As the NFL becomes more of a passing league with a new wave of shutdown corners emerging, the value of having a big-play threat on offense is higher than ever. For the league’s best home-run threats, they only need the football once to put six points on the board.
Not every great player can be a home-run threat. There are elite talents, like Michael Thomas, who thrive at moving the chains and leave the big plays to someone else. That’s what makes the NFL’s most explosive players so special, they can do it all when they step on the field.
Whether it’s a running back capable of ripping off an 85-yard touchdown run or a top receiver turning a screen into a 70-yard sprint to the end zone, these are special athletes. Let’s take a look at the five most explosive home-run threats in the NFL today.
Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Say hello to one of the NFL’s all-time greats at wide receiver. Julio Jones’s stats are simply off the charts. Over the past six seasons, he has finished with 1,300-plus receiving yards. Despite playing through injuries and in an offense that struggles to feed him in the red zone, Jones keeps proving why he is a home-run threat every year.
Consider that over the last six years, Jones has totaled more than 8,500 receiving yards. Somehow, despite blowing past his peers, he hasn’t been aa first-team All-Pro selection since 2016. There’s a reason Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to eclipse 12,000 receiving yards, he is a big play waiting to happen and no one can cover him.
Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
If Hill gets past a cornerback, no matter who is covering him, it’s a touchdown. We didn’t even see him play at 100% this past season due to a hamstring injury, which limited some of his explosiveness. Even when he was a bit slower, though, Hill proved that he is the best deep threat in the NFL today.
Frankly, it’s scary that he could be even tougher to guard this upcoming season. He finished with nearly 1,500 receiving yards and averaged 17 yards per catch when Patrick Mahomes was just settling into the NFL in 2018. Now with years of experience together, this dynamic duo will connect for even more big plays in 2020.
Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
We didn’t see the version of Barkley we hoped for during the 2019 NFL season. A high-ankle sprain held him back early and he didn’t look right upon his return. When New York’s star finally started to get healthy, the fireworks returned to this offense.
The plays he can make are simply insane. Just watch some of Saquon Barkley’s highlights, like this 67-yard touchdown run or this electric 68-yard score and his greatness becomes evident. Did we mention he might be even better for the 2020 NFL season thanks to some insane workouts? Barkley is easily capable of posting 2,000 scrimmage yards next season and he might not even break a sweat.
Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady wanted to get out of New England and we don’t blame him. The future Hall of Famer grew tired of not being surrounded by a great supporting cast, so he picked a team with an outstanding receiving corps. As we look ahead to the 2020 season, we’re confident Brady will fall in love with Evans.
It’s about far more than his ridiculous size at 6-foot-5 and an absurd ability to make contested catches (60). He started his NFL career with more than 1,000 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons. Even more impressive, Evans averaged over 17 yards per catch in each of the past two years. We know Brady can still throw it deep and with Evans’s ability to go vertical and make leaping grabs, home runs will be routine in Tampa Bay.
Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns don’t have a great history of nailing their draft picks. Fortunately, they struck gold in the 2018 NFL Draft with Nick Chubb. While Baker Mayfield might have experienced struggles in his second NFL season, Chubb became one of the league’s elite running backs.
Chubb finished first in broken tackles (32) and second in yards after contact (882), per Pro Football Reference. He played behind a horrific offensive line, but still averaged five yards per carry and rushed for 1,494 yards. He might not be a great receiving back, but he proved he could hold his own. With the improvements the Browns have made in the trenches, Chubb looks destined to become an All-Pro running back this year.