Prolific Pass Catchers: The Top 10 NFL Wide Receivers

Matt ShervingtonCorrespondent IIJuly 17, 2009

1. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans


I remember a few years back(2006 I believe) there were people arguing him as a top five wide receiver and I called them crazy because he dropped way too many balls and wasn't much of a deep threat.


Well, looks like they come up smelling like roses, because Johnson is now the league's premier wide receiver. Unlike a lot of the other guys on this list, Andre Johnson has never had a top 15 quarterback throwing to him. Despite that, he averages 100 Yards per game over the past two seasons, and since he had his eye surgery in 2006, he's been lights out.


Had he been afforded the opportunity to make the post-season, it would have probably been Johnson everyone was talking about last year as well.



2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals


It is funny how things can change over the course of a year. Coming into last season Anquan "Q" Boldin was the best wide receiver in Arizona according to many...Arizona fans included.


However, Fitzgerald spent last off-season working on his deficiencies in route running and going over the middle, and a monster was born. Fitzgerald used the post-season as a coming out party to display to the world that he was no longer just the wide receiver with excellent leaping ability and the best hands in the league. He showed everyone he would run anywhere on the field and would do it crisply.


With those flaws in his game gone, one could honestly ask if last year's version of Larry Fitzgerald had any flaws in his game.



3. Randy Moss, New England Patriots


Randy Moss is somewhat of an enigma. There are those that forget that two years ago he set the NFL record for touchdown receptions in a year and rank him in the bottom half of the top 10. Then there are those that take those numbers and rank him as the number one wide receiver in the NFL.


I think you have to balance the two to get the real Randy Moss; A guy who is just as good as Fitzgerald and Johnson, but is in a much better situation. He has worked drastically on his routes since coming to New England, but still cannot run the entire tree greatly, but it doesn't matter. There is no better deep threat with an adequate quarterback throwing to them.



4. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers


Steve Smith is another one of those guys that somewhat perturbs me with how some people rank him. Some people tend to look back four years ago and remember his "Triple Crown" season and say that's merit enough to rank him second. Some believe he hasn't done anything since and might not even be top five.


I'll just say that last year he showed signs that he still has it. He led the NFL in yards per game last season, and single-handedly willed the Carolina Panthers into games. His skill-set isn't the best, as his routes are limited to screens and deep Rroutes, but he's one of the five best at fighting for the ball in the air, and one of the five best at making plays after the catch.


5. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions


Calvin Johnson joins Adrian Peterson as the only two players that I have ever placed into the top five after one season of production. While I wanted Calvin Johnson to fail this year because I believe players should earn hype, not be drafted with it, the fact of the matter is that you only had to watch Johnson to know that his numbers do him no justice.


The Lions may have been 0-16, but to no fault of Johnson who single-handedly willed them into the Week Two game coming back from 21 down. He also willed them into the Washington game, only for the defense to lose the game. Finally, against the Colts Johnson brought scored and then got robbed of a TD at the one, making the game 21-21 in the 4th, only for the rest of the team to let him down.


Calvin Johnson is not a Braylon Edwards. He's the real deal.



6. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers


It pains me to see Greg Jennings this high, because he and Santonio Holmes were basically neck and neck through their first two years in the league. But Jennings just exploded in his third year while Holmes decided football wasn't very important for the first 15 weeks of the NFL season.


Jennings, meanwhile exploded out the gate, and continued to show his brilliance. Jennings is already one of the five best Wide Receivers at making adjustments for the ball in the air, and his route running is becoming very smooth and crisp. He's got solid hands, and he loves to find the endzone.


He and Rodgers could be the best WR-QB duo in the NFL for years to come.


7. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts


Wayne has shown over the last two seasons that he has the ability to be the Colts' coveted flanker, rather than the split end. He, however still performs the role of the split end at times too. But what keeps Wayne on this list is that, at this point in time, he is the league's best route runner, having learned from one of the best ever.


Additionally, his hands are top five at the position which keeps him in the top 10. His production doesn't hurt either as he has eclipsed 1,200 yards receiving so many times, and doesn't look to slow down because he has a propensity to stay healthy.



8. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons


Proving that his 2007 campaign was no fluke, Roddy White went on to produce a season that was virtually identical, showing the world that he can play with anybody at quarterback. Luckily for Matt Ryan, he was the guy this year, and will be for the future.


White has a nice strong set of hands and while he runs routes somewhat sloppily, I'm willing to say he's a good route runner. He will fight for the ball in the air, and will come down with some of them. He's young and only has room to grow, but what is for certain is that he hasn't put it all together yet, and still produces some of the best numbers in the league.


I'd love to see him opposite of a half-decent No. 2, which he'll have in Gonzalez at tight end.



9. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals


As stated earlier, people seem to forget that, at this point last year many people seemed to believe that Q was the better of the two Arizona Wide Receivers. So what am I trying to say? I'm saying that on another team, Boldin could make a bid for the top five, but because he had to share the spotlight with Larry Fitzgerald this past post-season, things like his redzone prowess or the fact that he was the Cardinals' best clutch wide-out last season get ignored.


Boldin is a top 10 Wide Receiver and is, at worst, the second best wide receiver after the catch. His hands are quite good as well. Maybe not as good as Fitzgerald’s, but good none-the-less.


10. Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills


You can hate on Owens all you want, but the fact of the matter is that he hasn't stopped producing. Now that he has joined the AFC East where the most proven cornerbacks are is teammate Terrence McGee, oft-injured Shawn Springs, and third year guy Darrelle Revis; look for Owens to show that he still has at least one year left in the trunk to produce like a top 10 guy.


Owens runs some of the crispest routes when he's willing to play hard, evidencing his WCO background, and he loves to try and turn the big play, whether it's from a fly pattern or a short in route. He just needs to work on his hands, as he's always had some pretty average ones for an elite wide-out.



Honorable Mention


Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City


Needs a stronger season statistically. Has to lose his case of the dropsies.






T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seattle


I know he's a possession WR, but he needs more big plays.



Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati


Was last season a fluke? He needs to get into the endzone more, and stop talking and just play.


Brandon Marshall, Denver


Can he produce his high totals without Jay Cutler throwing to him 170+ times a season?

Marques Colston, New Orleans


Health! Health! Health! Health!



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