Ranking of the top ten NFL wide receivers for 2023: Justin Jefferson of the Vikings No. 1; The AFC contender has two on the list

The wide receiver is one of the most important positions in the football game these days. In most cases, these are the players that NFL teams hold in high esteem. Last year the wide receiver market was completely reshaped as nine of the new top 10 highest-paid wideouts were signed in the off-season. There are many star receivers in the NFL, but which are the best of the best?

Here at CBS Sports, we’re going to attempt to determine the top ten wide receivers for the 2023 season. So what went into this list? It wasn’t just one thing. We’ve created our top 10 based on skill, current production and a forecast for the upcoming season. As you will see, when compiling this list, we focused on younger players. Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins, for example, are modern NFL legends, but are they among the top 10 wide receivers in 2023?

let’s get in

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Tyreek Hill leads Miami’s passing attack, but that doesn’t mean we can overlook Jaylen Waddle. Despite catching just 75 passes in 2022, Waddle ranked seventh for rushing yards for 1,356. He ranked 9th in yards per reception (79.8) and led the entire league in yards per reception (18.1) even though his starting quarterback missed four games.

Waddle is a home run hitter who knows how to hit a big breakup in secondary school. If you think he’s not in the top 10 just yet, you soon will be.

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Versatility is valued no matter what position you play in football. Running backs have to run, catch and block, quarterbacks become different beasts when their legs are dangerous, and wide receivers can’t be one-dimensional. One of the most versatile playmakers in the NFL is Deebo Samuel.

At the 49ers, Samuel has evolved into a running back/wide receiver hybrid. In 2021, he caught 77 passes for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 18.2 yards per reception (best in the league), and rushed for 365 yards on 59 carries, averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. Naturally, he was named First Team All-Pro. However, Samuel’s 2022 season was in his own words “terrible” and “sluggish”.“He logged 864 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns while missing four games through injury and attributed the setback to how contract negotiations were going during the offseason. He also vowed never to tape anything like it again. Only 27, Samuel is one of the most interesting weapons in the game.

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Lamb is another third-year wideout that just keeps getting better. He consistently had career numbers in 2022 with 107 catches (T-No. 5 in the NFL) for 1,359 yards (No. 6 in the NFL) and nine touchdowns (T-No. 6 in the NFL). Lamb accounted for 30 percent of Cowboys receptions, the second-highest rate in the NFL. That mark made him the first cowboy since Michael Irvin in 1995 to record 30 percent of Dallas’ catches in a single season.

I daresay he still has his best playing days ahead of him. The fact that this slot gun just turned 24 is terrifying.

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For three years, AJ Brown was the Tennessee Titans’ passing game. When he switched to a more explosive offense, we saw a different kind of fireworks. With 88 catches for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns, Brown set career highs across the board. He accounted for 34.3 percent of his team’s receiving yards, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL last season. His 1,496 receiving yards set a franchise record and ranked #4 in the NFL. He was the first Eagles receiver to make the top five receiving yards since Irving Fryar in 1997.

The almost 26-year-old is one of the most dangerous wingers in the NFL. In addition to being a strong athlete, Brown is also a home run hitter in the reception game.

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Kupp only played nine games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury but still caught 75 passes for 812 yards and six touchdowns. His 90.2 receiving yards per game ranked third in the NFL. Kupp’s 2021 season was legendary as he caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns en route to winning the Super Bowl. He became only the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to win the Triple Crown for wide receiver, after Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005). Leading the NFL in receptions, yards received, touchdowns received, receptions per game, and yards received per game is ridiculous.

No one knows what the Rams will look like in 2023, but Kupp will be their primary weapon on offense. He is more than capable of shouldering the burden.

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Diggs has long been one of the best wide receivers in the game. His second-best NFL season came in 2022 at age 29 when he earned All-Pro honors with 108 catches for 1,429 yards and 11 touchdowns. He recorded 29 percent of the Bills’ receptions, the third highest in the NFL last year, and ranked in the top five in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

In his five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs never reached a Pro Bowl. He has reached the Pro Bowl every season since joining the Bills in 2020. Diggs has played in 49 games for Buffalo. He already ranks 8th in franchise history for Receiving Yards (4,189) and T-No. 6 in receiving touchdowns (29).

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Chase missed four games midway through last season with a hip injury but still led all of the Bengals’ wideouts in every statistical category with 87 catches for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns. Looking back at 2021, Chase had arguably the best season for a rookie wideout in NFL history. He caught 81 passes for 1,455 and 13 touchdowns while averaging 18 yards per catch. Chase ranked #4 in receiving yards, #3 in receiving touchdowns, and #2 in yards per catch. The 279 receiving yards he recorded in the playoffs was the most by a rookie in NFL postseason history, and his combined 1,741 regular-season and postseason receiving yards were the most by a rookie in league history .

Chase just turned 23 and has a great quarterback in Joe Burrow. The 2022 season was a bad year and the best is yet to come.

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As you can see, we’ve stayed away from the “older” players when it comes to our top ten wide receiver rankings for 2023, but 30-year-old Davante Adams didn’t leave anything out in 2022, although he didn’t has Aaron Rodgers and played for a team that didn’t make the playoffs. The Raiders elected to replace Derek Carr this season, but Adams still averaged 14.7 yards per touch in 2022.

Last season, Adams ranked 9th in catches (100), 3rd in yards receiving (1,516), and 1st in touchdowns received (14). You could say it was the third best season of Adams’ career. Say what you will about Pro Bowls, but Adams has won six straight seasons — equivalent to the fifth-longest active streak in the NFL. Excluding running backs, Adams has had the most touchdowns in the past two seasons (25). It remains to be seen what he can accomplish with Jimmy Garoppolo, but Adams is still one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

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If there was any doubt as to how Hill would fare outside of Andy Reid’s system, that doubt was dispelled. In 2022, Hill caught a career-best 119 passes for a career-best 1,710 yards and seven touchdowns. He ranked second in the NFL in receiving yards behind our No. 1 wideout. Hill also set an NFL record for most receiving yards by a player in his freshman season with a new team. He was one of the main reasons quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a career year and accounted for the highest percentage of a team’s receptions (32%).

At 29, Hill is as fast and dynamic as ever. I expect more fireworks with Mike McDaniel in his second season with Miami.

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He just keeps getting better. Last year, Jefferson caught the league-leading 128 passes for 1,809 yards and eight league touchdowns. These receptions, and the number of yards receiving, set Vikings franchise records. Jefferson was named Offensive Player of the Year, overtaking Randy Moss by 4,825 for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons in NFL history. Jefferson has played 50 regular-season games in his career. He has streaked for over 100 yards in 24 of them.

Whichever path he chooses, Jefferson is incredibly dangerous. He had the highest percentage of a team’s receiving yards last year (37.5%) and ranked fourth in the NFL for scrimmage yards — behind three running backs. Jefferson might also have had the catch of the century on a fourth-and-18 against the Bills.

I asked Jefferson last June what his goal was in his third NFL season. He responded by saying, “Become the best receiver in the league. If that’s not already the case.” I think he did just that.

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