Football fans have watched NFL wide receivers make plays on the gridiron for years. Outside of quarterback, NFL wide receivers can be considered the most important player on offense. The NFL is full of young and talented wide receivers who have established themselves. NFL wide receivers like Justin Jefferson, Deebo Samuel, Jamar Chase, and Tyreek Hill were monsters on the perimeter during the 2022 season.
I think the conversation about wide receivers needs to be further analyzed. Football fans get caught up thinking about the number one wide receivers like Tyreek Hill or Davante Adams. However, it’s more to the receiver position, and context is needed. There are different types of wide receivers and there are reasons why NFL wide receivers accumulate stats.
NFL Wide Reciever Categories
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The first NFL wide receiver category is the number one wide receiver. Number one wide receivers are receivers who are targeted the most during a game. These receivers usually line up by themselves and have the ability to beat elite defensive backs. The number one wide receiver is also called the X-receiver. Number one wide receivers are dominating the NFL. Additionally, number one receivers are talented, intelligent, and know how to get open on the gridiron. Offensive coordinators will put receivers like Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Stefon Diggs in different formations and different areas on the field. Multiple formations help receivers get open by giving them free access at the line of scrimmage.
Another receiver category is the slot receiver. Slot receivers play inside and are usually lined up on nickel corners, linebackers, or safeties. Slot receivers are important to offenses because of what they can do inside. Slot receivers have to identify the defensive coverage and quickly get open. Julian Edelman had a long and successful career playing in the slot. Cole Beasley was a master in the slot with the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. Depending on the play the slot receiver can either be a decoy or the main option.
Finally, you have the number two and number three wide receivers. Number two and three receivers are the second and third options on plays. Occasionally plays are drawn to get them the ball. They usually line up away from the number one option. They are also known as the Y or F receivers. These receivers play significant roles in offenses because they can get the ball when the number one option is covered. Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn are good examples of number two and three receivers.
Offense and Size Matter
NFL wide receivers come in different shapes and sizes. Some receivers are big and tall like Mike Evans. Some are short and quick like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Different offenses like different types of wide receivers. Some offenses want big receivers who can stretch the field. An Andy Reid type of offense like to attack horizontally with shorter and quicker receivers. It all depends on what an offense is looking for at the receiver position.
NFL wide receivers can accumulate stats playing in offenses that feature them. Davante Adams recorded multiple 1,000-yard seasons in Matt Lafleur’s offense. Adams was the primary option on most plays and made the most of his targets. Tyreek Hill consistently averaged 1,000 yards when he was in Kansas City because of Andy Reid’s offensive scheme.
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