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The NFL's best wide receivers in three different categories: Deebo Samuel, Tyler Lockett and more

Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) is defended by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton (57) in the fourth quarter of a wild card game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

• Best after the catch: Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco 49ers' Deebo Samuel outpaces the competition by a wide margin.

• Best in contested catch situations: 2021 third-rounder Nico Collins caught 12 of his 16 contested targets this past season to top the charts.

• Who got open the most? The oft-underrated Tyler Lockett generated a 67.5% open-target rate in 2022.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

There are a variety of ways a receiver can do damage in today’s NFL. Some make a specialty out of outrunning defenders. Others use their size to outmuscle the opposition. And then there are receivers with great change of direction who can simply elude their defender into getting open.

We’re going to look at which players excel in each form of burning defenses: yards after the catch per reception, contested catch rate and open-target percentage. A receiver needs to have played 20% of their team’s offensive snaps in 2022 to qualify for these rankings, and stat-specific qualifiers are noted below.

Yards after the catch per reception | 2022

Rank Player Team YAC/Rec.
1 Deebo Samuel 49ers 9.6
2 Rondale Moore Cardinals 7.1
3 Jaylen Waddle Dolphins 6.7
4 Christian Watson Packers 6.4
5 Skyy Moore Chiefs 6.3
T-6 Darius Slayton Giants 6.1
T-6 Jerry Jeudy Broncos 6.1
T-6 A.J. Brown Eagles 6.1
9 Greg Dortch Cardinals 5.9
T-10 Chris Moore Texans 5.6
T-10 Cooper Kupp Rams 5.6

It's no surprise to see Deebo Samuel lead the NFL in yards after the catch per reception. He’s so adept with the ball in his hands that the 49ers often use him out of the backfield. After all, with plays like this, who can blame them?

Samuel’s 659 total yards after the catch in 2022 also led the NFL by 20 yards over second place (Justin Jefferson). Jefferson, however, was much more of a volume player after the catch, as his 4.7-yard average was only tied for 27th. Jefferson also secured 29 more catches than Samuel had total targets (135 to 106), so it’s easy to see where those numbers came from.

Also interesting is that two Arizona Cardinals placed on this list, neither of whom is DeAndre Hopkins or Hollywood Brown. Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch are roughly the same size, with both measuring in at 5-foot-7 and around 180 pounds. Moore produced 291 of his 414 yards in 2022 after the catch, while 308 of Dortch’s 461 came with the ball in his hands. They also boast two of the lowest average depth of targets, as Dortch’s 4.6-yard average was the lowest in football, while Moore’s 5.2 mark was third.

For what it’s worth, Deebo Samuel’s 5.1-yard average depth of target was the second lowest.

Contested catch rate


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