1.) Jerry Rice- We don’t have to spend too much time on this one. The stats and super bowls speak volumes on what he did in his career. 11 straight over 1,000 yards receiving seasons, 14 in total. Along with the longevity in the league, and besides 1997, he had a pretty injury free career. It helps that he had a trio of quarterbacks he played with that were arguable the best to ever play the game in Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Rich Gannon. (Yes, I know it’s a stretch to consider Gannon one of the best to ever play, but you can’t deny the guy was a beast in Oakland under Jon Gruden and that offensive playbook.) On the flip side of that, to me, looking at Jerry Rice, he looks like your average joe, like he could be your dentist or your tax guy. He didn’t seem like the fastest, strongest, most athletic, but game after game, the guy got it done.
In my eyes number 1 is non debatable, 2 through 6 definitely could be.
2.) Cris Carter- Forget stats for a minute, which he has, and just remember this man’s hands and his ability to catch the most difficult of balls thrown his way. He perfected the sideline catch, where he could keep his feet inbounds while simultaneously contorting his body in such a manner that would make the average man pull every muscle in his body. I also put him in the same mold as Jerry Rice, just looking at him, he didn’t appear to be anything special but, he absolutely was. For me I’ve always thought about if Carter and Rice switched places, would we be talking about Carter being the G.O.A.T. instead of Rice. Yes, Carter got off to a mediocre start to his career but, then reeled off 8 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. There is no denying his legacy and what he did.
3.) Randy Moss- Forever I have thought about this man as a one trick pony, run straight down the field and catch the deep ball. For the most part we all know I’m right about that, but here is the thing, he was the best at it. There has been plenty of wide outs that have came into the league since him, with the same size and speed as him and couldn’t do what he did year after year. The defense knew it was coming, and could never stop it. The guy was unstoppable for YEARS doing one thing, he is a hall of famer because of it. Does it help to have Cris Carter on the opposite side of the field as you for half of your career? Of course it does, however Carter wasn’t a deep threat like Moss, defenses put a safety over the top of Moss and he still came down with it time after time. Does it help having Tom Brady as your QB for a few years? Hell yes, but most of the great wide receivers had a stud QB attached to their name, so it is irrelevent in my eyes.
4.) Michael Irvin- Cowboy fans will be pissed off on what I am about to say but, Irvin was the only superstar out of the trio of him, Smith, and Aikman that didn’t make his hall of fame career off the backs of the greatest offensive line to ever be assembled in the history of the NFL. Irvin was the best possession WR I’ve seen. If it comes down to a jump ball between him and the defender, Irvin didn’t lose. He physically dominated his opponents week in and week out. He fell 38 yards short in 1996 of having 8 straight 1,000 yard seasons, he only played 11 games that 96 season, so just imagine what it could have been. To me, he also is in the category of, if he had a better QB with him throughout his career, how much better would his stat line of looked at the end of his career? Which leads me into the next great.
5.) Tim Brown- 9 straight 1,000+ receiving yards seasons, almost 10. Oh, and let me give you some names, Jeff Hostetler, Brian Griese, Jay Shroeder, Jeff George, and Rich Gannon. The names of the QBs Brown had to work with in his career, among others. Talk about Mr. Consistency no matter the circumstances. While most others only dealt with 2 or 3 QBs over their career, this guy didn’t have a clue from year to year and yet still performed at the highest level. I think his legacy goes under the radar because of that and the fact he wasn’t really outspoken nor did he come off as selfish or cocky. This man should be remembered as one of the best, however he is often forgetten, not by me, but by many. You could make a good argument he could be number 2 on the list.
6.) Julio Jones- This guy is something else to watch, 5 straight 1,400+ receiving yards seasons, and counting. If he stays healthy, he could have another 5 seasons of that before is all said and done. He has it all, the size, speed, physicality, and his route running is nothing short of spectacular. This guy might very well end up being at the top of the record books in every major category in the regular season by the time he decides to hang it up. Having a consistent QB throughout his career helps tremendously as well. If he had the super bowl victories to match Jerry Rice I’d probably put him at #1, but I don’t see that happenning.
Andre Reed– Another overlooked name.
Calvin Johnson– The most gifted WR I’ve ever seen, under utilized and maybe dropped too many passes for my liking.
Terrell Owens– love him or hate him, he was one of the best.
Marvin Harrison– product of one of the best QBs ever to play, don’t know if he would even be near the top in a different situation.
Antonio Brown– yet to be determined by what he does with the Raiders.