40. Mike Evans
Career Stats: 137 games played (136 starts), 683 receptions, 10,425 yards, 81 TD
Entering the 10th season of his career, Mike Evans could retire tomorrow and be very satisfied with his production. The Texas A&M product has been an above-average wideout from Day 1. A big target at 6-foot-5, Evans has finished all nine years with more than 1,000 receiving yards — his current career-high is 1,524 yards in 2018. The four-time Pro Bowler is one of the league’s top threats in the red zone. In addition to utilizing his large frame, Evans excels at meeting the ball at its highest point. As a result, Evans has scored 81 touchdowns — including 33 in three seasons with Tom Brady as Tampa’s quarterback. Only 29, Evans has plenty of time to move up this list.
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39. Charlie Joiner
Career Stats: 239 games played (211 starts), 750 receptions, 12,146 yards, 65 TD
From a fourth-round pick to the Hall of Fame, Charlie Joiner. A 5-foot-11 wideout hailing from Grambling State, Joiner slipped to the fourth round of the 1969 NFL Draft before the Houston Oilers called his name. Initially, Joiner played defensive back for the Oilers before making the switch to receiver late in his rookie year. After playing a few years with the Oilers and Bengals, Joiner became a member of the San Diego Chargers in 1976. That year, Joiner produced 1,056 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on just 50 catches. In 1980, Joiner earned All-Pro honors — 71 receptions, 1,132 yards, four TDs. Joiner retired following the 1986 season, at the age of 39, as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
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38. Cooper Kupp
Career Stats: 80 games played (66 starts), 508 receptions, 6,329 yards, 46 TD
Cooper Kupp may only be gearing up to play his seventh season in the NFL, but the former Eastern Washington standout has made a lasting impact on the record books. Playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Kupp has gone from a solid wideout to a superstar in a few years. In 2021, Kupp won the receiving triple crown — leading the NFL with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kupp was just as potent in the playoffs, as well. Kupp scored a touchdown in all four of Los Angeles’ wins — including two in both the NFC Championship and Super Bowl. Kupp went for 183, 142, and 92 yards in the Rams last three contests. Oh, and he was named Super Bowl MVP.
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37. Charley Taylor
Career Stats: 165 games played (157 starts), 649 receptions, 9,110 yards, 79 TD
In 1964, the Washington Redskins selected Charley Taylor with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft. From the moment he joined the franchise, Taylor was a star. En route to being named the AP Rookie of the Year, Taylor caught 53 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns — in addition to rushing for 755 yards and five scores. In Year 3, Taylor led the NFL with 72 receptions. He accomplished the feat once again the following year (70 catches), and finished the two-year burst with 2,109 yards and 21 receiving TDs. By the time Taylor retired in 1977, he was the NFL’s all-time receptions leader.
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36. Tyreek Hill
Career Stats: 108 games played (90 starts), 598 receptions, 8,340 yards, 63 TD
Through the first seven seasons of his career, Tyreek Hill solidified his place in history. Drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in in the fifth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Hill became an All-Pro as a rookie. Deemed ‘Cheetah’ due to his elite speed, Hill made a habit of burning by even the quickest defenders from the very start of his career. While in Kansas City, Hill combined with superstar QB Patrick Mahomes to form one of the most feared QB/WR duos in league history. In six years with the Chiefs, Hill earned All-Pro honors three times and made the Pro Bowl each year. Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins ahead of the 2022 season and he continued to thrive.
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35. Andre Reed
Career Stats: 234 games played (217 starts), 951 receptions, 13,198 yards, 87 TD
A fourth-round pick in 1985, Andre Reed made the most out of his opportunity with the Buffalo Bills. Over the course of 15 years in Buffalo, Reed rewrote the record books and became a franchise legend. The star wideout peaked at the same time Buffalo did as a team. From 1990-1993, during Buffalo’s streak of reaching four-straight Super Bowls, Reed hauled in 269 passes for 3,825 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. Between 1988-94, Reed was elected to seven Pro Bowls in a row.
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34. Anquan Boldin
Career Stats: 202 games played (198 starts), 1,076 receptions, 13,779 yards, 82 TD
In the history of the National Football League, only eight wideouts have caught more passes than Anquan Boldin. After playing his collegiate ball at Florida State, Boldin was a second-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Boldin spent the first seven years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. During that time, Boldin was a three-time Pro Bowler, scored 44 touchdowns, and notched over 7,500 yards. As a third-year player, the former Seminole led the NFL with 100.1 receiving yards per game and set a career-high with 1,402 receiving yards. Boldin remained a threat throughout his 14-year career.
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33. Davante Adams
Career Stats: 133 games played (126 starts), 769 receptions, 9,637 yards, 87 TD
For the first eight years of his career, Davante Adams was receiving passes from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time — Aaron Rodgers. While in Green Bay, Adams finished three seasons with more than 1,300 yards. In 2021, his final season with the Packers, Adams finished with a career-high 1,553 receiving yards. Immensely skilled, Adams has six double-digit touchdown seasons to his name — and hauled in a career-high 18 TDs in 2020. A three-time All-Pro, Adams will now continue to add his to resume as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
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32. Hines Ward
Playoff Stats: 217 games played (190 starts), 1,000 receptions, 12,083 yards, 85 TD
Hines Ward was simply a winning football player. The Steelers went to the playoffs eight times during his illustrious career, which included a pair of Super Bowl wins. He was a highly-effective player in all facets of the game. Ward doesn’t have some of the same eye-popping numbers of his peers. Most of that has to do with him featuring for a defensive-minded Pittsburgh team which relied heavily on the run game. As such, Ward made his impact felt regularly as a run blocker. Perhaps most importantly, Ward always saved his best for the biggest moments. Ward is ninth all-time in playoff receiving yards and notched 10 postseason touchdowns in his career — including two in the Super Bowl.
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31. DeAndre Hopkins
Playoff Stats: 145 games played (145 starts), 853 receptions, 11,298 yards, 71 TD
DeAndre Hopkins has already put together a Hall of Fame career and just turned 30. The Houston draft pick eclipsed 10,000 receiving yards in 2020 after just eight seasons in the league. Among players currently on NFL rosters, Hopkins ranks second in career receiving yards (11,298) behind just Julio Jones. His 77.9 yards per game ranks sixth all-time. And, consider the caliber of quarterback Hopkins dealt with before playing with Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray. Hopkins finished fourth in Offensive Player of the Year voting in 2017 — a year in which Tom Savage and T.J Yates started 10 of Houston’s 16 games.
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30. Elroy Hirsch
Career Stats: 127 games played (102 starts), 387 receptions, 7,029 yards, 60 TD
Hall of Famer Elroy Hirsch was undoubtedly one of the best athletes of his time. He showcased his skills all over the field for both the Chicago Rockets and Los Angeles Rams. Though he began his career as more of a do-it-all type player (Hirsch rushed for 226 yards and caught six interceptions as a rookie), he spent the latter half of his career as one of the league’s top wideouts. In ’51, Hirsch set an NFL record with 1,495 receiving yards — a mark that would not be broken for another 20 years.
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29. Chad Johnson
Career Stats: 166 games played (135 starts), 766 receptions, 11,059 yards, 67 TD
A unique character with a dynamic skill-set, the receiver formerly known as “Ochocinco” set the league ablaze in his time. Johnson registered 1,100-plus receiving yards each year from 2002-2007, earning five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro First-Team nods along the way. Though he talked a big game, Johnson could back it up on the field. He was a precise route-runner with a sure set of hands. His confidence was unparalleled, and he used it to get the upper-hand against the league’s best defensive backs.
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28. Paul Warfield
Career Stats: 157 games played (152 starts), 427 receptions, 8,565 yards, 85 TD
A premier big-play threat, Paul Warfield was a threat to score from anywhere on the field. To this day, Warfield boasts the NFL’s highest yard per reception average (20.1) among players with at least 300 receptions. Warfield was a speedster who could take the top off of defenses at will. From 1968-1974, Warfield averaged 1,025 yards and 11 touchdowns per season while being named a Pro Bowler each year. He was Miami’s top receiving option during its undefeated 14-0 campaign in ’72. The 1972 season ended with Warfield earning a Super Bowl ring — one of three NFL championships he won in his career.
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27. Drew Pearson
Career Stats: 156 games played (143 starts), 489 receptions, 7,822 yards, 48 TD
One of the best wideouts in Dallas Cowboys history, Drew Pearson finally earned the ultimate recognition when he was named a Pro Football Hall of Famer in 2021. Pearson was a career-long Cowboy, wearing the coveted “Star” on his helmet from 1973-1983. During that time, the New Jersey native was named to three All-Pro teams. His 1,105 playoff receiving yards ranks 12th all-time — Pearson notably helped the Cowboys triumph in Super Bowl XII over the Denver Broncos.
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26. Don Maynard
Career Stats: 186 games played (159 starts), 633 receptions, 11,834 yards, 88 TD
Originally a New York Giants draft pick, Don Maynard spent the majority of his career with the New York Titans (later became the Jets). The Hall of Fame wideout surely made the Giants ever regret letting him go. From 1960-1968, Maynard played in 123 games and caught 499 passes for 9,351 yards and 78 touchdowns. Maynard ended his career as the game’s all-time leader in receiving yards (11,834). Among the 50 wideouts with at least 10,000 career yards, Maynard is one of just seven whose career began before 1980 (he was drafted in ’58). Maynard set the original standard for great WR play, and dominated the league throughout the ’60s.
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25. Reggie Wayne
Career Stats: 211 games played (197 starts), 1,070 receptions, 14,345 yards, 82 TD
Although Reggie Wayne was well-regarded coming out of Miami in 2001, the talented wideout fell to the bottom of the first round — No. 30 overall — and into the Colts’ laps. Playing alongside Marvin Harrison, it was easy to overlook Wayne early on. It wasn’t until his fourth season that he truly began to take off. After hauling in 77 passes for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004, Wayne rattled off six more 1,000-yard seasons in a row. Thanks to picture-perfect technique and unmatched body control, Wayne transformed into a potential Hall of Famer while catching passes from Peyton Manning.
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24. Andre Johnson
Career Stats: 193 games played (187 starts), 1,062 receptions, 14,185 yards, 70 TD
The Houston Texans have not enjoyed much success during their first two decades as a franchise. Unfortunately, that means that the talents of Andre Johnson were largely wasted. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Johnson was an absolute force for much of his career. Johnson possessed a rare combo of size and speed — corners often struggle to stay with the receiver when he took off. A two-time All-Pro, Johnson twice led the league in receptions (2006, 2008) and receiving yards (2008-09). It is a shame Johnson never played with an elite quarterback.
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23. Fred Biletnikoff
Career Stats: 190 games played (161 starts), 589 receptions, 8,974 yards, 76 TD
There’s a reason why the best collegiate receiver is awarded the Biletnikoff Award — and that’s because of this Pro Football and College Football Hall of Famer. A four-time Pro Bowler, Biletnikoff was the recipient of 76 touchdown passes throughout his career. His sure hands led to a plethora of acrobatic catches that would make Odell Beckham Jr. jealous.
Biletnikoff’s production in the postseason is also cemented in Raider lore. During a six-game span early on in his career, Biletnikoff recorded eight touchdowns – including a game in which he amassed 180 yards and three touchdowns against the long-time division rival Kansas City Chiefs. He finally captured that elusive Super Bowl ring in 1976, playing for arguably the greatest Raider team of all-time.
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22. Lynn Swann
Career Stats: 116 games played (96 starts), 336 receptions, 5,462 yards, 51 TD
In college, Lynn Swann became an All-American at the University of Southern California and left as one of the Trojans’ all-time greats. Unsurprisingly, Swann’s production and winning ways — 1972 National Champion — followed him to the NFL. Swann’s numbers do not do him justice. Playing in an era where keeping the ball on the ground was the norm, Swann still managed to score 11 touchdowns on two occasions and played a huge role on his team. With track-speed and incredible control of his body, Swann could catch anything in his vicinity and take it to the house. The Hall of Famer was also a clutch player, finishing his career with nine postseason touchdowns — including seven during Pittsburgh’s four Super Bowl-winning seasons in the 70s.
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21. Sterling Sharpe
Career Stats: 112 games played (112 starts), 595 receptions, 8,134 yards, 65 TD
Sharpe hit the ground running after being selected No. 7 overall in the 1988 NFL Draft. On an upstart Packers team, Sharpe was featured heavily from the start of his career. In just his second year, Sharpe led all receivers in receptions (90) and finished second in the league in both receiving yards (1,423) and touchdowns (12).
He was exceptional at beating press coverage, and was virtually unstoppable once he got in the open field. After a pair of forgettable years in which the Packers struggled to put together winning seasons, the addition of Brett Favre helped bring Sharpe and the franchise back to prominence. In their first year together, Sharpe enjoyed the best season of his career — 108 receptions for 1,461 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unfortunately, after posting a 94/1,119/18 season two years later, Sharpe’s career ended prematurely due to a neck injury. After earning three All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl nods in seven seasons, Sharpe’s playing days were over at 29.
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20. Steve Smith Sr.
Career Stats: 219 games played (198 starts), 1,031 receptions, 14,731 yards, 81 TD
Had it not been for an untimely Achilles tear at the age of 38, the future Hall of Famer could have possibly played until the age of 40. A top wideout for a number of years, Smith proved that height isn’t the most important attribute for a receiver. The longtime Panther played with a chip on his shoulder at all times. He could evade defenders with his quick feet or go right through them because he flat-out wanted it more.
Only 5-foot-9, Smith never stopped moving his feet, and was an all-time great chain mover with a knack for converting on third downs. In 2005, just one year after breaking his leg, Smith came back in a roaring fashion and led the league in all major receiving categories — 103 receptions, 1,563 yards, 12 touchdowns. That season was Smith in a nutshell — perseverance, grit and toughness.
Image Source: AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt
19. Art Monk
Career Stats: 224 games played (194 starts), 940 receptions, 12,721 yards, 68 TD
Defensive backs playing in the 1980s had nightmares about having to cover Monk. A 6-foot-3, 220-pound specimen of a wideout, Monk utilized his body and innate athleticism to overwhelm DB’s on his way to the end zone. The longtime Washington Redskin was physical at the point of attack. He would bully smaller defenders in the red zone, boxing them out like a basketball player looking for a rebound.
Monk was essentially the anti-receiver — he didn’t talk a lot of trash and he even loved to block. In a lot of ways, Monk could have been moved to tight end given his skill set, but he was far too great of an athlete to keep inside the numbers. The three-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer was a uniquely gifted player.
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18. Isaac Bruce
Career Stats: 223 games played (201 starts), 1,024 receptions, 15,208 yards, 91 TD
The least heralded member of the Greatest Show on Turf, Bruce was a steady performer that helped cultivate one of the greatest offenses the league has ever seen. Bruce was essentially the best No. 2 receiver ever — and that’s a testament to his greatness. It takes a special type of player to consistently play at a high level when they aren’t the team’s top option.
When Bruce first joined the Rams, he was heavily featured. The Memphis product was targeted 199 times in his second season — the fifth-highest total in NFL history since targets started being recorded in 1992. But in 1999, the Rams spent a first-rounder on the sensational Torry Holt. Bruce settled into a secondary role, and proceeded to thrive on short-to-intermediate routes. His professionalism and tremendous longevity led him to finishing fourth all-time in career receiving yards.
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17. Julio Jones
Career Stats: 155 games played (149 starts), 903 receptions, 13,629 yards, 63 TD
Blessed with tremendous athleticism, Jones has been a star since he first entered the NFL in 2011. A two-time All-Pro, the Falcon icon paced the league in 2015 with 136 receptions and an absurd 1,871 yards. Between 2014-2019, Jones caught at least 83 passes and gained no worse than 1,394 yards. For as talented as Jones is, it is bizarre that he hasn’t scored more touchdowns throughout his career. His current season-high is 10 scores, achieved in his second season. Jones has battled injuries in recent seasons.
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16. Antonio Brown
Career Stats: 146 games played (110 starts), 928 receptions, 12,291 yards, 83 TD
It’s been long enough for us to start calling Brown an all-time great. Coming out of Central Michigan, Brown wasn’t a highly-touted recruit. He fell to Pittsburgh in the sixth round, and played sparingly in his first season. In 2011, Brown kicked it up a notch putting together the first of multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Between 2013-18, Brown hauled in at least 100 receptions each year — leading the league in the category on two occasions.
Unfortunately for Brown, multiple legal problems and overall questionable behavior have stalled his career. First, the Steelers shipped Brown to Oakland ahead of the 2019 season. Brown was cut by the team before the start of the season, only to be scooped up by the New England Patriots. After just one game, the Pats cut Brown due to more legal issues. Brown caught on with the Buccaneers and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl win, but his questionable behavior ultimately led to his release.
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15. Torry Holt
Career Stats: 173 games played (158 starts), 920 receptions, 13,382 yards, 74 TD
The drafting of Holt in 1999 marks the birth of a prolific Rams offense dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf.” St. Louis would go on to score over 500 points each season for the next three years. Holt was the home run hitter of the group. He was a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Double teams never bothered him because he was such a great route runner.
Every aspiring receiver that’s looking to work on their double moves should study tape of Holt’s exquisite footwork and deceptive cuts. After winning the Super Bowl in his rookie year, Holt would go on to record six consecutive seasons of 1,300-plus receiving yards (tied for an NFL record with Julio Jones). A bit overshadowed by other receivers during the time, Holt never truly received the praise he deserved. However, he will always be remembered as a major piece in an all-time great offense.
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14. Raymond Berry
Career Stats: 154 games played (140 starts), 631 receptions, 9,275 yards, 68 TD
If you ever saw Berry, you wouldn’t think he was a football player. He was rail thin, had terrible eye sight, and was painfully slow for a receiver (4.8 40-yard dash). What he did have, however, was the best pair of mitts in the league. Anything thrown Berry’s way was getting caught. If it hit his hands, the ball was getting hauled in regardless of how difficult the catch may have been.
Over his career, he developed a special on-the-field chemistry with Johnny Unitas, as the pair went on to win two NFL Championships together. Individually, Berry was a six-time Pro Bowler, four-time First-Team All-Pro, and led the league in both receptions and receiving yards on two separate occasions. Not bad for a guy who was selected in the 20th round of the NFL Draft.
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13. James Lofton
Career Stats: 233 games played (212 starts), 764 receptions, 14,004 yards, 75 TD
Speed kills in the NFL, and Lofton had wheels like no other. The collegiate long jumper was a tremendous athlete across the board, and was selected No. 6 overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1978 NFL Draft. Lofton electrified crowds with his top-end speed, routinely leaving defenders in the dust on go routes.
Once he got his long legs going, nobody in the NFL could keep up with him. It was nearly impossible to overthrow him — quarterbacks would simply loft the ball in his direction as far as they could, and Lofton would burn his defender and comfortably settle under the ball for big gains.
From the very start of his career, he was a major fan favorite. In his first eight years with the Packers, Lofton was selected to seven Pro Bowl teams. He’s currently ranked 12th all-time in receiving yards, and top among players that started their professional career in the 1970s.
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12. Tim Brown
Career Stats: 255 games played (202 starts), 1,094 receptions, 14,934 yards, 100 TD
The first receiver to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Tim Brown rightfully deserves a spot on this list. Brown was as reliable as any receiver of his time, checking in with nine Pro Bowl nominations and two First-Team All-Pro honors. After his historic final season at Notre Dame, Brown immediately became a contributor for the Los Angeles Raiders by setting the rookie record for most combined yards gained (2,317).
He was initially used primarily as a return specialist, and he was very good in that role. Brown was deadly in the open field and possessed vision akin to a running back which allowed him to make huge plays on special teams. Once he eventually took over as the team’s No. 1 receiver on offense, Brown began to build his Hall of Fame resume. Brown is the current franchise leader in touchdowns (204), receiving yards (14,734), receptions (1,070), and all-purpose yards (19,431). When taking into consideration how many all-time great players donned the Silver & Black, these are quite impressive accomplishments.
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11. Michael Irvin
Career Stats: 159 games played (147 starts), 750 receptions, 11,904 yards, 65 TD
The Playmaker simply won everywhere he went. At the University of Miami, Irvin lost a grand total of three games over three seasons. In that time, the Hurricanes won the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and a National Championship. He would go on to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys, and his Miami Coach (Jimmy Johnson) would soon follow. The duo helped cultivate the Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990s.
Irvin was good enough in the regular season to make five Pro Bowls, but he always saved his best performances for the playoffs. Currently ranked third all-time in career postseason receiving yards, Irvin made plays when it mattered most en route to three Super Bowl rings.
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10. Cris Carter
Career Stats: 234 games played (209 starts), 1,101 receptions, 13,899 yards, 130 TD
Before making his debut in the studio as a Fox Sports analyst, Carter made a living as a human highlight-reel with the Minnesota Vikings. The eight-time Pro Bowler was a catching machine, able to make the most difficult of grabs look utterly effortless. At times, it seemed like he only used one-hand to complete his catches simply because he was bored. His catch radius made him tough to defend in the red zone, as he would routinely score touchdowns despite tight coverage.
In 1998, the Vikings would draft Randy Moss and the duo created one of the deadliest combinations in the league. During Moss’ first two seasons, Carter hauled in 25 touchdown passes. By the time he retired, CC was second all-time in both receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130).
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9. Marvin Harrison
Career Stats: 190 games played (188 starts), 1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards, 128 TD
It’s absolutely terrifying to think of what kind of numbers Harrison could have put up in today’s pass-happy league. Peyton Manning’s favorite wideout was the ultimate security blanket over his prominent 13-year career. Reserved and stoic, Harrison didn’t have to talk trash to get the edge over his opponents — he simply let his play do the talking.
The shifty receiver was both fast and nimble with an expansive route tree. He and Manning hold the record for the most QB-WR touchdown hookups (114) and second place isn’t all that close (92). Harrison’s consistency is what set him apart from his peers. From 1999 to 2006, Harrison had over 1,100 yards and at least 10 touchdowns in each season. He helped Indy secure their second Super Bowl ring in 2007, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
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8. Calvin Johnson
Career Stats: 135 games played (130 starts), 731 receptions, 11,619 yards, 83 TD
There have been a lot of athletic players to come and go in the NFL, and Johnson is arguably the most athletic of them all. Aptly nicknamed “Megatron,” the 6-foot-5, 240-pound wideout resembled more of a machine than a human being. He could beat defenders in every way imaginable. Johnson was huge, fast (4.3 40-yard dash), and could leap like a basketball player. Even if defenders were draped all over him, Johnson was still open because he could explode like nobody else and make a jaw-dropping play on the ball.
After being touted as the next big thing, Johnson finally put everything together in a decisive 2012 campaign. That year, Johnson caught 122 passes for a record-breaking 1,964 yards. He holds almost all of the Lions’ receiving records and is surely on his way to Canton in the near future.
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7. Steve Largent
Career Stats: 200 games played (197 starts), 819 receptions, 13,089 yards, 100 TD
Prior to a successful political career as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Largent was a standout receiver with the Seattle Seahawks. Largent didn’t have the measurables that teams looked for in a receiver. He wasn’t particularly tall, fast or strong, but he was incredibly sure handed and played with a high amount of swagger.
Before Jerry Rice, Largent was the gold standard for receivers, holding the record for career receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He won the hearts of a die-hard Seattle fan base with his gritty play and hands of glue.
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6. Lance Alworth
Career Stats: 136 games played (127 starts), 542 receptions, 10,266 yards, 85 TD
Any fan of the vertical offense has Alworth to thank for its inception. The dynamic Charger receiver showed the league during the 1960s how effective a spread attack can be with the right set of weapons. Alworth was a dynamo on the outside, averaging nearly 19 yards per catch over his career. Anytime he got his hands on the ball it could have gone for six points.
Alworth holds the record for the most 70-plus yard touchdown receptions over a career with 12. He led the AFL in all three major receiving categories on three separate occasions, and remains one of the greatest Charger players in the franchise’s history.
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5. Larry Fitzgerald
Career Stats: 263 games played (261 starts), 1,432 receptions, 17,492 yards, 121 TD
Larry Fitzgerald simply doesn’t drop passes. If it hits his hands, it’s coming down for a catch. A member of the Cardinals since 2004, Fitz has played in 250 games. In those 250 contests, the legend has been targeted 2,263 times. Unfathomably, Fitzgerald has only 29 drops to his name — he is so sure-handed that he has more career tackles (39) than drops. Let that sink in.
Fitzgerald successfully reinvented himself as he aged. The former No. 3 overall pick came into the league as an outside receiver that could blow the top off defenses. After he hit 30 years old, he moved closer to the ball and became a crafty short route runner. Fitz’s most impressive accomplishment came in the 2008 playoffs, where he set the record for the most receptions (30), receiving yards (546), and receiving touchdowns (7) for a player in a single postseason.
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4. Terrell Owens
Career Stats: 219 games played (201 starts), 1,078 receptions, 15,934 yards, 153 TD
It was an absolute joke that Owens had to wait three years to gain admittance to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The brash receiver had a number of verbal spats with the media, but his play on the field speaks for itself. Most receivers begin to falter after a certain number of years, while a select few are able to recognize this decline early and retire before it ever happens — Owens was the exception to both of these scenarios.
At 46 years old, Owens looks like he could be on an NFL roster right now. In 2010 (his 15th career season), he led the Bengals in receiving yards and touchdowns. In his hey-day, he was the early version of Julio Jones with his bodybuilder physique and eruptive first-step.
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3. Don Hutson
Career Stats: 116 games played (60 starts), 488 receptions, 7,991 yards, 99 TD
Anytime you have a stadium named after you, there’s probably a good reason for it. Hutson was revolutionary for his time — a downfield threat with make-you-miss wiggle and legit top-end speed. He lived in the end zone during the 1930s and 40s. On average, Hutson recorded a touchdown every 4.9 receptions — a rate that far exceeds all-time greats like Jerry Rice (7.8), Randy Moss (6.2) and Terrell Owens (7.04).
By the time Hutson called it quits, he was the all-time receiving touchdowns leader by a wide margin — every player that has since passed him didn’t start their career until 1976. He held a slew of other records at the time of his retirement. His most remarkable moment took place during his last season, when he accounted for four touchdowns in A SINGLE QUARTER against the Detroit Lions.
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2. Randy Moss
Career Stats: 218 games played (193 starts), 982 receptions, 15,292 yards, 156 TD
Moss’ nickname — “The Freak” — tells you everything you need to know about his game. He was a video game character brought to life. 4.3 speed and a 40-inch vertical inside a 6-foot-4 body is simply unfair. Off-the-field issues forced him to slide in the draft, but few players had a larger impact in their rookie year than Moss. The Marshall standout snagged 17 touchdowns in his inaugural year, setting the precedent for a monumental career.
Moss was eventually paired with gunslinger Daunte Culpepper which made for a dynamic duo, but it wasn’t until 2007 that his true potential was realized. Alongside Tom Brady and the potent New England offense, Moss set the record for touchdown grabs in a season (23). His care-free attitude and ability to convert long passes made him a fan favorite and an eventual Hall of Famer.
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1. Jerry Rice
Career Stats: 303 games played (284 starts), 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards, 197 TD
Rice is the end-all be-all for receivers. Every WR in the league over the past 20 years has attempted to mold a little part of their game after him. He wasn’t the fastest, the tallest, or the most athletic, but he didn’t need to be. Rice had the surest hands in the history of football and ran crisp routes that created easier passing lanes for his quarterbacks.
Over his career, he completely shattered every record. He’s 171 receptions, 5,812 yards, and 41 touchdowns ahead of second place in each respective category. His sheer dominance over the rest of the position is why many consider him to be the greatest player — regardless of position — ever.
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