Top triple-threat receivers in the NFL: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua and more

2WCX2H5 Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) during player introductions against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

A pair of do-it-all rookies: Puka Nacua and Zay Flowers impressed in their first seasons, each ranking above the 65th percentile in all three key categories while amassing more than 100 targets.

Khalil Shakir wins despite limited volume: The young Bills receiver was the only qualifying player at the position to surpass the 94th percentile in each facet. No other player exceeded the 75th percentile in all three.

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Receivers can win in several ways, each with its own set of challenges. Some receivers run masterful routes to create separation, while others use leverage and play strength to win on contested throws or eat up chunk yardage with the ball in their hands.

Doing just one of these at a high level takes incredible skill, but maximizing each approach is a key indicator for potential production. Just six receivers exceeded the threshold in each facet in 2023.

These are the NFL’s triple-threat receivers, ranking above the 60th percentile in yards after the catch per reception, contested catch rate and separation rate.

Triple-Threat Receivers

Name Targets YAC/REC YAC/Rec. (%) Contested Catch rate Contested Catch rate (%) Open Target rate Open Target rate (%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown 190 5.69 0.84 51.7% 78.3% 81.58% 0.721
Puka Nacua 163 6.41 0.93 50.0% 65.9% 82.21% 0.793
Michael Pittman Jr. 150 4.75 0.67 53.6% 82.4% 80.67% 0.659
Zay Flowers 116 5.16 0.71 54.6% 85.5% 89.66% 0.948
Wan'Dale Robinson 76 4.85 0.68 80.0% 97.9% 94.74% 0.979
Khalil Shakir 56 6.96 0.95 60.0% 94.8% 94.64% 0.969

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

Just another point in a series of analytical measures to reinforce the massive extension St. Brown signed this offseason. In his third season, the All-Pro ranked above the 72nd percentile in all three of the recorded facets, an incredible feat, given his sizable volume.

St. Brown amassed the second-most targets in the league this past season yet managed to create open separation on 81.5% of targets. And he hauled in 51% of his contested targets.

But where St. Brown really shined was after the catch, finishing above the 84th percentile in yards after catch per reception. His 677 yards after the catch in the regular season were the most at the position, powered by 17 missed tackles forced after the catch.

Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams

The standout first-year target had a massive rookie season, showing the ability to win in any circumstance. Press him, he beats you. Shade him, he beats you. Anticipate him, he beats you.

As one of PFF’s three highest-graded rookies of the 2023 regular season, Nacua was especially dangerous after the catch. The Rams receiver was explosive after contact, generating 372 yards, the most by any receiver in the NFL this past season.

Paired with his after-the-catch ability is Nacua’s general consistency for gaining separation, a lethal combination in the Rams' scheme. Gaining open separation on 82% of his 163 targets helped produce the league’s fourth-highest yards per route run (2.75) among eligible receivers.

Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Pittman continues to outpace his reputation as an underrated receiver through glowing metrics like this. Don’t sleep on a guy who can win in a multitude of ways at his size.

The standout Colts receiver clocked in above the 65th percentile both after the catch and in gaining open separation, respectable measures at 6-foot-4. But where Pittman really shines is in the rate at which he beats tight coverage. Pittman, with his play strength and leverage, ranks above the 82nd percentile in contested catch rate. His 53.6% contested catch rate ranked sixth among receivers with at least 20 contested targets in 2023.

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Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens

Despite some crucial errors to close out the season, the rookie wideout was vital to Baltimore’s rejuvenated passing success in 2023, and that alone is something to celebrate.

The first-year receiver earned the nickname “Joystick” due to his incredible after-the-catch ability, eclipsing the 70th percentile in yards after the catch per reception. Flowers is electric with the ball in his hands, having forced the fourth-most missed tackles after the catch (21) this past season.

While Flowers is largely known for his game-breaking post-catch ability, it's his ability in the route and at the catch point that really stands out. In terms of contested catch rate and open target percentage, Flowers finished in the 85th and 94th percentiles, respectively, snagging 54% of his contested targets and creating separation on nearly 90% of his routes.

Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants

While Robinson may not have broken out in his sophomore season in New York despite his increased volume, he did show that he profiles as a crucial piece of this offense moving forward, given his ability to win throughout the play.

Of the six receivers to qualify for this list, Robinson leads the bunch in open-target rate (94.7%) and contested catch rate (80%), placing in the 94th percentile or greater in each facet. Understandably, coverage units had trouble matching up with Robinson’s route-running ability, so contested targets were seldom (just five), but he finished those at a high clip, with only one resulting in an incompletion.

Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills

Despite seeing just 56 targets in 2023, the second-year receiver flashed just how effective he could be in an increased role. Shakir was the only qualifying player at the position to surpass the 94th percentile in each facet; no other player exceeded the 75th percentile in all three.

Shakir gets it done throughout plays, winning in his route with separation 94% of the time and limiting contested defensive looks to just 8.9% of targets. Then, to top it all off, Shakir generated nearly seven yards after the catch per reception, the seventh-highest mark among qualifying receivers this past season.


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