Even though having a top five leading receiver in the league doesn’t have a great record of necessarily translating to ten-plus wins for your team, the hierarchy of wideouts is always a heavily discussed football topic.
The NFL is extremely talented at this position right now. All five of these guys have every right to think they should be the best to offer. The margin between some of these guys is razor thin, so a smidge of the decision making process goes into the situation around them and how much it may elevate them. Ultimately it’s an individual ranking however. Talent and ability separate these guys at the end of the day.
I Julio Jones~ Atlanta Falcons
Alright. I just got off that “this is a position of parity” spiel. But come on now this is a pretty easy choice. A guy who runs a 4.4 40 yard dash weighing 2 bills 20 cents is startling to begin with.
But actually watching him go to work between the lines is something else. This dude breaks off his routes at top end speed, making for an impossible cover. It’s a marvel to watch. He’s got great hands and can run the entire route tree to a T. He’s a serious irritant for any defensive coordinator.
It’s universally recognized in the NFL world that Julio is under-targeted in the “ATL”, particularly in the red zone. Still in all he led the NFL in receiving yards in 2018 with 1,677. He’s on a different level and he knows it: He openly stated he ‘might mess around’ and go for 3K receiving yards this coming season. This man has earned the right to set the bar that high.
II DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans
Arizona Cardinals defensive backs coach Kevin Ross walked up to DeAndre Hopkins before a game against his Texans and said ‘you’re the best in the game.’ With the coldest stare back Deandre “Nuke” Hopkins says ‘I know.’ Then he boasted about it to his coaches and players.
It’s crazy to look back at his college career at now national powerhouse Clemson. He was a surefire first round talent and selection but the no. 2 receiver for Tajh Boyd’s Tigers with Kansas City Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins on the squad. At one point during his collegiate career, Watkins solidified himself as a top two receiver in all of college football.
But since reaching the association, he’s been surpassed by Hopkins. No shame for Watkins though, he’s one of many, many receivers to be leap-frogged by him. He’s a bad man.
III Antonio Brown~ Oakland Raiders
The lone receiver to make the top five who didn’t attend a power five school. The lone receiver on the top five not selected in the first two rounds of the draft. Sixth round draft selection back in the 2010 draft “AB” is such a great player.
He comes with baggage, but his production and work ethic from all accounts of his past coaches and players are both an A+. The Raiders trading for him made all the sense in the world. As a team with not much of a future for at least the next few years needs appeal as much as anything. This is especially paramount considering they’re preparing to move to Las Vegas. This guy will provide that consistently for them.
IV Odell Beckham Jr~ Cleveland Browns
Hard to imagine a guy this talented at age 26 ends up at no.4. It’s a testament to the position’s strength. The guy creates electricity once the ball gets in his hands. Lightning in a bottle, best at runner of the slant route in all of football, and one handed snag extraordinaire.
Like no. 3 receiver Brown, OBJ is the other on the list with serious baggage and turmoil that stems from his attitude. But like Brown, his on field results and work ethic are unquestioned.
Baker Mayfield is a sizable accuracy and arm strength improvement from a sad Eli Manning. Let’s see if “OBJ” can ascend into the top three on this list with this upgrade at signal caller.
V Michael Thomas~ New Orleans Saints
Now, I know this looks and feels like a borderline criminal ranking. Excluding “Can’t guard Mike” in the top five would simply be a scorching hot take. These five guys certainly separate themselves from the rest. “AB”, “OBJ”, and Mike all fall under a 1B tier right behind Julio and Hopkins in the 1A tier.
Thomas has the best quarterback in this top five by a substantial margin. Drew Brees connected with Thomas on roughly 90% of his total targets last year. Just stop it already with that. These two are a crazy good duo.
But make no mistake about the matter at hand, Thomas is a special receiver regardless. Expect this guy to crack the top two on this list in a relatively short amount of time. He’s the youngest receiver in this top five, as he turns 27 in March. He won’t have Brees his whole career, but he’ll be around pestering the NFC and the south division specifically for a long time with his ability to explode at any given moment.
Next 5: Michael Evans, Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, AJ Green, Tyreek Hill