In the 2014 edition of Athlon Sports’ Pro Football preview, we called on Ourlads Scouting Services to rank the NFL’s best at every position on the field. When it comes to determining who is the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, etc., who better to make that determination than a company that’s been in the gridiron talent evaluation business for nearly three decades?
There’s little debate, if any, that Calvin Johnson is the top wide receiver in the NFL. Besides holding the single-season record for receiving yards (1,964, 2012), the man known as Megatron has averaged 88 yards per game over his seven seasons. That is No. 1 all-time, even better than Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (75.6 ypg), who is considered the greatest of all-time at the position. If anyone has a chance to potentially supplant Rice as the GOAT, it’s Johnson.
In fact, the top four in career receiving yards per game can be found in Ourlads’ top 10. After Johnson, this list goes Andre Johnson (82.2 ypg), A.J. Green (81.6) and Julio Jones (80.5). That said, there is only one team in the league that boasts two of the top 10 wide receivers. The Chicago Bears have both Brandon Marshall (No. 4) and Alshon Jeffery (No. 8) to torment opposing defenses. Two explosive pass-catchers (not to mention the No. 6 RB and No. 9 TE) AND a lucrative, seven-year contract? Jay Cutler is a lucky man.
Rankings courtesy of Ourlads Scouting Services
2014 NFL Player Rankings: Wide Receivers
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Shrugged off some injuries and caught 84 balls, racking up 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns last fall. A rare combination of measurables, athletic ability and intelligence. Can break a tackle or make a defender miss.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Has been a reliable, sure-handed and consistent playmaker over his career, and 2013 was no different with 82 receptions, 954 yards and 10 touchdowns. A polished route-runner who changes up his speeds well to set up defenders.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati
An explosive All-Pro talent. Has rare quickness and leaping ability. A consistent and sharp route-runner with a strong and wiry build.
4. Brandon Marshall, Chicago
Led the Bears with 100 receptions and was second in yards with 1,295. He is also an uncompromising blocker. A physically strong wide receiver who can beat coverage with quickness or strength.
5. Andre Johnson, Houston
Will be 33 this season but hasn't slowed down. Once again, he led the Texans with 100-plus catches and 1,400-plus yards. An imposing physical specimen who is an excellent athlete.
6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver
A physically gifted receiver who led the Broncos with 92 receptions and 1,430 yards. A playmaker who will reach and extend for the ball away from his body. Uses his size and strength to dominate between the hash marks.
7. Josh Gordon, Cleveland
An exciting and emerging talent for the Browns. Has the speed to get behind secondaries and take the ball away from small defensive backs. Explosive player after the catch.
8. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
Had a breakout year, leading the Bears with 1,421 yards and catching 89 passes. Many of his catches were of the circus-style variety. Makes plays with his big frame and long arms.
9. Dez Bryant, Dallas
Is a roller coaster of emotions, but his talent is undisputed as is his production — 93 catches for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
10. Julio Jones, Atlanta
Was hurt last year and finished the season on injured reserve. He is a big, physical receiver with rare speed for his size. Will sacrifice his body for the ball.
11. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco
12. Percy Harvin, Seattle
13. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
14. DeSean Jackson, Washington
15. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay
16. Keenan Allen, San Diego
17. Eric Decker, NY Jets
18. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco
19. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
20. Golden Tate, Detroit
21. Marques Colston, New Orleans
22. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati
23. Wes Welker, Denver
24. Nate Washington, Tennessee
25. Kendall Wright, Tennessee
26. Pierre Garcon, Washington
27. Michael Floyd, Arizona
28. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
29. Julian Edelman, New England
30. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis