The NFL used to be different. The game was almost entirely decided in the trenches, and the running game would decide if an offense would have success or not. Those days have changed. Rarely are running backs selected in round one, and more commonly 3, 4, 5 receiver sets are used to drive an offense down the field.
With the evolution of the sport, the NFL has become a bit more like college, the pros have looked at the collegiate ranks for ideas on how to put wrinkles in their offense. Spread offenses, pistol formations, bunch formations, all of these sets weren’t all that common twenty years ago; the game has changed.
Even tight ends catch a whole lot more than they used to and can be considered receivers. For example, Seattle Seahawks star Tight End Jimmy Graham isn’t a very good blocker and lines up in the slot or out wide a lot throughout the course of a game and season. He even went to battle with the New Orleans Saints when they franchised tagged him as a tight end, but he argued that he is used as a wide receiver and should be franchise tagged as one of them (to receive a higher salary).
What’s the point? Receivers are more valuable than ever. And because there’s been a drastic uptick in the passing game, a lot of receivers can be lost in the shuffle in the eyes of fans.
For every Dez Bryant and Julio Jones, there is an unsung hero on a team who is almost as valuable as them, or sometimes even more valuable in a key third down situation, in the red zone, etc. Statistics can be deceiving, and some statistics can be made to make my point. There are a lot of underrated wide receivers in the NFL.
Most Underrated Receivers in the NFL:
From this list it is hard to pick one over the other. Some are more freakish athletes, others good route runners, but all share the same trait… they have exceptional hands.
Just remember when thinking of Odell Beckham Jr., Larry Fitzgerald, and other NFL legends, remember that there are plenty of receivers flying under the radar that are just as valuable to their respective teams.