During my early years of participation in football, I was a pretty good wide receiver. That being said, I have always been partial to that position, and in particular, the speedy wide receiver on each NFL team.
As I was reminiscing about my favorite receivers of all time, it dawned on me that there have been some very good #2 receivers throughout NFL history that have not received as much praise as their #1 counterpart on their team.
Therefore, I decided to comprise a list of "my" top ten NFL #2 receivers of all time.
Keep in mind, that this is my subjective list, therefore, please feel free to remind me of any players I may have omitted from my list that are worthy to be mentioned. Here are my top ten:
10. Wayne Chrebet: While playing for the New York Jets, Wayne Chrebet was a great compliment to the "self-indulged diva" named Keyshawn Johnson. Often, Chrebet was actually the most reliable receiver on the team, however, Keyshawn was still considered the #1 receiver based upon his constant self promotion.
9. Wes Welker: Although he has only been in the league a few years, Wes Welker has already proven himself to be a sure-handed and productive receiver. Randy Moss is certainly Tom Brady's main target. However, Brady has made it clear that any pass thrown under 30 yards is going to Welker instead of Moss. This makes Welker invaluable to the offense during possession downs.
8. Sammy White: You may not be old enough to remember the speedy Sammy White that starred for the Minnesota Vikings during the 1970's. Although Ahmad Rashad was considered the #1 receiver, White was the deep threat that would constantly stretch the field of opposing defenses.
7. Butch Johnson: The Dallas Cowboys have always entertained with a high octane offense. This was no different in the 1970's when Drew Pearson was the star #1 receiver. However, Butch Johnson was as reliable a #2 receiver could be. He had great hands, decent speed, and acrobatic maneuvers that resulted in some spectacular catches.
6. John Taylor: Everyone knows the legend of Jerry Rice for the San Francisco 49ers. Unless you weren't paying attention, you would have missed the complimentary prowess of his counterpart—John Taylor. Teams could not afford to double team Jerry Rice because John Taylor would definitely make them pay for that mistake. His size, speed, and "after the catch" running ability made him a quiet star for the 49ers.
5. Mark Duper: Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the history of the NFL. The receiving corps was comprised of Mark Clayton (he was the #1 receiver) and Mark Duper. Duper was a spectacular #2 receiver because there was not much of a "fall-off" from Clayton to Duper. Although Clayton would routinely garner more receptions, they were equally as dangerous to opposing defenses.
4. Jimmy Smith: Few remember the efficiency of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguar offense. Mark Brunell had the pleasure of throwing to two top notch receivers during his tenure in Jacksonville. Kennan MaCardell was a solid #1 receiver throughout his career, however, many do not remember the dominance of Jimmy Smith during that era. Smith was a consistent 50-60 catch per season receiver that contributed greatly to the early success of the team.
3. Fred Biletnikoff: The Oakland Raiders had one of the greatest "speedy receivers" ever in Cliff Branch. Branch was the undisputed #1 receiver and was Oakland's deep threat. However, if the Oakland offense needed a key possession on either third or fourth down, then Biletnikoff was their man! He was probably the most sure-handed receiver ever to play the game and could always be counted upon to come through during clutch times.
2. Charlie Joiner: This is a unique situation with Charlie Joiner. Any other player with his skill level and production history would be considered a #1 receiver. The problem that Charlie Joiner encountered throughout his long and productive career is that he constantly played alongside speedy and dynamic #1 receivers. During his tenure in Cincinnati, he shared duties with Isaac Curtis. During his years in San Diego, his spotlight was overshadowed by both John Jefferson and later by Wes Chandler. That being said, Joiner was a prolific receiver that had all the tools and was feared by opposing teams.
1. John Stallworth: Who could possibly argue this choice for the #1 spot? Everyone knows that Lynn Swann was the undisputed star at the #1 receiver spot for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty era. However, the fact that Stallworth was inducted in to the pro football hall of fame based upon his performance at the #2 receiver spot is quite amazing! He was truly a star on a star-studded team.
By the way, I purposely decided to omit T.J. Houshmandzadeh from the list because I have not yet determined whether or not he is a #1 or #2 receiver.
What is your list?