Ranking NFL’S 10 best wide receivers (WRs) of all time

The NFL draft 2020 has already started and it is now spreading sheer excitement all over the United States. In this wind of sports, who would not think about the best performers? From the old memoirs to the freshly brewed 2020 matches, everyone has their preferences and favorites, let it be running backs or best wide receivers of all time. Even today, if we want to spot NFL’S 10 best wide receivers of all time, we will unfortunately fail as it is a never-ending topic of debate. 

Some may pick favorites from stats, and some may do it from the native land. Even some might go for no ‘specific reason to follow’. So here, we are trying to make a list of the most favorite wide receivers of all time, for you all!

#10. Tim Brown

Los Angeles Raiders: 1988-94, Oakland Raiders:1995-2003, Tampa Bay 2004

Total games: 255

Receiving Yards: 14,934

Total Catches: 100

“I like being the go-to guy. It puts pressure on me, but that’s why you play this game.”- You can understand the greatness through the comment of Brown himself. Brown was named first-team All-AFC six times, once as a punt returner, and four times at wide receiver. 

He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He was extremely consistent during his 17-year career and followed that with back-to-back 89-catch seasons and recorded 90 receptions in 1996. All the while, he continued to be a productive punt returner for the team.

He set a team record with seven 100-yard games and tied an NFL mark with five games with 150-plus yards receiving.


Tim Brown
Tim Brown; Source: NBC sports

#9. Randy Moss

Minnesota: 1998-2004, Oakland 2005-2006, New England 2007-2010, Tennessee 2010, Minnesota 2010, San Francisco 2012

Total games: 218

Receiving Yards: 15,292

Total Catches: 156

The mix of incredible speed and a rangy 6-foot 4-inch of height helped the player since his college football days. However, Randy has been criticized by some for a lack of discipline and inconsistency in his pass routes. But that has never hurt his production of sleek shots. He is the only receiver other than Jerry Rice to notch 10 seasons of 1,000-plus yards during an Offensive Rookie of the Year effort in 1998. He was claimed by the Tennessee Titans after being waived by the Vikings.

But Moss retired shortly before the beginning of the 2011 NFL season but returned to the league in 2012 when he signed with the 49ers right after that. After that, there were no takers among NFL teams, and he then became an analyst on television football broadcasts. 

Randy Moss
Randy Moss; Source: CBS sports

#8. Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona 2004-current

Total games: 234

Receiving Yards: 17,083

Total Catches: 120

During the 2004 NFL Draft, Larry was drafted third overall by ‘Arizona Cardinals’ and making his NFL debut on September 12 that year against St. Louis Rams. He is an 11-time Pro Bowler and led the NFL in catches twice and has nine seasons over 1,0000 yards. Also, he is returning to the field again this year with second on the all-time receiving list. 

He was named to his seventh successive consecutive ‘Pro Bowl’ in the 2013 season that marked an overall eighth of his career. Barring injury, Fitzgerald will end his career soon with top-10 marks in receptions and touchdowns. Within a decade of retirement, he’ll enter the Hall of Fame, so either way, he is there for some more time for the fans. 

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald; Source: Arizona Republic

#7. Steve Largent

Seattle: 1976-1989

Total games: 200

Receiving Yards: 13,289

Total Catches: 100

Throughout his 14 seasons, Largent raised the bar by which other receivers were measured later. He caught 70 or more passes six times and caught at least 50 in 10 seasons. However, the WR did not have a smooth career in his college days. Therefore, he left no stone unturned to compensate for that. 

He was named to the Pro Bowl seven times during his career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. After his retirement, he worked as a marketing consultant for the Sara Lee Corporation from 1991 to 1994 and, after a lifetime of community involvement and interest in politics, he decided to run for national office. Later from 2003 to 2014, he was CEO and president of a cellular communications lobbying group. It made everyone a little bit surprised why he chose over corporate career over his beloved game. 

Steve Largent
Steve Largent; Source: ESPN Seattle

#6. Cris Carter

Philadelphia: 1987-1989, Minnesota 1990-2001, Miami 2002

Total games: 234

Receiving Yards: 13,899

Total Catches: 130

Cris has been recognized as one of the most illustrious pass catchers in NFL history and also as one of the most favorite wide receivers for a long time. Till the 90’s he led the league in touchdowns on three occasions including 17 in 1995.

Carter had so many ups and downs in his life but nothing could outcast the perseverance for his charismatic career. Off-field issues led to his sudden exit from the Eagles after only three-drafts, but he has acknowledged the release helped him turn around his life and make a better comeback. Being an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Carter joined the Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Every minute that I stepped on that field from the time that I warmed up, I was trying to put on a show for those people. So they would be proud. I come from some humble beginnings, and I just believed that when people pay their money, hard-earned money, they deserve a certain level of performance.”- all through his career he was also honored for his humbleness and modesty.

Cris Carter
Cris Carter; Source: CBS sports

#5. Terrel Owens

San Francisco: 1996-2003, Philadelphia 2004-2005, Dallas 2006-08, Buffalo 2009, Cincinnati: 2010

Total games: 219

Receiving Yards: 15,934

Total Catches: 153

We still blame the selection committee for not choosing him during the first year of his selection. He might not be the greatest, but all he cared about was the perfect deliveries on the field. Currently, he ranks third all-time in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and already was named First-Team All-Pro five times. 

Terrell trains constantly even after having a great physique and doing push-ups in between shots while playing pool. He prides himself on never loafing or taking off a snap. Owens is known for his touchdown records and is seen in a negative light by the media. But his unique style is something that we may never see again and made him one of the best wide receivers of all time. 

Terrel Owens
Terrel Owens; Source: UPI.com

#4. Don Hutson

Green Bay 1935-45

Total games: 116

Receiving Yards: 7,991

Total Catches: 99

The man was on the screen even before we were born. Don Hutson was the NFL’s first elite receiver who suited up before 1945 to record 3,500 yards in his career. Despite playing a long back, people still remember him for his records and stats. 

Hutson was an eight-time All-Pro First Teamer. He led the league in catches eight times and receiving yards and touchdowns seven times during his career. He made sure to grab the NFL’s All-Pro team nine times and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1941 and 1942. His records have all been broken but the fact that his touchdown receptions mark stood into the late 1980s and players used to follow him like a blind for that. When he retired in 1945 after 11 superb seasons, he held 18 NFL records, including 488 career receptions.

Don Hutson
Don Hutson; Source: NFL.com

#3. Jerry Rice

San Francisco: 1985-2000; Oakland: 2000-2004, Seattle 2004

Total games: 284

Receiving Yards: 22,895

Total Catches: 197

The 11-time Pro-Bowl receiver has set some example that will never be met by ever. If any receiver playing in recent times, wants to outcast his career records in receptions, touchdowns, or even yards, he will have to be simply a ‘Superman.’ 

After achieving an unbeatable touchdown score back in 1994, he confessed some of his feelings through the Baltimore Sun, “I was so happy to get it done. When I caught that last ball, so much pressure just left my body.” So we see, this super player had to go through some toilsome hardship for the records. 

Rice leads all-time with 1,549 catches with the closest player is 171 away. He was more gigantic than the typical NFL wide receiver who used his size and strength to overmatch defenders. It also helped him to emerge as an amazing runner. 

Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice; Source: Pro football talk

#2. Calvin Johnson

Detroit’s: 2007-15

Total games: 135

Receiving Yards: 11619

Total Catches: 83

Popularly known as ‘Megatron’, this player has played nine seasons for the team. After playing for Georgia Tech, he was drafted by the Lions second overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Being amazingly god-gifted in terms of physical fitness, it led him to be a seven-time Pro Bowler and was named First Team All-Pro three times. He always believed that a receiver must maintain possession of the ball in the end zone every time, even after hitting the ground.

But he retired at age 30 and made everyone wonder about the reason. Later he said that he did not want to continue with a team that was struggling pointlessly without any result. Also, there were some health issues too. But there is a glimmer of hope for a reunion with the club and there was a sudden buzz that he might get back. However, nothing has been confirmed nor we got any follow-up on that issue. 

Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson; Source: Yahoo Sports

#1. Marvin Harrison

Indianapolis: 1996-2008

Total games: 190

Receiving Yards: 14580

Total Catches: 143

Marvin Harrison has been a favorite throughout his 14 years of career. He played college football for the Syracuse Orange team and joined the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft. During his promising career, Harrison was a six-time All-Pro and an eight-time All-AFC selection based on the performance. He achieved most of his success with Manning as his quarterback and had a very good relation with him. 

Manning commented in an interview about their amazing duo experience, “I think many records will be broken—most of my records will be broken. But I don’t believe that record that I and Marvin have of throwing the most touchdowns together will ever be broken.” This is not only a mere appreciation. Harrison is responsible for a bulk of Peyton Manning’s 539 touchdowns.

Marvin plans to hang up his cleats because he can’t find a team to play for, according to Peter King of SI.com. Harrison suffered an ankle injury that limited him for the majority of the 2008-2009 season.

Marvin Harrison
Marvin Harrison; Source: Stampede Blue

There we presented a list of the top-notch and best wide receivers of all time. But as we said, it’s a never-ending topic to have a healthy debate on. Some other players are there who are not included in the list but deserve great applause for their professional careers. SO, if we create an honorable mention chart for the wide-receivers, it might look like this

NFL drafts are being occupied with newcomers are freshers, So this list might not look the same after some years. Every year we enjoy one draft and show up with a new list and new names. But there are some stardust-players who remain on the list as well as in our hearts for eternity. This is the pure beauty of this game. But as we said the list will be replaced within years by the rookies. Till then we might sit for a different set of lists or wait for the next one!

Sadia Afrin

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Architecture Student II Content Writer


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