Louisville Football: Ranking The Cards' Five Best Wide Receivers in 2016

BY Fansided and Derek Snyder/FanSided via Big Red Louie • December 13, 2016

We take rank five receivers from the Louisville football program that had the best seasons in 2016.

It was a special season for the Louisville football team, especially for Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals’ offense. They lit the college football world on fire as they ended the season as the best scoring offense in the entire nation. Not to mention, saying it was impressive would be an understatement.

To have an offense that scores that many points, means that you need a few great receivers on the outside. It was these five receivers that helped Lamar Jackson win the Heisman Trophy and lead the Cardinals to nine wins in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the five best receivers on the Louisville football team in 2016:

Oct 29, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Reggie Bonnafon (7) catches a touchdown pass as Virginia Cavaliers safety Quin Blanding (3) defends in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. The Cardinals won 32-25. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Bonnafon

Wide Reciever, University of Louisville

Bonnafon has played many different positions in his time at Louisville, but this may have been the best move for everybody. While he didn’t have a great season, he was very productive when the Cardinals needed him the most in 2016.

I don’t think Bonnafon will ever be one of the best receivers on the field, however he does have great ball-skills and an ability to get open in the end-zone.

While he only had 13 catches for 159 yards this season, he was able to convert 5 of those catches into touchdowns. Again, when the Cards needed him the most, he was able to make the catch and score.

Most of the season, he made these catches in close football games. His two touchdowns against Virginia were vital in Louisville’s comeback in the second half. Not to mention, his only catch against Kentucky was an 18-yard touchdown.

I look forward to seeing Bonnafon being more involved in the passing game in 2017.

Nov 12, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Traveon Samuel (1) runs the ball against Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Jessie Bates (3) and Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Brad Watson (25) during the second half at Papa John

Traveon Samuel

Wide Reciever, University of Louisville

Samuel only had one touchdown this year, but I am confident that he has a bright future in Bobby Petrino’s offense. However, that is dependent upon the coaching staff using him in the right way. That means not having him run go-routes down the sideline against SEC schools (Kentucky) that have 6-foot-3 cornerbacks completely overshadowing him.

Even though Samuel is only 5-foot-7, this guy is lightning in a bottle. His speed and quickness can destroy a defense if they can find him underneath and set up blockers in front. I actually think he should be the guy returning kicks (only kickoffs) for Louisville in 2017.

Samuel is only a sophomore, which means that he still has a few more years to develop into the player he is going to ultimately be.

This guy can be a game-changer, but again, only if he is featured correctly in the offensive game-planning.

Oct 29, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Jamari Staples (2) celebrates with Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) after scoring a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jamari Staples

Wide Reciever, University of Louisville

Jamari Staples is finishing his last season in a Louisville Cardinals uniform. He has also been one of the more consistent receivers that Louisville has had on their roster in 2016. Jackson could always count on him to make the tough catch in traffic and move the chains.

Like Bonnafon, Staples had his most important game of the season against Virginia. On an afternoon where everything was going wrong, he went for 120 yards on 7 catches and had one touchdown.

While the Cardinals will be able to survive without him next season, I will miss his presence on the field.

At 6-foot-4, Staples always has a good match-up against any ACC cornerback that lines up across from him. I know he will get his shot at making an NFL roster in 2017.

Nov 5, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver James Quick (17) is picked up by offensive lineman Geron Christian (74) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

James Quick

Wide Reciever, University of Louisville

It was an extremely tight race between which player was going to get first place, but ultimately it came down to the fact that one player dropped 500 passes over the course of this season. Okay, that’s a little bit of an overreaction, but it was taken into consideration.

Like I said before, one does not drop a touchdown against Kentucky and everything be fine and dandy.

At the same time, Quick did have a very impressive season overall for Louisville. He finished first on the team in receiving yards and second on the team in receiving touchdowns.

I’m not sure how his end-of-season meltdown will hurt his NFL status going into the offseason, but I do know he will have a lot of questions to answer about his dropped passes and decision making.

Oct 22, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Jaylen Smith (9) avoids the tackle of North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive back Dravious Wright (8) during the first quarter at Papa John

Jaylen Smith

Wide Reciever, University of Louisville

Jaylen Smith is the wide receiver of the present and future for the Louisville football team. Smith had a huge breakout season that helped the Cards to a 9-3 record and a shot at taking down the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl.

He’s big, explosive, and will be around for a couple of more years to come.

Not only did he dominate, but he became a nightmare for every ACC opponent that Louisville played this year.

He has 6 touchdowns this year that came over a span of seven straight games. Florida State, Marshall (non-ACC), Duke, NC State, Virginia, and Boston College will not be forgetting his name anytime soon.

Smith was our choice as the Cardinals’ best receiver in 2016 and he will probably will be at the end of 2017 as well.

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