The 25 best wide receivers and tight ends of the 2010s
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The 25 best wide receivers and tight ends of the 2010s

It's hard to believe, but the second decade of the 21st century is nearly complete.

With the 2019 season, there is still time to influence who lands where among a list of the best wide receivers and tight ends of the decade. However, it's not too early to break down the best from the 2010s either. 

Keep in mind that accomplishments made only during this decade were considered for these rankings.

Without further ado, here are the best 25 NFL wide receivers and tight ends of this decade:

 
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Honorable Mention: Reggie Wayne

Honorable Mention: Reggie Wayne
Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire

Most of Wayne's best seasons came in the previous decade. That's why he didn't earn a true spot on the list. But I also didn't want to leave Wayne out completely. He posted a pair of 1,300-yard seasons and made the All-Pro team once this decade.

 
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25. Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 25-year-old has experienced a strange start to his career, playing for three different teams in five years. But he's produced everywhere. Cooks has posted at least 65 catches and 1,000 yards in four straight years. Last season, he recorded 80 receptions for 1,204 yards.

 
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24. Steve Smith

Steve Smith
Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

Smith could very well end up in the Hall of Fame, but he falls down the list because his best seasons were in the previous decade. Still, Smith's 457 receptions and 6,401 yards in the 2010s is hard to ignore. He reached the 1,000-yard total three times, most recently with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.

 
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23. Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 34-year-old has suffered injuries the past couple of seasons, but prior to that he was one of the best and most consistent tight ends in the league. From 2012 to 2016, Olsen recorded five straight seasons of at least 800 receiving yards. His best seasons came in 2015 and 2016 when he reached the 1,000-yard plateau each year. He has 513 catches, 6,270 yards and 42 touchdowns this decade.

 
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22. Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have slowed him down, but when healthy Allen has proved to be one of the best possession receivers in the league. In each of the last two seasons, he's posted at least 97 catches and 1,190 yards. As a rookie, Allen also reached the 1,000-yard mark. He has 420 catches with 5,206 yards and 28 touchdowns in the 2010s.

 
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21. Roddy White

Roddy White
David Allio/Icon Sportswire

The 11-year receiver was another tough one to place because he split his prime between two decades. White posted six straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2007-12. His production in the back half of those six seasons earns him a spot on this list. He made All-Pro in 2010 with a league-high 115 receptions, 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. White also posted a 900-yard receiving season in 2014 and finished the decade with nearly 500 catches and 6,174 yards.

 
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20. DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Jackson may be a bit of a one-trick pony, but he's really good at that one trick. Even in his early 30s, Jackson has remained one of the fastest receivers in the NFL as evidenced by his league-best 18.9 yards per reception average in 2018. He's led the league in that category four times this decade. Since 2010, Jackson has 465 catches, 8,193 yards, 42 touchdowns and a 17.6 yards per catch average.

 
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19. Jason Witten

Jason Witten
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The future Hall of Fame member has made the All-Pro team twice, including once this decade, in 2010. He posted more than 1,000 receiving yards that season and reached that milestone again in 2012. Witten made 629 catches for 6,483 yards and 41 touchdowns this decade. He will leave the broadcast booth to return to the field, looking for a Super Bowl ring, in 2019.

 
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18. Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham
Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire

Graham may not make the Hall of Fame as Witten is expected to, but Graham edges Witten on our list because of his accomplishments this decade. Graham has posted 611 receptions, 7,436 yards and 71 touchdowns in the 2010s. His best season came in 2013 when he recorded 86 catches for 1,215 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns. He had another 1,300-yard season in 2011, and from 2011-14 he posted 46 touchdowns.

 
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17. Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The 26-year-old has been in the league for only three years, but during that span he's lit the NFL on fire, reaching the 1,000-yard mark every season. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl each of the last two years, and then in 2018 he made the All-Pro team. Thomas led the NFL with 125 receptions, 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

 
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16. Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

At one point, Nelson was one of the top five wide receivers in the league. If not for a knee injury that robbed him of the 2015 season, Nelson could be considerably higher on this list. As it is, he seems to be vastly underrated. Nelson recorded four 1,200-yard seasons from 2011-16. During that stretch, he also had three years of at least 13 touchdowns. Nelson has 558 receptions, nearly 8,000 yards and 68 touchdowns this decade.

 
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15. Mike Evans

Mike Evans
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The danger of judging these receivers mostly on stats is gauging someone like Evans, who has probably benefited statistically from the fact the Buccaneers are usually throwing a lot to come back from a losing score, rising too high on the list. Still, it's hard to ignore Evans posting five 1,000-yard seasons in five years with quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown. Evans has 395 receptions, 6,103 yards and 40 touchdowns in his five-year career.

 
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14. T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

He may be a speedster, but Hilton doesn't get enough credit for his hands and route-running ability. He led the league in receiving yards during 2016 and has strung together five 1,000-yard seasons in a seven-year career. Hilton has 507 catches, 8,097 yards and 40 touchdowns with a 16.0 yards per catch average this decade.

 
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13. Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

The 35-year-old finally played for a playoff team in 2018. But make no mistake: Marshall was a special receiver. He was one of the best receivers in the game from 2010 to 2015, recording 1,000-yards in five seasons. Marshall made All-Pro in 2012 with 118 catches, 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns while playing for the Chicago Bears. In 2015 Marshall again posted a 100/1,500 campaign with 109 receptions and 1,502 yards while playing for the Jets. He has 555 receptions, more than 7,000 yards and 54 touchdowns this decade.

 
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12. Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez
Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

Considered one of the best tight ends of all time, Gonzalez isn't higher because his best seasons were from 1999-2003. But from 2010-13, he was a Pro Bowler every season with the Falcons, posting 326 catches, 3,320 yards and 29 touchdowns. Gonzalez made All-Pro at age 36 with 93 receptions, 930 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012.

 
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11. Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe if he had taken care of his body better, Bryant would be among the greatest receivers of this decade. Still, he just misses the top 10 on our list. Bryant has posted three 1,200-yard seasons in the 2010's. In 2014, he made All-Pro with 88 receptions, 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bryant has 531 catches, 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns this decade.

 
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10. Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas surprisingly never made All-Pro, but he was regarded as one of the best at his position early this decade. From 2012-16, Thomas posted at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards every season. With Peyton Manning in his prime, Thomas reached 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns three straight years from 2012-14. He's recorded 688 catches, 9,330 yards and 62 scores this decade.

 
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9. A.J. Green

A.J. Green
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have slowed Green over the last few seasons, but up until 2018 he posted at least 960 yards every year (the first seven of his career). Green has never made All-Pro, but he's been remarkably consistent with average quarterbacks, at best, throwing him the ball. He has 602 catches, 8,907 yards and 63 touchdowns in the 2010's.

 
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8. Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Judging by Beckham's popularity, some people are probably going to question him not being listed in the top five. Really, his placement just indicates how blessed NFL fans have been at the wide receiver and tight end spots this decade. Beckham reached the marks of 91 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons from 2014-16. He also recorded a fourth 1,000-yard season in 2018 despite playing just 12 games. Beckham has 390 receptions, 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in five years.

 
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7. Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kelce has become a megastar and will carry the torch of the best tight end in the NFL without Rob Gronkowski. Kelce may have already been ready to take that title from Gronkowski anyway. The Chiefs tight end has made All-Pro two of the last three years. Since 2016 he has three seasons of at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards. In 2018 Kelce posted 103 receptions, 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns.

 
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6. DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 27-year-old was a star with Brian Hoyer throwing him passes. He's now in the conversation for the best wide receiver in the league with Deshaun Watson behind center. With a pair of 95 reception and 1,300-yard seasons, Hopkins has made All-Pro in each of the last two years. He also posted 1,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015. Hopkins has 528 catches, 7,437 yards and 47 touchdowns in his six-year career.

 
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5. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

If we were ranking the resumes of current receivers, Fitzgerald would easily be No. 1. He is second all time in receiving yards and third in receptions.

Fitzgerald has split his long career over two decades, pushing him out of the top three on this list. He remains in the top five though, because of his ability to move into the slot later in his career. After that decision from Bruce Arians, Fitzgerald has posted three more 1,000-yard seasons. He has 780 catches, 9,212 yards and 57 touchdowns in this decade.

 
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4. Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

"Megatron" robbed us of perhaps many more good seasons because he retired at 30, but Johnson still finds himself in the top four because of three All-Pro seasons, from 2011-13. During that stretch, he led the league in receiving twice and broke the single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 yards in 2012. Playing just six seasons this decade, Johnson posted 538 receptions, 8,548 yards and 62 touchdowns. He reached 1,000 receiving yards in all six years.

 
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3. Julio Jones

Julio Jones
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If there's any negative from Jones' career, it's that he's never been great at scoring touchdowns. But he's been fantastic at everything else. He's posted at least 950 yards in every season this decade except 2013, and in that year he played only five games (and still recorded 580 yards). Jones has six 1,000-yard seasons, has led the league in receiving twice and made the All-Pro team twice. In 2015 he registered a league-high 136 catches and 1,871 yards. Jones has 698 catches, 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns this decade.

 
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2. Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Gronkowski had a real strong argument to be No. 1 on this list. Since 2011, if he's played 15 games he's made the All-Pro team. Those All-Pro seasons came in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in all of them. Gronkowski reached 10 touchdowns in a season five times and 80 catches during a year twice. This decade he has 521 catches, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. Injuries and an early retirement will prevent him from reaching the numbers of other elite tight ends of the decade, but Gronkowski is in the discussion for greatest tight end of all time.

 
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1. Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see what the future in Oakland holds for Brown; he had it awfully good in that Pittsburgh offense. But in 10 years, we may look back at Brown as the best part of that potent Steelers offense and maybe as one of the top five wide receivers of all time. Brown has made four All-Pro teams, which is twice as many as any other receiver this decade other than "Megatron." Brown has led the league in catches twice and receiving yards twice. Last year he led the league in receiving touchdowns. Since 2011 he has seven 1,000-yard seasons and three 1,500-yard seasons. (He missed a fourth by 1 yard.) Brown also has at least 100 catches every year since 2013. He heads to Oakland with 837 receptions, 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns in this decade.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the past six years, he has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey high school sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.

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