NFL Power Rankings 2014: The Top 20 WRs After Preseason Week 3

NFL Power Rankings 2014: Top 20 WRs After Preseason Week 3

WR Larry Fitzgerald
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After Calvin Johnson posted an historic year in 2012, accumulating an NFL record 1,964 receiving yards in a single season, the long time debate for "Best NFL Wide Receiver" came to a close temporarily. Although Johnson did not lead the league in receiving or touchdowns last year, he is still undoubtedly the best receiver in the game. However, the question of who stands behind him is a question yet to be answered.

20. Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns wide receiver
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20. Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns wide receiver
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Josh Gordon took the NFL by surprise in 2013, leading the league in receiving yards despite being suspended for the first two games of the season. In fact, the 1,646 yards he accumulated ranked 10th all-time in yards by a receiver in a single season. Gordon recorded almost 120 yards per game to achieve this feat; however, he has been suspended for the entire 2014 season for repeated drug violations, thus keeping him this far down on the list.

19. Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers wide receiver
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19. Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers wide receiver
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Jordy Nelson is perhaps the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. Most lists that rank top-tier wide receivers leave Nelson off entirely, disregarding him as a product of Aaron Rodgers. However, Nelson's game tape suggests otherwise; Nelson shows great route-running skills and makes numerous sideline grabs. Sure he drops a few balls, but Nelson is quietly emerging as a go-to receiver in Green Bay.

18. Roddy White

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver
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18. Roddy White

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver
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In 2013, Roddy White posted his worst statistical season since becoming a full-time NFL starter in 2007. White is a true possession receiver who excels in route running; he can make some big plays, but he is not a legitimate deep threat. White failed to create separation early in the 2013 season, which was mostly due to injury. If he can stay healthy this season, White will definitely have better production and move up on this list.

17. DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins wide receiver
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17. DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins wide receiver
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DeSean Jackson may not be the most physically gifted wide receiver in the NFL, but he has made up for that with his electrifying playmaking ability. Jackson is a burner; he runs great routes and has the speed to blow by opposing corners and safeties. Jackson's post-catch production and open field moves are rivaled by few other NFL receivers. The Washington Redskins were smart to sign Jackson; they now have a deep threat that few teams can rival.

16. Eric Decker

Eric Decker, New York Jets wide receiver
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16. Eric Decker

Eric Decker, New York Jets wide receiver
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Eric Decker has become a top-tier No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL during his tenure with the Broncos. As he moves to New York, people will start to question whether all of Decker's production was a result of Peyton Manning. Decker is a great route runner with decent speed and good hands, but he doesn't have the speed to do much after the catch. Decker looks to show why he was paid like a No. 1 receiver during his first season in New York.

15. Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz, New York Giants wide receiver
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15. Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz, New York Giants wide receiver
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Victor Cruz has quickly emerged as a consistent, dynamic pass catcher for the New York Giants. Cruz has great hands, and he has a dynamic route-running ability. Although many view him as a slot receiver, Cruz refuses to accept this; Cruz, although deadly on short crossing routes, has become a threat on the outside, burning corners deep. Cruz is already a true No. 1 wide receiver, and he looks to build on his success this year in New York.

14. Wes Welker

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos wide receiver
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14. Wes Welker

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos wide receiver
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Wes Welker has been a beneficiary of Hall of Fame quarterbacking since being traded to the New England Patriots in 2007 and signing with the Denver Broncos in 2013. A current Bronco, Welker actually has a fairly small catching radius, but he makes up for it with a tremendous route-running ability. Although he didn't have a great statistical year in 2013, Welker is still the NFL's best slot receiver.

13. Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver
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13. Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver
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Although 35 years old, Reggie Wayne is still a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the NFL. While he's on the decline and lacks the speed that he used to show, Wayne still displays consistent hands and tremendous route running ability. As Hakeem Nicks joins the Colts and T.Y. Hilton tries to emerge as a deep threat, look for Wayne to mentor them while simultaneously competing for playing time. Barring injury, Wayne should have another productive year.

12. Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver
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12. Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver
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In the 2013 season, Vincent Jackson showed that he can be productive despite playing with Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon at quarterback. Jackson's freakish size and athleticism are physical talents that few other NFL receivers can match. Although he doesn't have the speed to do much after the catch, Jackson uses his huge frame and his massive reach to his advantage, getting downfield fast enough to stretch the defense.

11. Anquan Boldin

Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver
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11. Anquan Boldin

Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver
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During his time with the Cardinals, Anquan Boldin set numerous NFL records and franchise records. After being traded to the Ravens, Boldin won a Super Bowl. Since being traded to the 49ers, Boldin has still showed success, and he is on pace to become one of the greatest NFL receivers of all time. Boldin's greatest asset is his ability to make big catches in traffic and his consistent hands when it matters most.

10. Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos wide receiver
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10. Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos wide receiver
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Demaryius Thomas, like Eric Decker and Wes Welker, has benefitted from the quarterbacking of a future first ballot Hall-of-Famer in Peyton Manning. Thomas' frame, route-running, speed and hands are all well above average for an NFL receiver. He will surely be a top-5 receiver in no time, but he is not in the top 5 on this list simply because of the fact that he doesn't have one attribute that stands out above the others.

9. Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans wide receiver
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9. Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans wide receiver
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As of now, Andre Johnson is arguably the greatest Houston Texan of all time. Like Demaryius Thomas, Johnson doesn't have one characteristic that stands out above the rest, but he is a solid receiver nonetheless. Although last season was an uncharacteristically mediocre season, Johnson has been able put up big numbers essentially every year despite playing with mediocre quarterbacks through his entire career. Johnson could be a Hall of Famer soon.

8. Julio Jones

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver
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8. Julio Jones

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver
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Julio Jones was on pace for a record-breaking season in 2013 before getting injured yet again. Jones has the upside to be a top-3 receiver in the league, but he has major durability issues. Jones has spectacular size and speed, while showing good hands and good route-running abilities; his combination of size and speed is very rare for an NFL receiver. Jones, Roddy White and Matt Ryan could make Falcons a dark horse in the NFC this season.

7. Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver
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7. Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver
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Dez Bryant, like many other top wide receivers, is a physical specimen. His long arms and big hands allow him to catch almost any pass thrown his way. Bryant's problem is unique among most top receivers in his lack of concentration. Bryant plays well when focused, but he too often drops easy passes and misses assignments in the running game. Bryant has the physical gifts to be elite; he just has to play smarter to get there.

6. Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver
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6. Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver
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Antonio Brown is very small for a top-tier wide receiver, but he makes up for his lack of size with great hands, route running and speed. Like Demaryius Thomas and Andre Johnson, Brown doesn't have one characteristic that stands out or defines his abilities as a receiver, but he incorporates all of his traits together in order to make an impact. Brown was second in the league in receptions in 2013, and he scored eight touchdowns as well.

5. Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears wide receiver
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5. Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears wide receiver
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Alshon Jeffery was a human highlight reel last season, making spectacular catches in almost every game while maintaining production. Entering his third NFL season, Jeffery has already become a top-five wide receiver in the league due to his playmaking ability and production; he put up 1,421 receiving yards last season while catching seven touchdowns. Jeffery has the potential to become a top-3 receiver or even better if he keeps improving.

4. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver
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4. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver
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Larry Fitzgerald has been perhaps the best receiver in the 21st century. Fitzgerald has the best hands in football; he demonstrated this by playing all 16 games in 2013 while only dropping one pass. Although Fitzgerald's numbers don't match those of many top-10 receivers, his consistency and technicality as a receiver are unmatched. Fitzgerald will be a very probable Hall of Fame candidate as soon as he becomes eligible.

3. Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears wide receiver
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3. Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears wide receiver
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Brandon Marshall has become an elite receiver in the NFL, posting seasons of at least 1,200 receiving yards on three different teams. However, Marshall struggled with drops in 2013 with 15. Marshall makes up for his lack of physical abilities with big plays in the red zone, great route running and toughness. Combined with Alshon Jeffery, Marshall helps to form the NFL's best receiving tandem; the two look to become even better in 2015.

2. A.J. Green

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver
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2. A.J. Green

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver
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Green, like Marshall, struggled with drops last season, dropping 11 passes. Even though he is targeted very frequently, he needs to work on his hands if he wants to become the NFL's best receiver. Green is known for consistency, catching 11 touchdown passes in each of the past two seasons. A.J. Green has the potential to become the best receiver in the NFL; he just needs to make the most of his talent.

1. Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions wide receiver
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1. Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions wide receiver
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Calvin Johnson is the total package; he boasts both incredible physical and mental attributes that make him the premier receiver in the NFL. Johnson is incredibly productive, as he recorded 1,964 receiving yards in the 2012 season. He was voted the second best player in the NFL's "Top 100 Players" list. At 28 years old, it will be a long time until Johnson can no longer call himself the best receiver in the NFL.

Connor Howe is a Cincinnati Bengals writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @CHoweSports, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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