While there are plenty of differences when it comes to comparing an NFL wide receiver and running back, there also is one fairly significant similarity. The best at each position wear the same uniform.
Not only does Pittsburgh claim the best running back in the league in Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers also boast the No. 1 wide receiver. For the second year in a row, Antonio Brown leads Athlon Sports' rankings, which were done in conjunction with Dan Shonka of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services and appear in the 2016 NFL Preview magazine.
The reasons why are pretty obvious. Brown has led the NFL in catches each of the past two seasons, piling up an impressive 265 during that stretch for 3,532 yards, 23 touchdowns and a pair of first-team All-Pro nods for good measure. There are certainly a number of dynamic, difference-making wide receivers in the league, but Brown is clearly the current standard bearer for the position.
Rankings courtesy of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services, which has been in the football talent evaluation business for more than three decades.
2016 NFL Wide Receiver Rankings
1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Set single-season franchise records in receptions (136), yards (1,834), 100-yard receiving games (nine) and receiving yards per game (114.6). Set a franchise record with at least 110 catches three straight years.
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta
Earned his second straight Pro Bowl selection after leading the NFL with 1,871 yards and tying Antonio Brown with 136 receptions. He scored eight times.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Is the first Bengal to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons. Ranked eighth in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,297, averaging 15.1 yards per reception.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
Has started 48 straight games since being drafted in 2013, recording 239 receptions, 3,533 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is averaging 14.8 yards per reception over his career. Earned first Pro Bowl berth in 2015.
5. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Backed up his record-setting rookie campaign with a more impressive second year. He had 96 receptions, 1,450 yards (15.1 per catch) and 13 touchdowns.
6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Joined Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt and Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history with four consecutive years of at least 90 catches and 1,300 receiving yards.
7. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
Totalled 183 receptions for 2,833 yards in 2013-14 but went down with a torn ACL prior to the 2015 season. A first-team All-Pro selection in 2014, Nelson has 49 TD catches in his seven seasons.
8. Dez Bryant, Dallas
Was limited to nine games last year due to injury. Had three straight seasons with 1,200-plus receiving yards from 2012-14. Has averaged 14.1 yards per catch in his career.
9. Jarvis Landry, Miami
Former LSU Tiger a franchise record in 2015 with 110 receptions, and he has 194 catches in two seasons — the most ever by a player in his first two years in the league. Only averaged 9.9 yards per catch.
10. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo
The speedy and athletic receiver seemed to be hitting his stride late in the 2015 season; he averaged 17.9 yards per catch and had eight touchdown catches in the Bills’ last 11 games.
11. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
12. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
13. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville
14. Doug Baldwin, Seattle
15. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
16. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
17. Eric Decker, New York Jets
18. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
19. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
20. Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore
21. Julian Edelman, New England
22. Kamar Aiken, Baltimore
23. Keenan Allen, San Diego
24. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville
25. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City
26. Golden Tate, Detroit
27. John Brown, Arizona
28. Michael Floyd, Arizona
29. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay
30. Amari Cooper, Oakland