2011 NFL Predictions: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Top 9 Wide Receivers
In the National Football League, good wide receivers can make a quarterback look great. The dominating receivers in today's game of football are often physically imposing figures, usually over six feet tall, with a huge frame that can overpower defensive backs and get to the ball no matter where it is placed.
Let's take a look at the top nine wide receivers heading into the 2011 NFL season, which is just weeks away!
Dwayne Bowe: Kansas City Chiefs
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Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs emerged as one of the National Football League's premier wideouts in the 2010 season, leading the league in receiving touchdowns, with 15.
The former Louisiana State Tiger hauled in 72 passes for 1,162 yards, the second time he has gained over 1,000 yards in his four-year career, since being the Chiefs' top draft pick.
DeSean Jackson: Philadelphia Eagles
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DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles isn't exactly your prototype, bulked up possession wide receiver, standing at just 5'10" and weighing in at 175, but his speed on the field has made him a dominant weapon in the NFC East.
Entering his third year since being selected out of California, Jackson has proven that he can do it all: receiving, rushing, as well as returning kicks and punts.
Last year, he averaged over 22 yards per catch, gaining 1,056 yards and six touchdowns on just 47 receptions. For his short three-year career, Jackson has caught 171 passes for 2,124 yards, and 17 touchdowns.
Furthermore, he has returned 99 kicks or punts for a combined average of 11.2 yards-per-return.
Greg Jennings: Green Bay Packers
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Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers is a young receiver with a combination of size and speed that gives the sixth-year receiver one of the best skill sets in the game today.
Jennings played a major role in the Packers Super Bowl run, as he caught 76 passes for 1,265 yards, scoring 12 times. It was the third year in a row that he amassed over 1,000 receiving yards, and that isn't expected to change anytime soon.
The Western Michigan product has caught 322 passes for 5,222 yards, and 40 touchdowns in five seasons as a pro.
Mike Wallace: Pittsburgh Steelers
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Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Mike Wallace was an absolute beast last year and was considered one of the many breakout players of the 2010 NFL season. However, with the increase in age combined with the decline in production by fellow wide receiver Hines Ward, Wallace has the opportunity to put together even more explosive plays this season.
Last year, Wallace caught 60 passes, while gaining an incredible 1,257 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. He is one of the best deep-threat receivers in the league, proven by his 20.3 career yards-per-reception average.
Reggie Wayne: Indianapolis Colts
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Reggie Wayne is entering his 11th season in the NFL, all with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning passing to him.
The former Miami Hurricane plays at a Pro Bowl level year in and year. Last season, Wayne caught amassed 1,335 yards with Manning under center. It was Wayne's sixth season catching at least 80 passes, and was his seventh time in his career that he gained 1,000 yards.
Roddy White: Atlanta Falcons
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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Roddy White, must have been one of the happiest men in the National Football League, when the Dirty Birds traded away almost their whole draft to select fellow wideout, Julio Jones, from Alabama.
White had been quarterback Matt Ryan's favorite target over the years, as displayed by his league-leading 115 receptions for 1,389 yards and 10 scores last year, despite being double-teamed, or having a safety shade over him.
Now, he will have more opportunities for man-to-man coverage with Jones being a threat on the opposite side of the field.
Calvin Johnson: Detroit Lions
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Despite playing for one of the National Football League's worst franchises in recent years, Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions has been a consistent factor at wide receiver in the NFC North. The 25-year-old has some of the best skill sets in the league at wideout, and is a mismatch for almost any cornerback in the league.
At 6'5" 235 pounds, he is quick, fast, and can get to passes most receivers can't.
Last season, "Megatron" caught 77 passes for 1,120 yards, scoring 12 times, despite the inconsistency at quarterback for the Lions.
Entering his fifth season, he has caught 270 passes for 4,191 yards, scoring 33 touchdowns for the Lions, and one could only expect those numbers to increase once quarterback Matthew Stafford becomes a full-time, healthy starter.
Larry Fitzgerald: Arizona Cardinals
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Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in his seven-year career in the National Football League, catching at least 90 balls in five of his seven seasons as a member of the Cardinals.
He has gained over 1,000 yards four seasons in a row, and caught 90 passes last year with the likes of John Skelton and Max Hall under center.
Fitzgerald is a freak of an athlete, and has caught 613 passes for 8,204 yards and 65 touchdowns in his seven-year career. With Kevin Kolb now the quarterback in Arizona, look for Fitzgerald to flourish like he did during the Kurt Warner-era.
Andre Johnson: Houston Texans
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In a day and age where most top wide receivers are considered divas, Houston Texans wide receiver, Andre Johnson keeps his head down and lets his play on the field do the talking. Last year, Johnson caught 86 passes for 1,216 yards, finding the end zone eight times, making it the third year in a row that "the beast" has gained at least 1,200 yards.
With Arian Foster now a threat at running back, teams will be stacking the box, leaving more leeway for quarterback, Matt Schaub to connect with his favorite target.