2010 NFL Season Preview: Top 10 Wide Receivers
In today's society, the world is full of people who are directly responsible for who we are today. All of us depend on others to assist us in tough situations. Whether that be a best friend or sibling, without them we would not be the same as we are today.
Similarly, in the NFL, a quarterback would not have the same success without his sidekick, commonly known as a wide receiver.
While this position may be considered glamorous and consist of several diva-like players, the best in the business also bring a level of talent that is unmatched by the rest.
In order to be considered a great wide receiver, in my mind, one must possess a rare combination of athleticism, reliable hands, and precise route running ability.
The criteria for my top 10 wide receivers is overall skill and production as well as dependability down the stretch. My rankings are primarily based on who I would, personally, want to have in my arsenal for an entire season.
Even though there is a consensus No. 1 and 2, be prepared to witness some surprising selections for the remaining.
Therefore, without further ado, here are my top 10 wide receivers in the NFL
10. Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin is one of the more underrated receivers in the league, as he's been overshadowed by Larry Fitzgerald's greatness.
Last season, Boldin caught 84 balls for 1,024 yards and four TDs. While he may not be the fastest player on the field, he's a sharp route runner with reliable hands.
Most importantly, what convinced me to include him in this list is his overall toughness. His ability to make plays down the middle of the field and take big hits is incredible.
His willingness to block and do the grunt work is what separates him from the rest and makes him unique.
9. DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson is one of the most electrifying receivers in the game. He's a tremendous athlete and has continued to make big-time plays ever since he entered the league.
Last season, he made 62 grabs for 1,156 yards and nine TDs. Even more impressive, he had an 18.6 yard per reception average, which ranked amongst the league's best.
This 23-year-old kid has incredible potential and a very bright future in this league.
Note: I did not consider return skills when I made this list.
8. Calvin Johnson
As you can see from the picture above, Calvin Johnson is one of the most physically dominating players in the league. Standing tall at 6'5" and 235 lbs.,Johnson has the perfect combination of size, strength, and overall athleticism.
That has helped him develop into one of the more promising young receiver prospects. Even though nagging injuries and a lack of supporting cast have hindered his production, he has still caught 193 receptions for 3,071 yards and 21 TDs (an average of approximately 65 receptions for 1,025 yards and seven TDs per season)
After another full year with Matthew Stafford, they should build a strong rapport and soon be one of the better passing duos in the league.
7. Steve Smith
Having Steve Smith, one of the elite receivers in the game, at No. 7 just goes to show how many talented receivers there are in the league.
Throughout his career, he has faced criticism for his lack of ideal height (5'9"). However, the three-time All-Pro makes up for that with natural receiving ability and amazing athleticism.
He's faced constant double-teams and has never had a stellar quarterback to throw him the ball. Even though his production is on a slow decline, there's no denying his overall talent.
Whoever ends up the starting quarterback this season they will have the huge luxury of having Smith at their disposal.
Do note that Smith broke his left arm in a flag football game. As a result, he will be unavailable for the start of training camp.
6. Wes Welker
Wes Welker is one of the more under-appreciated players in the league. His impact on the Patriots' offense is immense as he ultimately makes up for their lack of a potent rushing attack.
Since he's not the most physically skilled receiver out there, he relies on his soft hands, precise route running, and remarkable instincts to make plays. Over the past three years with the Patriots, he's managed to catch over 110 receptions for 1,100 yards—even when Tom Brady was sidelined with an ACL tear.
In my mind, he has truly redefined the new standard for the slot receiver position.
5. Randy Moss
Putting aside the fact that he's one of the greatest receivers of all-time, Randy Moss is still maintaining his high level of play, even at the age of 33.
Even though his physical skills have diminished a bit, he is still a deep threat and can still produce 80 catches for at least 1,200 yards.
The trait I most admire, though, is that he continues to score touchdowns. He was tied for a league-high 13 last season and is second all-time, only 49 behind the great Jerry Rice.
I expect a big year from Moss, as both him and Brady are motivated to get back to their dominant '07 form.
4. Reggie Wayne
Reggie Wayne is one of the most consistent receivers in the game as last year was his sixth consecutive season with at least 75 receptions and 1,000 yards.
While he doesn't have blazing speed, he is extremely intelligent and dependable down the stretch.
I will admit, though, that a major reason he's so productive is due to the fact that he plays alongside QB Peyton Manning and TE Dallas Clark.
3. Brandon Marshall
Even though Brandon Marshall isn't someone who can beat you deep, he is one of the most dominating receivers in the game.
First of all, he's got prototypical size at 6'4" and 230 lbs. which creates numerous mismatches with the defense.
In addition, he is one of the few receivers you can build your entire game plan around. Marshall demonstrated last season that he has the ability to take over a ball game, as he set an NFL record for most receptions in a single game with 21.
He has posted three consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,000 yards, and I expect him to do the same with the Dolphins.
2. Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has quickly emerged as arguably the greatest receiver in the game today. Ever since he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, he has simply dominated his opposition.
His sure-fire hands and tenacious leaping ability have helped make last year his fourth season with at least 95 receptions for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs.
More importantly, he was a significant reason why the Cardinals made that improbable run to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
While this may disappoint some people, realize that, both Fitzgerald and Johnson are ultimately interchangeable. I think nearly everyone will agree that they would be ecstatic to have either one on their team.
1. Andre Johnson
While he may not have had the amazing playoff run that Fitzgerald has, I beleive that Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the game.
If you compare the two last season, Johnson outperformed Fitzgerald in nearly every single statistical category aside from touchdown production.
A big reason why I gave Andre Johnson the nod is because he has a bigger impact on his teammates. He has been an integral part of Matt Schaub's development into a top-flight quarterback.
From his outstanding physical skills to spectacular catches, Johnson is a great all-around talent and I hope he gets the opportunity to demonstrate his ability in the playoffs.
Making a top 10 list is never easy, and it's unfortunate that I can't include all the great receivers in the game. Therefore, in order to award my recognition, here are No. 11-20 on the list.
11. Hines Ward
12. Chad Ochocinco
13. Roddy White
14. Marques Colston
15. Miles Austin
16. Santonio Holmes
17. Greg Jennings
18. Sidney Rice
19. Dwayne Bowe
20. Terrell Owens
Yes, in my mind, Owens is still a Top 20 receiver.
Sure, his stats dropped due to terrible quarterback play with the Bills. However, look at his previous three seasons with the Cowboys.
Even at 36, he remains one of the more physically gifted players in the league. It's a shame one of the greatest receivers of all-time doesn't have a team yet.
What Do You Think?
Do you think I left somebody off this list? Put someone too high? Too low? Do you think Larry Fitzgerald is better than Andre Johnson?
Let the debate begin! Be sure to voice your opinion in the comment section below.