By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on June 20, 2014
As with any "Greatest of All Time" lists, they are constantly changing and evolving. Current players might knock out one of the greats who was previously among the top 10. Receivers like Calvin Johnson (pictured), Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and others are starting to build up their resumes with the hopes that they will eventually be among this great class. This ranking is my top 10 wide receivers of all time. Make your own list if you wish.
In just seven seasons, Calvin Johnson has piled up 572 catches for 9,328 yards and 66 touchdowns. He is a one-man wrecking crew that demands double- and even sometimes triple-teams. In 2012, his 122-catch, 1,964-yard season broke Jerry Rice's single-season yardage record. A few more good seasons and some postseason success will vault Johnson up this list down the road.
All Cris Carter did in the NFL was catch touchdowns. After his life spiraled out of control, Carter went on to become one of the best receivers in recent memory. He had 1,101 catches for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns. His yards per catch average is not great, but what he lacks in that, he made up for in touchdowns and big catches. Carter finally was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 after five-consecutive years as a finalist.
In 2002, Marvin Harrison caught an NFL record 143 catches for 1,722 yards and 11 touchdowns. No one has gotten any closer than 20 catches to his mark. Harrison amassed 1,102 career catches for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. He combined with Peyton Manning to become one of the most deadly passing combinations ever. Harrison won a Super Bowl in 2006 and was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Also known as "The Playmaker," Michael Irvin was the leader of the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty in the 1990s. He recorded seven 1,000-yard seasons in his career. Despite only having 750 catches for just under 12,000 yards with 65 TDs, his name could be questioned due to early retirement, but his leadership and playmaking ability is worthy of a top-10 selection. Irvin was also a five-time Pro Bowler and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Throughout his 13-year career with the Baltimore Colts, Raymond Berry was Johnny Unitas' No. 1 target in the passing game, as both a sure-handed receiver and playmaker. Berry came up big when it mattered most, especially in the 1958 NFL Championship game with 12 receptions for 178 yards. He finished his career with 631 receptions for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns. Berry was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.
Randy Moss came into the NFL like a seasoned veteran and wrecked the NFL. Moss caught an NFL rookie-record 17 TDs in 1998. He had 982 catches for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns, primarily with Minnesota and New England. In New England's perfect 2007 regular season, he caught an NFL-record 23 TDs in one season. Moss was also a six-time Pro Bowler and a four-time First-Team All-Pro in his career.
In the wide open offenses in the AFL, San Diego's Lance Alworth became one of the best offensive players of all time. In his first six years, Alworth had 384 catches for 7,747 yards and 70 touchdowns. Teamed with John Hadl, the Chargers had one of the best passing combinations in NFL history. He went on to win a Super Bowl in 1971 with the Dallas Cowboys. Alworth was also a seven-time Pro Bowler and a six-time First-Team All-Pro.
In 14 seasons, all with Seattle, Steve Largent had 819 catches for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns, all without an elite QB. Largent was the team's first true superstar and helped the franchise go from expansion team in 1976 to contenders in 1983. He had eight 1,000-yard seasons and had three seasons with 10 or more touchdowns. Largent was a seven-time Pro Bowler and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995.
Long before the NFL turned into a passing league, Green Bay's Don Hutson set the standard for wide receiver play. In the 1930s and 40s, Hutson smoked his competition at the position. He led the NFL in receiving yards seven times, catches eight times and touchdowns eight times. Hutson's 1942 season was one of the best ever with 74 catches for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and was a Hall of Famer in 1963.
Jerry Rice is not just the greatest wide receiver who ever played, but probably the greatest player in NFL history. Rice holds the records for most career receptions, consecutive games with a reception and most touchdowns in a career among other records. He also came through in the playoffs, winning three Super Bowls with the 49ers and reaching Super Bowl 37 with the Raiders. Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010.
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