Ranking the Triplets: Which Team Has the Best Offensive Skill Trio in the NFL?

When the Dallas Cowboys dominated the NFL in the 1990s, the three-headed monster of quarterback Troy Aikman, wide receiver Michael Irvin and running back Emmitt Smith earned most of the plaudits.

Analytical thinking has evolved in the three decades since – the Dallas offensive line played a huge role in the offensive success – but since it’s the dead of the offseason, why not take a present-day look at each team’s set of triplets?

Here are my rankings of the skill player trios from each team: 

32. Houston Texans 

Trio: QB Davis Mills; RB Marlon Mack; WR Brandin Cooks

An unproven quarterback, a journeyman running back and a wideout who is no longer a true No. 1? That’s a recipe for the last spot on this list.

31. New York Jets

Trio: QB Zach Wilson; RB Breece Hall; WR Corey Davis

Wilson has potential as last year’s No. 2 overall pick but was terrible in his first year. Davis has never reached 1,000 receiving yards and Hall is a rookie. 

30. Seattle Seahawks

Trio: QB Drew Lock; RB Rashaad Penny; WR DK Metcalf

The running back and wide receiver are just fine. But this group is dragged down by Lock, or Geno Smith if you prefer. Where art thou, Russell Wilson?

29. Atlanta Falcons

Trio: QB Marcus Mariota; RB Cordarrelle Patterson; TE Kyle Pitts

Pitts has major potential and Patterson was a revelation last year. Two solid players, but not superstars. And Mariota is a fringe starting quarterback, which lands the Falcons among the NFL’s worst trios.

28. New York Giants

Trio: QB Daniel Jones; RB Saquon Barkley; WR Kadarius Toney

Jones has played like a backup for most of his career, while injuries have derailed the ultra-talented Barkley. There are a lot of uninspiring wide receiver options to choose from. I went with Toney, who has upside, but a lot to prove.

27. Carolina Panthers

Trio: QB Sam Darnold; RB Christian McCaffrey; WR D.J. Moore

Two very good players out of three! McCaffrey and Moore are both legitimate No. 1 options at their respective positions. Unfortunately, Darnold is putrid.

26. Chicago Bears

Trio: QB Justin Fields; RB David Montgomery; WR Darnell Mooney

Mooney is a rising player, but he is among the worst No. 1 receivers on this list. Fields has talent but is unproven, while Montgomery is a run-of-the-mill back. At least this trio has potential, even if it begins the year low on the list.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Trio: QB Mitchell Trubisky; RB Najee Harris; WR Diontae Johnson

The Steelers have a solid pass-catcher in Johnson, while Harris is a serviceable running back. But whether it’s Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett, the Steelers are severely weighted down by the quarterback position.

24. Detroit Lions

Trio: QB Jared Goff; RB DeAndre Swift; WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Goff isn’t terrible, but he’s not good. St. Brown has big-time potential but will need to build on a promising rookie season with a breakout 2022. Swift is a pretty good back.

23. New England Patriots

Trio: QB Mac Jones; RB Damien Harris; WR Jakobi Meyers

Jones had some impressive moments as a rookie but must continue to build on that this season. Harris is a pretty good running back but Meyers leaves something to be desired as the No. 1 receiving option.

22. Washington Commanders

Trio: QB Carson Wentz; RB Antonio Gibson; WR Terry McLaurin

McLaurin is a star who has routinely been hurt by poor quarterback play in Washington, while Gibson is a solid running back. Wentz brings the group down, as he is settling in as a below average starting quarterback despite chances with several different teams.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trio: QB Trevor Lawrence; RB James Robinson; WR Christian Kirk

This might be a bit too high, but Lawrence has enough natural talent to look much better in Year 2, especially now with a more stable coaching situation. Kirk got a bunch of money in free agency and will need to live up to the hype. Robinson is one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL.

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20. San Francisco 49ers

Trio: QB Trey Lance; RB Elijah Mitchell; WR Deebo Samuel

Samuel is a superstar, and it’s a shame that in this exercise All-Pro tight end George Kittle couldn’t make the list, because he is great, too. Mitchell is a good back, but the uncertainty surrounding Lance keeps San Francisco in the middle of the pack. There might not be a trio with a higher variance heading into 2022.

19. New Orleans Saints

Trio: QB Jameis Winston; RB Alvin Kamara; WR Jarvis Landry

Kamara is still one of the best running backs in the NFL, but New Orleans is now a far cry from the dominant Kamara-Drew Brees-Michael Thomas trio of yesteryear. Thomas is still on the Saints and is a great player when healthy, but there is a lot of fuzziness about his situation, which forced me to use Landry instead.

18. Tennessee Titans

Trio: QB Ryan Tannehill; RB Derrick Henry; WR Treylon Burks

Henry is still a beast, but Tannehill was not very good in 2021 after some impressive years prior and the wide receiver situation is among the worst in the NFL. The Titans could be in for major regression in 2022.

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Trio: QB Jalen Hurts; RB Miles Sanders; WR A.J. Brown

It’s a big year for Hurts, who is getting some MVP love but has to prove himself on the field this season. Sanders has a career yards per carry over 5.0, which is impressive, while Brown has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier pass-catchers.

16. Indianapolis Colts

Trio: QB Matt Ryan; RB Jonathan Taylor; WR Michael Pittman

Ryan is entering his age-37 season and had arguably the worst year of his career in 2021. If he’s on a permanent decline, the Colts will be in dire straits, but he’s in a much better situation this season, highlighted by a great offensive line and running back. Taylor had a dominant 2021 while Pittman surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in just his second professional season.

15. Miami Dolphins 

Trio: QB Tua Tagovailoa; RB Chase Edmonds; WR Tyreek Hill

The Dolphins have beefed up the offense in a major way. Hill is arguably the most dynamic weapon in the NFL, and Jaylen Waddle didn’t even make this list but is another upper-tier playmaker. Edmonds averaged 5.1 yards per carry with the Cardinals in 2021 and is now joining a zone rushing scheme that seems ideal for his skillset. The big question is whether Tua can take advantage of all the talent around him and make the leap to solid signal-caller.

14. Cleveland Browns

Trio: QB Deshaun Watson; RB Nick Chubb; WR Amari Cooper

If Watson was guaranteed to play every game this year, the Browns would be challenging for a top-5 spot. But he has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women and could be facing a lengthy suspension. Chubb is one of the NFL’s premier running backs, while Cooper wants to prove that last year’s down season was a blip.

13. Minnesota Vikings

Trio: QB Kirk Cousins; RB Dalvin Cook; WR Justin Jefferson

Jefferson has played in relative anonymity in Minnesota, but there is no question he has already vaulted to among the best pass-catchers in the NFL. Cook is a very good running back, but Cousins’ mediocre showings keeps this trio from getting any higher.

12. Green Bay Packers

Trio: QB Aaron Rodgers; RB Aaron Jones; WR Sammy Watkins

Rodgers is one of the three best quarterbacks in football, and Jones is a good running back. But the wide receiver group is ugly. Allen Lazard and rookie Christian Watson are the other two choices, for those who did a double-take at the Watkins inclusion.

11. Las Vegas Raiders

Trio: QB Derek Carr; RB Josh Jacobs; WR Davante Adams

Green Bay is only in the middle of the pack because Adams departed this offseason. The Raiders are the beneficiary, as they land above the Packers despite the inferior quarterback. 

10. Arizona Cardinals

Trio: QB Kyler Murray; RB James Conner; WR DeAndre Hopkins

The Cardinals get dinged because of the six-game suspension to Hopkins, but if he returns to All-Pro status, this trio could be among the league’s best. Murray is among the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL, and while Conner is a slightly below average running back, he’s not a liability.

9. Dallas Cowboys

Trio: QB Dak Prescott; RB Ezekiel Elliott; WR CeeDee Lamb

Prescott is an above average quarterback and Lamb could be on the precipice of a third-year breakout, which gets Dallas solidly into the top-10. If Elliott was his old self, this group would be challenging for top-5, but it remains to be seen if he can return to star status, or if Tony Pollard will soon be taking over.

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8. Denver Broncos

Trio: QB Russell Wilson; RB Javonte Williams; WR Jerry Jeudy

The NFL world will be watching to see how Wilson does in his new digs. The supporting cast is intriguing, as Williams is one of the better young running backs in the NFL and the wide receiver group has good depth. Courtland Sutton can also vie for the No. 1 spot but Jeudy has the highest upside and could be ready for a breakout in 2022.

7. Baltimore Ravens

Trio: QB Lamar Jackson; RB J.K. Dobbins; TE Mark Andrews

Andrews finished No. 6 in the NFL  in receiving yards last season. That’s rare air for a tight end, but he’s ascended to one of the best in the NFL at the position. Dobbins averaged a robust 6.0 yards per carry two seasons ago before missing last year with a torn ACL, while Jackson can churn out elite production provided his passing game is on point in 2022.

6. Los Angeles Rams

Trio: QB Matthew Stafford; RB Cam Akers; WR Cooper Kupp

Kupp has an argument as the best wide receiver in the NFL after an electrifying season in 2021. Cam Akers has potential but needs to prove himself this season. Stafford is a very good quarterback, though maybe not quite elite, which keeps Los Angeles from rarified air.

5. Los Angeles Chargers

Trio: QB Justin Herbert; RB Austin Ekeler; WR Keenan Allen

A whole lot to like with this group. Herbert is knocking on the door of elite status heading into Year 3 of his career, while Ekeler is a serious threat either running the ball or catching it. Allen is certainly a very good receiver, but we are nitpicking here in the top-5, and he’s not the same level of superstar as some of the other pass-catchers.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Trio: QB Patrick Mahomes; RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire; TE Travis Kelce

Mahomes is still the best quarterback on the planet despite a down season in 2021. The downgrade from Tyreek Hill to Travis Kelce is small, but not indiscernible. Edwards-Helaire is a first-round pick who has not blossomed within an extremely favorable offense for a running back, which holds the trio back.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trio: QB Tom Brady; RB Leonard Fournette; WR Mike Evans

The ageless Brady remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league heading into his age-45 season, while Fournette has turned his career around in Tampa. Evans might be a slight notch below the NFL’s elite receivers but he is still very, very good.

2. Buffalo Bills

Trio: QB Josh Allen; RB Devin Singletary; WR Stefon Diggs

Allen is a top-5 quarterback entering his athletic prime, while Diggs is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Singletary may not have the same star recognition but he’s averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his first three seasons and is a solid option in the backfield. This trio is fantastic, and close to the best in the NFL.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

Trio: QB Joe Burrow; RB Joe Mixon; WR Ja’Marr Chase

And we’ve arrived at No. 1. Burrow led the NFL in yards per attempt last season and has the makings of a superstar. Chase is already at that level, as he can make a cogent argument as the best pass-catcher in the league. And then Mixon is a Pro Bowl-caliber running back. The Bengals’ offensive line needs to make strides this season, but when it comes to the skill player triplets, there’s no team in the NFL with a more envious trio.

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