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30 Greatest Wide Receivers Ever – Ranked



Wide receivers are an invaluable asset to every NFL franchise, but you just never know when you’ve landed a legendary one until it happens. Everyone loves a fantastic reception, and these guys had plenty of those. With swift footwork and hands like glue, these receivers were scoring machines.
These receivers made secondaries pay with their raw talent and speed, redefining the aerial attack and engraving themselves in record books and Lombardi trophies alike. While many play the position, few reach an elite level, so we’ve decided to rank the all-time deadliest wideouts the NFL has ever seen.

30. Art Monk

The Washington Football Team had a stellar wideout in Art Monk, who converted more than two-thirds of his career 888 receptions for first downs. Though he was the all-time leader in receptions with 940 when he retired in 1992, he’s now been pushed to 20th, but Monk was still a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, in addition to holding the reception title in 1984.

29. Steve Smith Sr.

One of the best stats is that Steve Smith Sr. is the first NFL player to be under six feet tall and record 1,000 receptions. He’s also the Panthers all-time leader in touchdowns, receptions, and receiving yards. But he was a dual threat, and finished 7th in all-purpose yards when he retired, as well as near the top of many other all-time receiving categories. The five-time Pro Bowler also led all receiving categories in 2005.

28. Andre Reed

Andre Reed was a force for the Bills in their most hopeful years, but unfortunately he was unable to win it all, although he is ranked high in most Super Bowl receiving categories. At the time of retirement, Reed has the second-most catches ever with 951, but sits 18th these days. Regardless, the Hall of Famer had four 1,000-yard seasons and made it to seven Pro Bowls.

27. Marvin Harrison

Marvin Harrison was one of the most productive WRs in NFL history, and that’s largely thanks to Peyton Manning being his QB. The duo hold the records for most completed passes, yards, and TDs for a pair, and on his own, Harrison is ninth all time in both receptions and touchdowns. The Super Bowl champ is also a Hall of Famer due to his numerous years of league dominance.

26. Don Maynard

Joe Namath may have been the superstar of Super Bowl III, but Maynard was his main wideout catching all the balls. He caught 633 passes for 11,834 yards over the course of his career, and had his number 13 retired for the Jets, as at the time, he was probably the best receiver in the game.

25. Steve Largent

Largent was one of the best hands receivers of the ‘80s, and he certainly earned the praise he received. The three-time All-Pro led the league in receiving yards twice, and finished his strong career with 819 receptions, 13,089 yards, and an even 100 TDs. He was easily voted to the 1980s All-Decade team and enshrined in the Hall of Fame for his efforts.

24. Dante Lavelli

The Cleveland Browns were thankful for Lavelli’s contributions over his decade-long span, where he helped lead them to three NFL championships in the ‘40s-’50s. The most staggering stat, though, was the fact that 1 in every 6 of his receptions went for a touchdown. How’s that for productivity? His 386 catches for 6,488 yards and 62 TDs were ahead of his time.

23. Charlie Joiner

By the time he joined the Chargers, Charlie Joiner had already established himself as an elite wideout. His consistency made him a reliable target, totaling 12,146 receiving yards over the course of his career. In addition to his All-Pro nomination and three Pro Bowls, he also racked up 65 total touchdowns and landed in Canton.

22. Rod Smith

Smith may not be a Hall of Famer yet, but his time will come. The two-time Super Bowl champion with the Broncos was a 13-year stud who remained loyal to Denver. Rod Smith was a two-time All-Pro who finished his career with 11,389 receiving yards on 849 catches, resulting in 68 touchdowns.

21. Michael Irvin

At his peak, there was no more polarizing receiver than Michael Irvin, and he set a precedent for young wideouts to come. He was a huge reason the Cowboys won three Super Bowls during his tenure, and his five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro nominations backed it up. His 750 career receptions for 11,904 yards and 65 TDs landed him on the 1990s All-Decade team, and of course Hall of Fame.

20. Isaac Bruce

Part of “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Bruce’s explosive abilities made him a menace in the secondary. He was a scoring machine, finishing his career with 15,208 yards and 91 touchdowns on his way to four Pro Bowls and a lone NFL title. To say he stretched the field is an understatement.

19. Drew Pearson

#88 for the Cowboys before it became cool, Pearson brought honor to the number for 11 exclusive seasons in Dallas. He was a three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominee, and was voted to the ‘70s All-Decade NFL team, in addition to winning one championship. He finished his career with 7,822 yards, with 48 balls caught for TDs.

18. Calvin Johnson

“Megatron” was a sight to behold in his 11 NFL seasons. No one’s size, speed and hands had ever been so lethal, and had he not played in Detroit, his career may have many more accolades. He started all but five of his 135 games, and still holds the single-season NFL receiving record with 1,964 yards. His 86.1 yards per game also ranks third all-time, basically cementing him as a sure-fire future Hall of Famer.

17. Tom Fears

Tom Fears may have been ahead of most people’s time, but the legendary Rams receiver truly helped evolve the passing game. He notched 5,397 receiving yards from 1948-1956, a time largely when running the ball was the main focus. His 38 TDs were something to marvel at the time, and his championship and All-Pro status made him one of the first receivers in the Hall.

16. Andre Johnson

One of the most feared downfield threats ever, Johnson is another receiver who likely would’ve been higher on the list if he’d played for a more successful team. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls, named All-Pro twice, and compiled 70 TDs and 14,185 receiving yards in 14 seasons. The Texans were a new franchise with lots of struggles, but Johnson was a beaming bright spot.

15. Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch

“Crazy Legs” played in a period so long ago, some wouldn’t even remember the Chicago Rockets. However, he was a record-breaker, smashing multiple single season milestones for catches, yards, and touchdowns. His 7,029 total yards and 60 TDs were all-time bests for receivers back then, and his bizarre running style made him unforgettable.

14. Paul Warfield

Paul Warfield was a monster in the passing game, and he certainly had a nose for the endzone. He won one NFL championship and then two Super Bowls, and was voted to an impressive eight Pro Bowls. His 8,565 career receiving yards wasn’t crazy for 14 seasons, but to score 85 touchdowns in that time span made him one of the best in the game.

13. James Lofton

Lofton played for five different teams over the span of his career, but all were likely grateful for his contributions. He too was voted to eight Pro Bowls, and that’s thanks to his 14,004 total receiving yards and 75 touchdowns. His 16 NFL seasons were also a testament to his consistency.

12. Tim Brown

You can’t say enough about Tim Brown, who was unfortunately deprived of a Super Bowl. He reached nine Pro Bowls, caught exactly 100 touchdowns over his 17 seasons, and logged 14,934 career receiving yards, almost all of which came for the Raiders. He was undoubtedly deserving of his Hall of Fame induction.

11. Raymond Berry

One of the legends of the former Baltimore Colts, Raymond Berry was a three-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler, and two-time NFL champion. He notched 9,275 receiving yards and 68 touchdowns over the course of his career, and led the league in receiving three times and touchdowns twice. He also was the star of “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” and finished his career as the NFL record holder for receiving and scoring – at the split end position.

10. Cris Carter

Traded to the Vikings for $1, Cris Carter was the best deal the purple ever made. Known for his immaculate hands and insane footwork, Carter scored often, notching 130 career TDs on 13,899 total receiving yards. He’s top five all time in receptions, and was voted to eight Pro Bowls and named All-Pro twice.

9. Bob Hayes

Former sprinter Bob Hayes lit up the NFL field too, and he’s still the only athlete to ever win a Super Bowl and Olympic Gold. His searing speed kept defenses on their toes, but that didn’t stop him from recording 7,414 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns in 11 seasons. He’s enshrined in the Cowboys ring of honor, as well as the NFL Hall in Canton.

8. Marvin Harrison

Harrison ranks fourth all-time in receptions, and that’s largely because he played with Peyton Manning. That also helped him rack up 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns, which made him part of some of the most explosive offenses ever. He won a lone Super Bowl, but received three All-Pro nods and eight Pro Bowl nominations.

7. Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown is now a Super Bowl champion thanks to the Bucs and Tom Brady, but even his career before the hiccup was astounding. He led the league in receptions and yards twice each, and has 5 career return TDs. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, and now has more than 10,000 yards and nearly 70s touchdowns, and he probably will only get more if he remains in Tampa.

6. Terrell Owens

There was no bigger talent – and distraction, both on and off the field – than Terrell Owens. Though he was an insanely talented, complete package receiver, he gave defenses and coaches headaches alike. His 15,934 career receiving yards and 153 touchdowns were undoubtedly impressive, and while his antics inspired many to come, what really stuck with people were how great his speed, route running and hands combined to become a lethal threat.

5. Larry Fitzgerald

The ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald is somehow still lighting up secondaries for the Arizona Cardinals, and he may never retire. He’s been voted to over 10 Pro Bowls, started nearly every NFL game since his rookie season in 2004, and holds the record for four consecutive playoff games with over 100 receiving yards. As it currently stands, he’s second in receptions all-time only to Jerry Rice, and has the sixth most TDs. Oh, and he’s second all-time in receiving yards with 17,492.

4. Lance Alworth

The first AFL player to ever make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Alworth made the most of his 11 seasons by winning a Super Bowl, reaching seven Pro Bowls, and finishing as a first team All-Pro a whopping six times. He had 10,266 yards receiving and caught 85 touchdowns well before that was considered standard.

3. Randy Moss

You can hardly say enough about “The Freak,” Randy Moss. Bursting on the scene in ‘98, he made an immediate impact on the league and tortured defenses for years, no matter the opponent. He finished with 15,292 total yards and 156 touchdowns, while also securing the record for most TDs in a season with 23, and the most for a rookie with 17 TDs. Unfortunately, he didn’t win a Super Bowl even though he played for the perfect ‘07 Patriots, but made plenty of insanely memorable catches to make up for it.

2. Don Hutson

Don Hutson was the best receiver of his day, and was the first to ever notch a 1,000-yard season. He owned every major receiving record at the time of his retirement, and he won three Super Bowls with the Packers. Hutson was also the league leader in receiving yards seven times, and scoring leader nine times, which will never be accomplished again. His 7,991 career yards and 99 TDs made him one of those voted to the NFL’s 100 year anniversary team, as he was arguably the best ever, according to some.

1. Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice has too many accomplishments not to finish at the top spot. He was a three-time Super Bowl winner, and holds the record for most receiving yards (22,895), touchdowns (197), and receptions (1,549), which is frankly unbelievable. His 10 All-Pro selections and 13 Pro Bowls are equally impressive, which just proves every NFL fan, coach, and fellow player was in amazement throughout his career. It’s unlikely there will ever be another as productive as Jerry Rice.

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