Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss (84) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Greatest NFL Wide Receivers of All Time


Randy Moss said he thinks that he is the greatest wide receiver to ever step on an NFL field. Jerry Rice begged to differ saying compare the numbers.

So that had us thinking; Who is the greatest wide receiver in NFL History?

We’ve looked at the numbers, compared the options and came up with the following list.

10. Calvin Johnson

There are several current NFL players that come to mind who could make this list. Larry Fitzgerald is one, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne could plead their case. But at the #10 spot we went with Megatron, who is coming off arguably one of the greatest seasons ever by an NFL wide receiver. All he did was run wild over the NFL catching 122 passes for a NFL record 1,964 yards. It was Rice’s record that he broke and he finished just shy off the 2,000 yard mark. He would’ve been the first NFL WR to pass that milestone. All of this coming after a $132 million dollar contract. Usually players have contract years when they’re trying to earn a deal, not after. He is a 3x All-Pro and a 2x NFL receiving yards leader. He also is in the middle of his prime, so he could go for that 2,000 yard mark again next season if Matthew Stafford stays healthy. He is a match up nightmare standing at 6’4″ and weighing roughly 235 lbs. All this suggests he could move up this list.

9. Paul Warfield

Paul Warfield comes in at #9 on our list. He was a 7x All-Pro Selection (1 of those times he was second team) and a 3x NFL Champion, 2 of which were Super Bowls (VII, VIII). His numbers aren’t as glamorous because he played in a different era, but he still was a member of the NFL 1970s All Decade team. He caught 427 passes for 8,565 yards and 85 touchdowns. But despite those unimpressive numbers you have a couple of other things to look at. He averaged 20.1 yards per catch through out his entire NFL career. And he was the #1 wide receiver on the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team.

8. Steve Largent

Unfortunately Steve didn’t have the postseason success having played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Seattle Seahawks. He does however have ‘sexier’ numbers than Warfield. He caught 819 passes for 13,089 yards averaging 16 yards a catch and adding a perfect 100 touchdowns. He wasn’t big, but he was smart. And he retired atop the mountain with every major receiving record: most receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

7. Marvin Harrison

A knock against Marvin Harrison is that he had Peyton Manning throwing him the ball for most of his career, but it’s not like he was a bad receiver. He was one of the greatest route runners the NFL has ever seen and this is why he was Manning’s favorite target. He won a Super Bowl with Manning and was an 8 time All-Pro who is in the Colts Ring of Honor and a member of the NFL 2000s All Decade team. All coming on the heels of a career that saw him catch 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. Amongst his numerous records he holds the most receptions in a season record with 143 catches.

6. Tim Brown

The 1987 Heisman Winner, first ever wide receiver to win, continued to dominate in the NFL as well. Be played almost his entire career in the Raiders organization both in LA and Oakland. He caught 1,094 passes for 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns. Despite being a member of the NFL’s 1990s All Decade Team he didn’t earn one first team All-Pro selection. He was a 9X Pro Bowler who amassed an extensive collection of records: most consecutive seasons with at least 75 receptions (10), most consecutive starts by a WR (176), and and most touchdowns as a Raider (104).

5. Cris Carter

This 3x All-Pro served as a mentor for Randy Moss during their time together in Minnesota. He was named to the NFL 1990s All Decade  team. In his career he amassed 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns behind 1,101 career receptions. His story is one of redemption, he battled alcoholism and addiction. But once he was traded and overcame his demons he became addicted to catching passes. The Vikins have retired his #80 and put him in their Ring of Honor.

4. Michael Irvin

Michael “the Playmaker” Irvin is another troubled receiver to make this list. He had his own infamous run-ins with the law, but that didn’t stop him from being a dynamic player behind one of the greatest NFL dynasties. His career was ended early by injury so his numbers aren’t incredibly glamorous. He caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. But he was the vocal and emotional leader of a team that won 3 Super Bowls. A favorite amongst Cowboys fans he was inducted into their Ring of Honor and was a two time All-Pro as well as joining Cris Carter on the NFL 1990s All Decade team.

3. Terrell Owens

TO was another Cowboy player and 49er on this list. The two teams that have dominated this list. TO was known for his antics on the field and he undoubtedly started the trend of celebrations to get fined in the NFL. He famously danced on the Cowboys’ midfield logo, as well as pulling a sharpie out of his sock to sign a ball after catching a touchdown. But despite the show, and pleas to “get your popcorn ready” he was a dynamic receiver who dominated the league statistically while earning a reputation as locker room cancer.  The 5x All-Pro caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. This earned him a spot on the NFL 2000s All Decade team. Also he is the only player to catch a touchdown against all 32 NFL teams, in fact he’s scored 2 TDs against every NFL team.

2. Randy Moss

Another receiver who is known for off the field issues as well as on field celebrations (think faux mooning Packers fans). He is the one who inspired this post with his comments today at the Super Bowl media day. A 5x All-Pro who will have played in 2 Super Bowls was definitely the best of his era. But he falls short of being the greatest of all time. He caught 982 passes for 15,292 yards and an incredible 156 touchdowns. He holds the record for most TDs in a season with 23. He also has thrown for two TDs.

1. Jerry Rice

With out a doubt, Rice is our greatest wide receiver of all time. Not only is he statistically superior to the other candidates, unlike some on this list he has the Super Bowl resume to compliment it. He caught 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns. That’s 41 more TDs than second place. He is a 12x All- Pro, again TWELVE TIME. He is a 3x Super Bowl Champion and won the MVP award in Super Bowl XXIII. The 49ers retired his #80 and he is on the NFLs 80s and 90s All-Decade team. NFL.com listed him as the #1 player of all time.

Tags: Jerry Rice NFL Randy Moss San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl Wide Receiver