According to BOLTHYPE, here is how the best pass catchers in the league rank:
1. Andre Johnson
The real measuring stick for the position over the past handful of seasons has been Johnson even though until recently his team wasn’t terribly successful. What makes Johnson such a tremendous player is his combination of size and speed which creates an inherent physical mismatch with just about any cover corner in the league on a week-to-week basis. Johnson ranked 6th in both catches and receiving yards in 2010 and has provided that type of production for the bulk of his career in Houston. At 6’3” 225lbs. and a sub-4.4 40 yard dash time, it’s tough to see any corners slowing him down much over the next few years.
2. Calvin Johnson
Another receiver that fulfills the definition of physical mismatch is Calvin Johnson (of no relation to Andre) from the Detroit Lions. His 6’5” 236lbs. makes Andre look small in comparison and clearly gives opposing corners fits in coverage. Johnson’s attributes defy the laws of size and speed with a ridiculous vertical leap to high-point the football and soft hands to haul in any catch in his vicinity. Despite some upheaval at the quarterback position during his time in Detroit, Johnson has continued to provide a massive target for whoever is under center on a given play. With a healthy Matthew Stafford for a full season, it’s hard to imagine just what kind of numbers he could compile on a 16-game slate.
3. Reggie Wayne
The connection with Peyton Manning to Wayne is undoubtedly one of the league’s best and the former Miami Hurricane is always at or near the top of the NFL in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns. His well-rounded skill set with the ability to stretch the field or work over the middle provides a great mix of options for the Colts offensively to open up the playbook and find Wayne in any area of the field. Wayne was second in the league in receptions with 111 in 2010 which was a career-high for the already well-accomplished receiver and gave him his third year with 100-plus catches. As long as Manning is the guy under center in Indy, Wayne figures to be the main beneficiary on the outside.
4. Larry Fitzgerald
Finishing in the top five in receptions and top ten in yards despite having a revolving door at quarterback in 2010, Fitzgerald is still arguably the most dynamic target in all of the NFL. His touchdown numbers were down significantly last year, but the Cardinals as a whole were so disappointing that Fitz really was their only bright spot. Still young at just 27 years of age, there is no doubt that his prime years are still ahead of him in the NFL, but many wonder whether those years will be fully realized playing with a sub-par club in Arizona. Trade rumors have been rampant regarding this coveted deep-threat, but no one is questioning his ability to still make a difference as he ranked 5th in terms of receptions in the league last year.
5. Roddy White
A fast rising receiver on this list is Roddy White who’s Atlanta Falcons put up some great numbers in the regular season last year, but failed to come through in the playoffs. The guy throwing him the ball in Matt Ryan is one of the high-quality young signal callers in the NFL and he and White have quite a good rapport. White led the entire league in catches during the 2010 season with 115 and finished second in yardage with 1,389. His 11 touchdowns were tied for fourth best as the former first round draft choice in 2005 has really burst onto the scene as one of the best at his position. The addition of Julio Jones to the Falcons’ wide receiving corps in 2011 should only further boost White’s production and give him more and more opportunities with one-on-one coverage.
Although every receiver is only as good as the quarterback throwing him the football, certain guys on this list have shown that talent shines through even in adverse conditions. The importance of the receiver position has continued to be further and further magnified with the increased emphasis on the passing game that the league has seen over the last five years and that trend is likely to carry on for the foreseeable future. Each of these guys are impressive in their own special way, but they aren’t by any means the only dynamic playmakers in the league today.
Agree or disagree with the five wide receivers listed above? See any glaring omissions or guys ranked way too high? Use the comment section below and give us your top 5!
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