Movie Quote of the Day:
“Speak of the Devil and he shall appear.”
– Bane, The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
NFL analysts, experts, players, etc. have been releasing their own rankings for the top players in the NFL. The NFL Network just released their Top 100 that is voted on by the players. Also, Mike Miller at Bleacher Report has been coming out with his own rankings of the Top 1,000 players in the NFL.
I decided to create my own version of this, but I’m going to put it together by position (except punters and fullbacks because nobody cares about them) and it’ll only be 100 players. I’m not even sure I can name 1,000 people that I know in the real world let alone the NFL. I’m also going to add honorable mentions and what I like to call the “Rising Star” of each position. Another thing I added when creating these lists is that the players have to currently be on a team. No free agents.
Today’s list involves wide receivers. I’m sure that everyone knows what a wide receiver is and what their responsibility is on the field. This position has evolved so much ever since the days of Lombardi to today. Now that the league has developed into a passing league, most teams need to have three quality wide receivers on an offense. As opposed to back in the day when a team could dominate with just one wide receiver on the field. Now it’s a necessity to have more than two on the field at once. Here’s my list:
Rising Star: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014 stats: 68 receptions, 1,051 yards, 15.5 yards per reception, and 12 touchdowns
Many people would probably want me to put Odell Beckham Jr. in this spot. However, in my opinion, Beckham has already reached star status after his sensational rookie season. I chose Evans because he had a terrific rookie season as well. The Pro Football Writers of America named him to their All-Rookie Team last season. Evans also broke the Tampa Bay Buccaneers record for single-season receiving touchdowns. He lacked a quarterback and still put up great numbers. Now that Tampa Bay drafted Jameis Winston back in April, I expect Evans’ production to increase.
Honorable Mention: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
2014 stats: 111 receptions, 1,619 yards, 14.6 yards per reception, and 11 touchdowns
People might be shocked that I don’t have Thomas in my top five. Cut me some slack, there’s a lot of great wide receivers in the NFL. Thomas is great, but I’m not sure he’s as good as the other players on this list. Thomas hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. He’s a 3x Pro Bowler (2012-2014), 2x Second-team All-Pro (2013 and 2014), and was the AFC leader in receiving touchdowns in 2013. He also has 351 receptions, 5,317 yards, averages 15.1 yards per reception, and 41 touchdowns in his career.
Top 5 Wide Receivers:
5. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2014 stats: 129 receptions, 1,698 yards, 13.2 yards per reception, and 13 touchdowns
Brown had the best season of his career last year. It’s hard for me not to put him higher on this list after the season he had last year. Brown led the NFL in both receptions and yards. He was the AFC Offensive Co-Player of the Year too. Keep in mind that Brown is the smallest player on this list, he’s only 5’10 and 186 pounds. Brown is a 3x Pro Bowler (2011, 2013, and 2014), First-team All-Pro (2014), and Second-team All-Pro (2013). He also has 390 receptions, 5,259 yards, averages 13.4 yards per reception, and 28 touchdowns in his career.
4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
2014 stats: 69 receptions, 1,041 yards, 15.1 yards per reception, and six touchdowns
Green is the best deep threat wide receiver in the NFL, without a doubt. Green dealt with some injuries last season, which caused his numbers to fall. Green has had over 1,000 receiving yards every season he’s been in the NFL. The Pro Football Writers of America put him on the 2011 All-Rookie Team. Green is a 4x Pro Bowler (2011-2014) and 2x Second-team All-Pro (2012 and 2013). He also has 329 receptions, 4,874 yards, averages 14.8 yards per reception, and 35 touchdowns. Green is due for a new contract after this season; Cincinnati has to lock him up.
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
2014 stats: 104 receptions, 1,593 yards, 15.3 yards per reception, and six touchdowns
Ever since their days in the SEC, I’ve always believed Jones to better than Green. Jones has a bigger body than Green, and isn’t just a deep threat. Jones has had his share of injuries since getting in the NFL, but his numbers speak for themselves. He has 278 receptions, 4,330 yards, averages 15.5 yards per reception, and 26 touchdowns in his career. He’s broken the NFL single-game record for receiving yards multiple times in his career, the most recent coming last season against the Green Bay Packers, where he racked up 259 yards. He led the NFC in receiving yards last season. Jones is a 2x Pro Bowler (2012 and 2014). Sporting News put Jones to their All-Pro team last season as well. Atlanta exercised a fifth year option on Jones’ contract. He’ll be due for a new contract soon. Like with Green, I expect Atlanta to do all they can to re-sign him.
2. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
2014 stats: 88 receptions, 1,320 yards, 15 yards per reception, and 16 touchdowns
Bryant has really emerged as an elite wide receiver in the last three years. He accumulated just 108 receptions, 1,489 yards, and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Ever since then he has 273 receptions, 3,935 yards and 41 touchdowns in the last three years. Bryant led the NFL in receiving touchdowns last season, while also breaking the Cowboys franchise record for single-season touchdowns. It might seem surprising, but Bryant is only a 2x Pro Bowler (2013 and 2014) and First-team All-Pro (2014). He just signed a 5-year/$70 million contract extension to stay in Dallas.
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
2014 stats: 71 receptions, 1,077 yards, 15.2 yards per reception, and eight touchdowns
This probably won’t surprise anyone. Johnson is an absolute genetic freak for a wide receiver, being 6’5 and 240 pounds. That’s not seen very much in wide receivers. I hate that my Packers have to face this guy twice a season; I really wish that he’d leave Detroit. Not just so that he’ll quit torching Green Bay, but because I want to see what his numbers would look like if he had an elite quarterback throwing to him. Matt Stafford doesn’t deserve a player of Johnson’s caliber.
In his career, Johnson has 643 receptions, 10,405 yards, averages 16.1 yards per reception, and 74 touchdowns. He’s a 5x Pro Bowler (2010-2014), 3x First-team All-Pro (2011-2013), and Second-team All-Pro (2010). Johnson has led the NFL in receiving yards twice (2011 and 2012). He also holds the NFL record for single-season receiving yards (1,964 yards in 2012). Johnson isn’t known as a deep threat, or a red zone threat. He’s just a true wide receiver and I don’t think that Detroit uses him to the best of his abilities. I’d love to see what he’d do with coaches like Sean Peyton in New Orleans, Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, or Mike McCarthy in Green Bay.
All stats from: http://www.nfl.com/stats/player
Thanks for reading
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53