The quarterbacks are the golden boys but these guys are the box office stars.
There are few – if any – more exciting things in sport than seeing an athletic wide receiver making ridiculous acrobatic moves to catch the seemingly uncatchable pass.
In an era of ‘grass basketball’ where so many teams are looking to score heavily and move the ball through the air, wide receivers are vital to the chances of a team’s success.
Even this generation’s dominant team, New England, have had a vast array of star wide outs with the ability to get open, catch the rock (admittedly from the best QB ever) then make a move to gain chunk yards or score touchdowns.
Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman have all accomplished great things as a part of the Patriots dynasty.
Entering the 2019/20 season, we are again blessed with a few handfuls of elite receivers. Some benefit from great quarterback play, some get busy thanks to nifty offensive opportunities and some are so amazing they can make plays no matter what the situation.
Here are my Top 10 Wide Receivers entering the season;
1 JULIO JONES (Atlanta)
Jones is the perfect receiver – powerful, tough, physical and without any of the occasional antics that come with big time wideouts. Coming out of Alabama, Jones honed his craft behind Roddy White but has since developed into the ultimate WR.
He led the league last season for yards (1,677) and overcome some recent TD struggles to find the paint eight times. He was the only receiver to average more than 100-yards per game and 80 of his receptions accounted for first downs.
In a system built around an aerial attack, only injury can derail Julio’s run towards the Hall of Fame… unless he’s already there.
2 ANTONIO BROWN (Oakland)
IF you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know Brown comes with his fair share of baggage and to be honest, it’s probably the only thing stopping him from being the unanimous No. 1 WR.
Brown’s route running is incredible – and unmatched by anyone. He’s peeled off six straight seasons with 100+ receptions and only once since 2014 has he dipped below double-figures for touchdowns on a season.
Brown’s stay in Oakland will be unmissable TV, as evidenced by his first few weeks in the silver and black. Hot air balloons, frost-bitten feet, illegal helmets and retirement threats… what next ?
3 DEANDRE HOPKINS (Houston)
Hopkins is not the vertical threat that most typical jet receivers are but this man has the safest and most dominant hands in the game.
Hopkins owns 24 touchdowns in his past 31 games and topped 1,500 yards for the second time in his career last season.
The amazing statistic on the former Clemson stud… he never dropped a single pass in 2018. He’s money!
4 ODELL BECKHAM JR (Cleveland)
The talent is undeniable but where exactly is Odell Beckham Jr at in his career ? He exploded onto the scene from LSU and instantly became must-see TV in New York. Injury has stalled some of his growth but when on the field – and fully engaged – Beckham is basically uncoverable. His rookie season produced 1,300 yards and a dozen TD and he has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each season except 2017 when he fractured his ankle. His move to Cleveland is expected to reignite his flame with Baker Mayfield tossing him the rock. College team mate Jarvis Landry should help keep Beckham on task and therefore on point.
5 MIKE EVANS (Tampa Bay)
Some may think Evans is too high. I think he continually gets it done and hangs with the elite receivers despite messy situations at QB in Tampa.
Since entering from Texas A&M, Evans has topped 1k yards in all five of his NFL seasons and amassed a career-best 1,524 last year. His 17.7 yards per catch also rates among the very best in the game. With more sturdy play from Jameis Winston under new coach Bruce Arians, Evans could raise his game even further.
6 MICHAEL THOMAS (New Orleans)
Mike Thomas was bound for stardom wherever he landed in the NFL but boy does having Drew Brees and Sean Payton sure help you along as a young wideout.
Thomas’ opening three seasons have produced almost 4,000 yards and he’s hauled in 23 scores. Thomas has 321 catches to date, a record for any player through their opening three seasons.
7 DAVANTE ADAMS (Green Bay)
For a couple of seasons, Adams was behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the Packers receiving ranks. Now, Adams is Rodgers first, second and third preference.
Adams has long been a TD threat but last season he added 111 catches and 1,386 yards to his 13 trips to the end zone.
Adams excels on third down and in the red zone – two areas all receivers strive to be great in.
8 TYREEK HILL (Kansas City)
Like many NFL receivers, Hill has serious speed. Likely world class IF he put his mind to athletics but unlike most, Hill translates his speed into yards and touchdowns.
His route-running has grown every year and now there’s not a snap that Hill is not a threat in. Having Patrick Mahomes helps, but Hill is often the one stretching the defence making things easier for the QB and his other weapons.
In 2018, ‘The Cheetah’ caught 12 touchdowns and had nearly 1,500 yards.
Did I mention he can also get rolling on the ground and as a punt returner !?!
9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER (Pittsburgh)
JuJu developed into a legit weapon whilst Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were still with the Steelers. With them both now gone, Smith-Schuster has the opportunity to blossom into one of the top WR in football.
Last season was a large one as a sophomore amassing 111 catches, 1,426 yards and seven TD. His explosiveness is evident with a 97-yard TD in 2017 and a 97-yard TD in 2018.
10 AJ GREEN (Cincinnati)
Green has become the veteran of this list but the young bucks still have some work to do to surpass the former Georgia Bulldog’s resume.
Green has almost 9,000 yards in eight seasons, some riddled with injury and has made his way to seven Pro Bowls.
He’s currently grounded with an ankle complaint and any more injuries will certainly see others knocking on the door of the top 10.
And for those knocking Green (Tom Lynch, Rory Laird, Charles Cameron), it’s my list so back up!
Most Unlucky: Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, TY Hilton, Julian Edelman.