NFL: 50 Best Receiving Corps in League History
There is no point in debating who was the best receiver to ever play the game of football. Sure, players like Randy Moss, Don Hutson and Steve Largent get consideration, but at the end of the day the only name that warrants the title as "best ever" is Jerry Rice.
However, the debate about the best group of receivers to ever play together is a much trickier one. Just because Jerry Rice is the best ever doesn't necessarily mean that any group of receivers including his name were the best. In fact, I guarantee you Jerry Rice is not part of the best receiving corps ever. (Sorry if I ruined the surprise.)
With all the greats such as Lynn Swann, Art Monk, Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison, here are the 50 greatest receiving corps in NFL history.
50. 2003 Carolina Panthers
Impact Players: Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad
Combined Statistics: 142 receptions, 1,947 yards and 10 touchdowns
Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad combined to make a great one-two punch for the Panthers. Smith was an elite deep threat with great speed, and Muhammad was the perfect receiver to go over the middle with his big body. Ricky Proehl rounded out the group, but he was at the end of his career and his impact was hardly felt.
Muhammad's best season came the following year, but Smith only played in one game that year due to injury. Smith really broke out in the 2005 season, but by then, Muhammad had taken his talent to Chicago.
So, we have to settle for their 2003 season together, where they both had decent enough seasons to make the last spot on this list.
49. 1998 Atlanta Falcons
Impact Players: Terance Mathis and Tony Martin
Combined Statistics: 130 receptions, 2,317 yards, 17 touchdowns
During the "Dirty Bird" season of 1998, Terance Mathis and Tony Martin were a handful to opposing defenses. Even though Jamal Anderson was the focal point of the offense, Mathis and Martin were what propelled the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII.
It was Martin's only season with Atlanta, and it was a special season indeed. After going 14-2 during the regular season, the Falcons upset the high-powered offense of the Minnesota Vikings in overtime to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Mathis caught a short touchdown in the game, but Atlanta lost to the John Elway-led Broncos. Neither players' career was much after their magical season together.
48. 1997 Green Bay Packers
Impact Players: Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks
Combined Statistics: 141 receptions, 2,394 receptions, 19 touchdowns
Robert Brooks was coming back from injury during the 1997 season. Antonio Freeman was cementing his position as the top target for Brett Favre. The '97 Packers made a return trip to the Super Bowl, and Brooks and Freeman made a fantastic duo.
Brooks won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Freeman put together a Pro Bowl-worthy season, but he would have to wait another year to gain that honor. The Packers lost a close game to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. However, Freeman caught two touchdown passes in that game.
After the 1997 season, Brooks struggled with injuries and was never the same. Freeman went on to play another seven quality seasons.
47. 2002 New York Jets
Impact Players: Laveranues Coles, Wayne Chrebet and Santana Moss
Combined Statistics: 170 receptions, 2,388 yards, 18 touchdowns
This Jets team was fun to watch in 2002. They started the season 2-5, but ended the year with a 9-7 record and a playoff berth.
Chad Pennington was inserted midway through the season and instantly clicked with Coles, Chrebet and Moss. Chrebet had the best hands on the team, but it was Moss' and Coles' ability to spread the field that made this threesome so effective. There aren't many players with as good of a nickname as Wayne Chrebet, "Mr. Third Down." He always seemed to make a catch when the team needed one.
The Jets rocked the Colts in the Wild Card game of the playoffs, 41-0, but lost to the Oakland Raiders the following round.
46. 2008 Houston Texans
Impact Players: Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones
Combined Statistics: 207 receptions, 2,860 yards, 18 touchdowns
The 2008 season is when people started to recognize Andre Johnson as the best wide receiver in the NFL. His combination of size, speed and strength is unmatched by any other player.
However, it wasn't just Johnson who was making plays for the Texans during 2008. Both Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones played vital roles in Houston's pass-happy offense. Walter is a great slot receiver, and Jones can stretch the field with his great straight-line speed.
When the three play within their specific talents, the Texans have the best receiver group in the league.
This is one group of receivers who will continue to develop and should give defenses fits for years to come.
45. 2010 New Orleans Saints
Impact Players: Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore
Combined Statistics: 170 receptions, 2,388 yards, 20 touchdowns
It was hard to decide between all of Drew Brees' New Orleans receiving corps, but last season's had the most collective talent.
When Colston was drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL draft, few thought he would have the career he has had. Calling him a pleasant surprise would be an understatement.
With Meachem and Moore rounding out the group, New Orleans has an extremely talented and young group of receivers.
This group will only improve over time and should develop into one of the deepest and most talented groups in the NFL.
44. 2010 Green Bay Packers
Impact Players: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones
Combined Statistics: 222 receptions, 3,091 yards, 23 touchdowns
The defending Super Bowl Champions already have a top receiving corp in the NFL. It might not look the same next year, but don't expect the Green Bay Packers passing game to be any less effective.
Even with an aging Driver, the 2010 Packers receivers were top notch. There aren't many teams that have as many playmakers as the Packers. Whenever Jennings, Jones or Nelson touches the ball, he is a threat to score six points. Last year, Jennings' play put him in consideration as one of the top five receivers in the league.
As Driver gets older, watch for Nelson's role to increase and for rookie Randall Cobb to be a special talent moving forward. This group of receivers isn't going anywhere.
43. 2002 San Francisco 49ers
Impact Players: Terrell Owens, Tai Streets and J.J. Stokes
Combined Statistics: 204 receptions, 2,388 yards, 19 touchdowns
Can you remember a time when Terrell Owens wasn't all about the publicity and just wanted to play the game of football?
It may be difficult, but Owens' second-to-last season with the San Francisco 49ers might have been the last time. Teaming with Tai Streets and J.J. Stokes, Owens led the 49ers to their last playoff appearance. Streets and Stokes would both have their last decent years as players.
It is hard to remember Owens as an exciting young player from nearly 10 years ago, but this was a great season to watch him display his talents.
42. 2002 Buffalo Bills
Impact Players: Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Josh Reed
Combined Statistics: 231 receptions, 3,053 yards, 21 touchdowns
These days it's surprising to find Buffalo on any list, but here they are holding strong as the 42nd greatest receiving group ever. Who knows, there might even be another group higher on this list.
Eric Moulds is almost a forgotten name in the NFL these days. The 2002 season was sort of the beginning of the end for him. But back in this season, Moulds was on top of the NFL. He teamed with a young Peerless Price and rookie Josh Reed to form a fantastic trio of receivers. They had a tremendous amount of speed and each player had good hands.
This was also Drew Bledsoe's first year with the team, and he instantly clicked with this group of players. Unfortunately, the group broke up after this year when Price was traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a first-round draft pick.
41. 1996 Philadelphia Eagles
Impact Players: Irving Fryar and Chris T. Jones
Combined Statistics: 158 receptions, 2,054 yards, 16 touchdowns
When the Eagles obtained Irving Fryar from the Miami Dolphins following the 1995 season, no one expected him to have the type of impact he had in his first season in Philadelphia.
Fryar and Chris T. Jones dominated the NFC East while leading the Eagles to the playoffs and a division crown. Even with the less-than-stellar quarterback play of Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete, Fryar and Jones caught over 70 passes each. At the age of 34, many were surprised when Fryar went for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns that season.
Fryar's 1997 season was arguably better than his '96 season, but he didn't have as much help in that season.
40. 1997 Jacksonville Jaguars
Impact Players: Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell
Combined Statistics: 167 receptions, 2,488 yards, 9 touchdowns
In my humble opinion, Jimmy Smith is one of the most underrated wide receivers of all time. He had over 12,000 receiving yards and 69 touchdowns over the course of his career.
The 1997 season would be Smith's second-straight 1,000-yard receiving effort. He would go on to add five more seasons to that streak.
This was the second season Smith and McCardell were paired together. Back in the late 90s, not many teams had as good of a one-two punch as the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even though their touchdown total looks low, keep in mind Mark Brunell only threw 18 touchdowns the entire season.
39. 2010 Cincinnati Bengals
Impact Players: Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley
Combined Statistics: 191 receptions, 2,414 yards, 16 touchdowns
It is a shame the Ochocinco/Owens experiment went so wrong. It had the potential to be something very special for Cincinnati.
It is also a shame that these two once-great players were only teammates during the decline of their respective careers. Both Owens and Ochocinco were once considered two of the top receivers in the NFL. Now, they are better known for their off-field play than what they actually do during the course of a game.
Jordan Shipley appears to be a good, young receiver and should team up with rookie A.J. Green to give Bengals' fans some hope for their struggling franchise.
38. 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars
Impact Players: Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell
Combined Statistics: 168 receptions, 2,373 yards, 10 touchdowns
The 1996 season is one that will never be forgotten for the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise. Following a 4-12 inaugural season, the Jaguars went 9-7 the following season and made a deep playoff run.
Their success is due to the first season Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell spent together. Both players had over 80 receptions and 1,000 yards that season. They complemented each other perfectly. Where Smith was a deep threat, McCardell would roam the middle of the field looking for the ball.
Their success during their first season together earned this duo the nickname of "Thunder and Lightning."
37. 1997 Seattle Seahawks
Impact Players: Joey Galloway, Mike Pritchard and James McKnight
Combined Statistics: 170 receptions, 2,529 yards, 20 touchdowns
Joey Galloway has over 10,000 career receiving yards, but was never invited to a Pro Bowl.
His third year in the NFL would be the beginning of his long career as a talented receiver. It probably helped that Galloway had Warren Moon throwing him the football, even if Moon was at the end of his career. Both Pritchard and McKnight had career years during the 1997 season.
Galloway would go on to have a prosperous NFL career, but neither Pritchard or McKnight had the type of impact they had during this season again.
36. 2007 Cincinnati Bengals
Impact Players: Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry
Combined Statistics: 226 receptions, 2,926 yards, 22 touchdowns
This group of receivers had more potential to be incredible than any group in the league. Unfortunately, Houshmandzadeh and Henry had trouble living up to expectations.
It was nearly impossible for opposing defenses to stop the trio of Johnson, Houshmandzadeh and Henry. Johnson was at the peak of his career and warranted double-teams constantly. Houshmandzadaeh was becoming a rising star. Henry's size was a constant mismatch for whoever was left on the field to cover him. They were most dangerous in the red zone, where any of the receivers could make plays.
Had Housmandzadeh and Henry continued on course, this group of receivers could have been much higher on this list in a later year.
35. 1993 Atlana Falcons
Impact Players: Andre Rison, Michael Haynes and Drew Hill
Combined Statistics: 192 receptions, 2,404 yards, 19 touchdowns
During the 1993 season, Andre Rison was in the midst of his prime years. He had made the three previous Pro Bowls and had no intention of slowing down.
Rison led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns this season. Michael Haynes was the previous favorite target in Atlanta, but took a back seat to Rison's talent following the 1990 season. This season would end up being Drew Hill's last in the NFL. While Rison was clearly the best of the three, both Haynes and Hill brought vital experience to the field.
It is unfortunate that Haynes and Hill were at the end of their careers when Rison was in his prime, but at least we had one last year with the three together to bask in their greatness.
34. 2002 Pittsburgh Steelers
Impact Players: Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El
Combined Statistics: 237 receptions, 3,143 yards, 21 touchdowns
The 2002 season was a good season to be a receiving corp. There weren't any better groups than the Pittsburgh Steelers trio of Ward, Burress and Randle El.
While Randle El's contributions were little in comparison, both Ward and Burress were at the top of their games. Ward was a ball-catching machine, and Burress was one of the top young receivers in the game. Burress and Randle El gave the Steelers a deep threat combination they hadn't had in years. With Kordell Stewart at quarterback, the Steelers were an extremely exciting team to watch.
I originally had this group ranked quite lower, but it is hard to argue with the talent and statistics these players put up.
33. 1994 Green Bay Packers
Impact Players: Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks and Anthony Morgan
Combined Statistics: 180 receptions, 2,164 yards, 26 touchdowns
I sometimes still find myself wondering what could have been if Sterling Sharpe had been able to have a full career. Would he have challenged Jerry Rice as the best ever?
While we may never know the answer to that question, we do know Sharpe was a fantastic player. The 1994 season was his last season in the NFL, and he left quite a mark on the league. He recorded 18 touchdowns and was the favorite target of a young Brett Favre.
Brooks was a young receiver who would have a breakout season once Sharpe was gone. He was a special talent in the open field and would often benefit from teams double-teaming Sharpe.
Sharpe would live out the rest of his career through his younger brother, Shannon. While Sterling never won a Super Bowl, Shannon would win two with the Denver Broncos and one with the Baltimore Ravens.
32. 1998 New York Jets
Impact Players: Keyshawn Johnson, Wayne Chrebet and Dedric Ward
Combined Statistics: 183 receptions, 2,691 yards, 22 touchdowns
If Jimmy Smith is considered the most underrated receiver, Wayne Chrebet is an extremely close second.
With a super-talented Keyshawn Johnson, the New York Jets plowed their way to a 12-4 record. While Johnson was the headliner for the group, both Chrebet and Dedric Ward played vital roles in the team's success. Without Chrebet's incredible hands or Ward's ability to spread the field, Johnson wouldn't have had the year he did in 1998.
The Jets lost in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos. This was the Jets second-best receiving corp ever.
31. 2004 Green Bay Packers
Impact Players: Javon Walker, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson
Combined Statistics: 197 receptions, 2,957 yards, 22 touchdowns
The 2004 season was a breakout season for both Donald Driver and Javon Walker. While Driver would go on to have a stellar career in Green Bay, Walker would get injured the following season and was never the same player again.
However, in 2004, Walker, Driver and Ferguson wreaked havoc on the NFL. Ferguson's numbers dipped compared to the previous season, but that wasn't due to a lack of talent as much as it was due to how good Walker and Driver were together. Walker was a vertical threat for Brett Favre while Driver would find gaps and holes in the middle of the field.
Had Walker stayed healthy for a few more years in Green Bay, who knows how great he and Driver could have been together.
30. 2000 Denver Broncos
Impact Players: Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey
Combined Statistics: 201 receptions, 2,919 yards, 17 touchdowns
At the start of the new century, there weren't many receiving duos as good as Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey.
Both players recorded at least 100 receptions that year, a rather phenomenal feat when you really think about it. Smith is the greatest receiver in Broncos history and McCaffrey might be the second best. Both players were smart and knew the game of football better than their competition.
It was hard to decide on which of Smith and McCaffrey's seasons to put on the list, but this one stood out because of the sheer volume of catches by both players.
29. 2005 Arizona Cardinals
Impact Players: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson
Combined Statistics: 245 receptions, 3,243 yards, 18 touchdowns
When the Arizona Cardinals drafted Larry Fitzgerald in the 2004 NFL Draft, I believe every defensive coordinator was afraid.
It would be their second season together that Fitzgerald and Boldin actually began to dominate the NFL. They put up ridiculous numbers with their ridiculous talent. Boldin was as big and strong as any receiver in the league. No one had seen the type of talent that Fitzgerald had in years. When the Cardinals had a third option as good as Bryant Johnson, it was almost unfair to other teams.
It wasn't too long before Fitzgerald began to shine way too bright for Boldin's liking, but it was special to watch these two players play together.
28. 1994 Atlanta Falcons
Impact Players: Terance Mathis, Andre Rison and Ricky Sanders
Combined Statistics: 259 receptions, 3,029 yards, 20 touchdowns
We all remember how good Andre Rison was during the early 1990s, but few remember that Terance Mathis was actually the better receiver in 1994.
However, it didn't matter much to opposing teams who was better because they were too concerned with figuring out how to stop them. Mathis put up career numbers this season and Rison was as consistent as he was in past seasons. Ricky Sanders was at the end of his career, but he still put up impressive numbers as the third option.
The combination of Mathis and Rison was extremely dangerous, and they are often a forgotten duo in NFL history.
27. 1997 Oakland Raiders
Impact Players: Tim Brown and James Jett
Combined Statistics: 150 receptions, 2,212, 17 touchdowns
No receiver list would be complete without the incredible Tim Brown.
In 1997, Brown posted a career high in receptions and yards, but it was James Jett that found the end zone 12 times that season. Brown was a complete receiver who possessed all the tools you could ever want. On the other side of the field, Jett was a straight burner who used his great speed as a weapon. In fact, Jett was considered one of the fastest players in the NFL.
Had there been a third option in Oakland that put up legitimate numbers, this group would have been much higher on the list.
26. 1995 Minnesota Vikings
Impact Players: Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Qadry Ismail
Combined Statistics: 226 receptions, 3,315 yards, 29 touchdowns
There aren't many receivers in NFL history who had the type of hands Cris Carter had. I'm not sure about this, but I don't think Carter ever dropped a pass during his career.
Carter and Jake Reed were two of the top receivers in the NFL in 1995. Qadry Ismail made his living as a return man, but he was also a viable option as a receiver. Even without Ismail, Reed and Carter had enough talent to be nearly unstoppable. They could both catch, run and score as good as any receiver in the league.
This won't be the last time you will see Carter's or Reed's name on this list, as both players had long and productive careers. However, it will be the last time you'll see Ismail's name.
25. 2007 New England Patriots
Impact Players: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, Donte' Stallworth
Combined Statistics: 292 receptions, 3,814 yards, 39 touchdowns
When I first started putting this list together, I wanted to put this group of receivers much higher due to the incredible combined statistics they had.
Upon further review, Welker, Gaffney and Stallworth are all nice players, but only Moss is a Hall of Fame-caliber talent. The statistics are nice, but they came in a pass-happy offense where Tom Brady proved to be from another planet by the way he played. It was extremely fun to watch this group as they came so close to perfection.
Moss' 23 touchdown receptions that season is a record that I don't see being broken anytime soon.
24. 1991 Buffalo Bills
Impact Players: Andre Reed, James Lofton and Don Beebe
Combined Statistics: 170 receptions, 2,599 yards, 24 touchdowns
Didn't I tell you Buffalo would put another receiving corp on this list? They even made it into the top half.
James Lofton was just finishing up his Hall of Fame career, while Andre Reed was in the middle of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. They were a fantastic duo that propelled the Buffalo Bills to their-second straight Super Bowl.
Don Beebe was the unsung hero for the Bills extremely talented offense. Beebe would constantly make plays when Buffalo needed them.
It is a shame that Reed hasn't made it into the Hall of Fame yet, but my gut tells me the fifth time is the charm.
23. 1999 Minnesota Vikings
Impact Players: Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed
Combined Statistics: 214 receptions, 3,297 yards, 26 touchdowns
While it was hard to live up to the high expectations Randy Moss placed on himself after his unbelievable rookie season, his sophomore campaign was nearly as impressive.
During the late 1990s, there wasn't a more feared offense than the Minnesota Vikings. Carter was consistent as usual and Moss was the big-play guy. Many people seem to forget that Jake Reed was still on the team, and he was still extremely talented. These three players together gave defenses major fits when they took the field.
Carter, Moss and Reed were the three best receivers in Minnesota Viking history, and they all played together.
22. 2006 Indianapolis Colts
Impact Players: Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison
Combined Statistics: 181 receptions, 2,676 yards, 21 touchdowns
I fully believe that any receiver Peyton Manning would have thrown the ball to would have made this list. Fortunately for Wayne and Harrison, they were the ones who received the majority of Manning's passes.
The 2006 season was a passing of the torch season in Indianapolis. In previous seasons, Wayne was considered the second-best receiver to Harrison. But in this season, Wayne began to show he was close to overtaking Harrison as the best receiver on the team. Both players are great route runners and have great hands, and both players put up incredible statistics over the course of this season.
2006 was a special season in Indianapolis, as it was the first and only Super Bowl victory for Wayne and Harrison.
21. 1985 Seattle Seahawks
Impact Players: Steve Largent and Daryl Turner
Combined Statistics: 103 receptions, 1,957 yards, 19 touchdowns
It is unfortunate that Steve Largent never had better receivers to play with because 21st on this list seems too low for one of the best to ever play the game.
Constantly knocked for his "petite" size, Largent overcame adversity to put up Hall of Fame numbers. Largent had 79 receptions for 1,287 yards this season.
Where Turner was so effective was getting the ball in the end zone. Turner only had 670 yards the entire season, but he had 13 of the duo's 19 touchdowns.
Had Largent had the opportunity to play with a John Taylor or Mark Duper-type player during his career, he would easily have made the top 10 on this list. However, even with Daryl Turner, Largent almost cracks the top 20. That is how good Largent was.
20. 1994 Dallas Cowboys
Impact Players: Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper
Combined Statistics: 112 receptions, 2,062 yards, 14 touchdowns
Surprisingly, this is the only Dallas receiving corps to make this list.
Don't let the statistics fool you. Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper were two special talents in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys were a run-oriented team during the mid-90s and were led by the play of Emmitt Smith.
Even as the second option on offense, Irvin and Harper shined as a top duo in the league. Irvin was clearly the more talented player, but Harper was skilled and took advantage of opposing defenses honing in on Smith and Irvin.
If we were including tight ends on this list, Jay Novacek would have boosted this Cowboys' group much higher.
19. 1950 St. Louis Rams
Impact Players: Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, Tom Fears and Bob Boyd
Combined Statistics: 135 receptions, 2,023 yards, 18 touchdowns
This is the oldest trio of players on the list. To be honest, I don't really know much about them.
I know they put up some pretty astonishing statistics for playing back in 1950. I also know that "Crazylegs" Hirsch and Tom Fears are Hall of Fame members.
Those two factors were good enough for them to get into the top 20 on this list.
18. 1967 New York Jets
Impact Players: Don Maynard and George Sauer
Combined Statistics: 146 receptions, 2,623 yards, 16 touchdowns
When people talk about the top 10 receivers in NFL history, Don Maynard is generally included in that list.
This was a historic season for Maynard and another Jets legend, Joe Namath. During the 1967 season, Namath became the first player to throw for over 4,000 yards in a single season. Maynard and Sauer were the beneficiaries of that season, as both players collected well over 1,000 receiving yards. It was a career year for Sauer and one of many fantastic seasons for Maynard.
Considering there were only 14 games during the regular season back in 1967, Maynard, Sauer and Namath's statistics would be more like 167 receptions for 2,998 yards and 18 TDs if they had played more recently.
17. 1995 Detroit Lions
Impact Players: Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton
Combined Statistics: 275 receptions, 3,764 yards, 31 touchdowns
In 1997, Herman Moore set an NFL record for most receptions in a single season with 135. That record was broken by Marvin Harrison in 2002.
The sheer amount of volume in receptions, yards and touchdowns this trio put together in 1997 is simply amazing. Had this list been compiled based solely on statistics, this group would have easily been in the top five. However, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton never really had stellar careers in the NFL. Even Moore only made four Pro Bowls during his career.
I'm not trying to say this receiving corp doesn't belong on this list because during this season they somehow put it all together. I'm just saying that their statistics aren't consistent over the course of their entire careers.
16. 1991 San Francisco 49ers
Impact Players: Jerry Rice and John Taylor
Combined Statistics: 144 receptions, 2,217 yards, 23 touchdowns
Jerry Rice and John Taylor will be making a later appearance on this list. But in 1991 they were the 16th best receiving corp in NFL history.
We all know how good Rice was during his career. His incredible hands and route running is the stuff of legends.
But Taylor was no slouch as a player. Taylor is ofter overshadowed by Rice, but in 1991 he had over 1,000 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. He was the perfect "Robin" to Rice's "Batman."
The 1991 season was the last great season of Taylor. He never put up another 1,000-yard receiving season the rest of his career.
15. 2004 Indianapolis Colts
Impact Players: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley
Combined Statistics: 231 receptions, 3,400 yards, 37 TDs
This group of receivers was just ridiculously good. Once again, they benefited heavily from having Peyton Manning as their quarterback, but they were still incredible.
Harrison was in his prime in 2004. Wayne was just beginning to really figure out the game and really develop his talents. Stokley was a great third option. Together these three dominated the NFL. Manning had a career year and these three players benefited from Manning's 4,500 passing yards and 49 touchdowns.
This was a special group of receivers that had a nearly perfect season with Peyton Manning as their leader.
14. 2001 St. Louis Rams
Impact Players: Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Ricky Proehl
Combined Statistics: 185 receptions, 3,032 yards, 18 TDs
"The Greatest Show on Turf" would be much higher on this list if I was including running backs as part of the receiving corp. Marshall Faulk was one of the best receiving backs in NFL history and played a huge part in St. Louis' passing game.
Even without Faulk, Bruce, Holt and Proehl gave cornerbacks nightmares. Bruce and Holt are Hall of Fame players and Proehl was a valuable third wheel to the Rams. With Kurt Warner throwing for nearly 5,000 yards that season, it is easy to see how these three receivers were able to put up such great statistics.
If Faulk hadn't been on this team, those stats would be even higher.
13. 2001 Oakland Raiders
Impact Players: Tim Brown and Jerry Rice
Combined Statistics: 174 receptions, 2,304 yards, 18 TDs
Many think that when Jerry Rice left San Francisco his career faded into nothingness. However, he had a few extremely productive seasons in Oakland before he officially retired.
What more can be said about the duo of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. It is almost embarrassing that they are ranked this low on the list, but both players were old and almost finished in the NFL. Even though Rice was 39-years old and Brown was 35-years old, they were still two of the best receivers in the game.
Could you imagine if these two had teamed up earlier in their careers? My mind cannot even comprehend how great they would have been.
12. 1981 San Diego Chargers
Impact Players: Charlie Joiner and Wes Chandler
Combined Statistics: 122 receptions, 2,045 yards, 12 TDs
Wes Chandler only played 12 games with San Diego during the 1981 season, but in those 12 games, his impact was felt.
Joiner had been the star of the Chargers for a few years before Chandler came and joined the party in San Diego. Even though Joiner was in his mid-thirties, he was still considered a top receiver in the league. He was extremely consistent and durable. Chandler was a star in Green Bay and teamed with Joiner to form the top duo in the league.
While Joiner already has his name in the Hall of Fame, Wes Chandler is still waiting to be voted as a finalist.
11. 1966 Washington Redskins
Impact Players: Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell and Jerry Smith
Combined Statistics: 184 receptions, 2,710 yards, 27 TDs
The trio of Taylor, Mitchell and Smith was the second great trio in NFL history.
Taylor converted from running back to wide receiver and in his first year at the position, he led the league in receiving yards. Jerry Smith spent the majority of his career as a tight end, but during the 1966 season, he split time between tight end and split end. Smith was an incredible deep threat, especially for his size.
It was very uncommon to see three players put up these type of stats back in the 60's, so that makes this group all the more talented.
10. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers
Impact Players: Lynn Swann and John Stallworth
Combined Statistics: 102 receptions, 1,678 yards, 20 TDs
The statistics of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are pretty weak, but both players are Hall of Fame players and two of the best to ever play the game.
The aerial attack of Swann and Stallworth was the foundation of the Steelers offense. Although, the defense gets the majority of the credit for the numerous Super Bowls in the 1970's, Swann and Stallworth played their part in each victory. Swann was known for his aerobatic catches and Stallworth was a great deep threat for quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
Both Swann and Stallworth were great teammates and are legends of the NFL.
9. 1986 Miami Dolphins
Impact Players: Mark Clayton, Mark Duper and Nat Moore
Combined Statistics: 165 receptions, 2,894 yards, 28 TDs
Nat Moore split his time as a running back and wide receiver, but he joins Mark Clayton and Mark Duper on this list as a wide receiver.
The "Marks Brothers" were extremely talented receivers. They both possessed great hands and the ability to stretch the field. Clayton was the favorite target of Dan Marino and is one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in NFL history. Clayton still holds numerous Dolphin records as a receiver.
This was the second best season in "Marks Brothers" history, the best season will appear later on this list.
8. 1998 Minnesota Vikings
Impact Players: Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed
Combined Statistics: 181 receptions, 2,798 yards, 33 TDs
In 1998, Randy Moss put together the most prolific rookie season by a wide receiver ever. He did things in his rookie year that few players will do in a single season over the course of their career.
Not only did Moss, Carter and Reed have a spectacular season, but the Minnesota Vikings went 15-1 and sent numerous NFL records on offense. Moss' 17 touchdowns in still a rookie record and it was unbelievable to watch him dominant the league so early in his career. Carter and Reed were their usual, consistent selves while they took a back seat to Moss.
The Vikings were favorites to win the Super Bowl, but had a heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game.
7. 1988 Washington Redskins
Impact Players: Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders
Combined Statistics: 204 receptions, 2,986 yards, 24 TDs
Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders became the first trio of wide receivers to each post 1,000 yards in a season.
Monk was the star of the group, but Clark and Sanders would have been the top receiver on nearly any other NFL team. The fact that all three of these players were on the same team was crazy. It would almost be like having Andre Johnson, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne on the same team today.
Monk, Clark and Sanders ushered in a new era in NFL football where three talented receivers were all able to put up huge statistics.
6. 1984 Miami Dolphins
Impact Players: Mark Clayton, Mark Duper and Nat Moore
Combined Statistics: 187 receptions, 3,268 yards, 32 TDs
The 1984 season was a great season for Dan Marino and Mark Clayton and Mark Duper were the ones who caught the majority of his passes.
When Marino threw for over 5,000 yards and 48 touchdowns in 1984, it was a given that his two favorite targets, Duper and Clayton, would get the majority of the yards and touchdowns. Once again Clayton was the favorite target, but Duper was not far behind. Nat Moore once again split time as a running back and a wide receiver and was a Reggie Bush type player.
This season was placed Marino on a different level from other quarterbacks and it was because of the greatness of the "Marks Brothers" and Nat Moore that it was possible.
5. 1976 Oakland Raiders
Impact Players: Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch
Combined Statistics: 89 receptions, 1,662 yards, 19 TDs
Even though Fred Biletnikoff was near the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1976, he was still a viable option in Oakland's pass game.
Cliff Branch had taken over Biletnikoff's role as the star receiver on the team. Tight end Dave Casper was a Hall of Fame tight end and made Branch and Biletnikoff that much better. Both Branch and Biletnikoff could turn any catch into a touchdown.
Cliff Branch was a semi-finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2010. He has yet to be a finalist.
4. 1980 San Diego Chargers
Impact Players: Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson
Combined Statistics: 153 receptions, 2,348 yards, 17 TDs
If the tight end was part of this list, Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow would be at the top spot. Winslow was one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game.
However, tight ends aren't part of the list and Joiner and Jefferson will have to settle for fourth best. We know about how great Joiner was, but Jefferson was quite the player in his own right. He had incredible speed and great body control. These factors, plus his great catching ability, made Jefferson extremely exciting to watch.
Joiner and Jefferson were part of an offense that revolutionized the game of football known as "Air Coryell".
3. 1989 San Francisco 49ers
Impact Players: Jerry Rice and John Taylor
Combined Statistics: 142 receptions, 2,560 yards, 27 TDs
Third place seems like a much more fitting place for the greatest to ever play the game.
Both Rice and Taylor were in the primes during the 1989 season. Joe Montana led the offense, but Rice was clearly the best player on the team. He had over 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns over the course of the year. Taylor also contributed to the offense, but not nearly as much as Rice.
Montana and Rice as the greatest quarterback/receiver tandem in NFL history and in 1989, Rice was at the top of his game.
2. 1989 Washington Redskins
Impact Players: Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders
Combined Statistics: 245 receptions, 3,553 yards, 21 TDs
While the 1988 season was very special for the Washington Redskins trio of Monk, Clark and Sanders, 1989 was even better.
In fact, their season was so good that they nearly became the best receiving corps in NFL history. However, second place isn't bad at all and it is a true testament to the talents of these three players. Individually, each player is fantastic, but as a group, they forced each other to play at a higher level.
These three players were known as "The Posse". They are the second best receiving corps in NFL history.
1. 2000 St. Louis Rams
Impact Players: Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl
Combined Statistics: 253 receptions, 4,281 yards, 23 TDs
Here is your greatest receiving corps in NFL history. Holt, Bruce, Hakim and Proehl combined to create an unstoppable force that has never been matched.
As part of "The Greatest Show on Turf", these four players were so exciting to watch during the 2000 season. Holt and Bruce were once again two of the top receivers in the league. Proehl was his usual, consistent self, but the wild card was Az-Zahir Hakim. His deep threat ability was truly unique during the 2000 season. Watching this group of receivers was like watching perfection right before your eyes. They played so well together that if a defense tried to take away the deep ball, they would just beat you with short passes. If you played too tight of coverage to take away the short passes, they would just burn you with deep passes. They were just unstoppable.
I'm not sure if we will ever see the type of production that this receiving corp had again.