The Top 5 Wide Receivers of All Time
Tue, Oct 26, 2021
After a century of NFL performances, we have seen sports legends distinguish themselves in every position on the field. Alongside the quarterback, wide receivers are instrumental to a team’s offense. They need to be one of the fastest players on the field while catching forward passes with crazy accuracy.
Today we’re looking at the top five wide receivers of all time, based on their historical performance and how celebrated they were, both at the time and in retrospect. If you’d prefer to look at new football talent and maybe place a wager on them, check out Fanduel’s NCAA Football odds.
1. Jerry Rice
When talking about positions in any sport, in any league, there is always the record-setter against whom all future players are judged. For wide receivers in the NFL, that’s Jerry Rice. There’s no debate that, by both the numbers and the hype, Jerry Rice is the best wide receiver we’ve seen so far.
As an NFL Hall of Famer, Rice won three Super Bowls and two Offensive Player of the Year awards throughout his career. He scored more points than any non-kicker at 1,256 and holds more than 100 NFL records in total, so many that we can’t detail all of them here.
2. Don Hutson
While Jerry Rice is known as the most effective wide receiver the NFL has seen, Don Hutson was the first. Widely considered the NFL’s first professional receiver, he was the only player who hit 3,500 yards before 1945. Then he doubled it. At the time of Hutson’s retirement, he retired with what were then records of 7,991 yards covered, 99 TDs, and 488 receptions.
Hutson played for the Green Bay Packers, contributing to their success in early professional football. He’s also one of the few NFL players who has been selected for the 50th, 75th, and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams and was the MVP of 1941 and 42.
3. Randy Moss
By the numbers, Randy Moss has come closer to Jerry Rice than any other player in the game. Over 10 of Moss’ 14 played seasons saw him cover more than 1,000 yards, including his first-ever season in 1998, where he won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He also played for some of the best teams in the league throughout his career, from the Raiders to the Patriots and the 49ers.
Moss still holds the NFL record for most receiving TDs in a rookie season, at 17, and most receiving TDs in a season, at 23. The only other player to record over 20 TDs in a season is Jerry Rice, so the comparisons between the two athletes come naturally.
4. Terrell Owens
While he’s probably best remembered for his touchdown celebrations or some of the controversies that occurred throughout his career, Terrell Owens is one of the best wide receivers to ever grace the NFL. He ran 9 seasons with over 1,000 yards and got over 10 TDs in 8 of them.
Over his career, he accrued 15,934 yards, 1,078 receptions, and 153 TDs. That means he places top three in yards covered and touchdowns scored in NFL history. Despite his prowess, off-field controversies saw him being ignored during his first years of Hall of Fame eligibility. He was eventually let in in 2018.
5. Steve Largent
Steve Largent is the most accomplished wide receiver of the Seattle Seahawks and, as a result, he’s also one of the best the NFL has seen. Having been traded to Seattle by the Houston Oilers, Largent ran 8 seasons over 1,000 yards. One of them was the 1982 season, which had been shortened by strikes.
Through his performance, Largent would become a staple of the Seahawks offense and would stay loyal to them for his entire sports career. When that career was over, he had made 819 catches, 100 TDs, and 13,089 yards. These stood close to the top of contemporary NFL records.