Top 15 (Current) NFL Wide Receivers:

  • Andy Flint
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Written By: Andy Flint

The NFL season is just around the corner (we hope!), and what better way to kick it off than to evaluate the current talent pool at the wide receiver position. With the constant changes to the way the game of football is played, and the emerging use of the passing game, versus the rushing game. Teams are starting to utilize their wide receivers as never before. Passing the football on a more consistent basis is the way much of the league is heading. Wide receivers are needed more now than ever. I’ve got 15 here that are the best of the best. I wanted to name 15 receivers that are, not only great in the now, but will also still be relevant in two or three seasons. Here is my “Top 15″.

To me it was never about what I accomplished on the football field, it was about the way I played the game.
-Jerry Rice

#15: Hakeem Nicks:

College: University of North Carolina

Age: 23

Seasons in the NFL: 2

Build: 6-0, 215 lbs

2010 Stats: 79 receptions, 1,052 receiving yards, 13.3 yards per catch, 11 touchdowns (13 games).

Nicks burst onto the scene during his 2010 campaign, by catching nearly 80 balls and breaking double-digit touchdowns, with 11. Nicks broke out as Eli Manning’s new go-to-guy after the departure of Plaxico Burress. Nicks has a HUGE ceiling and should continue to improve as he sees more passes coming his way. The biggest downside could be that defenses will likely try to double-team him next season.

#14: Anquan Boldin:

College: Florida State:

Age: 30

Seasons in the NFL: 8

Build: 6-1, 217 lbs:

2010 Stats: 64 receptions, 837 receiving  yards, 13.1 yards per catch, 7 touchdowns (16 games).

Boldin fled the desert, and the very large shadow cast by Larry Fitzgerald to become “the man” in Baltimore. He may have cashed in his chips at the right time too. The Ravens made the playoffs and the Cards stumbled without a reliable arm behind center. Boldin was supposed to bring great promise to an offense that often times faltered in the passing game, and pose as a viable target for the young Joe Flacco. Boldin had great moments, but overall failed to be an elite force in the receiving game. Parts of his failure can be attributed to the Ravens system and the lack of chemistry with his new QB. Overall, I believe Boldin can still shine and will hopefully recover and have a brilliant 2011 campaign.

#13: Brandon Marshall:

College: Central Florida:

Age: 27

Seasons in the NFL: 5

Build: 6-4, 230 lbs

2010 Stats: 86 receptions, 1,014 receiving yards, 11.8 yards per catch, 3 touchdowns (14 games).

Brandon Marshall is a true go-to receiver. He has some of the best hands in the league and a massive body to ward off defenders. The average height of defensive backs in the NFL is 5’9. Marshall stands a whopping 6’4 and has more hops than your average NBA player. Marshall missed a couple of games last season and still managed to scoop up 86 passes. Miami couldn’t really get their QB situation together and Marshall suffered because of it. 3 touchdowns is not great by any measure. I believe that with the correct quarterback connection, B-Marsh could find himself breaking into the top 5 in no time.

#12: Marques Colston:

College: Hofstra

Age: 28

Seasons in the NFL: 5

Build: 6-4, 225 lbs

2010 Stats: 84 receptions, 1,023 receiving yards, 12.2 yards per reception, 7 touchdowns (15 games).

Colston played 15 games, but only started in 11 of them. Colston has been a large target for Drew Brees and should continue to thrive in the Saints passing game. The 6-4 Colston can catch virtually any pass tossed within a 5 yard radius, and has the ability to work in the open field. I believe Marques will improve on his 2010 numbers and have a phenomenal 2011 season.

#11: Dwayne Bowe:

College: LSU

Age: 26

Seasons in the NFL: 4

Build: 6-2, 221 lbs

2010 Stats: 72 receptions, 1,162 receiving yards, 16.1 yards per catch, 15 touchdowns (16 games).

Dwayne Bowe has arrived! Possibly the most underrated wide receiver in the entire league. Bowe has managed to create an excellent chemistry with Matt Cassel in just a short period of time. This guy catches the deep ball with the best of them. He’s a TD threat every single down and has really made a case for himself as one of the NFL’s elite. Bowe is the real deal, despite his many critics, and he’ll look to silence the haters with another outstanding season!

#10: Miles Austin:

College: Monmouth (N.J.)

Age: 26

Seasons in the NFL: 5

Build: 6-2, 215 lbs

2010 Stats: 69 receptions, 1,041 receiving yards, 15.1 yards per catch, 7 touchdowns (16 games).

Austin exploded onto the scene during the 2009 season, amassing 1,320 receiving yards and hauling in 11 touchdowns. For all intents and purposes, Miles had a down season in 2010, but it was still more than enough to be considered a quality season. With Roy Williams future in Dallas being up in the air and the struggles on young buck, Dez Bryant, the future of the Cowboys seems to be in the hands of Austin, for now.

#9: Mike Wallace:

College: Mississippi

Age: 24

Seasons in the NFL: 2

Build: 6-0, 199 lbs

2010 Stats: 60 receptions, 1,257 receiving yards, 21.0 yards per catch, 10 touchdowns (16 games).

After Santonio Holmes split to NY, Mike Wallace barged into the conversation by burning everybody on the field. 21.0 yards per catch is just ridiculous. Santonio who? At least that’s what they’re saying in Pittsburgh. Mike Wallace has a 40 yard dash time that varies between 4.28 and 4.33 seconds. Even at 4.33, Wallace is out-running most professional athletes. The guy can catch the ball too. Wallace is quickly becoming “Big Ben’s” go-to option, with the gradual decline of the sure-handed Hines Ward unfolding before our eyes. I expect to see even more Mike Wallace in the passing game this season, and I expect opposing teams to know that they’re going to.

#8: Santonio Holmes:

College: Ohio State

Age: 27

Seasons in the NFL: 5

Build: 5-11, 192 lbs

2010 Stats: 52 receptions, 746 receiving yards, 14.3 yards per catch, 7 touchdowns (12 games).

Santonio Holmes had a late start to the season in 2010, do to some off the field issues. Holmes was suspended for the first 4 games and only ended up starting 10 games. Holmes put up some HUGE numbers for only starting in 10 contests. He really helps when he’s on the field, just ask Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger. Holmes has emerged as an elite WR over the past couple of seasons and should continue to be a big producer, as long as he can keep his act together off the field. Regardless of where Santonio decides to play next season, his explosive athletic ability and speed should make him a top WR prospect during the 2011 campaign.

#7: DeSeaN Jackson:

College: California

Age: 24

Seasons in the NFL: 3

Build: 5-10, 175 lbs

2010 Stats: 47 receptions, 1,056 receiving yards, 22.5 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns (14 games).

DeSean is pure lightning. He has great arm length for a player that stands just 5-10. Jackson has been compared to Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers), but in a larger frame. Jackson is probably the best sprinting wide receiver in the game today. His official combine speed was 4.35, 40 yard dash. I would love to see DeSean and Mike Wallace in a foot-race. DeSean had some pretty exceptional receiving numbers, despite missing 2 games to injury. Paired with Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, Philly fans should be in for a huge offensive treat during the 2011 season.

#6: Reggie Wayne:

College: Miami

Age: 32

Seasons in the NFL: 10

Build: 6-0, 198 lbs

2010 Stats: 111 receptions, 1,355 receiving yards, 12.2 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns (16).

Reggie Wayne spent much of his career putting up incredible numbers and still only being considered the 2nd flute to Marvin Harrison. Reggie Wayne has stepped into the spotlight for the Colts and is reaping the benefits. Wayne was 2nd to only Roddy White (115 receptions) in catches during the 2010 season. He’s Mannings go-to receiver and has the hands to catch basically any ball thrown. Wayne is a great route runner and has “big game” experience on his side. He is the oldest player on this list, but I couldn’t deny him based on age. His results far out-weigh his years, and that is why Reggie Wayne is an absolute killer on the field.

#5: Larry Fitzgerald:

College: Pittsburgh

Age: 27

Seasons in the NFL: 7

Build: 6-3, 218 lbs

2010 Stats: 90 receptions, 1,137 receiving yards, 12.6 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns (16 games).

Larry Fitzgerald is highly regarded among the NFL elite. He’s fearless and catches almost anything thrown his way. His biggest issue going forward is the fact that he doesn’t really have anyone to throw him the ball, and that hurt his stats. I know people think he just had an off season (even as good as it was, it was off by his standards), but even Calvin Johnson managed double the touchdowns with a 2nd and 3rd string QB in for the entire stretch. As good as Fitz is, I doubt he manages much more than a 1,000 yard season with 7 or 8 TD’s. But, with the right quarterback, the sky is the limit for Fitz. Let’s hope the Cards front office smartens up and gets this guy some help!

#4: Calvin Johnson:

College: Georgia Tech

Age: 25

Seasons in the NFL: 4

Build: 6-5, 236 lbs

2010 Stats: 77 receptions, 1,120 receiving yards, 14.5 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns (15 games).

Megatron has, perhaps, the best combination of size, speed and athletic ability in the entire league. He’s 6-5 and pushing 240 lbs. Match that with a 4.35, 40 yard dash and unmatched catching ability, and you have a tough guy to contain. While Johnson still has work to do before he can be revered as the leagues’ best wide receiver, the talent is certainly there. We might get a real taste of what CJ is truly capable of when and if Matthew Stafford can play for an entire season. Shawn Hill and Drew Stanton will probably never be the type of guys to unleash a WR’s full ability.

#3: Greg Jennings:

College: Western Michigan

Age: 27

Seasons in the NFL: 5

Build: 5-11, 198 lbs

2010 Stats: 76 receptions, 1,265 receiving yards, 16.6 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns (16 games).

Jennings is a super consistent, go-to option for any quarterback to drill a hole in an opposing defense with. Difference is, Jennings has the help of Aaron Rodgers. The two of them should continue to carve up opposing defensive schemes for many seasons to come. Jennings is an exceptional route runner and athlete. Blazing speed and great football instincts have helped Jennings beat coverage time and time again.

#2: Roddy White:

College: Alabama-Birmingham

Age: 29

Seasons in the NFL: 6

Build: 6-0, 212 lbs

2010 Stats: 115 receptions, 1,389 receiving yards, 12.1 yards per catch, 10 touchdowns (16 games).

Roddy White has become an offensive animal. He (White) collected 115 catches during the 2010 NFL season and powered the Atlanta Falcons to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC. Roddy White has become an amazing wide receiver and really shows up to play on all stages. He’s amassed four straight seasons of 1,200+ yards and has to be considered a top talent at the WR position. Amazing hands, great instincts and the will to be the best of the best.

#1: Andre Johnson:

College: Miami

Age: 29

Seasons in the NFL: 8

Build: 6-3, 225 lbs

2010 Stats: 86 receptions, 1,216 receiving yards, 14.1 yards per catch, 8 touchdowns (13 games).

For me, it’s all about Andre Johnson. He has great hands, unparalleled route running ability and incredible size. Johnson had back-to-back 1,500+ yard seasons in 2008 and 2009. His 2010 season was hampered by injuries, but he still managed to throw together 1,200+ yards and close to 90 receptions. AJ should have a bounce-back season in 2011 and show the league why he’s the best when it comes to wide receivers!

 

 

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