Greatest Wide Receivers in Philadelphia Eagles Franchise History

Jeff GlauserContributor IIOctober 12, 2013

Greatest Wide Receivers in Philadelphia Eagles Franchise History

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    DeSean Jackson has had an impressive career for the Eagles so far. But where does he rank among the franchise's all-time greats at his position?
    DeSean Jackson has had an impressive career for the Eagles so far. But where does he rank among the franchise's all-time greats at his position?Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    There's not much that scares the Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson

    That much has been made apparent during his six years in the NFL. Each week seems to find the diminutive D-Jax—all 175 pounds of him—getting in the grill of much larger opponents who eat pieces of poop like him for breakfast.

    Never shy to wax poetic about his abilities, Jackson's latest proclamation is that one of the game's elite cornerbacks, and the next man he'll be squaring up against, simply can't keep up with him.

    And you know what? That next man, Darelle Revis, didn't really deny it.

    So when you're good, especially as a wide receiver—a position where there is never a shortage of confident, braggadocious players—you're allowed to boast about it. 

    Jackson has been good enough to already reach the short list of elite wide receivers in the Eagles 80-year history, and there's still plenty of time to find himself at the top of it before all is said and done. 

    Here is another diminutive, smack-talking, football fanatic's take on the men in green who have run the best routes and made the best catches during their time in Philadelphia.

Honorable Mentions

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When it was good, it was great, but when it was bad, it was ugly.

    That epigram best describes the soap opera that was Terrell Owens' two-year tenure in Philly.

    However, in his short time in town, he managed one of the greatest seasons an Eagles' receiver has ever produced, in 2004, and was on pace for one of the best showings in NFL history the following year (47 receptions, 763 yards and six TDs in just seven games) before he had to go all "T.O." on us and get suspended. 

    Already considered in the twilight of his career before making a homecoming in his 13th year in the league, South Jersey native Irving Fryar as a Bird somehow put together arguably his two NFL best seasons, averaging 87 catches and over 1,250 yards in 1996 and 1997. 

    Steady if not spectacular, Ben Hawkins was one of the few bright spots during an otherwise dreadful era of Eagles football between 1966-1974, when he managed 1,265 yards, a 21.4-yard-per-catch average and 10 touchdowns in 1967. 

    (Unfortunately, management gave up on the likes of Cris Carter and Jimmy Smith, a recent and future Hall of Famer, respectively, before they wound up taking the league by storm elsewhere.)

No. 5: Fred Barnett (1990-1995)

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    The recipient of one of my favorite all-time Eagles plays, "Arkansas Fred" Barnett was more than just a one-catch wonder, possessing both super speed and reliable hands during his time as an Eagle. 

    Though he played in only 81 games for Philly over the course of six seasons (one of which was cut short by injury), Barnett still finds himself ranked eighth in franchise history in receptions and ninth in receiving yards.

     

    Best Season: 1994 (78 rec, 1,127 yards, 5 TD)

No. 4: DeSean Jackson (2008-Present)

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    The negatives: He's been known to take off plays, his temper and antics can grow tiresome at times and his small frame can make him susceptible to being decapitated on any given play. Since 2009, his total yards and touchdowns have decreased every year.

    The positives: Outside of the aforementioned T.O., he's the most dynamic receiver in team history, a threat to take one to the house practically any time the ball is in his hands. Fourth on this list, he's already the best punt returner the Eagles have ever had (and would probably remain one of the best in football if Chip Kelly decided to put him out there again). 

    And now with contract concerns long behind him, D-Jax has started 2013 with a bang and is on pace to shatter his career highs in every receiving category. 

     

    Best Season: 2009 (62 rec, 1,156 yards, 12 total TD)

No. 3: Tommy McDonald (1957-1963)

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    It would be fair to say that Tommy McDonald was DeSean Jackson before there was a DeSean Jackson.

    From his size (5'9'', 178 pounds) to his speed (he averaged over 19 yards per reception during his seven seasons in Philadelphia), to his big-play ability (his 66 receiving touchdowns rank second in franchise history and he also has one punt-return TD to boot) to his larger-than-life personality and chutzpah (he was the last non-kicker to play in the NFL without a facemask), McDonald certainly resembles D-Jax in more than a few ways. 

    However, we can only hope that the latter's career finishes similar to the former.

    Considered one of the best wide receivers in the league during a time when it was still far more common to run the ball down the opponent's throat, the Hall of Famer and key component to the last Eagles' championship squad in 1960 remains a beloved fan favorite even a half century since he last played in town. 

     

    Best Season: 1961 (64 rec, 1,144 yards, 13 TD in 14 games)

     

     

No. 2: Mike Quick (1982-1990)

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    If not for an injury-riddled career which saw him limp through his final three seasons and retire at the age of 31, Mike Quick would assuredly have a bust in Canton right now. Even considering his struggles, he still remains the second-best wide receiver to ever put on an Eagles uniform. 

    It can be argued that from 1983 to 1985 there was no better receiver in the NFL. In those three seasons, Quick—who has served as the color analyst on the Eagles' radio network since 1998—averaged nearly 68 catches, over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

    (Best Philly sports comparison to Quick and his unfulfilled potential? The Philadelphia 76ers Andrew Toney. Eerily similar journeys.) 

    Further proof of his dominance? He played in at least 12 games in just five separate seasons in his career; he was a Pro Bowler in each of those seasons. And in his injury-shortened career, Quick ranks sixth in franchise history in receptions, third in receiving yards and third in receiving scores. 

     

    Best Season: 1983 (69 rec, 1,409 yards, 13 TD)

     

No. 1: Harold Carmichael (1971-1983)

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    The epitome of steady and sure-handed as opposed to straight-up dominant, Harold Carmichael deserves the top ranking all the same. 

    He is the franchise leader—by a wide margin—in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. In the first two categories, the next closest wide receiver (Quick) is behind him by 226 catches and 2,514 yards, respectively. 

    And if McDonald most resembled Jackson in stature and demeanor, the affable Carmichael, who stands 6'8'', would be the antithesis. 

    His loyalty for (and longevity with) the Eagles remains to this day. The four-time Pro Bowler, who finished his career sixth on the NFL's all-time receptions list, is now in his 16th year as the team's director of player development. 

     

    Best Season: 1973 (67 rec, 1,116 yards, 9 TD)