Top 5 NFL Wide Receivers

This was a tough topic to write about. In the last few years, so many excellent receivers have come into the NFL and been productive. Is it fair to rank them among the best in the game when they have only produced for a couple of years, if that? Take Odell Beckham Jr. for example. As a rookie in 2014, he had 91 receptions for 1305 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he still hasn’t developed the route running skills that would make him among the top five or six receivers. Like any list, the rankings are subjective, and there will many who disagree, but then, what else is there to do while we wait for training camps to open in the next three to four weeks? Calvin Johnson – Detroit I don’t think there is a receiver in the game who worries defensive coordinators more than “Megatron”. While injuries have taken their toll and he may not be quite what he used to be, he is still extremely dangerous and can control a game. He has a combination of size, speed, and power that is second to none. He also possesses great hands and outstanding ability to adjust to the ball and make the circus catch. After the catch, he is like a powerful running back in that he is strong and instinctive and can make defenders miss in space. If you had to pick a receiver to add to your team, I feel the odds-on favorite would be Johnson. Dez Bryant – Dallas Bryant has a combination of size, speed and power that is rare. While listed as being 6’2 – 220, he plays bigger because of his length and strength. Guys like Johnson and Bryant are so good, they are open even when they are covered closely. Bryant has been very consistent the last three seasons, averaging better than 90 receptions and 1300 yards in each of those years. To go along with that production, he has also scored 41 times. What I like about Bryant on the field is his competitive nature. He wants the ball, he wants to make big plays, and when he gets the opportunity, he produces. Like Johnson, he uses his size to his advantage, and he’s very difficult to cover one-on-one. A.J. Green – Cincinnati As productive as Green has been in his four years in the league, if it weren’t for injuries, he would have even better numbers. In his four seasons, he has had 329 receptions for 4874 yards and 35 touchdowns. He has also missed an average of one game per year. Green is tall, long, fast, and very graceful. He is very smooth and makes things look easy. He is a superb route runner with exceptional hands and ability to adjust to the ball. After the catch, he is a good, but not a great runner, but he absolutely gets more than is just there. With his size, hands, and route running ability, he has to be accounted for by defenses and is difficult to cover one-on-one. Being that he will only be 27 years old when the season starts, he will still get better with added experience. That’s scary! Julio Jones – Atlanta Back in January of 2011 while I was flying home from the Senior Bowl, I wrote an article comparing Julio Jones to A.J. Green. At that time, I figured they both would be top 10 receivers in the 2011 draft (they were) and both would be excellent NFL receivers. I also said that if I had to pick between the two, I would take Jones first, because he was a more physical type player. That is just my preference when scouting receivers. Four years later, the two are still neck and neck in my rankings, and both are just scratching the surface as to how good they will become. Because of injury, Jones hasn’t put up the numbers that the others have had, but he still has damn good production. Despite missing 11 games in 2013 and three games as a rookie in 2011, Jones has 278 receptions for 4,330 yards and 26 touchdowns. Like Green, Jones has only scratched the surface of how good he will eventually become. Having a quarterback like Matt Ryan doesn’t hurt things either. Early in his career, Jones had to play second fiddle to Roddy White, but that is no longer the case. While White is still in Atlanta, Jones is clearly the number one target. Demaryius Thomas – Denver For this final spot on my top five, I got down to Thomas and Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson keeps getting better and is Aaron Rodgers's go-to guy, but I just don’t think he has the natural talent of Thomas. When Thomas came out of Georgia Tech, he was very raw. He did not play in a passing offense, and his route running was average. He had rare traits that needed to be developed. It’s a credit to Thomas that he has the football character that he does and worked hard to become a top receiver in the league. Over the last three seasons, he has become special. In the last three seasons, Thomas has 297 receptions for 4483 yards and 35 touchdowns. He is a dangerous deep threat, and like the others, he knows how to use his size, strength, and power to his advantage. At 27 years of age, Thomas still will get much better, and in another year or two, he may top this list. He may have more raw talent than any other receiver on this list other than Megatron. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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