The Top Five Wide Receivers In NFL History

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 | 0


With the NFL now focused on passing the ball more than ever, the position of wide receiver has largely been redefined in recent years.

Teams are putting up bigger numbers through the air, and today’s wideouts obviously benefit from that fact. There are several elite wide receivers that could rise to the status of an all-time great once their careers are said and done.

However, that’s a different discussion for a different time.

Many wide receivers have come and gone in the run-heavy era of years gone by, and some have managed to etch themselves into the annals of history as the greatest to have ever played the game.

They may have a new crop of talent breathing down their neck, but for now, here the top five wide receivers in NFL history:

1.) Jerry Rice:

Rice is the clear-cut top choice for this list. He won an incredible four Super Bowls with the stacked San Francisco 49er teams of the 1980s-90s, and he racked up 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards, and 197 touchdowns over the course of his career, NFL records that may never be broken.

You could argue that he played with more talent than anyone on this list, and that may be true. But unlike  Moss, Rice was the hardest worker in the NFL by a long shot. He rarely got by on sheer natural talent alone, and his offseason training camps are the stuff of legends.

His workmanlike attitude and consistency make Jerry Rice not only the best wide receiver to play the game, but also the best football player to ever play in the NFL. What he did in a more run-focused era simply will never be duplicated.

2.) Randy Moss:

Moss was a brash and talented athlete who irked many with his mouth and electrified most with his play.

He stormed into the league in 1998 and never looked back, dominating his era as a deep threat the likes of which had never been seen prior to his arrival.

Moss had 982 catches for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. His ability to score out of nowhere was a talent that we may never see rivaled again. His 2007 season, where he hooked up with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for an NFL-record 23 touchdowns, is a testament to this fact.

Moss never won a Super Bowl, a stat that keeps him in the No. 2 spot overall behind a true legend of the game. But in terms of overall talent and raw natural ability, few, if any, can match Moss.

3.) Steve Largent:

Largent is probably the least known name on this list, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve his spot. Largent had 819 catches, 13,089 yards, and 100 touchdowns in his career; all the while playing with subpar quarterbacks.

The other receivers on this list can hardly say the same thing, and Largent bucked the mold of what a wide receiver was supposed to be. He was never the biggest or fastest wide receiver, he just found a way to get the job done with the skills he had.

There will be many more receivers with bigger stats than Largent when it is all said and done; but those players had a much better setup than the Seattle legend was given, making him a shoo-in as one of the greatest of all-time.

4.) Marvin Harrison:

Harrison was the main benefactor of Peyton Manning’s insane statistical run with the Indianapolis Colts. He was never an outspoken personality; he simply got the job done on the field with ruthless efficiency.

Harrison tallied 1102 career catches, 14,580 yards, and 128 touchdowns throughout his career, and it could be argued that the duo of him and Manning was the most deadly quarterback to wide receiver combination the league has ever seen. You’d be hard pressed to find a better one.

Harrison also owns the NFL record for most catches in a season with 143.

5.) Cris Carter:

The controversial Carter had 1101 catches, 13899 yards, and 130 touchdowns in his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. He battled off the field issues for a good part of his career, but he rebounded strong to become a member of the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013.

He was maligned for only catching touchdowns by former Philly head coach Buddy Ryan, but Carter was a clutch receiver who had sure hands that could be counted on in crunch time.

He may not be at the elite level of the players at the top of this list, but he narrowly earns a spot in the Top Five.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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