The NFL’s Top QB-WR-WR Trios
Disclaimer: This analysis disqualifies the Atlanta Falcons as Julio Jones is apparently headed elsewhere. It also does not factor in Deshaun Watson because of his 2021 uncertainty. Otherwise, the Atlanta Falcons would have placed fifth and the Houston Texans at fourth.
Pro Football Focus tallies annual and weekly in-season grades throughout a calendar year. When a season finishes, year-end grades are the final product, allotting for NFL analysts and fans a score for every NFL player.
This examination calculates and ranks each team’s QB1, WR1, and WR2 as a total sum via PFF 2020 grade. For some players like Courtland Sutton or Christian McCaffrey, 2019 scores are used to imply 2021 performance rather than their injury-ravaged campaigns of 2020.
The only two rookie quarterbacks interwoven are Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson — each man was given a generic 65.0 score. These fake grades are largely moot because neither team remotely approaches the Top 5.
Based on 2020 PFF grades, here are the Top 5 QB1/WR1/WR2 combinations heading into 2021, ranked from good to best.
5. Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill (90.6), A.J. Brown (90.4), Josh Reynolds (65.5)
This was “dragged down” by a comparatively low score from Josh Reynolds, who played for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. However, that did nothing to prevent the Titans from entering the Top 5. Why? Because Tannehill and Brown were that damn good during the pandemic season.
Tannehill’s second act with the Titans has started masterfully. When Tennessee signed the ex-Miami Dolphins signal-caller, not Titans fans nor the team’s management knew if he was the definitive starter. In retrospect, that sounds laughable. Tannehill has produced tremendously with the Titans, complementing Derrick Henry to the utmost.
Too, A.J. Brown should only develop further. The wideout enters Year Three in 2021, firmly possessing two terrific seasons in 2019 and 2020. Brown’s 2,126 receiving yards through his sophomore campaign are the 20th-most in NFL history by all players amid their first two seasons.
The Titans could be members of the aforementioned Julio Jones Sweepstakes, as well. Such a transaction would careen Tennessee to the top of these rankings with the snap of fingers.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson (90.5), D.K. Metcalf (82.5), Tyler Lockett (76.5)
Although he has never seized an MVP award, Russell Wilson’s greatness is prolonged and consistent. Adding Metcalf to the mix in 2019 merely enabled Wilson to utilize another muscular weapon. Lockett has always been like Wilson — steady and dependable.
Metcalf assuredly grabs many highlight reels and headlines, but it feels like this trio does its work in quiet fashion. Perhaps that’s because the Seahawks have not won a Super Bowl since 2013 — when the world theorized a reign of terror was underway due to the youthful condition of the Legion of Boom. But that never happened.
It’s been The Wilson Show since, particularly when the Legion of Boom died throughout the last few seasons. At least Wilson has robust offensive weapons now.
3. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers (95.1), Davante Adams (92.0), Allen Lazard (72.4)
The Packers were nearly nixed from these rankings because of the episodic Rodgers drama. Yet, there is still time for a kumbaya with Rodgers and the Packers brass. The benefit of the doubt has been extended for FranchiseTagged‘s purposes.
Rodgers was herculean in 2020. His production between 2015 and 2019 actually dipped compared to his 2008-2014 fireworks — but nobody cared. Rodgers is immune to criticism as reasons why Green Bay has not won another Super Bowl since 2010 persistently defense Rodgers. “The RB isn’t good enough,” “Wait until Aaron gets a defense,” “The head coach is holding everybody back,” etc. were some of the greatest hits during the last decade.
Now, Rodgers has Adams — arguably the best in the world — catching his lasers with Lazard at WR2 for clean-up duty. It’s a fabulous threesome — one the world may or may not ever see together again.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins (83.5), Justin Jefferson (90.4), Adam Thielen (87.4)
Here’s the deal: Kirk Cousins is a damn good quarterback — he is not a great quarterback. The sooner folks swallow that information, the easier it becomes to shed the anti-Cousins venom.
His wide receiver stable is a salty-and-peppery mix of youth and over-30 age. Thielen is Mr. Reliable whereas Jefferson is Mr. Excitement. It’s a wondrous platter for Cousins to employ during his most pivotal year with the Vikings on the docket.
Thielen — due to his marvelous route-running and hands — should be able to produce for 3-4 more seasons at a high level. Jefferson has an entire career in his purview. His rookie season was a forum for record pulverization as the LSU alumnus set the NFL rookie record for receiving yards (1,400).
1. Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen (90.3), Stefon Diggs (90.2), Cole Beasley (81.7)
Per PFF and the QB1/WR1/WR2 criteria, the Bills showcase the best trinity of passing assets on earth.
Allen executed a storybook third-year leap, just missing out on an MVP accolade because Aaron Rodgers still lived in Wisconsin. The trade that Buffalo concoted with the Vikings in 2020 — it sent Diggs to Buffalo and Jefferson to Minnesota via draft pick — was a handbook on how to benefit teams mutually. The Vikings even filled out their roster with 2021 draft spoils directly derived from the Diggs trade.
Diggs unlocked doors for Allen, busting defenses apart for Cole Beasley to slice and dice his way to an All-Pro award. Whooda thunk it?
It is unlikely that Allen regresses in 2020, so this trifecta should threaten the Kansas City Chiefs presumed stranglehold on the AFC.