anyone’s.

There’s reason for excitement over Carr, but Cooper will carry any quarterback significantly.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.