Top 10 Deep Threat Wide Receivers in the NFL
Whether it's due to the scoring changes over the past few seasons or a result of the more complex offenses that are now common in the NFL, there's no denying that the pass is king in the National Football League.
Long touchdown strikes are now much more rule than exception.
The proliferation of the passing game in the NFL also means that having a vertical threat at wide receiver is more important to NFL franchises than ever. The teams that possess some the game's best bomb-catchers have a definite leg up on the competition.
In the interest of fairness, we looked at 2011 statistics for wideouts with at least 40 receptions. While some of the names that are (or aren't) on this list may surprise you according to that benchmark, here are the top 10 deep threats in the NFL this season.
10. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
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2011 Stats: 55 receptions, 891 yards, seven touchdowns
It didn't take rookie wide receiver A.J. Green long at all to acclimate himself to the NFL.
The former Georgia star scored a touchdown in his NFL debut, topped 100 yards receiving in his second game and has emerged as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's top target in the Queen City.
9. Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys
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2011 Stats: 46 receptions, 763 yards, eight touchdowns
There may well be no bigger surprise at the wide receiver position than Laurent Robinson of the Dallas Cowboys.
The fifth year pro has gone from being cast off by the St. Louis Rams to setting a career high in receiving yards while leading the Cowboys in touchdown catches.
8. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
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2011 Stats: 62 receptions, 1,034 yards, eight touchdowns
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is one of the preeminent deep threats in the National Football League.
While the third-year pro is averaging a career low 16.7 yards per catch, he has already logged his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season.
7. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
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2011 Stats: 55 receptions, 925 yards, two touchdowns
Part of the reason for the downturn in Mike Wallace's stats has likely been the solid play of second-year wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown has become a viable downfield threat in his own right in the Pittsburgh Steelers vertical passing attack.
6. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
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2011 Stats: 68 receptions, 1,150 Yards, seven touchdowns
If there's an easy winner for breakout wide receiver of the season in 2011, it would have to be Victor Cruz of the New York Giants.
Cruz has gone from afterthought on the Giants roster to one of the most exciting and explosive young pass-catchers in the National Football League.
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
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2011 Stats: 62 receptions, 1,092 yards, seven touchdowns
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying yet another sterling statistical season in his eighth year in the NFL with his fifth straight season of over 1,000 receiving yards.
The argument can certainly be made that there's no better player in the league at his position.
4. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
2011 Stats: 42 receptions, 755 yards, five touchdowns
The second rookie wideout on this list, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons has made the Falcons look smart for moving up in the draft to acquire him last April.
Jones provides Atlanta with a home-run threat opposite Roddy White and gives quarterback Matt Ryan another weapon in the passing game.
3. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers
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2011 Stats: 53 receptions, 952 yards, eight touchdowns
It's been an up and down seventh season in the National Football League for wide receiver Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers, but his speed and 6'5" frame make him a threat both in the deep passing game and the red zone, as his lofty touchdown total this season attests.
2. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
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2011 Stats: 67 receptions, 1,217 yards, five touchdowns
The arrival of quarterback Cam Newton in Carolina has triggered a career resurgence from wide receiver Steve Smith.
The 11-year veteran has already logged his highest reception, yardage and touchdown totals since the 2008 season.
1. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
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2011 Stats: 51 receptions, 957 yards, 10 touchdowns
It certainly doesn't hurt to play on the offensive buzzsaw that is the Green Bay Packers, but fourth-year wide receiver Jordy Nelson has grown into one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the National Football League in 2011.
Nelson has four touchdown receptions of 40 or more yards this season.