Despite the newborn hard-hitting laws that the NFL has created and enforced, there's no questioning the raw, intense toughness of American football. Players like "Mean Joe" Green and Deacon Jones pioneered the stepping stones for the blue collar athletes of professional football.
Today, receivers continue to take a beating as a susceptible skill position. Hines Ward has made a trademark for blocking along the creases of the field and making rough catches in the seams. Joe Flacco's favorite target; Anquan Boldin, has earned the reputation of having the ability to rebound from neck-wrenching hits.
To the following players on this list: die-hard football lovers across the world salute you for your reincarnation of the now-dying intangible of toughness.
• Players must be under the height of 6'0".
• Players must have utilized their gritty abilities consistently.
• Players must be no more than 200 pounds.
The quickest receiver on this list, second-year-pro Percy Harvin has his name solidified among the contributors of the Minnesota Vikings.
A former 22nd overall draftee, Harvin has had a history of mind-boggling migraines throughout his stint in the league. Undeterred by this, the 5'11" little guy became a big deep threat for the Vikes by averaging 13.2 yards-per-reception in his rookie season.
Harvin took over a starting role this year with Sidney Rice out, and has had decreased production thus far. Teammates have stated that they can see the pain in the Virginia native's eyes, however, Harvin keeps on trucking.
Our thoughts are with Percy Harvin in his struggle against migraines. We hope to witness that same exposiveness we saw in 2009 from the number three toughest receiver.
• Games started: 11
• Receptions: 51
• Yards receiving: 627. 12.3 yards-per-reception
• Touchdowns: four
Seasoned veteran Steve Smith has become a household name upon the league and developed mutual respect among his opposition. The Carolina Panther has been injury-pleagued the past couple years, but still earns a spot on this list for his work in this decade.
Since his NFL debut in 2001, Smith has tallied 610 receptions for 8,774 yards. Known for his big play abilities, Smith had a stint of five straight seasons with over 77 receptions and 1,000 yards until that streak was snapped a year ago.
Despite being one of the shortest receivers in all of the NFL at 5'9", the Utah University alumni has thrived as a target to move the chains with an astounding 14.4 yards-per-catch. Though his stance has softened a bit, Steve Smith still strikes fear into the opposing secondary's eyes.
• Games started: 10
• Receptions: 36
• Yards Receiving: 444. 12.3 yards-per-reception
• Touchdowns: two
Is it really a surprise?
Wes Welker has been nothing short of spectacular since 2007, as the ongoing dominance of the slot position has only increased leverage in terms of assisting the New England Patriots' effort to win.
Victory is a verb Welker has become accustomed to.
Even after tearing both his ACL and MCL in his left knee in 2009's final game, Welker got off on the right foot by picking up where he left off in 2010.
Unlike the other couple of receivers that gained a place on this list, Welker is not known as a deep threat. Instead, the 5'9" athlete has gained recognition as a possession receiver; which is a safe label for a receiver who reeled in at least 110 passes for four straight seasons.
Welker is currently sixth in grabs this season, and looks to continue his success...despite his size.
• Games started: eight
• Receptions: 65
• Yards receiving: 592. 9.1 yards-per-reception
• Touchdowns: six