NFL football has evolved into a game of pitch-and-catch and the greatest beneficiaries have become the receivers. Those 100-catch and 1,000-yard seasons were once milestones. Now they are commonplace. There were five 100-catch seasons and 15 1,000-yard seasons in 2017. Clearly, the game is now played with the football in the air.
With that in mind, our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll asks who the best wide receiver in the NFL is? Lots and lots of great candidates. Here are eight of the best options. Who’s your choice as the best wideout in the NFL?
Odell Beckham Jr., NY Giants. Beckham holds the NFL records for fastest receiver to catch both 100 career passes and then 200 passes. He’s also the fastest receiver in history to reach 3,000 career yards and then 4,000 yards. He caught at least 1,300 yards in passes in each of his first three seasons before an ankle injury limited him to just four games in 2017. He caught 12 TD passes as a rookie, 13 in 2015 and 10 more in 2016. He posted career-bests of 101 receptions in 2016 and 1,450 yards in 2015.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh. It’s hard to believe Brown arrived in the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick. He became a starter in his third season and an NFL receiving champion in his fifth season. Brown has now strung together five consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,200 yards. He has led the league in receptions twice (129 in 2014 and 136 in 2015), receiving yards twice (1,698 in 2014 and 1,533 in 2017) and touchdowns once (13 in 2014). He has gone to six Pro Bowls.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona. The third overall pick of the 2004 NFL draft, Fitzgerald has been voted to 11 Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons. He ranks third all-time in receptions (1,234) and yards (15,545) and eighth in touchdowns (110). Fitzgerald, 34, holds the NFL record of nine seasons of 90 or more receptions and is coming off a 109-catch, 1,156-yard season – the fourth 100-catch season of his career.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati. Green was the fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft and has posted six 1,000-yard seasons in his seven-year career. In the one season he came up short, Green caught 66 passes for 964 yards despite missing six games with a torn hamstring in 2016. He led the NFL in both catches (98) and yards (1,426) in 2013 and also led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (11) in 2012. Green has been voted to the Pro Bowl all seven of his NFL seasons.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston. Hopkins has gone to the Pro Bowl in two of the last three seasons, which is a remarkable feat given the lack of stability at the quarterback position in Houston. He has caught passes from seven different starting quarterbacks during that three-year window. He led the NFL with 1,521 receiving yards in 2015 and with 13 touchdowns in 2013. With the quarterbacking stabilized now with DeShaun Watson, Hopkins could be in store for his best season.
Julio Jones, Atlanta. The Falcons traded five draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders, to the Cleveland Browns for the right to select Jones with the sixth overall pick in 2011. That was a steep price to pay – and Jones has proven to be worth it. He has been voted to five Pro Bowls and has a current streak of four consecutive 1,400-plus yard seasons. He led the NFL in touchdown (10) in 2012, and in both receptions (136) and Yards (1,871) in 2015.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota. Like Brown, it’s hard to believe the lack of respect for Thielen coming out of college. He went undrafted in 2013 and, as a product of Minnesota State, was signed by the Vikings after a workout for the local college kids. He spent the 2013 season on the Minnesota practice squad but hit the field in 2014 and became a starter by 2016. He was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2017 after leading the Vikings with 91 receptions for 1,276 yards.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans. A walk-in starter as a second-round draft pick in 2016, Thomas quickly evolved into Drew Brees’ go-to guy and set franchise records for rookie receivers with his 92 catches for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns. He was even better in 2017, catching 104 passes for 1,245 yards on the way to his first Pro Bowl. The 196 catches in his first two NFL seasons stand as an NFL record.