Things are about to get a whole lot less tangible. You can’t simply measure receivers using numbers, so there’s no scientific way to defend the order and contents of this list. This is one man’s opinion — the top 10 receivers in the game as of right now. And let me tell you, this wasn’t easy. I struggled with this list more than I did with my quarterback rankings or my running back rankings, which has me worried about how long it’ll take to rank offensive linemen later this month.
We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, here are the latest GLS wide receiver rankings…
1. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Not only is Johnson consistently superb despite playing on a crappy team, but he also has the most potent combination of size, power and speed in the NFL. In 2010, he managed to put up superstar numbers — 86 catches, 1,216 yards — despite missing three games and being slowed in others due to an ankle injury. It’s almost impossible to slow this guy down.
2. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Jennings might be the hottest receiver in the league. After a slow start to 2010, he and Aaron Rodgers went nuts down the stretch, leading to a Super Bowl victory in February. He finished second in the league in touchdowns with 12, scoring two more in Super Bowl XLV.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
I still can’t believe he caught 90 passes for 1,137 yards despite playing in a horrible offense in 2010. On paper, Fitzgerald is barely a top-10 receiver. But watch him play and watch how he drastically changes every game he plays in and you’ll understand why he’s almost always in the top three on these lists.
4. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
The 25-year-old beast had a big bounce-back season after an underwhelming 2009 campaign. He still struggles with injuries more than I’d like, but he’s also probably the most potent red-zone receiver in the game. In a mediocre offense, Megatron has put up 12 touchdowns in two of his last three seasons. A healthy Matthew Stafford and more support from the running game will give him a chance to emerge as the NFL’s most dangerous receiver over the next decade.
5. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Sheer numbers — 115 receptions, 1,389 yards, 10 touchdowns — clinch him a spot in the top five, but something bothers me about White. I don’t want to say that his ridiculous 2010 season was a fluke, but I’m not thrilled with his ability to get deep and make big plays. His 12.1 average was lower than every other player on this list, and that’s a number that has dropped for White in three consecutive seasons. Why did the Falcons feel the need to give away a massive chunk of their draft in order to take Julio Jones? Just throwing it out there…
6. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
His 22.5 average was easily the best in the league among receivers with at least 20 receptions. For the second straight season, the 24-year-old amassed over 1,000 yards receiving while contributing as one of the most electric return men in the NFL. Amazing considering how many analysts wrote him off prior to the 2008 draft.
7. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Kudos to Wayne for his consistency. Even as the Colts offense took a bit of a tumble in 2010, the veteran’s numbers were fantastic. He was second in the league in receptions (111), third in yards (1,355) and second in first-down receptions (72). The 32-year-old hasn’t missed a game or tallied fewer than 1,000 yards since 2003.
8. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace’s ceiling might be higher than everyone else on this list. The fastest player in the league managed to rack up 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns on 60 receptions. He’s the deadliest weapon in a stellar offense, and he’s only 24.
9. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
After a horrible 2009 season, Bowe emerged as one of the hottest receivers in the league in 2010. He led the NFL with 15 touchdowns, drastically boosting Kansas City’s previously horrendous offense and helping to save Matt Cassel’s career. The only concern: Bowe is extremely streaky, and the majority of his production came during a phenomenal seven-week stretch midway through the season. Can he keep it up and establish some consistency in 2011?
10. Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos
This is amazing: seven of Lloyd’s 77 catches were for first downs. I always knew this dude had the talent, but he finally found the right offense in 2010 … and his numbers were ridiculous. Despite starting only 11 games, Lloyd led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards while adding 11 touchdowns. One more year in that range will shoot him way up this list.