Scouting the Vikings schedule: Receivers

The Vikings will be facing several top-10 receivers next year, from the old guard in Calvin Johnson to the newest best thing in Odell Beckham, Jr. We look at the top receivers on each team the Vikings play next year.

Wide Receivers

Chicago Bears: Home and Away
Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery just finished his third season in the NFL at the age of 24 and he is continuing to prove that he is a dangerous threat while on the field. He led the Bears in receiving yards (1,133) and receiving touchdowns (10) while hauling in 85 receptions. Jeffery is considered to be the No. 2 receiver on the team behind Brandon Marshall, but Jeffery has the talent to be a No. 1 receiver and had to be one late in the season as Marshall went down in Week 14 with a season-ending injury. Pro Football Focus gave Jeffery a 4.0 rating, but as a young player he still has areas of his game he needs to improve and has shown he has the ability to do so.

Detroit Lions: Home and Away
Calvin Johnson
There are many people from casual football fans to experts who consider Johnson to be the best wide receiver in the NFL. During the 2014 season, he proved that he still has the ability to be that, as he is a unique combination of size and speed. Johnson’s problem, though, was that he missed multiple weeks in the middle of the season because of an injury. Even with missing three games he was still able to finish the season with a 16.4 rating from PFF, which made him the seventh-highest rated wide receiver in the NFL. He finished the regular season with 71 receptions for 1,077 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. He didn’t lead the team in yards or receptions, but he still led in touchdowns because he remains a dangerous red zone threat.

Green Bay Packers: Home and Away
Jordy Nelson
In his seventh season in the NFL, Nelson may have had his best one yet. He finished the regular season with a 20.5 rating from PFF, which made him the third-highest rated wide receiver in the NFL. Not only is Nelson good in the receiving game, but he is good at blocking when he is asked to do so. At the end of the regular season Nelson led the team in receptions (98), yards (1,519) and touchdowns (13).

Seattle Seahawks: Home
Doug Baldwin
After getting rid of Percy Harvin during the season, the Seahawks didn’t really have many threats at the receiving position, but Baldwin was the one who took over as the No. 1 receiver. He recorded a team-high 66 receptions – nearly doubling the next highest on the team – for a team-high 825 yards and three touchdowns, leading him to a 6.3 rating from PFF at the end of the season. Baldwin never really excelled in any one part of his game, but played well in every aspect of it.

Arizona Cardinals: Away
Larry Fitzgerald
Throughout most of his career, people have said Fitzgerald has some of the best hands in the NFL. His productions has not been what it once was, but that could be in part to the uncertainty that the Cardinals have had at quarterback over the last couple years, and his age (he is currently 31). Fitzgerald recorded a team-high 63 receptions for 784 yards and two touchdowns in 2014. He is set to make $23.6 million in 2015, and because of his lack of production there has been some speculation that the Cardinals will cut him this offseason as a way to free up money.

St. Louis Rams: Home
Kenny Britt
Britt was originally brought in to be a No. 1 receiver for the Rams and he has not been able to live up to that. Part of that could have been because their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, has continued to suffer through injuries, as he did not even play a snap during the 2014 season. Britt recorded 48 receptions for a team-high 748 yards and three touchdowns. This offseason, Britt will once again be a free agent, and with his 6-foot-3, 223-pound frame, and the fact that he is still only 26 years old, he should have a lot of suitors this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers: Away
Anquan Boldin
Last season, Boldin was the 49ers’ leading receiver and will likely have to take on that roll again in 2015 as the 49ers have three receivers on their roster who are free agents this offseason while Boldin is not. In 2014, he led the team in receptions (83), receiving yards (1,062) and touchdowns (five). He earned a 6.6 rating from PFF as he did well blocking and in the passing game but would struggle with penalties from time to time. Boldin just finished his 12th season in the NFL and will be 35 next season, so it is fair to question how much longer he will be able to produce at a high level consistently.

Kansas City Chiefs: Home
Dwayne Bowe
The Chiefs’ wide receivers did not have a good season in 2014. The leading receiver – not including tight ends – was Bowe, who recorded 60 receptions for 754 yards. He has been the Chiefs’ No. 1 receiver since he entered the NFL in 2007 and should continue to be for the next few years, but 2014 was certainly a down one for him.

Denver Broncos: Away
Demaryius Thomas
Since the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver, Thomas has become one of the NFL’s most dynamic offensive weapons. During the regular season last year he led his team in receptions (111), receiving yards (1,619) and was second on the team in touchdowns with 11, given a 19.3 rating from PFF, which made him the fifth-rated wide receiver in the NFL. This offseason he will be a free agent and a lot of teams will be interested in signing him. Whether or not he stays with the Broncos could depend on whether or not Manning decides to retire this offseason or stay and play another year.

San Diego Chargers: Home
Malcom Floyd
Floyd just finished his ninth season in the NFL after he joined the Chargers in 2004. Even though he has been in the NFL for so long, 2014 was only the second time in his career where he was able to play in every regular season game. He Floyd recorded 52 receptions for a team-high 856 yards and six touchdowns. All of that led to him to receiving a 6.1 overall rating from PFF at the end of the regular season. The Chargers’ receiving corps underperformed in 2014, and as Floyd continues to age – currently 33 years old – it is very possible that the Chargers look to add wide receiver talent this offseason.

Oakland Raiders: Away
James Jones
Last offseason Jones was brought in as a free agent to fill the role as a No. 1 receiver for the Raiders. Like most of the Raiders’ offense, Jones struggled for a majority of the year and recorded a team-high 73 receptions for 666 receiving yards and a team-high six receiving touchdowns. This all led to Jones being given a -6.8 overall rating by PFF at the end of the 2014 regular season. It will be important for the Raiders to have a veteran presence at the receiver position like Jones as they trying to develop a young quarterback in Derek Carr.

New York Giants: Home
Odell Beckham Jr.
After missing the first four weeks recovering from an injury, Beckham quickly took the league by storm and ultimately ended up winning the offensive Rookie of the Year. Even though he only played in 12 games during the season, he still led his team in receptions (91), receiving yards (1,305) and touchdowns (12). He was given a 20.4 rating by PFF, which made him the fourth-rated receiver in the NFL. Beckham is currently 22 years old and as he continues to learn the position and gain experience he should continue to improve, but the other side of that is, as other teams continue to see him play, they will learn how to better cover him.

Atlanta Falcons: Away
Julio Jones
After being drafted out of Alabama in the first round in 2011, Jones has continuously proved to be a dangerous offensive threat. When he first entered into the NFL, Roddy White was the No. 1 receiver on the Falcons, but now roles have seemingly switched as Jones led the team in receptions (104) and receiving yards (1,593) while also recording six touchdowns, which was second on the team. Jones was given a 17.0 rating by PFF, which made him the sixth-highest rated receiver in the NFL. Jones has struggled with injuries throughout his career, and as long as he can stay healthy he should continue to be one of the best receivers in the league.

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