Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson (80) is pursued by Oakland Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins (21) at Reliant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Texans 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 NFL Wide Receivers In The League


As glamour positions go in the NFL, it doesn’t get much better than the wide receivers.  So how about it?  Who are the best of the best?

#10 – T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts

People thought, with good reason that T.Y. Hilton would struggle to improve on his solid rookie year for the Indianapolis Colts when Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL.  Instead the 5’9″ kid took his game up a notch, posting a 1,000-yard campaign and single-handedly carrying the Colts to one of the biggest comebacks in NFL playoffs history.

#9 – Victor Cruz – New York Giants

Missing two games last season robbed Victor Cruz of the chance to post his third-straight season with 1,000 yards.  The former undrafted free agent has taken the Hollywood road from nobody to Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler.  As bad as the New York Giants have been the past couple seasons, Cruz has remained one of their bright spots.

#8 – Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys

These lists are about impact and production, not so much maturity.  Otherwise Dez Bryant might be lower.  As it stands the Dallas Cowboys receiver has developed into the star many thought he’d be when he was drafted.  He has 25 touchdowns in just his past two seasons alone to go with 185 receptions and 2,615 yards.  It doesn’t get much better.

#7 – Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns

Strangely, Josh Gordon might be considered a combination of Cruz and Bryant.  He started from humble beginning by going in the NFL Supplemental draft to the Cleveland Browns and continues to struggle with maturity problems.  He faces a potential suspension for a repeat substance abuse offense.  That belies the fact he was the best statistical receiver in football last season with names like Brandon Weeden and Bryant Hoyer throwing him the ball.

#6 – Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons

He was on a tear last season before suffering an unfortunate injury that knocked him out the rest of the year.  Honestly Julio Jones is the total package.  He’s blazing fast, has strength and great hands to make the highlight reel catch and he’s 6’3″.  There really isn’t much he can’t do on the field and his production reflects that when he plays.

#5 – Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

The moment Peyton Manning arrived to pilot the Denver Broncos, people knew the vast potential housed by receiver Demaryius Thomas would be unlocked.  He hasn’t disappointed.  In two seasons he has posted over 1,400 yards each and scored double digit touchdowns.  It doesn’t matter where he gets the ball on the field, he can take it the distance.

#4 – Andre Johnson – Houston Texans

His latest series of tantrums aside, Andre Johnson has not only embarrassed NFL defenders throughout his career, but he’s defied Father Time as well.  At age 31 he posted over 1,400 yards in 2013 and that was with the hot mess the Houston Texans had going at quarterback.  A seven-time Pro Bowler, his desire to win is understandable based on how hard he’s played.

#3 – Brandon Marshall – Chicago Bears

At least Johnson has tasted playoff football.  Brandon Marshall can’t even make that statement and he’s been every bit as good.  The Chicago Bears leader is one of the most consistent go-to targets in football.  His only season without at least 1,000 yards receiving was his rookie year in 2006.  This he’s done while playing for three different teams.

#2 – A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals

Not only has he made the Pro Bowl each of the three seasons he’s played in the NFL, his numbers have gotten better each year going from 1,057 to 1,350 to 1,426 in yards.  A.J. Green carried the Cincinnati Bengals offense for a long time and even as it began to grow still managed to defensive game plans and improve.  The scary part?  He’s only 25.

#1 – Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions

What record is there left to conquer?  Calvin Johnson owns almost all of them.  He has the most yards in a game and the most yards in a season.  “Megatron” can beat any coverage ever devised by defenses, he can play hurt and he can play in the clutch.  There is nothing anybody can do to stop him and that is why he is unquestionably the best in the business.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos Detroit Lions Indianapolis Colts New York Giants NFL

  • Ahammond22

    Dez should be #4 on the list.

    • Erik Lambert

      Not yet, but he’s getting there.

      • nflfan

        You got Dez wrong? What maturity issues are you referring too? Compared to three of the divas you placed above him with many more off the field issues you got that one wrong!!! Megatron is the only receiver I could put above Dez and that’s just because he has been at it longer. Dez will soon lead this list just as his natural athletic talent already does? Judge based on stats not personal feelings?I am not even a Cowboys fan but it’s hard to ignore what you see if your a fan of football not just ESPN!!!

        • trinity

          Get ahold of yourself. Didn’t you read the article? The guy said maturity issues WAS NOT taken into account, or dez would be lower. And what do you mean “what maturity issues? “. Maybe you haven’t been paying attention. And the logic of “you shouldn’t call someone an asshole because other people are bigger assholes” is just stupid to me. I agree with you that dez is supremely talented, but you’re flat out wrong about your view of everything else you stated.

        • Makabe Aberle

          Soooo I’m guessing your a Cowboys fan? We’ll buddy look at what Marshall and Green have done with average quarterbacks (Sorry Bears fans) whereas Bryant has had a slightly above average QB tossing him balls

  • Yusuf Rafle

    How do you have TY Hilton but not Jordy Nelson

    • Erik Lambert

      It was a tug of war between the two for the final spot. I just feel Hilton doctored more big plays last year even though Jordy topped him in production. He was also better in the playoffs.

      • trinity

        I agree, TY over jordy. Nice to see Julio :).

        • Erik Lambert

          He’s earned it.

    • Makabe Aberle

      I agree Jordy Nelson barely tops TY in my book because of his experience. Granted that the Colts would not have won the Wildcard game without Hilton

  • Cutler2Marshall312

    Feed that beast named Marshall

    • Erik Lambert

      Nobody does it better than Jay.

  • WyomingRealist

    Thomas over Bryant? Really? You’ve lost credibility. Twice the yards and almost twice the TD’s… More Manning butt sniffing

    • Erik Lambert

      Unless I missed something, WR, Thomas has more yards over than past two seasons than Dez and just one fewer touchdown. He’s played well in the playoffs. Bryant has even played in post-season. I don’t know where you got your stats.

  • IBleedBlue

    Honestly, Brandon Marshall is a bigger headcase than Dez ever will be, imo. But I think he’s a more refined route runner and sees what the defense is trying to do against him more acutely that Dez at this point in their careers. I do not, however, agree with Josh Gordon being higher on the list than Dez. I’m sorry but he just doesn’t show me the same flash as Dez. Besides, he’s gonna have to sit down for an entire season for being an epic moron. I would say Demaryius and Dez are a push, both still learning how to be great. Rest of the list looks pretty accurate.

    It’s fun to debate stuff like this, for sure. I just hope we can add TWill to the list after this season.

    • Erik Lambert

      B.Marsh certainly had his problems, but by all accounts he has matured. I haven’t heard of a single issue with him since he got to Chicago. I have Gordon ahead of Dez because he’s done more with less. Dez has Romo and other weapons to take heat off of him. Gordon had crap at QB and only Jordan Cameron as a legitimate second target on offense. That is why he’s one spot ahead of Dez.

  • Patrick

    Obviously the above is one mans opinion. Disagreeing doesn’t make him wrong or right, but some of the comments about the individual players are dumb. Dez immature? So the writers a psychologist now in addition to a writer with confused opinions about wide receivers? Dez is THE MOST competitive, dynamic, outstanding member of his franchise there is on this list, with the possible (although he loses some points for his conduct during this off season) exception of Andre Johnson. And, FWIW, Dez is today, and would be drafted today, higher than EVERY other player on this list, with the exception of AJ Green.

    • Erik Lambert

      Including Megatron? Are you mental? Listen, Dez is an unbelievable talent but I get my psychology major from the fact he walks off the field before a game is over. He throws a tantrum on the sideline when things go wrong. You call it competitiveness, and part of that is true, but he suffers from a lack of self control. Anybody who can watch a television saw it. He needs to learn to control his emotions because they tend to get him into trouble. If that were to happen he would rise up the list.

      • Patrick

        Well, I seriously don’t believe that Dez spends any time thinking about your list, or whether you think he is acting up on the sidelines. As the people in the know know, Dez’ emotional displays are what makes leaders leaders. For all his greatness, Calvin Johnson will never be considered the leader that Dez is. For all his greatness AJ GReen will never be the competitor/leader that Dez is. The absolute unquenchable drive to be the best and for his TEAM to be is unmatched by any of the very good/great players you’ve identified above. This quality cannot be taught, and is not one that ANY championship team can do without. Squash the fire of Ray Lewis, or Dick Butkis, or Jack Lambert, and see where those teams, and those individual players would be. In any sport, there will be those who wear their fervor on their sleeves; Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, Ray Lewis and Jack Lambert, Dennis Rodman and Reggie Miller, the list goes on. And what YOU would lke to believe (cause you’ve demonstrated above that you don’t care to know WHAT Dez said, or WHY he said it) really matters not to what Dez is, or where he truly ranks as a receiver. And yes, if a draft were held today, Dez would go higher than Megatron given their ages.

        • IBleedBlue

          Dez would go higher if there were a draft today?

          That’s just silly talk. And you might wanna check into CJ’s back-ground and family upbringing a tad before you go spouting off about his lack of leadership. Dude has impeccable credentials while @ Ga. Tech and in high school. I’ve watched him since he was a junior in Marietta. He may not be fiery (unless your D-coordinator pisses him off. Thanks alot, Rob Ryan!) but he is a leader nonetheless.

          I love Dez as much as any Cowboy fan but he is not nearly the cerebral or physical threat that Calvin Johnson is and will continue to be. Before it’s all over, imo, we’ll be calling CJ the GOAT.

          • Patrick

            I LOVE Calvn Johnson. He is the BEST wide receive today and for the last several years. No doubt. BUT, because Dez is significantly younger, and has improved every year, with his PRIME still ahead of him, he would be an obvious choice above CJ for teams that are looking for production over the course of the nest several years rather than a declining period which, based on statistics, happens to be exactly where CJ is today. The choice would not be based on what he’s done, or even who he is, but more what he (and Dez) are most likely to do in the future.

          • IBleedBlue

            Personally, I think CJ is reaching his prime.

            Dez still has quite a learning curve to negotiate. But I get what you’re saying.

      • Makabe Aberle

        I agree as much as I hate the Lions Megatron is way better

  • Khalid Alshami

    I dont think you can consider AJ Green over any of the 3 players immediately behind him. He disappears during stretches something those 3 never do. And not sure how Fitzgerald is left out, because of numbers? Hard to produce catching the ball from John Skelton

  • John Huey

    Come on now, NO Alshon?!?!

  • Matt

    Sorry, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey all immediately come to mind as better than TY Hilton. Then there are guys who are just as good as him and thats a clusterstorm of names.

  • Sammy Z

    How in the world did you leave Alshon Jeffery off this list? Statistically speaking, he out played TY Hilton (by a far margin), Dez Bryant (though Bryant did have more YAC and more TDs) and Andre Johnson (Johnson was clearly, however, the Texans #1). Heck, in some ways, he eclipsed B. Marsh and proved to opposing Defenses that you can’t leave him on an island an expect him to remain there. He made many teams pay and some teams pay BIG!