NFL Top 5 Wide Receivers All-Time
This WILL be an exhaustive list. Yes, yes, yes, the statistic hacks will come with the Post-1978 16-Game season argument, but I have to go with my gut on these. We’re talking Top 5 here, so there really isn’t much difference between some of these guys. Position on the hierarchy can be discussed.
1. Jerry Rice (1985-2004).
With apologies to Randy Moss, whose work ethic is not even in the same novel as Jerry Rice’s — this guy is beyond “great”. All the records he has are unfathomable. The San Francisco 49ers of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s were a machine offensively every year. Their “West Coast Offense” was nearly impossible to stop, with two highly accurate QBs to get him the ball.
He only ran a 4.68/40 at his fastest, but when you study route-running and work on every aspect of the game as he did, you deserve those records — the same records Randy Moss COULD break if he cared enough to push himself.
2. Cris Carter (1987-2002).
All he does? CATCH TOUCHDOWNS.
Well, when he was with the Eagles, that was true in 1989. I hated him then. The Iggles always had stealth defenses back then and Randall Cunningham scared the life outta me, even though we had L.T.
But once Anthony Carter moved on from Minnesota after Buddy Ryan traded Carter there, he had 10 straight (aside from the injuries here and there) great seasons. Excellent body control, oven mitts for hands and tactician as a route runner are what put him here.
3. Randy Moss (1998-Present).
Randy can be a turkey at times. You imagine where his numbers would be without the 2005 and 2006 waste of seasons in Oakland, and his 2004 season in Minnesota, along with a thus-far wasteful 2010 season. Jerry Rice never had wasteful seasons (except when Warren Sapp ended his nearly-entire 1997 season). Randy takes plays off, pays fines by the amount of some peoples’ annual salaries — and in “straight cash, homie”. But he is the best WR ever if he had Rice’s work ethic. I have seen him LITERALLY go from 0-60 on the football field and ZOOM past everyone on defense in the process. He ran a 4.25/40 standing 6’4″ and 205 lbs. UNREAL. He still runs a 4.34/40. Patriots fans act like he is a 4.8/40 guy now. I could’ve sworn he effortlessly ran past Darrelle Revis earlier in the 2010 season — he, who himself runs a 4.4/40.
But as Randy himself says “haters gon’ hate”.
4. Marvin Harrison (1996-2008*).
* – not officially retired.
143 catches in one season. Do I even NEED to say anything more?
5. Art Monk (1980-1995).
A lot of these young heads won’t agree. But I watched most of his career. He wasn’t flashy like Rickey Sanders and Gary Clark, but I swear I can’t remember him EVER dropping a pass. Consistency rules in my book. Art Monk epitomizes that trait.
There are guys who have more catches and touchdowns, but these are my CURRENT Top 5. There are some guys on the cusp who can eventually get there.
Terrell Owens (1996-Present).
Michael Irvin (1988-1999).
Lance Alworth (1962-1972).
Steve Largent (1976-1989).
Tim Brown (1988-2004).
Don Maynard (1958-1973).
James Lofton (1978-1993).
Henry Ellard (1983-1998).
Jimmy Smith (1992-2005).
Isaac Bruce (1994-2009).
Andre Reed (1985-2000).
Raymond Berry (1955-1967).
Charlie Joiner (1969-1986).
Charley Taylor (1964-1977).
STERLING SHARPE (1988-1994)***.
***– I swear if Sterling Sharpe hadn’t gotten that stinger… that was one of the most innocuous-looking career ending injuries ever. I was watching the game. He just stood there wincing after getting hit. You didn’t think that he would never play again. Sterling could have EASILY gotten 1,500 catches by the end of his career. He had almost 600 in 7 seasons, and entering one of the most pass-happy eras of the NFL at the time (1995-2002).