Pro Football Focus has come out with its receiving corps rankings for 2022 and the Bucs are ranked No. 2. Tampa Bay has a great trio of starters in Pro Bowler Mike Evans, $20-million man Chris Godwin and newcomer Russell Gage. But the Bucs don’t claim the top spot in the new PFF rankings. So which team beat out the Bucs?
The Cincinnati Bengals.
Fresh off a surprise Super Bowl appearance, the Bengals’ trio of receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd is ranked No. 1. And it’s hard to argue with that distinction. Here’s how those three Cincinnati receivers produced in 2021.
Ja’Marr Chase – 81 catches for 1,455 yards (18 avg.) and 13 TDs
Tee Higgins – 74 catches for 1,091 (14.7 avg.) and 6 TDs
Tyler Boyd – 67 catches for 824 yards (12.4 avg.) and 5 TDs
Here is how Tampa Bay’s top trio performed last year, including Gage’s numbers with Atlanta.
Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Chris Godwin – 98 catches for 1,103 yards and 5 TDs
Mike Evans – 74 catches for 1,035 yards and 14 TDs
Russell Gage – 66 catches for 770 yards and 4 TDs
The Bengals’ trio totaled 222 receptions for 3,370 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Bucs’ trio totaled 238 catches for 2,908 yards and 23 TDs.
PFF’s Receiving Corps Analysis
Here is what PFF had to say about the Bengals receivers.
No team has a more impressive collection of young pass-game talent than the Bengals. Obviously, quarterback Joe Burrow is a big part of that, but the starting wide receiver trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd that came together last offseason contributed heavily to Burrow’s progression from his rookie season to 2021.
Chase established himself as one of the NFL’s best deep threats (league-high eight touchdowns on throws 20-plus yards downfield) and after-the-catch weapons (third among wide receivers in yards after the catch) at the position. Cincinnati’s decision to reunite him and Burrow also allowed Higgins and Boyd to profile as some of the better No. 2 and No. 3 options in the league, respectively.
And this is what PFF had to say about the Bucs receivers.
Tampa Bay’s receiving corps isn’t quite as talented as it was at full strength last season. Antonio Brown and O.J. Howard are no longer on the roster, and neither is Rob Gronkowski (for now). However, the Buccaneers still have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — a stellar one-two punch when healthy — and added Russell Gage from Atlanta via free agency and tight end Cade Otton in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Gage makes a lot of sense as a fit alongside Evans and Godwin. He profiles as a possession receiver who can work the middle of the field from slot or wide alignments. Gage steadily improved his receiving yards per route run from 1.18 in 2019 to 1.96 last season (19th among qualifying wide receivers).
Perhaps if Gronkowski re-signs with Tampa Bay prior to training camp the Bucs can get elevated over the Bengals?