Winning championships is hard enough in the NFL, but franchises need strong quarterback and wide receiver duos to even have a chance to compete for one. Look at what Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill have been able to accomplish with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Tom Brady and Mike Evans with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in recent years.
Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp carried the Los Angeles Rams to Super Bowl glory, while Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown were instrumental in bringing the Philadelphia Eagles to the championship game. Having that quarterback/wide receiver duo is paramount to competing for championships.
Many teams created new quarterback/wide receiver duos in hopes of becoming one of the best teams in the NFL. Which ones are set up to succeed right away? Which ones can take longer than most to gel? Who will not be as efficient in 2023?
Those are 12 new quarterback/wide receiver combinations worth watching in 2023, judging by their previous play on the court and their ability to be successful together (still waiting for DeAndre Hopkins to potentially join this list).
No matter where Rodgers went this offseason, he was going to impact wide receivers on his new team. Since Rodgers is on the Jets, Wilson is going to be the biggest benefactor. Wilson still managed to rack up 1,103 receiving yards in his rookie season despite Zach Wilson and Mike White as quarterbacks.
Wilson will be able to catch passes from Rodgers in 2023, making him an even more explosive target than he was last year (83 catches and averaging 13.3 yards per catch).
Cooks won’t be the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver, but there’s reason to argue that he can be one of the best No. 2s in all of football. Cooks has six 1,000-yard seasons in his career, four of them with different teams. He will face No. 2 cornerbacks in 2023, so production and efficiency should increase.
Prescott is the best quarterback Cooks has played with since Jared Goff — and CeeDee Lamb won’t get 30% of the Cowboys’ receptions like last season (which was the highest rate in the NFL). Win-win for Dallas.
It all comes down to how Ridley reacts to a one-year suspension for playing, especially since he hasn’t played an NFL game since October 2021. Ridley has also been a wide No. 1 before, so it’s not uncharted territory with the Jaguars.
Ridley was the Atlanta Falcons’ No. 1 receiver when Julio Jones was injured in 2020, averaging 11.3 targets per game and 109.3 receiving yards per game – a season in which he finished with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns averaged a career-high 15.3 yards per catch. He also finished fourth in the league in receiving yards per game (91.6).
As Lawrence continues to become one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Ridley could be the wide that will make him a top-five quarterback in the game.
Fields has never had a receiver as talented as Moore, who should improve his passing numbers enormously, regardless of offense. Moore is eighth in the NFL in receiving yards (4,413) and 14th in receptions (309) since 2019 — behind only Justin Jefferson in yards per catch (14.3) among players who have more than 300 receptions.
Moore gives Fields a reliable pass-catching target that will rack up the yards (his 6,303 total air yards targeted was fourth in the NFL). The Bears should have a vertical passing game the franchise hasn’t seen in years.
Todd Monken’s offense should prompt Jackson to throw the ball more, with Beckham being his No. 1 wide receiver in a revamped reception room. Beckham hasn’t played a game in 2022 due to recovering from a torn ACL in Super Bowl LVI, but will be 100% in September.
This duo is certainly a wild card given the new attacking system and the way Beckham is recovering from his ACL. Beckham’s latest release with a good quarterback in Matthew Stafford has produced results. Beckham had 21 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns in four playoff games, and recorded two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LVI before suffering a knee injury that cost him his 2022 season.
With a higher target share in Baltimore, Beckham has an opportunity to return to the production he saw in his early days with the Cleveland Browns — at the very least. It can also change the narrative surrounding Jackson.
If Thomas can stay healthy, this duo could be one of the best in the NFL. Thanks to numerous injuries, Thomas can’t enter the field and isn’t considered one of the best escapees in the game – although it’s easy to forget how good he was.
In Thomas’ first four seasons, he had 470 catches for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns, setting the single-season reception record with 149 in 2019. Thomas has only played 10 games since, with 56 catches for 609 yards and three touchdowns. scope.
Maybe Carr can save Thomas’ career, if Thomas can stay healthy. Carr has a knack for finding good receivers; ask Davante Adams and Amari Cooper.
Another duo that has the potential to make a huge impact, but that will depend on how Love plays after taking over from Aaron Rodgers. Love has just 83 pass attempts since being drafted in 2020 with just one start, one of five quarterbacks drafted in the first round to make one start or less in the common draft era.
Who knows how good love can be? Watson can make life easier for his starting quarterback, as he finished with 611 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie year (14.9 yards per catch). If Watson has a breakout in Year 2, Love will play a huge role in that.
8. Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Mayfield is going to have the opportunity to produce in Tampa Bay with the best set of wide receivers he’s ever been thrown at in the NFL. Evans and Chris Godwin are considered among the best wide receiver duos in the league, but Evans is on the fast track to the Hall of Fame.
Evans is the only player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first nine seasons and his 10,425 receiving yards ninth in league history after the first nine seasons of a player. He’s a prime target for any quarterback the Buccaneers have employed since entering the league in 2014.
Whoever pitches to Evans, he produces.
There’s a reason to go with Davante Adams here, but it’s one of the quarterback wide receiver duos where there’s a new quarterback and a wide receiver — an interesting combination in Las Vegas. Touchdowns haven’t been great for Meyers in his career, but he has 1,670 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over his past two seasons.
Meyers is deadly in the slot, which should help Garoppolo adjust to his new team. He’s No. 2 in Las Vegas, but should thrive playing with Adams.
Garoppolo went 7-3 in his 10 starts for the 49ers, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,437 yards with 16 touchdowns on four interceptions for a passer rating of 103.0 last season. He is 40-17 as a starting quarterback with a 99.0 passer rating, showing his ability to produce and win football games.
This duo isn’t the typical QB1/WR1, but they’ll go a long way to helping the Raiders go into 2023.
Another of the quarterback/wide receiver duos where both positions are new in 2023, Thielen will be Young’s go-to receiver in his rookie season. The Panthers ranked last in passing touchdowns (63) the past four seasons while having the most interceptions (71), which is why they traded to select Young as their franchise quarterback.
Thielen has 36 touchdowns over the past four seasons, making him fifth in the NFL over that span. He’s a reliable veteran target who should help Young acclimate to life in the NFL.
With Jakobi Meyers out in free agency, Smith-Schuster will rival DeVante Parker for the No. 1 spot in New England. Smith-Schuster should get a high target share in the slot, having the luxury of success with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City last season.
Smith-Schuster had 933 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season — and is still one of the best post-catch receivers in the league. He is the most reliable receiver on the Patriots’ offense.
The first step for the Patriots is to fix Jones, which is owned by Bill O’Brien. Smith-Schuster can certainly help speed up this process.
Richardson doesn’t have much to work with in Year 1 at Indianapolis (assuming he’s the starting quarterback in Week 1), but Pittman has the opportunity to become a productive wide again, thanks to a franchise quarterback.
Yards per catch should improve for Pittman with Richardson throwing the ball to him (187 catches for 2,007 yards the past two seasons). That 10.7 average should go up, making Pittman more productive.
Again, it also depends on how Richardson performs as a rookie.