Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/18/14

 

    The 2012 Preseason is on going, meaning the regular season is fast approaching. I've decided to rank the top 15 wide receivers entering the 2012 NFL based on a combination of factors such as production, talent, and overall skill set. After the elite 3 receivers in the game, there are several talented young and veteran pass catchers who have made names for themselves. View my Top 15 Quarterbacks here or my Top 15 Running Backs Here.

 

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions Height: 6-5 | Weight: 236 lbs.
Age: 26 | Experience: 6 Years

2011 Season Stats:
96 Receptions, 1,681 Receiving Yards (17.5 YPC), 16 TD; 77 First Downs

Career Stats:
366 Receptions, 5,872 Receiving Yards (16.0 YPC), 49 TD; 270 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
12 Receptions, 211 Receiving Yards (17.6 YPC), 2 TD; 10 First Downs

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
2-Time Pro Bowl Selection
2-Time All-Pro Selection
2011 NFL Receiving Yards Leader

Analysis: Calvin Johnson aka "Megatron" is the best receiver in the game. Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson are also top receivers, but Megatron is in a class of his own right now.

Entering his sixth NFL season, Calvin Johnson had a career year in 2011 when he hauled in 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 TD. All career highs.

All this guy does is produce, and he is completely unstoppable at times, especially in the red zone. Megatron can only get better, and consider the fact that his last game against the Saints in the playoffs, he had 12 catches, 211 receiving yards and 2 TD.

 

2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals Height: 6-3 | Weight: 218 lbs.
Age: 28 | Experience: 9 Years

2011 Season Stats:
80 Receptions, 1,411 Receiving Yards (17.6 YPC), 8 TD; 61 First Downs

Career Stats:
693 Receptions, 9,615 Receiving Yards (13.9 YPC), 73 TD; 479 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
42 Receptions, 705 Receiving Yards (16.8 YPC), 9 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
7 Receptions, 127 Receiving Yards (18.1 YPC), 2 TD

Career Accomplishments:
6-Time Pro Bowl Selection
4-Time All-Pro Selection
2008 NFC Receiving Yards Leader
1-Time NFC Champion
1-Time Pro Bowl MVP

Analysis: Larry Fitzgerald has been the most consistent and reliable receiver since coming into the league as a rookie. Even with bad quarterback play, this guy finds a way to get it done.

Four seasons of at 1,400 yards is amazing. He "only" had 80 catches last season, but was still able to rack up 1,411 receiving yards, and had a career high 17.6 yards per reception.

Whether it is his on field production, or his humbleness off of it, Fitzgerald is one of the best players in the NFL. He will go down as one of the greatest receivers of all-time, and should still be considered arguably the best in the game.

 

3. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans Height: 6-3 | Weight: 226 lbs.
Age: 31 | Experience: 10 Years

2011 Season Stats:
33 Receptions, 492 Receiving Yards (14.9 YPC), 2 TD; 23 First Downs

Career Stats:
706 Receptions, 9,656 Receiving Yards (13.7 YPC), 52 TD; 462 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
13 Receptions, 201 Receiving Yards (15.5 YPC), TD

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
5-Time Pro Bowl Selection
4-Time All-Pro Selection
4-Time Texans MVP
2008 & 2009 NFL Receiving Yards Leader

Analysis: When healthy, there aren't many receivers in the league better than him. He can be unstoppable just like the two guys ahead of him, and he even led the league in receiving yards for three straight years.

The main reasons that I have Johnson behind Megatron and Fitzgerald are that he has had more injuries, and he isn't necessarily a touchdown machine. In fact, he has never caught double-digit touchdown passes.

Still, there is no question that Andre Johnson could easily be considered the best receiver in the game. I expect a big 2012 season from him.

 

4. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers Height: 5-11 | Weight: 198 lbs.
Age: 28 | Experience: 7 Years

2011 Season Stats:
67 Receptions, 949 Receiving Yards (14.2 YPC), 9 TD; 43 First Downs

Career Stats:
389 Receptions, 6,171 Receiving Yards (15.9 YPC), 49 TD; 265 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
40 Receptions, 558 Receiving Yards (14.0 YPC), 5 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
4 Receptions, 64 Receiving Yards (16.0 YPC), 2 TD

Career Accomplishments:
NFL All-Rookie Team (2006)
2-Time Pro Bowl Selection
1-Time Super Bowl Champion

Analysis: Greg Jennings is arguably the best big play/deep threat in the NFL. Since Aaron Rodgers became a starter in 2008, Jennings has been his top target.

Jennings came into the league and produced with 45 catches, 632 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns as a rookie. Since then he has recorded 1,100+ receiving yards three times (between 2008-2010) in five seasons. Heck, it could've been 5 had he not missed 3 games in both 2007 and 2011.

The 2-Time Pro Bowler is still the best weapon the Packers have, despite the emergence of Jordy Nelson, and his postseason numbers as well as his regular season numbers can back him up.

 

5. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers Height: 5-9 | Weight: 185 lbs.
Age: 33 | Experience: 12 Years

2011 Season Stats:
79 Receptions, 1,394 Receiving Yards (17.6 YPC), 7 TD; 53 First Downs

Career Stats:
699 Receptions, 10,278 Receiving Yards (14.7 YPC), 59 TD; 434 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
47 Receptions, 782 Receiving Yards (16.6 YPC), 7 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
4 Receptions, 80 Receiving Yards (20.0 YPC), TD

Career Accomplishments:
5-Time Pro Bowl Selection
3-Time All-Pro Selection
1-Time NFC Champion
2005 Comeback Player of the Year
2005 NFL Receiving Yards Leader
2005 NFL Receiving TD Leader
2005 NFL Receptions Leader

Analysis: Steve Smith re-emerged as one of the league's best wide receivers with Cam Newton at quarterback. He caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Smith has been a consistent, productive player on the field, recording six 1,000 yard seasons in ten years (excluding the 2004 season in which he missed 15 games due to injury).

At just 5'9", Smith plays bigger than his size indicates, attacking the ball in the air and making defenders miss in the open field. He should have a few really good years left in him, and should still be considered one of the best at his position.

 

6. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers Height: 6-0 | Weight: 199 lbs.
Age: 26 | Experience: 4 Years

2011 Season Stats:
72 Receptions, 1,193 Receiving Yards (16.6 YPC), 8 TD; 54 First Downs

Career Stats:
171 Receptions, 3,206 Receiving Yards (18.7 YPC), 24 TD; 130 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
16 Receptions, 141 Receiving Yards (8.8 YPC), TD

Super Bowl Stats:
9 Receptions, 89 Receiving Yards (9.9 YPC), TD

Career Accomplishments:
Steelers Rookie of the Year (2009)
1-Time Pro Bowl Selection
1-Time AFC Champion
3-Time NFL Rookie of the Week (2009)

Analysis: Mike Wallace is a big time player who will only move up this list in the next few years. He is one of the most talented young receivers in the game, and his production backs him up.

Wallace averaged 19.4 yards per catch as a rookie in 2009, with 756 receiving yards on 39 catches. His best season came in 2010 when he averaged 21.0 yards per catch, with 1,257 receiving yards on 60 catches.

Coming off of yet another productive 1,000 yard season, Wallace is expected to report to the Steelers before the season starts and have another big season.

He still continues to improve, but has proven that he isn't just a deep threat, but a legit number one receiver.

 

7. Wes Welker, New England Patriots Height: 5-9 | Weight: 185 lbs.
Age: 31 | Experience: 9 Years

2011 Season Stats:
122 Receptions, 1,569 Receiving Yards (12.9 YPC), 9 TD; 77 First Downs

Career Stats:
650 Receptions, 7,226 Receiving Yards (11.1 YPC), 32 TD; 370 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
53 Receptions, 438 Receiving Yards (8.3 YPC), 3 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
18 Receptions, 163 Receiving Yards (9.1 YPC)

Career Accomplishments:
4-Time Pro Bowl Selection
4-Time All-Pro Selection
3-Time NFL Receptions Leader
2-Time AFC Champion
2011 AFC Receiving Yards Leader
Patriots All-2000s Team

Analysis: Wes Welker has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL over the last five seasons. The four-time Pro Bowler led the AFC in receiving yards, and has caught at least 111 passes four times in his career.

He is definitely the best slot receiver in the NFL, and has been Tom Brady's go to guy since he signed with New England.

However, many people believe he is only good because he has Tom Brady throwing him the ball. This is not the case, as Welker is just reliable. Welker only averages 11.1 yards per catch for his career. That isn't great, but that's not really Welker's game.

 

8. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons Height: 6-0 | Weight: 211 lbs.
Age: 30 | Experience: 8 Years

2011 Season Stats:
100 Receptions, 1,296 Receiving Yards (13.0 YPC), 8 TD; 77 First Downs

Career Stats:
530 Receptions, 7,374 Receiving Yards (13.9 YPC), 45 TD; 359 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
22 Receptions, 193 Receiving Yards (8.8 YPC), 2 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
4-Time Pro Bowl Selection
1-Time All-Pro Selection
2010 NFC Receiving Yards Leader
1-Time NFC Offensive Player of the Month
2010 NFL Receptions Leader

Analysis: Roddy White is arguably one of the top five receivers in football. Since 2007, the 4-time Pro Bowler has never recorded less than 83 catches, and before 2009 was the only reliable receiving for the Falcons.

Even since Atlanta has added Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones, White has still been able to amass 100 catches (twice) and well over 1,200 yards (twice) in 2010-2011.

White is very consistent, but he has had his fair shares of drops recently. Still, White's consistent production and reliability as a number one option make him one of the premier wideouts in the NFL.

 

9. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants Height: 6-1 | Weight: 208 lbs.
Age: 24 | Experience: 4 Years

2011 Season Stats:
76 Receptions, 1,192 Receiving Yards (15.7 YPC), 7 TD; 54 First Downs

Career Stats:
202 Receptions, 3,034 Receiving Yards (15.0 YPC), 24 TD; 141 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
28 Receptions, 444 Receiving Yards (15.9 YPC), 4 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
10 Receptions, 109 Receiving Yards (10.9 YPC)

Career Accomplishments:
1-Time NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month (2009)
1-Time Super Bowl Champion
1-Time NFC Champion

Analysis: For some strange reason, Hakeem Nicks doesn't get the respect he deserves. Some will disagree with him being ranked higher than Victor Cruz, but not only is he the better receiver, but he is a top 5 talent.

Nicks has missed six games in three seasons, but has still been able to amass 3,000+ yards and 24 touchdowns in those three years.

He has great hands, an impressive catch radius, and attacks the ball as well as any receiver in the league, proving to be a reliable red zone threat.

His production in last year's postseason was very impressive as well, which is important to be considered an elite receiver. He is definitely a top 10 receiver and could easily be ranked higher.

 

10. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals Height: 6-4 | Weight: 207 lbs.
Age: 24 | Experience: 2 Years

2011 Season Stats:
65 Receptions, 1,057 Receiving Yards (16.3 YPC), 7 TD; 43 First Downs

Career Stats:
65 Receptions, 1,057 Receiving Yards (16.3 YPC), 7 TD; 43 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
5 Receptions, 47 Receiving Yards (9.4 YPC)

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
1-Time Pro Bowl Selection
All-Rookie Team (2011)

Analysis: Coming out of college, A.J. Green was regarded as the best receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson. In his rookie season, he exploded onto the NFL landscape, 65 catches, for 1,057 yards and 7 touchdowns.

He has the size, impressive catches radius, and excellent leaping ability, all necessary for an elite NFL wideout. He will only get better, and he'll be in the top five in the next two years.

 

11. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears Height: 6-4 | Weight: 230 lbs.
Age: 28 | Experience: 7 Years

2011 Season Stats:
81 Receptions, 1,214 Receiving Yards (15.0 YPC), 6 TD; 53 First Downs

Career Stats:
494 Receptions, 6,247 Receiving Yards (12.6 YPC), 34 TD; 315 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
N/A

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
3-Time Pro Bowl Selection
1-Time All-Pro Selection
2-Time AFC Offensive Player of the Week (2008 & 2009)
2012 Pro Bowl MVP

Analysis: On the negative side, Marshall isn't the big time red zone threat that he should be, and he has his fair share of drops. Other than this, Marshall is arguably a top 5 receiver.

His production is hard to match, five straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons, and three straight 100 catch seasons between 2007 and 2009. Even with average quarterback play in Miami, Marshall was still able to produce.

Now re-united with Jay Cutler in Chicago, Marshall should only continue to play at a high level, and be recognized as one of the best in the league.

 

12. Victor Cruz, New York Giants Height: 6-0 | Weight: 204 lbs.
Age: 25 | Experience: 3 Years

2011 Season Stats:
82 Receptions, 1,536 Receiving Yards (18.7 YPC), 9 TD; 59 First Downs

Career Stats:
82 Receptions, 1,536 Receiving Yards (18.7 YPC), 9 TD; 59 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
21 Receptions, 269 Receiving Yards (12.8 YPC), TD

Super Bowl Stats:
4 Receptions, 25 Receiving Yards (6.3 YPC), TD

Career Accomplishments:
1-Time All-Pro Selection
1-Time Super Bowl Champion

Analysis: Victor Cruz made a name for himself in the 2010 preseason. After working his way up, he was a breakout star in 2011, and led the Giants in receiving.

Besides Calvin Johnson, Victor Cruz was arguably the best receiver in football based on his production last year. He will have to continue to put up numbers, but his skill set should help him do so.

 

13. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers Height: 6-3 | Weight: 217 lbs.
Age: 27 | Experience: 5 Years

2011 Season Stats:
68 Receptions, 1,263 Receiving Yards (18.6 YPC), 15 TD; 47 First Downs

Career Stats:
168 Receptions, 2,531 Receiving Yards (15.1 YPC), 21 TD; 105 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
25 Receptions, 336 Receiving Yards (13.4 YPC), 3 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
9 Receptions, 140 Receiving Yards (15.6 YPC), TD

Career Accomplishments:
1-Time Super Bowl Champion

Analysis: Jordy Nelson was pretty solid in his first three seasons as a number 3 or 4 option in Green Bay's offense. In 2011, he had a Pro Bowl caliber year, and led the Packers in receiving.

Nelson has emerged as the number two receiver in Green Bay. He had the third most receiving touchdowns in the league (15), behind "Megatron" and "The Gronk." He also had nearly 1,300 receiving yards and averaged an impressive 18.6 yards per catch.

He has a great combination of size, speed, and hands that could allow him to move up this list very soon, especially if he continues to produce.

 

14. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs Height: 6-2 | Weight: 221 lbs.
Age: 27 | Experience: 6 Years

2011 Season Stats:
81 Receptions, 1,159 Receiving Yards (14.3 YPC), 5 TD; 57 First Downs

Career Stats:
356 Receptions, 4,927 Receiving Yards (13.8 YPC), 36 TD; 243 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
N/A

Super Bowl Stats:
N/A

Career Accomplishments:
1-Time Pro Bowl Selection
1-Time All-Pro Selection

Analysis: If Dwayne Bowe can be a little more consistent and work on his drops, he could join the elite group of wideouts. Also, aside from an impressive 15 TD catches in 2010, Bowe has only 21 TD catches in his four other seasons.

However, the talent and production are still there, and Bowe could easily put up even better numbers with an elite quarterback. Now that he got his contract, look for him to have a very big year.

 

15. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts Height: 6-0 | Weight: 198 lbs.
Age: 33 | Experience: 12 Years

2011 Season Stats:
75 Receptions, 960 Receiving Yards (12.8 YPC), 4 TD; 50 First Downs

Career Stats:
862 Receptions, 11,708 Receiving Yards (13.6 YPC), 73 TD; 618 First Downs

Playoff Stats:
83 Receptions, 1,128 Receiving Yards (13.6 YPC), 9 TD

Super Bowl Stats:
7 Receptions, 107 Receiving Yards (15.3 YPC), TD

Career Accomplishments:
5-Time Pro Bowl Selection
3-Time All-Pro Selection
1-Time Super Bowl Champion
2-Time AFC Champion
2007 NFL Receiving Yards Leader

Analysis: Reggie Wayne could easily be a little higher on this list. Everyone wants to write him off as an elite receiver in the league. While he may no longer be an "elite" receiver, he is still one of the best in the game.

Even at age 33, Wayne can still get it done, and he proved it last year. When you can still catch 75 passes and almost 1,000 yards with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky throwing you the football, you are that damn good.

He may have lost a step, and might only be a possession receiver at this stage in his career, he can still produce, and is better than half of the number one receivers in the league.

 

 

Check out other great articles at Real Sports Hype.

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