Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who are the top 11 wide receivers in NFL history?

With all the discusion about Terrell Owens NFL future and career with the news of his ACL surgery, I wanted to take the time to give my top Wide Receivers of all time. When ranking football players at different positions, one has to consider the following:

1) Who they played with
2) How great were they compared to their contemporaries
3) How many seasons were they among the best at their position

So with these factors in mind, here's my list of greatest Wide receivers in NFL history:

11. Hines Ward
Credentials: Six seasons with atleast 1,000 receiving yards, tied for 9th all time in career receptions, six seasons with atleast 7 touchdown catches
Overview: This four time Pro Bowler is the Pittsburgh Steelers all time leader in catches, receiving touchdowns, and receiving yards. He is one of the toughest, most durable wide receivers in the NFL the last 15 seasons. Also an excellent run blocking wide out.

10. Michael Irvin
Credentials: Seven seasons with atleast 1,0000 receiving yards, 5 straight Pro Bowl appearences (1991-1995), ranked 18th all time in receiving yards
Overview: Irvin was one of the top offensive weapons on one of the most dominant teams during the 1990's. He actually should have been a Pro Bowler six times (In 1997 he had 9 TD's, 1,180 receiving yards, 75 catches). He also was a great run blocking wide out, helping paving the way for Emmitt Smith to be able to become the man with the most rushing yards in NFL history. Part of the reason his numbers are not as prolific as some others is because opposing defenses gameplanned to not let Michael Irvin beat them.

9. Isaac Bruce
Credentials: Eight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards, Six seasons with atleast 7 touchdown catches, 9th all-time in TD catches, 3rd all-time in receiving yards, 7th all-time in catches
Overview: One of the most consistent wide outs in NFL history who doesn't get enough credit for his great career. Known for his great speed and excellent route running, Bruce was a key member of the St. Louis Rams teams from 1999-2003 known as "The Greatest Show on Turf". He is one of only seven players in NFL history with atleast 1,000 career receptions.

8. Marvin Harrison
Credentials: eight seasons with atleast 10 touchdown catches, second all-time in catches, sixth all-time in receiving yards, fifth all-time in TD catches, eight straight Pro Bowl appearences (1999-2006)
Overview: Major reason why Peyton Manning was able to be so great so early in his career, Harrison was a wide receiver with great hands and seemed to always find holes in defenses while running routes. Harrison also was an underrated athlete who could out jump and out run many Cornerbacks in the NFL during his career.

7. Don Hutson
Credentials: Eight time first team All-Pro, 8th all-time in Receiving Touchdowns, In 1942 had top 10 all-time single season touchdown receptions and receiving yards per game
Overview: Before the NFL entered the Super Bowl Era, Don Hutson was the first great Wide Receiver. Historians say he had excellent speed and caught everything thrown his way. For years opposing teams gameplanned just to stop Hutson from scoring, yet for five straight seasons (1940-1944) he led the league in points scored and eight seasons he led the NFL in total Touchdowns.

6. Steve Largent
Credentials: Tied for 6th all-time in touchdown catches, 12th all-time in receiving yards, seven time Pro Bowl selection, eight seasons with atleast 1,000 receiving yards and 8 TD catches
Overview: When the best two Quarterbacks you played with in your career are Dave Kreig and Jim Zorn yet you put up the numbers Steve Largent did, you deserve serious respect. Largent was a great route runner and seemed to almost never drop a pass thrown his direction. One can only imagine what kind of numbers he would have put up for his career if he had played with a great Quarterback.

5. Randy Moss
Credentials: 5th all-time in receiving yards, tied for 2nd all-time in touchdown catches, tied for 8th all-time in receptions, has had ten seasons with atleast 1,000 receiving yards, led the NFL in TD catches five times
Overview: One of the greatest athletes to ever play the position of wide receiver, Moss has great speed, good hands and can out jump any defensive back for a touchdown. In fact, almost half of his career 153 career TD catches have been from him leaping over defenders in the end zone. "The Freak" as he has been labelled, also had 1,000 receiving yards in eight of his first ten seasons in the NFL.

4. Tim Brown
Credentials: 4th all-time in receptions and receiving yards, tied for 6th all-time in touchdown catches, had nine straight seasons with atleast 1,000 receiving yards (1993-2001), nine time Pro Bowl selection
Overview: The 1987 Heisman Trophy winner started his career as a Kick/Punt return specialist who was used as a slot receiver on offense. His excellent speed and agility combined with great hands and route running made him a big time offensive weapon. Considered by many as one of the most underrated Wide outs in NFL history, Brown was productive even in the latter stages of his career when he at age 35 had nine TD catches and at age 36 had 81 receptions.

3. Terrell Owens
Credentials: Tied for 2nd all-time in touchdown catches, 2nd all-time in receiving yards, 5th all-time in receptions, eleven seasons with atleast 8 TD catches, six time Pro Bowl selection
Overview: With all the drama that has come with Terrell Owens' career, it is hard to argue with his productivity on the field. Yes he has been a problem child for three different NFL franchises and yes he has said/done some crazy stuff; but anyone who is only second to Jerry Rice in career TD catches and receiving yards is definately a future Hall of Famer and has proven himself as one of the greats. He is also 10th all-time in receiving yards per game.

2. Cris Carter
Credentials: 4th all-time in receiving touchdowns, 8th all-time in receiving yards, 3rd all-time in career receptions, eight straight Pro Bowl apperances (1993-2000), five straight seasons with atleast 10 TD catches (1995-1999)
Overview: Considered to be the wide receiver with the best hands in NFL history, Cris Carter was the top wide receiver in the NFL during the 1990's not named Jerry Rice. Carter had back to back seasons with 122 catches (1994-1995), eight seasons with atleast 9 TD catches, and nine straight seasons with atleast 73 catches (1993-2001). He was also the mentor for Randy Moss when he first came into the league and was no slouch in the athletic department with his speed and agility.

1. Jerry Rice
Credentials: All-time leader in receiving yards, receptions, TD catches and Pro Bowl selections among Wide Receivers
Overview: Jerry Rice wasn't the fastest or quickest or best leaping Wide out in NFL history. Rice was the best at all of the little things that make a great wide receiver such as route running, catching every ball thrown his way, getting open and being exactly where his QB threw the ball at the right time. Rice wanted to be the greatest and put in the work 365 days every year to be just that. Even at age 40 years old he had 92 catches, 1,211 receiving yards, and 7 TD catches. NFL Network voted Jerry Rice as the greatest football player in NFL history. So if anyone says Jerry Rice isn't the greatest Wide Receiver in NFL history, then sit the person infront of footage of him of the highlights from Rice's career then Jethro Gibbs' slap that person on the back of the head.

Honorable Mentions to: Art Monk, James Lofton, Andre Reed, Rod Smith, Don Maynard, Tory Holt, Tommy McDonald, Lance Alworth, Keyshawn Johnson, Charlie Joiner, Fred Biletnikoff

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