Wide receivers are some of the best athletes in professional sports.
Consistently putting their bodies and their careers on the line, a great wide receiver can change the fortunes of a franchise almost instantly.
The following list is a breakdown of the best wide receivers to ever play for each of the NFL's current 32 franchises.
The list was built on not only football production but off-the-field character and the impact of each player in the history of their respective franchises.
At No. 32, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers...
Keenan McCardell was a 12th-round pick by the Washington Redskins in the 1991 NFL Draft.
After being placed on injured reserve with the Redskins in 1992, McCardell was released and had stints with the Cleveland Browns (1992-1995) and Jacksonville Jaguars (1996-2001).
McCardell would eventually sign with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in 2002 and would have one of the best games for any wide receiver in Buccaneer History.
In Super Bowl XXXVII, McCardell caught two touchdown passes and led the Buccaneers to a victory over the Oakland Raiders.
In his two seasons with Tampa Bay, McCardell had 145 receptions for 1,844 yards. He also had 14 receiving touchdowns and one score off a fumble recovery.
Muhsin Muhammed played three seasons with the Chicago Bears from 2005-2008.
Over his tenure, Muhammed struggled with inconsistent quarterback play but still found a way to lead the Bears offense in all receiving categories.
Muhammed scored 12 touchdowns with the Bears and also recorded 2,183 yards with 164 receptions.
Muhammed also played 11 seasons with the Carolina Panthers from 1996-2004 and 2008-2009.
Jimmy Smith was by far the best wide receiver to ever play for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Smith was an original member of the Jaguars franchise when the team entered the league as an expansion organization in 2005.
In his 11 seasons with the Jaguars from 1995-2005, Smith was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-2001 and set the Jaguars franchise record for single-season catches and yards (116 rec for 1,636 yards).
When Smith retired in 2006, he was listed as seventh all-time in catches with 862.
He also recorded 62 total touchdowns over his entire Jaguar career.
Amani Toomer was drafted 34th overall by the New York Giants in the 1996 NFL Draft.
Little did the Giants know that by the time he would leave the team in 2008, Toomer would hold the team's all-time leading receiving yardage record and hold the second place in all-time receptions with 668 receptions for 9,947 yards.
Toomer also holds the New York Giants franchise record with 54 touchdown receptions.
The Giants won one Super Bowl during the years Toomer was on the team as they defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Toomer led the Giants in receiving during that Super Bowl with six catches for 84 yards.
Steve Largent played his entire 15-year career with the Seattle Seahawks after originally being drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1976.
After just four preseason games in 1976, Largent was traded to the Seahawks from the Oilers for an eighth-round draft pick for the following year.
Largent was selected to seven Pro Bowls throughout his career and was seemingly the best wide receiver to ever play the game until the next two decades.
When Largent retired from the NFL, he held all major NFL receiving records, including most receptions in a career (819), most receiving yards in a career (13,089) and most touchdown receptions (100).
The Seahawks retired Largent's No. 80 in 1992 and Largent was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
Terance Mathis was an Atlanta Falcon for eight seasons in 1994-2001 before he played his final year as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In just his first season with Atlanta in 1994, Mathis set a team record with 111 catches and finished third in the NFC in touchdowns.
Mathis was short receiver who had a great talent in finding holes deep downfield.
During his career, he had season-long receptions of 81, 78 and 55 yards.
Through his eight seasons in Atlanta, Mathis recorded 57 touchdown catches and tallied 7,349 yards.
Herman Moore is quite possibly the best football player to ever set foot in the Motor City other than former Lions halfback Barry Sanders.
Moore logged over 9,000 yards as an 11-year member of the Lions from 1991-2001.
In those 11 seasons, he also scored 62 touchdowns and caught over 100 balls in a season in three consecutive years.
Moore set an NFL record (no longer stands) in 1998 by catching 123 passes from quarterback Scott Mitchell.
Moore was named to four Pro Bowls in the 1990s and was also given the All-Iron Award in 1998 for an exceptional Lions performance on Thanksgiving Day.
Irving Fryar was the No. 1 overall selection of the New England Patriots in the 1984 NFL Draft.
He would go on to play for nine seasons with the Patriots before stints with the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
In New England, Fryar caught 38 touchdown passes, including the only touchdown scored by the Patriots in Super Bowl XX when they lost to the Chicago Bears 46-10.
Fryar retired from the NFL in 2001 holding seven different NFL records:
- Touchdown receptions from 19 different quarterbacks
- Consecutive seasons with 10 or more receptions: 17 (1984–2000)
- Consecutive seasons with 150 or more receiving yards: 17 (1984–2000)
- Consecutive seasons with two or more touchdown receptions: 16 (1985–2000)
- Consecutive seasons with two or more touchdowns (other than QB's): 16 (1985–2000)
- First player to record a touchdown reception in 17 consecutive seasons (1984–2000)**
- Oldest player to score four touchdowns (all receptions) in a single game (10/20/1996)
** Since Broken by Jerry Rice
Mark Clayton played 10 years with the Miami Dolphins before finishing out his career with the Green Bay Packers in 1993.
While with the Dolphins, Clayton was selected to five Pro Bowls as he caught a total of 550 passes and 81 touchdowns.
In 1984, Clayton set a single-season touchdown mark with 18, but that number was later broken by Jerry Rice in 1987.
Clayton was well known around the NFL as he and former teammate Mark Duper formed the dynamic duo referred to as the "Marks Brothers."
Both Duper and Clayton were inducted into the Dolphins Ring of Honor in 2003.
Joe "Hollywood" Horn originally played for the Kansas City Chiefs before signing with the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2006.
Horn reached four Pro Bowls over his seven seasons in New Orleans and was given the nickname of Hollywood by his teammates because of his sense of fashion off the field.
Horn started in exactly 100 games for the Saints as he caught 523 passes for nearly 8,000 yards and 58 touchdowns.
The Saints inducted Horn into the Saints Hall of Fame in May 2010.
Harold Carmichael played 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after being selected in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL Draft.
Carmichael was an extremely tall receiver at 6'8" and also large at 225 pounds.
He used this size to his advantage as he was selected to four Pro Bowls and caught 589 passes over his Eagles career.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Carmichael to a one-year contract after his tenure with the Eagles was finished.
He only started in one game and made one reception for seven yards.
Carmichael ended his NFL career with 8,985 receiving yards and 79 touchdown catches.
Torry "Big Game" Holt was the sixth overall draft choice for the St. Louis Rams in 1999.
Holt was a hot commodity for many teams as he was very quick (4.28 40-yard dash) and had good size at 193 pounds.
Throughout the 2000-2005 seasons, Holt set an NFL record as the only receiver in NFL history to post six consecutive years of 1,300 yards receiving.
Holt was selected to seven Pro Bowls and also won one Super Bowl championship with the "Best Show On Turf" as the Rams ousted the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Holt went on to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars after his tenure with the Rams.
He was also signed by the New England Patriots in 2010 but never played a regular-season game due to injury.
Holt currently holds 11 different NFL records, highlighted by the most receptions by a rookie in a Super Bowl with seven.
The Denver Broncos signed Rod Smith before the 1995 season after Smith went undrafted during the 1994.
Smith played 14 seasons with the Broncos and retired as the only player in NFL history to be an undrafted free agent and collect more than 10,000 career receiving yards.
Smith proved to be more invaluable than the Broncos would ever know.
He became a favorite target of John Elway and helped lead Denver to two consecutive Super Bowl victories.
Elway and Smith combined to form one of the best tandems in sports, as Smith would end his career with over 11,000 receiving yards and 68 touchdowns.
Donald Driver is currently the longest active Green Bay Packer in the Packers organization and is their all-time leader in receptions.
A seventh-round pick in 1999 by the Packers, Driver has almost 10,000 career receiving yards and 53 touchdown receptions.
Unfortunately, Driver has never won a Super Bowl but will look to do so in Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Off the field, Driver is the founder of the Donald Driver Foundation.
He has also written two children's books focusing on teamwork and the ability to be a team player.
Andre Reed played 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills from 1985-1999.
Reed served as a key member of the Bills roster that reached four straight Super Bowls, and collected 13,095 receiving yards over his entire career in Buffalo.
Reed also collected 500 rushing yards in his career while being selected to seven Pro Bowls.
He achieved high-enough standards to be ranked near the top in every statistical category in history.
Reed is a member of the Buffalo Bills' Wall of Fame and is currently awaiting word on whether or not he will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame class of 2011.
Reed played one additional year with the Washington Redskins before retiring after the 2000 season.
Ernest Givens was a member of the Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers) from 1986-1994 and a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 1990 and 1992.
Givens had 571 receptions over his NFL career and scored 49 touchdowns.
Givens was one of the first receivers in the modern era to have multiple rushing and receiving attempts in the same game.
Givens ended his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 after tallying over 8,000 career receiving yards.
Don Maynard was one of the few New York Jets members in history to have over 10,000 receiving yards over his career and also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Maynard played 13 seasons with the New York Titans/Jets throughout the years of 1960-1972.
He was only one of 20 players in history to play for the entire existence of the AFL.
Maynard caught 633 passes and scored 88 touchdowns in the NFL and also had 34 rushing attempts for a little over 70 yards.
Maynard ended his career as a member of the Rams, where he played two games in 1973 and caught one pass for 18 yards.
Otis Taylor was a player ahead of his time as he continually displayed the ability to take over a game single-handedly.
Taylor played 11 seasons with the Chiefs and won three championships as Kansas City's leading wide receiver.
Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson called on Taylor in nearly every instance during their time together.
Taylor caught 410 passes and 57 touchdowns during an era that was primarily run-based.
Otis Taylor was inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in the late 1970s.
Andre Johnson is currently on pace to have a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.
Throughout his time with the Texans, Johnson has already been awarded the NFL Alumni Best Wide Receiver Award three times and has been selected to six Pro Bowls.
Johnson has also led the league in receiving twice and currently holds the NFL record with seven consecutive games with 10 or more receptions.
Johnson is currently the highest-paid receiver in the NFL and has surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in five of his first eight seasons.
Heading into the 2011 season, Johnson has 50 touchdown receptions and over 9,000 yards receiving.
Chad Ochocinco is not only a product on the field but is almost a celebrity in terms of off-field football popularity.
After changing his name from Chad Johnson in 2008, Ochocinco has given people even more of a reason to talk about him and his strange antics.
During his Bengals career, Ochocinco has been named to six Pro Bowls and has over 10,000 yards receiving.
Ochocinco also holds many Bengals franchise records including:
- Most receiving yards in a season (1,440)
- Most receiving yards all-time
- Most receptions
- Most touchdown receptions
- Most receiving yards in a game (260)
- Most seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards (7)
- Most touchdown receptions in a game (3)
Steve Smith has been a lone bright spot in a Carolina Panthers franchise that has struggled to keep its head above water in the last several seasons.
Smith brings quickness to the receiving corps. He has a great talent to get open in heavy traffic.
He was never the type of player to run streak patterns down the field, but was a prototype in defining the slot position while occasionally sneaking past the secondary for a deep pass.
Smith has 50 total touchdowns during his career (all with Carolina) and 8,884 receiving yards.
Smith's production has taken a significant decline over the last two seasons, as the Panthers have had some below-average quarterback play and more of a "run-first" style offense.
There is hard to find much more to say about Lance Alworth than the video posted in this slide has not already stated.
Alworth displayed exceptional speed and was a revolutionary figure when it came to the modern role of wide receivers in the game of professional football.
Alworth finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys, but his years with the San Diego Chargers were statistically the best of his career.
As the video stated, Lance Alworth was the first AFL player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
He finished his career with over 10,000 yards receiving and almost 90 touchdowns.
Derrick Mason is still as consistent of a threat for the Baltimore Ravens as he was when he entered the league as a fourth-round selection for the Houston Oilers in 1997.
Mason became a Raven in 2005 and was the first Raven in history to record 100 receptions in a season.
Mason is also the NFL record holder for single-season all-purpose yards with 2,659 set in 2000.
Mason's career totals add up to 11,891 yards receiving and 66 touchdowns.
Those numbers should continue to grow over the next several years as Mason is still an elite receiver in the NFL.
Larry Fitzgerald was the third overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2004 NFL Draft.
"Fitz" is a physical receiver with a great ability to catch the football, no matter where it is thrown on the field.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Fitzgerald has surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in five of his first seven seasons.
He caught more than 10 touchdowns in four different seasons.
His most productive year came in 2008, when he caught 96 passes for 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Fitzgerald has over 8,000 career yards and 65 touchdowns in just seven seasons as an Arizona Cardinal.
Hines Ward has been the face of the Steel City franchise since he became a Steeler in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Ward has played in 202 career games in Pittsburgh and has 85 touchdown receptions in 13 seasons.
Among many career accolades, Ward has been selected to four Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowls and was named Super Bowl XL MVP.
Although Ward has gained a reputation as a physical player with great ability, his impact on the game of football and life stretches farther than goal post to goal post.
Ward has created his own foundation to help support biracial children in other countries.
He was also named a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by Barack Obama in 2010.
Paul Warfield was exactly to the Cleveland Browns as this video makes him seem.
Warfield was the type of player that the Browns' fans loved to root for, as he was physical, emotional and made big plays when the team needed him.
In 97 career games with the Browns, Warfield was on the receiving end of 272 passes for over 5,000 yards and 52 touchdowns.
Warfield was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and won two Super Bowl championships with the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowls VII and VIII.
The Cleveland Browns also won an NFL championship with Warfield on their roster in 1964.
Warfield was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1983 as one of the best Cleveland Browns players in history.
Art Monk was a first-round selection by the Washington Redskins in 1980 and immediately made an impact as he was selected to the NFL All-Rookie Team in his first season.
Monk was simply the best Redskin to ever play the game.
He would retire with 16 different Redskin records seven NFL records.
Monk was was the first player to record a touchdown reception in 15 consecutive seasons and also the first player to record back to back seasons on 1,200 yards and 90 receptions.
At the end of his career, Monk had a total of 12,721 receiving yards and was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in the class of 2008.
Tim Brown was one of the quickest wide receivers to play the game. He did it for the Oakland Raiders throughout his entire career.
With one simple cut, Brown could gain 20-30 extra yards on any given play and was always a threat to find the end zone.
Brown got his 1,000th catch as a member of the Oakland Raiders against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
Jerry Rice would cap off the drive for the Raiders scoring a touchdown on Rich Gannon's pass.
Brown's career numbers include 1,094 catches for 14,934 yards and exactly 100 touchdowns.
Brown ended his career in 2004 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison is one of the most well-known sports lines from any fan who has followed the NFL over the last two decades.
Harrison was an exceptional blend of speed and size.
He used his physical abilities to help one of the best quarterbacks in the history of professional football pick apart opposing defenses seemingly at will.
Harrison scored 128 touchdowns in his career and passed the 100-reception mark four straight times from 1999-2003.
Harrison also holds the NFL record for receptions in a single season with 143, set in 2002.
Harrison went to eight Pro Bowls throughout his career.
He also won a Super Bowl with the Colts when they defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Michael Irvin was "America's Player" playing for "America's Team."
Irvin's athleticism and pure grace while playing on a football field helped him gain over 11,000 yards over his career.
Irvin led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories while leading the team in receiving annually.
Irvin made a career out of big games. His biggest came against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1994 NFC Championship.
Irvin had one of the most productive games in NFL playoff history, with 12 catches for an NFC Championship record 192 yards, and two touchdowns.
Irvin was elected into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor and also the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, Irvin's career was cut short due to a spinal cord injury in 1999.
It is impossible to tell what kind of numbers Irvin could have produced if he would have been able to remain healthy.
But for now, he is still one of the best of all time.
With all of the controversy surrounding Randy Moss the last several years, it is easy to forget how great of a player he was while with the Minnesota Vikings.
In only 113 games with Minnesota, Moss was on the receiving end of 92 touchdown passes and had almost 600 receptions.
Moss was also an irreplaceable piece of the record-setting Vikings offense of 1998, which scored 556 points during the regular season.
Moss has been named to seven Pro Bowls and also won the Rookie of the Year award in 1998.
Moss returned for one last stint with the Vikings at the end of the 2010 season but was quickly waived and is a current member of the Tennessee Titans.
Jerry Rice was undoubtedly the best wide receiver to ever play in the NFL.
Rice played 16 seasons with the 49ers, covering the time period between 1985-2000.
Rice is not only the record holder in most statistical categories in NFL history, he was rated the number one player of all time by NFL.com in 2009 and was selected to 13 Pro Bowls.
Rice's career numbers are simply amazing, as he totaled just under 23,000 receiving yards and 197 touchdowns.
One hundred fifty-seven of those touchdowns came as a member of the 49ers.
Rice had his No. 80 retired by the 49ers and he was elected into the Hall of Fame along with other NFL greats Emmit Smith and Dick LeBaeu.
Rice won three Super Bowls before he finally retired on August 24, 2006, after signing a one-day contract with the 49ers for $1,985,806.49.
Rice received no money for the contract as the number represented the year he was drafted, his jersey number, his retirement year and the 49ers franchise.