Wide Receiver Free Agency Rankings 2023: Odell Beckham Jr., DJ Chark, and Mecole Hardman Are All Top Options

    The PFN wide receiver free agency rankings for 2023 are a bit light this season. However, there will be some value in scheme-specific players.

    It’s becoming increasingly apparent that wide receiver is an incredibly important part of the team-building process unless you’re Patrick Mahomes. Even in Mahomes’ case, when the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, they added multiple receivers to try and soften the blow. We’ve seen passing attacks crumble through injury, while others never reach their potential heights because they lack a legitimate No. 2 option to take some of the heat off their top receiver.

    2023 WR Free Agency Rankings

    Wide receiver is one of the weaker positions in NFL free agency, but that doesn’t mean teams will be unable to improve with this crop of talent. There is no Davante Adams in the class this year. But many of the pass catchers in the class can help. A few of them are spending time this offseason being fitted for rings.

    But the rest of the group starts declining significantly from there. Check PFN’s Top 100 NFL Free Agents to see where each player ranks.

    1) Odell Beckham Jr.

    Seeing Odell Beckham Jr. at the top of the list should suffice in the above explanation of how light the class is. Beckham didn’t even play a season ago, and he hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard season since 2019. But he was a critical part of the Rams’ postseason run, down to the moment in the Super Bowl when he was injured.

    Beckham isn’t the above-the-rim, highlight-reel player he was as a young pup in New York. Nevertheless, he’s still loose and sudden as a route runner, and he also has a knack for getting open against zone coverages. When healthy, OBJ could be a decent second option for a team. But what put him over the top of the second player on the list comes down to cost.

    Beckham will realistically cost next to nothing because of his recent rash of injuries. He could be one of the best value’s in the entire league next season if he remains healthy, which, unfortunately, is easier said than done for him at this point.

    2) Jakobi Meyers

    The New England Patriots receiver went from undrafted free agent to household name for a slightly unfortunate reason. On Nov. 7, 2021, Jakobi Meyers became the league’s all-time leading wide receiver to have never scored a touchdown (1,517 yards.) It took over two full NFL seasons for Meyers to get into the end zone, despite being a productive enough pass catcher during his early time with the Patriots.

    In 2022, the former college QB found the end zone six times. He’s now had three consecutive seasons of at least 700 receiving yards in an offense that doesn’t love to throw the football.

    Meyers plays even bigger than his 6-foot-2 frame. He catches nearly everything that comes in his direction, no matter the difficulty. Meyers won’t wow anyone with outrageous athletic ability in a straight line, but he has the type of separation quickness to be a solid second option on a team with a legitimate No. 1.

    3) DJ Chark

    DJ Chark is a No. 3 from a production perspective, but his role within an offense is far more valuable than what shows up in his personal box score. Chark’s size and speed create problems for third-level defenders who need to provide cushion to ensure he doesn’t sneak past them downfield.

    Chark’s on-off splits with the Detroit Lions are evidence of that. Because defenses are getting smarter in coverage and learning how to counter certain coverage beaters, having an abundance of speed is the only true way to counter it.

    MORE: Will the Lions Re-Sign DJ Chark in 2023? Detroit’s Options at WR in 2023

    The Chargers and Cowboys both had good offenses in 2022, but their lack of speed made windows over the middle the size of an airplane window instead of what could have been french doors. So even when Chark isn’t catching the football, he’s contributing quite a lot to your offense.

    His problem has been his inability to remain on the field. Chark had productive seasons in 2019 and 2020 when he played 15 and 13 games, respectively, but he’s never played in more than 11 in any other year. Ankle and soft tissue injuries have made it impossible for Chark to remain reliable. But that will also drive his cost down for potential suitors.

    4) JuJu Smith-Schuster

    At this point, JuJu Smith-Schuster may be resigned to being a Chief for a while. In true Eli Apple fashion, the six-year veteran tried making a joke on Twitter at the expense of an opponent. And because the… apple… doesn’t seem to fall far from the tree, the league let him have it. Players from franchises far and wide chimed in on “Tik Tok boy.”

    But the 26-year-old receiver found his form again in 2023. Mahomes is probably the best remedy there is to treat a career that was grinding to a halt. Injuries took 2021 away from him, but things hadn’t been the same in the Pittsburgh offense since the departure of Antonio Brown.

    Smith-Schuster isn’t particularly quick, but he’s a physical player and a savvy intermediate route runner, which allows him to separate against quicker opponents. And despite his six-year presence in the league, he’s still very young.

    5) Mecole Hardman

    It was a difficult time for Mecole Hardman to have a difficult season. There aren’t many stories about college cornerbacks turning into wide receivers, but the Georgia product is one of the few who made the switch in school and had it stick. He was too good with the ball in his hands not to find a way to give it to him, and that ability got him to the NFL.

    MORE: Will the Chiefs Re-Sign Mecole Hardman? Potential Contract Value for Kansas City WR

    If you need Hardman to be your No. 2, you’re in grave danger offensively. But if you’re looking for someone who can take the top off a defense and be awarded manufactured touches around the line of scrimmage in the screen game, Hardman is your man. He’s also proven himself a decent return man. He scored touchdowns in each of his first two NFL seasons before curiously being benched for Mike Hughes in 2021.

    Rest of WR Free Agency Rankings

    6) Parris Campbell
    7) Allen Lazard
    8) Marvin Jones Jr.
    9) Mack Hollins
    10) Darius Slayton
    11) Isaiah Hodgins
    12) Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
    13) Noah Brown
    14) Olamide Zaccheaus
    15) Jauan Jennings

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