NFL Positional Power Rankings: Who Are the Best Wide Receivers Post-2010?
Along with running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks, wide receivers are the glamour players of the NFL. They catch the deep passes, score touchdowns and make highlight grabs that get them on SportsCenter.
For this reason, ranking the top five wideouts is hard. There are so many deserving players who great receivers, and there is a valid argument for each one.
It is made even harder because there are two different types of wide receiver, which are equally important. They are the possession receivers and the big play wide receivers.
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5. Mike Wallace: Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace has been a sensation this year, quickly becoming Ben Roethlisberger's favourite target downfield. For two years running he has averaged more than 20 yards per catch.
He is one of the fastest players in the league, right up there with DeSean Jackson and Chris Johnson. He also has great ball skills and normally beats the cornerback covering him in jump ball situations.
He is still a raw route runner and does not dominate as a possession receiver, but when he gets vertical he is so dangerous.
Wallace may be one-dimensional, but teams could still not stop him as he tore up the league in his sophomore season, producing 10 plays greater than 40 yards.
2010 stats: 1,257 yards, 60 receptions, 21 yards per catch, 10 TDs
4. Calvin Johnson: Detroit Lions
Despite playing with a backup quarterback most of the season, Johnson was one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL. His production in the face of adversity really shows his class.
Johnson is the most physically imposing wide receiver in the league. He stands at 6'5" and weighs 236 lbs. Add to that his 4.35 speed and 43-inch vertical leap, and you have one of the most athletically gifted wide receivers ever.
Johnson's game is not all about raw talent though. He has very sticky hands and can adjust to badly thrown balls with his great body control.
This year the Lions started using Johnson differently in the passing game, ultimately turning out to be successful. Instead of using him on deep routes as a big play wide receiver, they have instead utilized him as a top tight end is used. He runs short and intermediate routes for the most part and then uses his speed and size to make yards running after the catch.
This works because cornerbacks still have to be wary of the streak route, and it also means that the Lions are getting the ball to their best offensive weapon more.
2010 stats: 1,120 yards, 77 receptions, 14.5 yards per catch, 12 TDs
3. Greg Jennings: Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers' favourite receiving target this year was Jennings, who had a huge season. He was fourth in the league for receiving yards and tied for second in touchdowns caught.
Jennings is a polished receiver who is a dangerous playmaker. He runs very crisp routes and pulls in most of the balls thrown to him. As shown in the Super Bowl, he is also fearless making catches over the middle.
Jennings' strength is his ability to make yards after the catch. He is an elusive runner in the open field with deceptive speed. This is the main reason why he averages 16.2 yards per catch for his career despite not being known as a downfield receiver.
Jennings' large yardage totals are all the more impressive because he plays in a spread offense, where the quarterback shares the ball around to all his receivers.
2010 stats: 1,265 yards, 76 receptions, 16.6 yards per catch, 12 TDs
2. Roddy White: Atlanta Falcons
Roddy White has become one of the best wide receivers in the league after looking like a bust at the start of his career.
After amassing 59 catches for 950 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons, White showed the league why he was drafted in the first round. He now has four consecutive seasons in which he has averaged 1,281 yards, 93 catches, 8.5 touchdowns and 13.8 yards per catch.
White is a player who has developed very safe hands and who now runs precise routes. This added consistency combines with his body control, acceleration and leaping ability to make him a dangerous receiver. Although he is not as fast as the other elite wide receivers, White makes up for this with his great acceleration.
White's game has also changed from being a deep threat to more of a possession receiver. However, he still has the ability to stretch the field vertically.
2010 stats: 1,389 yards, 115 receptions, 12.1 yards per catch, 10 TDs
1. Andre Johnson: Houston Texans
The amazing thing is that Johnson's last season was seen as a disappointment. However, posting back-to-back 100-catch and 1,500-yard seasons does that. In his defense, though, Johnson did miss three games and led the NFL in yards per game.
Johnson is an imposing wide receiver and was one of the first new-style big targets. He weighs in at 225 lbs. and stands 6'3" tall. He also has a 41-inch vertical leap and 4.40 speed. He is a superb route runner who makes great cuts without losing any speed.
He has very safe hands and wins jump ball contests no matter who is covering him. He also makes yards after the catch with regularity by taking advantage of his size advantage over defensive backs.
The real reason why Johnson is so great is that he operates as both a deep threat wide receiver and a possession receiver. This is what makes him the best receiver in the league.
2010 stats: 1,216 yards, 86 receptions, 14.1 yards per catch, eight TDs
The Second Tier: The Best of the Rest
There is no doubt that, with a better quarterback, Fitzgerald would have posted far better statistics and probably been in the top five wide receivers in the league. He still possesses the safest hands in the NFL, runs great routes and is surprisingly athletic. Next season with a new quarterback he may be back to his best.
Lloyd has finally started performing as he should have all his career. This year he led the league in yards and also posted 18.8 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns. He may not be the fastest guy out there, but he has a penchant for athletic catches. He is not a good route runner but was really effective last season. We will see whether this was a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come.
Hakeem Nicks recorded the fifth most yards per game and was on track to being the best overall performer for the season. He still recorded 11 touchdowns and caught 79 passes. He is a big target who can make yards after the catch and drops very few passes.