NFL

B/R NFL 1000: Top 101 Wide Receivers

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 18, 2014

B/R NFL 1000: Top 101 Wide Receivers

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    Editor's note: This is the ninth installment in Bleacher Report's NFL 1000 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through April 24, with NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the NFL 1000 page for more rankings.

    Can any NFL wide receiver challenge Calvin Johnson as the best in the game? That was the question we asked when setting out to evaluate, grade and rank the top 100 wide receivers in the league. The answer? Well, you’ll see.

    Regardless of who is No. 1, who comes in at No. 2? That argument is just as heated. Do you want a technician like Larry Fitzgerald, or a super-productive threat like Josh Gordon? And how about the monsters in Chicago, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery?

    That’s what the NFL 1000 aims to identify. Throw out the narratives and the fantasy football stats and dig into the film. Then we’ll see who comes out on top.

    The B/R 1000 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance, on a 100-point scale.

    Potential is not taken into consideration. Nor are career accomplishments.

    Wide receivers are judged on hands (50 points), route running (30), speed (20) and all the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to play the position.

    In the case of ties, our team asked, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly.

    Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.

    Each player was scouted by me and a team of experienced evaluators, with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.

     

    All statistics from Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Players' heights, weights and seasons from NFL.com.

101-97. Avery, LaFell, Thompkins, Hill, Brown

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    101. Donnie Avery, Chiefs

    67/100

    An undersized receiver, Donnie Avery (5’11”, 200 lbs, five seasons) lacks the size to be a difference-maker outside of the hashes. He has a great combination of quickness and straight-line speed that allows him to be effective underneath and over the middle. Avery has a limited catch radius and has trouble making catches away from his body.

    100. Brandon LaFell, Panthers

    67/100

    A good, but not great No. 2 wide receiver, Brandon LaFell (6’2”, 210 lbs, four seasons) lacks the top-end speed and crisp routes to get open on a consistent basis. LaFell, who recently signed as a free agent with the Patriots, has good size but doesn’t always use his body to keep defenders away from the ball. 

    99. Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots

    68/100

    Kenbrell Thompkins (6’1”, 195 lbs, one season) had a roller-coaster first season for the New England Patriots. He showed flashes of brilliance surrounded by key drops, poor routes and just inconsistent play all around. Thompkins was thrown in the fire Week 1 and would have benefited from having a year to play behind a veteran.

    98. Stephen Hill, Jets

    68/100

    Stephen Hill (6’4”, 215 lbs, two seasons) has prototypical size and speed for an NFL wide receiver, but he has the hands of a defensive back. He only gets open by running past defenders and not by running great routes. The Jets expected Hill to be the big-play threat they have been seeking for quite some time, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together quite yet.

    97. Marlon Brown, Ravens

    69/100

    A nice surprise for the Baltimore Ravens offense in his rookie season, Marlon Brown (6’4”, 205 lbs, one season) was a key target for Joe Flacco, especially in the red zone. He used his size and strong hands to pull down seven touchdown passes, and although he isn’t fast for his position, he found a way to make big plays throughout the year. With a full season under his belt, we could see Brown take a big step forward next season.

96-92. Heyward-Bey, Bess, Moss, Holmes, Little

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    96. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts

    69/100

    Darrius Heyward-Bey’s (6’2”, 219 lbs, five seasons) first season with the Indianapolis Colts was far from a success. His inconsistent play carried over from Oakland, and he was unable to be a big-play target for Andrew Luck. Heyward-Bey has always been an elite athlete, but his inability to catch the ball makes it hard for him to get on the field.

    95. Davone Bess, Browns

    69/100

    Davone Bess (5’10”, 195 lbs, six seasons) finished second in the NFL in drops this past season. He lacks the speed needed from a receiver his size and will struggle getting off the line when the defense is in press coverage. Bess makes most of his plays near the line of scrimmage and isn’t a threat past 10 yards downfield.

    94. Santana Moss, Redskins

    70/100

    Not the elite athlete that he used to be, Santana Moss (5’10”, 189 lbs, 13 seasons) has lost a step or two over the past few years. He isn’t going to be a No. 1 or No. 2 guy anymore, but he is a solid third receiver who can keep the chains moving. Moss has a limited catch radius and will struggle making catches outside of his frame.

    93. Andre Holmes, Raiders

    71/100

    Andre Holmes (6’4”, 210 lbs, two seasons) is a big target who has enough speed to get downfield and make plays. He averaged more than 17 yards per catch. He shows great body control and has the ability to make the spectacular catch. Holmes was suspended for the first four games of this past season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will need to be monitored going forward.

    92. Greg Little, Browns

    71/100

    Greg Little (6’2”, 220 lbs, three seasons) is a big, physical receiver who should be more effective in the red zone. He doesn’t work back to the ball and isn’t able to block-out defenders on a consistent basis, which allowed the defense to make seven interceptions last year on passes thrown his way.

91-87. Davis, Meachem, Hankerson, Burleson, Bennett

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    91. Drew Davis, Falcons

    72/100

    A big-play wide receiver, Drew Davis (6’1”, 205 lbs, two seasons) led his position in yards after the catch per reception (minimum of 200 receiving yards) and had four of his 12 grabs go for more than 20 yards. His routes are a little sloppy and should improve with more playing time and experience. Davis will be fighting for more playing time next season. But once he gets on the field, he is a threat to score every time he catches the ball.

    90. Robert Meachem, Saints

    72/100

    Robert Meachem (6’2”, 215 lbs, six seasons) is a deep threat who relies on creating explosive plays downfield. He isn’t asked to run many underneath routes and is more of a straight-line speed player than a quick, elusive player. Meachem has above-average hands and is one of the best in the league at running under the deep ball.

    89. Leonard Hankerson, Redskins

    72/100

    The Washington Redskins were hoping Leonard Hankerson (6’2”, 211 lbs, three seasons) would improve enough to be a consistent weapon who could line up opposite Pierre Garcon, but he was only able to show glimpses of being that guy before going down with an ACL injury in Week 11. He has all the physical tools to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 option, but he lacks the physicality and exceptional route running to be the go-to guy.

    88. Nate Burleson, Lions

    72/100

    When on the field last year, Nate Burleson (6’0”, 197 lbs, 11 seasons) was an effective target for Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions offense. In only nine games, he averaged 4.3 catches per contest. Burleson is an experienced wide receiver who isn’t afraid to go across the middle of the field and make the tough catch. At this stage of his career, he lacks the speed to get behind the defense and create separation outside of the hashes.

    87. Earl Bennett, Bears

    73/100

    A solid backup, Earl Bennett (6’0”, 206 lbs, six seasons) can make a spot start in a jam. He has been a safety net for Jay Cutler going back to their college days at Vanderbilt. Bennett does not do anything spectacular, but he has a consistent all-around game. A lack of elite speed keeps him from getting more playing time.

86-82. Wright, Sanders, Moore, Givens, Britt

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    86. Jarius Wright, Vikings

    73/100

    Jarius Wright (5’10”, 180 lbs, two seasons) has the speed and quickness to be a potent weapon out of the slot, but he needs to work on creating more separation from defenders by running cleaner routes. Even though he is small, Wright showed that he can make plays downfield and use his athletic ability to get behind the defense.

    85. Ace Sanders, Jaguars

    73/100

    One of the smallest receivers in the NFL, Ace Sanders (5’7” 178 lbs, one season) showed that he could be an effective target in his rookie campaign. Due to his size, he isn’t able to make plays downfield and has to make his living on underneath routes and screens.

    84. Denarius Moore, Raiders

    73/100

    Denarius Moore (6’0", 190 lbs, three seasons) has the ability to score every time he touches the ball and had a 20-plus-yard catch in nine games this past season. If he was more consistent catching the ball, he would be one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league. Moore’s statistics could show improvement with better play out of the quarterback position.

    83. Chris Givens, Rams

    73/100

    Chris Givens (6’0”, 203 lbs, two seasons) was at times the Rams’ best all-around wide receiver in 2013. He has the hands to pull in tough grabs but has to improve as a route-runner so that his timing and technique match his speed and hands. He’s an up-and-comer with solid No. 2 wide receiver potential.

    82. Kenny Britt, Titans

    73/100

    Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (6’3”, 223 lbs, five seasons) has the talent to be a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. That talent isn’t always concentrated, though. Britt puts too many passes on the ground and can be a lazy route-runner. If focused, he has the tools to be a threat the defense has to scheme for. We’ve not seen that in his 2013 film, but perhaps a new home in 2014 will do the trick.

81-76. Underwood, Robinson, Holmes, Pettis, Morgan, Beasley

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    81. Tiquan Underwood, Buccaneers

    74/100

    No longer the man Bill Belichick will cut and sign on a whim, Tiquan Underwood (6’1”, 183 lbs, five seasons) has legitimate ability as a third or fourth option in an offense. He’s a smooth runner with the speed to challenge a defense deep. As an inside route-runner, he shows burst, but you’d like better technique and timing from his breaking routes. Underwood’s drops were an issue. To be used more, he has to improve there.

    80. Aldrick Robinson, Redskins

    74/100

    A solid slot receiver, Aldrick Robinson (5’10”, 181 lbs, two seasons) has upside as an interior route-runner and option-route presence. He’s super quick off the ball and has the shiftiness to beat defenders one-on-one with the ball in his hands. As a route-runner, however, we need to see more technique and precision on breaking routes. That could lead to better ball placement and more catches (and fewer drops) for Robinson.

    79. Santonio Holmes, Jets

    74/100

    An established veteran, Santonio Holmes (5’11”, 192 lbs, eight seasons) is a well-known player dating back to his days with the Steelers. In 2013, we saw a receiver who struggled to get off the line of scrimmage and lacked burst in space. Holmes will also put far too many passes on the ground and had seven drops on the season.

    78. Austin Pettis, Rams

    75/100

    With only two drops on the season, Austin Pettis (6’3”, 203 lbs, three seasons) impressed with his hands. He has the size to extend and make plays away from his body but needs work as a route-runner and as a technician on breaking routes. Pettis’ lack of top-end speed makes him less of a threat down the field.

    77. Josh Morgan, Redskins

    75/100

    Signed to be a No. 2 threat in the offense, Josh Morgan (6’1”, 220 lbs, six seasons) hasn’t produced as expected in Washington. He has decent speed off the ball, but drops and poor route running were an issue on his film. Morgan’s inability to stay on the field and hold on to the ball when thrown to makes him a liability as a primary target.

    76. Cole Beasley, Cowboys

    75/100

    Cole Beasley (5’8”, 180 lbs, two seasons) came out of nowhere to produce for the Cowboys in 2013. As a slot receiver, he showed good quickness off the ball but struggled with route concepts and timing. Beasley can execute an option route, but he needs work on timing and change-of-direction skills. When thrown to, he’s solid and won’t put the ball on the ground if it comes within his smaller catch radius.

75. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Hands

    37/50

    A good secondary target, Miles Austin (6’2”, 216 lbs, eight seasons) doesn’t have a huge catch radius or the body to work through traffic. Too often he will fail to secure the ball when approached by defenders. There were drops on his film, but we also saw him hesitate to go for passes that could have been catches.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Austin is a smooth mover with good cutting ability. He knows how to get leverage and work his feet to stay between the defender and the ball. He worked mainly as an intermediate target in 2013 and isn’t a player you want stretching the field.

    Speed

    16/20

    Austin has average speed, but when healthy, he shows an ability to press defenders and eat up yardage with his stride.

    Overall

    75/100

    Injuries plagued Austin’s 2013 season, and he will be a big question mark moving forward. Austin has talent but must be on the field to be seen as that solid No. 2 target he was at times in Dallas.

74. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints

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    Hands

    35/50

    After a career year in 2012, Lance Moore (5’9”, 190 lbs, eight seasons) fell off a little this past season. He shows good awareness and isn’t afraid to make tough catches across the middle. Moore is a small target with a limited catch radius, but he is sure-handed when the ball is placed near his frame.

    Route Running

    25/30

    He is a clever route-runner who is able to find holes in zone coverages and use his agility to break away from defenders against man-to-man defenses. Moore is able to run precise routes to create space between himself and defenders, but he lacks the size to be a considerable threat downfield.

    Speed

    15/20

    Moore has lost a step over the years and has to rely on his short-area quickness to get open. He doesn’t have the size or speed to be a deep threat, but he can still wreak havoc on underneath and intermediate routes.

    Overall

    75/100

    After eight seasons in the league, it appears as if Moore’s skills are on the decline. He was in the perfect situation in New Orleans, and since he was released by the Saints, it looks like he won’t be more than a backup or spot starter for whichever team decides to sign him.

73. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans

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    Hands

    38/50

    A great combination of size and speed, Justin Hunter (6’4”, 203 lbs, first season) has all of the physical tools to be a top-tier receiver in the league. He shows soft hands and a proven ability to high-point the ball. He can be a little inconsistent at looking the ball in all the way and securing the catch.

    Route Running

    20/30

    He’s a young wide receiver who needs to grow in this area. He will round off his cuts at times and doesn’t always explode out of his breaks. He is at his best when he can simply go up the sideline and run vertical routes.

    Speed

    17/20

    Hunter has the speed to get anywhere on the field. He shows good quickness off the line and can blow past defenders if they don’t get a proper jam on him. His height and slender build make it difficult for him to break tackles or make defenders miss in the open field.

    Overall

    75/100

    Hunter is a good-looking, young receiver who should play a more significant role for the Tennessee Titans next season. He is a gifted athlete with a ton of potential and could be a vital red-zone target if he can bulk up a little.

72. Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    35/50

    In a limited number of opportunities, Marquise Goodwin (5’9”, 179 lbs, first season) was put in position to make easy catches. A lot of screens and underneath routes made it seem like his hands were better than they are. He will struggle making plays on the ball when it is not thrown to his chest, and he doesn’t have the size to fight for the ball in traffic.

    Route Running

    20/30

    A raw route-runner, Goodwin relies on his stellar speed and quickness to get open. His routes are sloppy, and he will need to work on making them more crisp if he wants to get open on a consistent basis.

    Speed

    20/20

    Goodwin is close to having Olympic speed and has a chance to score every time the ball is in his hands. He is slight in stature and can be mauled at the line of scrimmage, but if he is able to get a clean release, good luck catching him.

    Overall

    75/100

    One of the fastest players in the NFL, Goodwin can be a breathtaking offensive weapon if used correctly. At this stage in his career, he is primarily a situational player, but with some seasoning, he could become one of the most dangerous players in the league.

71. Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    39/50

    A versatile slot receiver, Dexter McCluster (5’8”, 170 lbs, four seasons) can make plays from anywhere on the field. He has better hands than given credit for but will lose concentration at times, leading to dropped passes. For a receiver his size, McCluster excels at extending his arms to make catches outside of his frame.

    Route Running

    19/30

    He’s still a work in progress after starting his career splitting time between running back and receiver, but he has improved at this facet of his game. He has impressive quickness off the snap and can be explosive out of his breaks. Defenses can jam him at the line, throwing him off his route, and he doesn’t have the size to block out defenders.

    Speed

    18/20

    He has elite quickness and agility with an exceptional first step. With McCluster’s athleticism and shiftiness, he should be able to make more defenders miss in the open field. He is a guy who plays fast and has the ability to score from anywhere on the field.

    Overall

    76/100

    McCluster didn’t quite live up to expectations in Kansas City and will be moving on to the Tennessee Titans next season. If the Titans can figure out how to properly use McCluster, he could be an excellent addition to their offense and should expect to see career numbers.

70. Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Hands

    38/50

    Jerome Simpson (6’2”, 190 lbs, six seasons) has good size and length, but he sometimes plays like he is 5’10”. When the ball is thrown inside his frame, he shows good hands and secures the ball, but when passes aren’t quite on target, he has issues extending and pulling in the catch.

    Route Running

    20/30

    A vertical threat, Simpson set a career high in yards per catch this past season. He will struggle getting open on underneath routes and isn’t balanced coming out of his breaks, making it hard for him to accelerate. 

    Speed

    18/20

    A long strider and a superb athlete, Simpson has the ability to stretch the defense, or do damage on a screen pass. He can get upfield in a hurry and finished the season with 12 20-plus-yard receptions.

    Overall

    76/100

    Simpson is a big-play receiver who can take the top off the defense but doesn’t always play to his size. He isn’t a major factor inside the red zone, where he only had one reception this past season, but he can help get you into scoring position in the blink of an eye.

69. Rueben Randle, New York Giants

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    Hands

    36/50

    Rueben Randle (6’2”, 208 lbs, two seasons) made some strides after a disappointing rookie season. He became a key target over the middle for Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Randle can make amazing grabs, but he needs to become more consistent at pulling in catchable balls that are thrown a little off-target.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Randle looked lost at times and never seemed to completely be in sync with Manning. When he is told to run a specific route, Randle has little issue. But he struggles at reading the defense and will make the wrong decisions on option routes, leading to interceptions for the defense.

    Speed

    15/20

    A lack of top-end speed keeps Randle from being a deep threat, but he has enough quickness and size to be dangerous on intermediate routes. He doesn’t have a great first step, but he can use his physicality to get off a jam and into his route with ease.

    Overall

    76/100

    The Giants are looking to Randle to be the replacement for Hakeem Nicks next season and expect big things out of him. They hope another full offseason working with Manning will lead to fewer mistakes and better chemistry.

68. Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers

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    Tom Lynn/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    38/50

    No one expected Jarrett Boykin (6’2”, 218 lbs, two seasons) to be the reason the Green Bay Packers could let James Jones walk. And yet, he has become that player. Boykin got off to a rough start, dropping two passes in his first game and three in his first two. That trend changed as he became more comfortable. By season’s end, this seemed to be an area where he was improving.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Boykin can struggle to create separation and get open. But he uses his frame well to extend to catch the ball and was developing a nice skill of keeping his body between the defender and the quarterback.

    Speed

    15/20

    Boykin doesn’t have great speed, but he’s able to make defenders miss in space with his shiftiness and footwork. He’ll run through or around would-be tacklers with his size, strength and burst.

    Overall

    76/100

    Boykin comes in low on the 2013 list, but we’d bet on him being much higher if healthy in 2014. He has the talent to become a major target in the Green Bay offense if he continues to develop.

67. David Nelson, New York Jets

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    Hands

    43/50

    The New York Jets were desperate for receiving help in 2013, and in came David Nelson (6’5”, 215 lbs, four seasons). The former Florida Gator has the catch radius, big hands and confidence to be a threat. In limited targets (56 passes thrown his way all year), he showed solid hands and a willingness to extend to make grabs outside his frame. He needs to get stronger on the boundary to pull the ball in high or low.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Strictly used as an intermediate option, Nelson is at his best using that size and reach over the middle. He can make plays on passes inside of 20 yards, as that allows him to still be a box-out weapon and not rely on speed or open-field moves.

    Speed

    14/20

    Nelson has size but lacks the top-end speed to be a big threat down the field. Think of him as more of a flex tight end.

    Overall

    77/100

    Nelson has the size to be a threat as a matchup problem, especially in the red zone. If he can develop his route-running skills and become more familiar with the playbook, he could become more than a two-touchdown player.

66. Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers

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    Hands

    38/50

    Ted Ginn (5’11”, 185 lbs, seven seasons) has been a forgotten man in many cities. But in 2013 the Panthers gave him a shot and he answered the call with a productive season. Working largely as a third receiver, Ginn produced over the middle and on underneath routes. In that area, his hands were reliable. It was up the field where he struggled with his hands and ability to adjust to passes on the go.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Ginn is a limited route-runner but was able to succeed thanks to good speed and a fairly simple route tree. As a threat on mostly option routes and speed-game plays (slants, digs, flat routes), he was able to use his speed and quickness to burst into space and then whip around to the quarterback.

    Speed

    19/20

    An absolute burner in the open field, Ginn, who recently signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, can hit an opening and immediately threaten a defense with his speed. And not only is he fast, but his shiftiness makes him one of the league’s hardest players to tackle in space.

    Overall

    77/100

    Ginn has been utilized mostly as a return man in his NFL career, but the Panthers allowed him the chance to showcase his receiving ability. He produced his best pro season and may have earned a larger role.

65. Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons

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    Hands

    39/50

    Due to injuries to the Atlanta Falcons receiving corps, Harry Douglas (6’0”, 183 lbs, five seasons) was able to step into the starting role and be a key target for Matt Ryan. He doesn’t always catch the ball with his hands and will let it get into his body, leading to drops. A small catch radius also hinders Douglas. He is not able to extend and make plays outside of his frame. The production speaks for itself, though, as Douglas was able to pull in 85 catches last season.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Screens and slants are a big part of Douglas’ game. He can wreak havoc on underneath routes, and with his quickness, he is tough to cover when he is coming out of the slot or the backfield. At times, he will struggle getting downfield, and he doesn’t have the size to go up and fight for the ball.

    Speed

    16/20

    Douglas doesn’t have the top-end speed that you would expect from someone his size, but he is extremely quick and elusive. He can be electric once he gets the ball in his hands and can make defenders look silly in the open field.

    Overall

    77/100

    The Falcons have been waiting for Douglas to have a breakout season for a few years now, and they finally got their wish. The question remains if he, Julio Jones and Roddy White can stay healthy for a full season. If so, then Atlanta's wide receiving corps will cause even more headaches for opposing defenses in 2014.

64. Jason Avant, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Hands

    39/50

    Jason Avant (6’0”, 212 lbs, eight seasons) continues to prove his worth as a secondary target at wide receiver. He’s a solid all-around receiver but will put the ball on the dirt occasionally. He has the vision and experience, but making tough grabs in traffic isn’t something Avant brings to the table. If the ball comes out in space, he’s reliable.

    Route Running

    24/30

    The Eagles’ passing game featured many quick, short passes, and Avant works well in that regard. He gets inside or outside leverage off the ball and can beat a defender to a spot and hold his ground. Up the field he’s limited, but inside 15 yards he can do damage.

    Speed

    14/20

    A limited runner in space, Avant doesn’t have yards-after-catch ability. When matched against speed defenders, he has to immediately gain leverage or he’s shut down.

    Overall

    77/100

    Avant is a good complementary wide receiver and has had enough success in the NFL to bring value as a No. 2 or No. 3 target. 

63. Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks

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    Hands

    35/50

    Jermaine Kearse (6’1”, 209 lbs, two seasons) saved his best game for last, putting up four catches for 65 yards and a sweet touchdown catch-and-run in the Super Bowl. Throughout the regular season we saw flashes with his game. The key for Kearse is securing underneath passes before trying to turn upfield. Once he eliminates those drops and missed chances, he’ll move up here.

    Route Running

    25/30

    A young route-runner, Kearse does an excellent job getting inside position and keeping defenders away from the ball. He uses his hips to give a subtle shake at the top of his route stem and can lose defenders with his burst after that.

    Speed

    18/20

    Kearse has the top-end speed you want from the position. He’ll accelerate well with or without the ball and has the 0-to-60 burst to make plays in the open field.

    Overall

    78/100

    The development of Kearse has allowed Seattle to be more aggressive in its use of wide receivers. And with openings on the depth chart in 2014, he has the skills to be a major contributor.

62. Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders

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    Hands

    41/50

    Rod Streater (6’3”, 200 lbs, two seasons) stood out in Oakland as the best option in the passing game. As such, his production swelled. With 94 targets and four drops, Streater handled himself well as a go-to threat. You’d like to see better fight for jump balls and more reach on crossing routes, but Streater did well in his first big season. 

    Route Running

    20/30

    This is an area where improvement and development are needed, as Streater struggled with body positioning and leverage. He’ll easily give up space to defenders, which results in interceptions, broken-up passes and missed opportunities for the wide receiver. 

    Speed

    17/20

    With a 6’3” frame, Streater is a long strider with good quickness and hip movement. He’ll get in and out of breaks fast and can accelerate upfield with the ball in his hands.

    Overall

    78/100

    Streater has some breakout potential if he improves the flaws in his route game. The size, hands and enough speed are in place to make him the Raiders’ best wide receiver option long term.

61. Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets

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    Hands

    49/50

    Jeremy Kerley (5’9”, 188 lbs, three seasons) may not blow you away, but his quiet production and consistency are valuable. In the passing game, he’s capable of having big games and can also work as a complementary target. Ideally used as an underneath target, Kerley can also work the sidelines. And he’ll do that with top-level consistency and sure hands. Of all the receivers we scouted, Kerley was among the best at looking the ball in and securing it each time.

    Route Running

    15/30

    More of an option-route player, Kerley doesn’t have ideal timing or positioning on his inside moves. He’s nonexistent as a deep threat, and on any deeper developing route, he can struggle to separate from defenders.

    Speed

    14/20

    You won’t see much speed from Kerley. Even for a smaller-sized wide receiver, he struggles to get separation on routes and doesn’t jump off the screen as a fluid mover.

    Overall

    78/100

    Kerley has value as an ideal No. 3 wide receiver in most offenses. He can work the underneath routes and pick up tough yards over the middle. And there’s something to love about a guy who rarely drops a pass.

60. Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Hands

    40/50

    Eddie Royal (5’10”, 185 lbs, six seasons) started the year on an unbelievable run, scoring five touchdowns in two games. That pace slowed, but in the Virginia Tech alum, the Chargers found a solid option in space. Royal worked the entire field for San Diego, making catches over the middle, off the edge and heavily in the screen game. Drops weren’t a huge issue but were the result of a small catch radius and limited reach. Royal could look the ball in better on the edge before making an upfield move.

    Route Running

    20/30

    The best routes for Royal are an option route, where he can sit down in space, or a screen play. He has good enough body control to go deep but will give up interceptions on jump balls due to size and positioning limitations.

    Speed

    18/20

    A quick player off the line, Royal combines burst and long speed to annoy defenders. 

    Overall

    78/100

    Royal didn’t post huge numbers in 2013, but he was a consistent target for Philip Rivers and a mentor to Keenan Allen. That’s as much as anyone could hope for from the veteran.

59. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills

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    Hands

    36/50

    A second-round pick out of USC, Robert Woods (6’0”, 190 lbs, first season) made 14 starts for Buffalo in 2013. His solid play has fans and the team excited for the future. Woods made most of his noise as an underneath option in the passing game, but he broke out as a deep threat enough times to threaten the defense. He did put four passes on the ground but made impressive, tough grabs over the middle.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Woods does a good job moving in and out of breaks without slowing down or giving away his movement. Defenders will struggle to read his hips or key on his routes, and that’s a skill rarely seen in rookies. He’ll want to work on body positioning and leverage on quick routes, but there’s a lot to like here.

    Speed

    18/20

    With enough speed to stretch the field, Woods can back off a defender at the line. This allows him to use his quickness and good open-field moves to work on crossing and underneath routes, where he can pick up yards after the catch.

    Overall

    78/100

    Woods’ rookie season was about getting acclimated to the NFL in a young offense. In turn, he supplied the team with the promise of having a consistent threat at the position.

58. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    38/50

    Terrance Williams (6’2”, 200 lbs, first season) was a nice surprise for the Dallas Cowboys as a third-round pick. On the field he became a good outside receiver, showing the strong hands and concentration to be a threat on the boundary. While he did struggle with high-velocity passes to the edge, we saw those issues start to go away by season’s end. 

    Route Running

    24/30

    Williams left Baylor as an accomplished deep route-runner, and in the NFL, we saw the same. Williams works the sideline well with body control and timing, showing the body lean and control to track the ball into his hands.

    Speed

    16/20

    A solid deep threat, Williams isn’t a burner. That said, he gets downfield with a long stride and has enough quickness to push a defensive back off the line of scrimmage.

    Overall

    78/100

    The future is bright for Williams. His immediate impact allowed the team to not miss Miles Austin and gives it a solid option long term opposite Dez Bryant

57. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    36/50

    Tiny Tavon Austin (5’8”, 176 lbs, first season) has the tools to be among the NFL’s most exciting players. To get there, his development as a receiver must take place. Austin struggled early on with drops, recording five in his first five games. From there on, he was solid. As the targets increase, Austin must become better at securing the ball before taking off upfield. He’ll also have to improve his ball security in traffic.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Austin came into the NFL as more athlete than wide receiver. That’s seen in his route tree. With great quickness, he can explode into spaces and zones, but when asked to run a true route, he struggled with timing and body positioning.

    Speed

    20/20

    Austin is an electric player thanks to his world-class speed. His start-and-stop ability makes him both dangerous as a route-runner and with the ball in his hands on designed touches.

    Overall

    78/100

    Austin is a player the offense must commit to using, and the Rams didn’t always go that route in 2013. There’s no doubt he’s electric, and there were flashes of the playmaking ability that made him the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.

56. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Hands

    38/50

    A raw player coming out of Tennessee, Cordarrelle Patterson (6’2”, 220 lbs, first season) was tasked with learning on the fly. He struggled out of the gate but by season’s end was more of a consistent threat. The talent to attack the ball is there, and Patterson’s big hands can produce. He has to become more consistent at bringing the ball in through traffic and contact, though.

    Route Running

    20/30

    An incredibly green route-runner, Patterson excelled when allowed to basically play street ball. He has unreal speed and balance on deep routes and is patient and explosive enough to be a nightmare in the screen game. He needs work, though, to become a complete route-runner.

    Speed

    20/20

    Patterson moves at an unreal speed given his size and overall length. He’s one of the fastest players in the game from a start-and-stop perspective and can quickly erase a defense with his straight-line speed and crazy moves in the open field.

    Overall

    78/100

    Patterson ranks low on this list despite his impact as a return man and his in-season development as a receiver. If he continues to improve, he has the skills to be in the top 10 very soon.

55. Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Hands

    39/50

    An established veteran, you know what you’re getting with Jerricho Cotchery (6’1”, 200 lbs, 10 seasons). He’s a solid, consistent performer. He has the ability to step into the starting lineup when needed, but he also brings value in depth packages. Cotchery’s 46 catches in 2013 were his most since 2009.

    Route Running

    24/30

    A technician, Cotchery shows good footwork and timing if only average burst into and out of his breaks. He’ll win on intermediate routes and should be limited to working over the middle at this stage of his career.

    Speed

    16/20

    Cotchery has never been known for his speed, and as he ages, he becomes quicker than fast. You still see enough burst off the ball, but that second gear isn’t what it used to be.

    Overall

    79/100

    Cotchery is the type of receiver every team needs. In a pinch, he’s your No. 2, but on most game days, he’s a solid third option at wide receiver and a consistent producer when on the field.

54. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Hands

    41/50

    A former top-five selection, Justin Blackmon (6’1”, 210 lbs, two seasons) has the raw goods to be exciting. However, his 2013 was limited to just four games due to suspensions. In that time, Blackmon flashed his potential. Against Denver, he had 14 receptions for 190 yards but followed that up with a two-drop game against San Francisco two weeks later. He’s talented, but troubled and inconsistent. 

    Route Running

    22/30

    Blackmon is at his best when he’s able to get inside leverage against a cornerback off the line of scrimmage. He’s most effective when he’s able to break routes and use his frame to wall off a defender. On straight-line routes, he lacks the top-end speed to be a threat down the field.

    Speed

    16/20

    Not a threat to extend plays much after the catch, Blackmon is a catch-and-tackle receiver. He’s quick enough to be a starter, but don’t expect much post-catch.

    Overall

    79/100

    Blackmon has natural gifts and the tools to be a top-tier player, but his off-field antics and lapses of concentration are clearly holding him back. The tools to be great are fundamental to a player’s success, but so is drive. Right now, we haven’t seen the latter from the former first-round pick.

53. Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills

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    Hands

    39/50

    Following three straight 1,000-yard seasons, the 2013 campaign was rough for Stevie Johnson (6’2”, 207 lbs, six seasons). The veteran played in just 12 games and dropped eight passes. While you might chalk that up to young quarterback play, Johnson struggled to pull in passes in traffic or when pressed by defenders. 

    Route Running

    24/30

    A smooth route-runner, Johnson can quickly get into his route and fool a defensive back. His ability to hold the defender and consistently make late breaks in his stem was impressive to watch.

    Speed

    16/20

    Johnson lacks raw speed, but he shows good quickness in space and is able to be effective in his cuts, thanks to good footwork and timing.

    Overall

    79/100

    A rock-solid No. 1 wide receiver for the past three years, Johnson has to get healthy and form a bond with quarterback EJ Manuel to get back on track in Buffalo.

52. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Hands

    39/50

    A smart veteran player, Dwayne Bowe (6’2”, 221 lbs, seven seasons) had his struggles in 2013. A lack of concentration on the field (and off it) led to eight drops for Bowe. Given that he's the No. 1 wide receiver in a run-first offense, that’s too many.

    Route Running

    25/30

    With a big body and solid frame, Bowe is excellent at boxing out defenders. He has to do a better job sealing off that lane and preventing jumped routes, but you see excellent strength in his routes and a good understanding of timing on his breaks.

    Speed

    16/20

    He may not look it, but Bowe is 221 pounds and one of the more solid wide receivers in the league. That frame doesn’t move as fast as others, and since speed isn’t part of his game, it can lead to his targets coming mostly in traffic.

    Overall

    80/100

    Bowe has No. 1 wide receiver talent, but his 2013 season wasn’t the best. With his second-lowest catch total and lowest career yards per catch, last season was one to forget for the Chiefs’ go-to receiver.

51. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Hands

    40/50

    Mike Wallace (6’0”, 195 lbs, five seasons) was a big-name addition for the Dolphins in 2013. On the field, he flashed moments of brilliance, but he struggled to find a chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill in their first season together. That led to a staggering 11 drops for Wallace, and it is why a player with such huge promise comes in ranked so low.

    Route Running

    20/30

    A go route specialist, Wallace doesn’t show the needed timing or awareness on underneath and breaking routes. It’s almost as if he’s only interested in going deep, and his other routes show a lack of precision because of it. The athleticism is there for him to run any route ever designed, but he has yet to translate that to the playing field.

    Speed

    20/20

    Wallace has the speed to push a defense over the top. That’s his speciality. With great off-the-line acceleration, he’s able to push a defense and gain the respect of defenders with off coverage. More of a straight-line guy than a shifty mover, Wallace can run with anyone in the league.

    Overall

    80/100

    A huge free-agent signing last year, Wallace wasn’t always used right by the Dolphins. When the team did chuck it deep, the passes weren’t always on target. That said, Wallace is being paid like a top-10 wide receiver, and his production and impact fell short of expectations.

50. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans

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    Hands

    41/50

    As a second or third option, Nate Washington (6’1”, 183 lbs, nine seasons) is an ideal player. He has the longer arms and strong hands to make catches in traffic, and he doesn’t mind working the middle of the field. When thrown to accurately, he’s reliable and consistent. Ask him to work away from his frame and you’ll see a drop or two.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Washington does well on any route that lets him sink into space. He’ll find soft spots in the defense and is quick at recognizing zone coverages and making himself a target. He’s not called on to work deep parts of the field but is excellent in short areas.

    Speed

    16/20

    You won’t see Washington blazing down the sideline, but he has good speed in space and gets upfield in a hurry. His long stride allows him to pick up yardage pre- and post-catch. 

    Overall

    81/100

    Washington is a good option as a No. 2 wide receiver and offers value as a target over the middle. While his speed and size aren’t elite, he’s incredibly consistent and can be a third producer in a passing attack.

49. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    42/50

    Hakeem Nicks (6’1”, 208 lbs, five seasons) is a household name for most, but the wide receiver’s play in 2013 wasn’t top-tier. Nicks pulled in 56 catches and showed his trademark strong hands in traffic, but his seven drops were far too many. The talent is there, and he has the big hands needed to raise his score in 2014.

    Route Running

    23/30

    With better body positioning on 50/50 passes, Nicks would rate out higher here. He can struggle to establish himself in front of a defender and box out. In the quick game, especially on inside routes, he’ll find good leverage and can stick-and-go to beat a defender to the ball. 

    Speed

    16/20

    Nicks, who recently signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts, doesn’t have the elite top-end speed of a downfield threat at the position. He does show good quickness off the line of scrimmage and can get into his second-gear quick enough to press a defense.

    Overall

    81/100

    After scoring just three touchdowns in the last two seasons, Nicks’ status is on the decline. He needs a big season in 2014 to prove his worth.

48. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    39/50

    In his second season, Michael Floyd (6’2”, 220 lbs) emerged as a 1,000-yard receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. Floyd's 65 catches showed he is ready to be a threat, but his five drops in 2013 were a concern. Floyd had similar issues at Notre Dame, and while correctable, this seems to be an issue that’s following him throughout his development.

    Route Running

    24/30

    With his size and speed, Floyd can be a threat at any level on the field. What we’d like to see better is his ability to box out defenders and keep them from making a play on the ball. Too often he allowed the opposition to pick off passes thrown his way.

    Speed

    18/20

    Floyd has good speed both on the field and on the track. He’s quick enough to get into his route tree and push a defender off the line. His top-end speed is enough to work up the sideline and into the secondary. After the catch he’s not super elusive, but he has good straight-line speed.

    Overall

    81/100

    Floyd enjoyed a good year in Arizona, but there is work to be done. Year 3 will be a big season in terms of his development and realizing his potential.

47. Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    38/50

    Riley Cooper (6’3”, 222 lbs, four seasons) went from an offseason of controversy to one of the most reliable offensive weapons on the Eagles’ offense. Cooper did have drops along the way, but also showed up as a threat on offense at every level of the field. Once he improves his ball security, Cooper’s score could take off.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Watching Cooper play you quickly notice that nearly all of his targets come either in the middle of the field or on the left hash. He works that area of the field well using his size and length to box out defenders. He’s established as a breaking-route wide receiver.

    Speed

    16/20

    Cooper doesn’t have great speed, but he accelerates well through space and has good quickness to separate.

    Overall

    82/100

    Cooper exploded onto the scene in 2013, quickly becoming Nick Foles’ favorite weapon. The Eagles liked what they saw and locked him up to a long-term deal before free agency.

46. Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Emmanuel Sanders (5’11”, 180 lbs, four seasons) was sought after as a restricted free agent last season. In 2013 we once again saw the reasons why. Sanders has the hands to be a consistent weapon. On outside routes he has been known to drop a few passes if asked to adjust and come back to the ball, but largely he’s a go-to player on the edge.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Sanders, who recently signed as a free agent with Denver Broncos, has improved as a route-runner but has to continue to work on his body positioning. Too often he’ll let the defensive back through his frame, which leads to broken up passes and interceptions. Sanders is quick and adept at creating space, but his technique has to improve. On stick-and-go routes, he’s impressive. On 50/50 routes, not as much.

    Speed

    18/20

    With high-end speed and quickness, Sanders can be dangerous if he’s allowed into daylight. He’ll pick up yards post-catch and can push the defense deep with his top-end speed.

    Overall

    82/100

    Sanders is a young player our team really liked. With more opportunities, he has the talent to become a more recognizable threat on offense. 

45. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    37/50

    Pierre Garcon (6’0”, 212 lbs, six seasons) was the most consistent force on the Washington offense in 2013, producing career-best numbers in catches and yards. With 113 catches you might expect a higher catch grade, but once you factor in his 11 drops, his score comes down. 

    Route Running

    28/30

    Garcon loves the middle of the field and does a good job making himself into a big target for the quarterback. He uses his eyes well to find openings in the defense and is able to get through traffic and come out clean. 

    Speed

    17/20

    An above-average runner, Garcon has enough speed to threaten defenses but won’t take the top off the coverage with his straight-line ability. 

    Overall

    82/100

    Garcon’s raw production in 2013 was exceptional, but the on-field performance didn’t mesh with his numbers. We loved his numbers, but drops were a major issue here.

44. Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    48/50

    Former Nevada Wolfpack wide receiver Rishard Matthews (6’0”, 210 lbs, two seasons) was a pleasant surprise for the Miami Dolphins. As a five-game starter, Matthews pulled in 41 catches and overshadowed free agent Brandon Gibson from Day 1. On 62 targets, Matthews recorded just one drop. It’s a smaller sample size than most, but that consistency and sure-handed play was eye-catching on film too. 

    Route Running

    20/30

    Matthews was eased into the Miami offense and took off as a short-yardage receiver. He showed good body positioning and awareness on plays over the middle. Outside the hashes, he’s more limited and must continue to work on timing and space in his route.

    Speed

    14/20

    Matthews isn’t a burner on the field, and that shows up in his play after the catch. He’s good enough to get open, but won’t follow through with long runs or force missed tackles in the open field.

    Overall

    82/100

    Not much was expected from Matthews in 2013, but with opportunity he impressed. Now the Dolphins have a young wide receiver with production, potential and a good relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

43. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    40/50

    Big things were expected of Danny Amendola (5’11”, 195 lbs, five seasons) in his first season with the Patriots. Instead, injuries were once again a problem. When on the field, Amendola shows good hands in traffic. Where he struggled was on outside routes where he had to adjust to the ball. Ask him to go over the middle and he’s consistent, but outside the hashes Amendola is less predictable. 

    Route Running

    26/30

    A fluid runner with smooth transitions in space, Amendola is exceptional at leaving coverage when working through traffic. He’ll dart over the middle with quick feet and good awareness. Rarely do you see him out of position or not prepared for a pass. If graded only on intermediate routes, his score would be higher. But since he lacks deep-route ability, points were taken off.

    Speed

    16/20

    As a very quick player in space, Amendola has good field speed but not great track speed. He won’t show up as a straight-line sprinter, but give him the ball and he can create. While not a threat to run past defenders on his route, he’s good when chased.

    Overall

    82/100

    It’s tough to say what could have been if Amendola were healthy in 2013. But as has been the case for years, injuries got in the way. His price tag and the emergence of Julian Edelman make his future a question mark.

42. Andre Roberts, Washington Redskins

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    Stephen Morton/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    44/50

    Playing in the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald can be tough, but Andre Roberts (5’11”, 195 lbs, four seasons) did well to establish himself. As a sure-handed receiver on routes to any part of the field, Roberts shows the hand strength and vision needed to be a heavy producer. He won’t often put the ball on the turf, and our only big knock on him was his smaller catch radius.

    Route Running

    20/30

    An excellent slot receiver, Roberts does his damage on inside routes and when working in space. Roberts has the athleticism to make plays when sitting down in space and does a good job running through traffic and working his eyes to the quarterback.

    Speed

    18/20

    A good runner in the open field, Roberts has the speed to move past defenders in his route. He can also take the ball and grab yardage, showing good speed and acceleration as a ball-carrier.

    Overall

    82/100

    Roberts is set to earn more targets in his new home, and it will be worth watching to see if his strong hands and low drop rate continue with a bigger profile. Based on 2013, Washington is getting a consistent slot receiver to pair with Robert Griffin III.

41. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    40/50

    A key free-agent signing last year, Greg Jennings (6’0”, 195 lbs, eight seasons) added a legitimacy to the Vikings offense that was missing following the trade of Percy Harvin. Jennings has good hands and is a consistent threat, but we did note drops in his game film. An adjustment to new quarterbacks can be partially to blame, but he’ll also need to be more aggressive working back to the ball.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Jennings can dominate on intermediate and breaking routes. Give him man coverage and he can win with a plant-and-go move. He doesn’t give you much with body positioning, though, and can allow interceptions to happen by letting the defender out-position him in the route.

    Speed

    17/20

    Jennings never had great speed to begin with, but as he recovered from an injury that cost him most of 2012, his burst was noticeably absent early in the year. When healthy, he has a good first step off the line and above-average quickness in space.

    Overall

    82/100

    Expectations were high for Jennings in Minnesota, but with uneven quarterback play his production didn’t quite match previous success. Jennings, when healthy, could regain No. 1 wide receiver status.

40. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints

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    Tom Gannam/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    45/50

    Kenny Stills (6’0”, 194 lbs, first season) wasn’t expected to be an instant contributor in the Saints offense, and yet he emerged as a threat for Drew Brees as the season went on. With just one drop on the year, Stills showed incredible concentration and focus. We’d like to see him extend his catch radius with longer reach for outside passes, but all-in-all, there’s a lot to love here.

    Route Running

    21/30

    The Saints offense loved Stills as an intermediate target, especially in the middle of the field. That’s where he was able to find space to sit down and make himself a target for Brees. On breaking routes, he has to work on plant-and-go explosiveness, but immediately Stills was a factor on option routes.

    Speed

    16/20

    Stills is not a burner, but his vision and quickness make him a threat in the open field. We saw that in 2013 as Stills picked up big yards after the catch even without top-tier speed.

    Overall

    82/100

    The play of Stills allowed the Saints to move on from Lance Moore in the offseason. With his vision and poise, the former Oklahoma wide receiver should have an even bigger impact next fall.

39. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    44/50

    From Week 1 all the way through the Super Bowl, Doug Baldwin (5’10”, 189 lbs, three seasons) proved himself as a consistent threat for the Seattle offense. In a run-heavy offense, Baldwin didn’t see as many targets as most, but after evaluating those throws, you see his consistency. Over the middle, he’s special, showing strong hands and good concentration. His few drops were more an issue of catch radius and reach than poor hands.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Baldwin shows good quickness and cutting ability on routes over the middle and when working the intermediate flats. As a deep-ball route-runner, he is more limited due to a lack of height, length and speed. His best route is, without question, a shallow dig into the heart of the defense.

    Speed

    16/20

    With average speed, don’t expect to see Baldwin taking the ball deep after the catch. He’s shifty in space but doesn’t have that elite speed to stretch defenses.

    Overall

    83/100

    Baldwin’s numbers won’t match up against other top-ranked wide receivers, but his impact in an offense loaded with talent was impressive. He’s young, too, and should only continue to rise up the list.

38. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Brian Hartline (6’2”, 199 lbs, five seasons) may not be super exciting to fans, but his production and impact were huge for the Miami Dolphins in 2013. As a middle-of-the-field receiver, Hartline has good hands and limited drops when working back to the quarterback. He’ll get caught looking at a defender here or there, but his drops were limited to just five on 127 targets. He tracks the ball well and has the reach and hand strength to pull the ball down in space or in traffic.

    Route Running

    26/30

    A breaking-route specialist, Hartline is a high-level route-runner with the footwork to leave a cornerback behind. He’s subtle in his movements when setting up a defender with his hips and head. He doesn’t show the straight-line speed to dominate on deeper routes, but his balance when asked to go upfield is good.

    Speed

    16/20

    You won’t get much after the catch from Hartline, but his functional speed is good within the route tree. He’ll come off the line with enough burst to turn a defender and can then work his magic on breaking routes.

    Overall

    83/100

    Hartline’s play may have been lost in the expectations for Mike Wallace, but the former Ohio State wide receiver outproduced him in catches, yards and yards per catch. In his fifth season, he’s emerged as one of the best No. 2 wide receivers in the game.

37. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    38/50

    The Jaguars’ best offensive player in 2013, Cecil Shorts (6’0”, 202 lbs, three seasons) was a threat with the ball in his hands. The knock on his game was too many drops, especially over the middle and when a defender was closing in on him. Shorts has the skill to improve in this area, and while we saw him make big plays, inconsistency is holding him back.

    Route Running

    25/30

    Given his youth, Shorts’ ability as a route-runner to all levels is exciting. He’s super fast off the line and is able to gain the respect of cover men, as they must play off coverage. He’ll counter that with a deadly underneath move and acceleration. Shorts’ timing and technique could use work, but right now, he can win with his speed.

    Speed

    20/20

    One of the league’s fastest wide receivers, Shorts has the burst to immediately threaten a defender off the ball. Once in space, most NFL cornerbacks struggle to keep up with him. 

    Overall

    83/100

    Considering Shorts missed three games, his numbers and impact in 2013 were impressive. Add on to that the lack of talent on offense in Jacksonville, and what Shorts was able to do last season is very impressive.

36. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    40/50

    When we talk about catch radius, Sidney Rice (6’4”, 202 lbs, seven seasons) immediately comes to mind. He’s big, long and uses his hands well in extension away from his body. It’s difficult to assess his catch rate because we’re looking at a small sample size due to injury. Rice had just 15 catches but missed on other opportunities due to positioning and awareness. Those might not show up as drops, but there were passes thrown that Rice had a chance to catch.

    Route Running

    27/30

    Used as a versatile route-runner in the Seattle offense, Rice can line up anywhere on the field and get into his route tree. He has the body to box out defenders over the middle or on comeback routes, and he makes himself a big target in the red zone.

    Speed

    17/20

    The 2013 season featured Rice slowed with injury, and that obviously affected his speed at times, but you also saw early in the year the fluid movement in space that he’s known for. His top-end speed has never been elite, but he’s elusive enough to pick up yards after the catch.

    Overall

    84/100

    Rice was held to just six starts in 2013, but evaluating his performance when on the field, you see the tools that made him a No. 1 wide receiver. Getting healthy will go a long way in helping Rice move back up the list.

35. Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens

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    Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    47/50

    Despite missing time early in the season due to injury, Jacoby Jones (6’2”, 215 lbs, seven seasons) kept up his status as a deep threat and return man for the Ravens. A solid No. 2 target, Jones has the reach and radius you want in a physical wide receiver. He looks the ball in cleanly and has soft, sure hands. The only knock? He’s not very physical when the pass calls for him to attack it and challenge a defender.

    Route Running

    20/30

    Jones is at his best on a plant-and-go route (think posts and flags) or when he’s streaking up the field. He’s not the most patient receiver over the middle and could improve on his positioning given his size and frame. 

    Speed

    17/20

    As a pure runner, Jones won’t show up great in a timed 40-yard dash, but his start-and-stop speed is impressive. That shows up on film, when he’s able to explode off the line or from a standing position with the ball in his hands.

    Overall

    84/100

    Evaluating Jones purely on the games he did play, we were impressed with his soft hands. As he develops more as a route-runner, there’s room for Jones to move up on our list.

34. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    A big, physical threat on the outside, Marques Colston (6’4”, 225 lbs, eight seasons) is a proven commodity at wide receiver. As a primary target in a pass-heavy offense, Colston sees a ton of targets. He responds with production (75 catches) but also some drops. Colston will get ahead of himself before putting the ball away, and that can lead to needless drops.

    Route Running

    26/30

    With his size, Colston shows great positioning and the ability to box out defenders. He lacks the speed to be a deep threat, but as an intermediate and quick-route option, he’s exceptional. The limited route tree you get from Colston does limit his score compared to others.

    Speed

    15/20

    Colston will never be the guy who outruns a defender up the sideline. Instead, he makes up for that with size, awareness and excellent body positioning. 

    Overall

    84/100

    Limited to just 11 starts in 2013, Colston’s numbers were quite good given the missed time. That said, his lack of speed and drops were things we couldn’t get past in our evaluation. 

33. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    39/50

    Steve Smith (5’9”, 185 lbs, 13 seasons) is known as one of the toughest men in the NFL. We’ll hope he doesn’t read this. With five drops on 108 targets, Smith’s rate of drops was higher than most of his peers. Smith doesn’t have the biggest catch radius, and his success rate when approached by a defender wasn’t good. As we evaluate the catchable passes and drops in his film, Smith’s score is justifiably lower than last season's. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    A dynamic route-runner, Smith, who recently signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens, has the balance and body control to work deep routes or underneath and intermediate plays. His burst and footwork make him tough to jam off the line, and his strength and shiftiness against press coverage allow him to shed a defender and accelerate to space.

    Speed

    18/20

    Even after 13 seasons, Smith still has top-tier speed. His 0-60 burst is impressive, and it allows him to not only separate in coverage but also pick up yardage after the catch.

    Overall

    84/100

    Surprised to see Smith this low? While he did enjoy a solid 2013 season, his drops were too much for our team to overlook given his production. As age creeps up, Smith’s status as one of the league’s best goes down.

32. Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    46/50

    Turn on the film and you won’t see many drops from Vincent Brown (5’11”, 190 lbs, two seasons). The Chargers wide receiver dropped just one ball, but we did dock his score for a smaller and less aggressive catch radius. Brown is incredibly consistent at pulling in the ball, but we’d like to see him attack the ball more in flight. Picky? Maybe, but he has room to improve.

    Route Running

    23/30

    After missing the 2012 season due to injury, Brown remains a fairly raw route-runner. His timing and awareness can improve, but you see the framework in his quickness and the flexibility of his hips when executing a breaking route. 

    Speed

    15/20

    Not a burner at the position, Brown has good short-area quickness and can beat a defender in space. He’s able to win with footwork, vision and burst as opposed to raw long speed.

    Overall

    84/100

    Brown’s comeback season was a struggle at times, but he continues to show the on-field abilities to be a top-tier wide receiver. Improving his timing on routes and proving that he can stay healthy are big keys for 2014.

31. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Tom Brady’s favorite target in 2013, Julian Edelman (5’10”, 198 lbs, five seasons) had his best season as a pro. Edelman, a former quarterback at Kent State, struggled to pull in the ball on the move. As a smaller player, his catch radius is limited, and that affected his hands when on the move. It’s tough to discount his 105 regular-season catches, but the drops shown on film keep his score down.

    Route Running

    28/30

    On option routes and inside plays, Edelman is nearly uncoverable. His ability to slice through traffic and come out wide open is top-notch. He’s small but makes himself a big target over the middle and is fearless with pressure coming down on him. On outside routes and upfield plays, he’s not as dynamic. Edelman excels on routes within 20 yards of the line and between the hashes.

    Speed

    16/20

    Edelman is shifty, but he's not exceptionally fast. His straight-line speed is limited, but he’ll tear up a defender in space with his start-and-stop ability.

    Overall

    85/100

    Edelman excels as a slot receiver, and as such, he's a heavily targeted player in the New England offense. He’s also a good example of why big statistics don’t always equal out to a top-tier player.

30. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    47/50

    In his first pro season, DeAndre Hopkins (6’1”, 218 lbs) proved worthy of the first-round pick the Houston Texans spent on him. Throughout the season, Hopkins dropped just one of the passes thrown his way. That range, concentration and production are what the team needed opposite Andre Johnson. He’ll need to improve his timing and his reach, but Hopkins looks like the real deal.

    Route Running

    20/30

    An immature route-runner coming out of Clemson, Hopkins had to learn on the go this year. He has a developed deep game but needs to work on timing and breaking routes to ensure he’s consistent on his steps, route depth and timing.

    Speed

    18/20

    Hopkins has the speed to take the top off a defense and can stretch the field vertically with good success. He’s fast enough with the ball to pick up big yardage post-catch.

    Overall

    85/100

    A threat from day one, Hopkins developed into a consistent threat for the Houston offense. As he grows and matures as a technician, the young wide receiver should only rise up the list.

29. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals

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    David Kohl/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    The 2013 season was a coming-out party for Marvin Jones (6’2”, 195 lbs, two seasons). The former fifth-round pick emerged as a threat all over the field for Cincinnati. Jones showed solid hands, dropping just three passes in the regular season and impressing with his concentration on sideline and deep routes. His catch radius improved with his development, and throughout the year, you saw him get more confident and more productive. 

    Route Running

    25/30

    Put Jones on an island and he can beat defenders with comeback routes all day. His size, reach and aggressive play make him a big target on those routes where he’s positioning himself against coverage. He could stand to improve his timing on crossing and deep breaking routes and will likely do so in the offseason. 

    Speed

    17/20

    You won’t see flashy speed from Jones, but he can pick up plus yardage after the catch. His 49-yard catch-and-run vs. the Chargers in the playoffs is a good example of his ability to make plays post-catch, thanks to his size and athleticism.

    Overall

    85/100

    An up-and-comer at the position, Jones has the athleticism and build to be a top-tier No. 2 wide receiver. And with defenses focusing on A.J. Green opposite him, expect Jones to see plenty of one-on-one looks.

28. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    A known weapon as a deep threat, Torrey Smith (6’0”, 205 lbs, three seasons) has the ability to take the top off a defense. And while he’s exceptional adjusting to the ball on deep routes, that’s where three of his five drops came. Smith does a good job getting his hands on the ball with full extension. In terms of adjusting to the ball while on the go, be it laterally or vertically, he’s a top-tier receiver.

    Route Running

    24/30

    Smith has developed into a solid all-around route-runner and now shows better adjustment, timing and footwork on intermediate routes. He’s still at his best with a simple go route off the line, but his change-of-direction skills and awareness took a big step forward in 2013.

    Speed

    18/20

    With first-rate speed, Smith can make big plays happen all over the field. He’s explosive off the ball and has learned how to use that speed in space after the catch. Where he used to be just a straight-line speed guy, Smith is now more elusive.

    Overall

    85/100

    Smith seems to slip through the cracks when talking about top-tier wide receivers, but the potential is there. Shoring up some drops and his development as a route-runner will help put him even higher on the list next season.

27. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    40/50

    One of the most improved wide receivers during the 2013 season, Kendall Wright (5’10”, 191 lbs, two seasons) emerged as a legitimate No. 1. Wright has soft hands and an explosive first step. Over the middle, he’s always a step ahead of the defense, which led to some poorly timed balls that count as drops on Wright’s chart. Once he adjusts better to those balls on the go, his score here could skyrocket.

    Route Running

    27/30

    Wright is nearly uncoverable as an underneath route-runner. His speed, vision and ability to explode off the ball make him a terror for defenses when passing through the second level. Deeper routes weren’t something the Titans utilized in 2013, but Wright’s speed makes us think he could develop there.

    Speed

    18/20

    Sneaky and explosive, Wright can quickly get into his top speed and pull away from a defender. He’s able to accelerate past cover men and tacklers equally and plays as fast without the ball as he is with it.

    Overall

    85/100

    Wright took off in 2013, catching 94 passes for more than 1,000 yards receiving in an up-and-down year for Titans’ quarterbacks. Whether it’s Jake Locker or someone else throwing to him this fall, Wright is Tennessee's best offensive threat.

26. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    42/50

    Keenan Allen (6’2”, 211 lbs, first season) arrived in San Diego, put his jersey on and became a go-to player at wide receiver. The former Cal Bear adjusted well, showing good hands in space and in traffic. He was consistent over the middle and in traffic but did put the ball on the ground some at the second level when approached by safeties. Allen’s body control and concentration are excellent, though, especially for a rookie.

    Route Running

    26/30

    A smooth runner with a long, fluid stride, Allen is able to eat up yardage and press cover men off the line. He’s good at breaking, especially when planting his right foot in the dirt and changing direction. His deep routes aren’t quite developed, and you see some balance issues there, but he can clean that up while continuing to excel underneath.

    Speed

    17/20

    Allen plays faster than his 40 time would indicate. Watching him run on the field, you see a smooth glider with enough speed to run away from defenders. Especially when evaluating him as a runner with the ball, Allen is plenty fast.

    Overall

    85/100

    A steal in the 2013 draft, Allen quickly emerged in San Diego as Philip Rivers’ favorite target. For him, the needle is pointing way up.

25. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    40/50

    T.Y. Hilton (5’9”, 178 lbs, two seasons) may not be big, but with Reggie Wayne out of the lineup in 2013, he became Andrew Luck’s go-to weapon in space. Over the middle, where Hilton does most of his work, you’ll see him drop some passes. His catch radius is small and defenders can jar the ball loose in traffic. But he’ll also make the exceptional catch, either in space or traffic, and is a big-play threat.

    Route Running

    26/30

    With his size, you might think Hilton only works intermediate and short routes, but the Colts aren’t afraid to let him loose up the sideline and on deep routes. He does damage underneath with quickness and burst, but he also has the second gear to pull away when needed.

    Speed

    19/20

    Hilton has speed in bunches, and he uses it well to elude defenders in space. With the ball in his hands, he can accelerate and find openings to pick up plus yardage. Look at his game against Kansas City in the playoffs as an example of picking up yards with speed.

    Overall

    85/100

    Hilton’s second season in Indianapolis was a big one. His production down the stretch helped fuel an AFC South championship run and put him firmly in the discussion as one of the league’s best young wide receivers.

24. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    40/50

    Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receiver, Jordy Nelson (6’3”, 217 lbs, six seasons) excels at making the tough sideline grab. He’s at his best when working back to the ball and using his long arms and big hands to climb the ladder to high-point passes. Nelson has shown a tendency to drop a few on crossing routes when the ball is on his hip, but he adjusts well to the ball in the air and has the versatility to be a threat all over the field.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Nelson is excellent at getting in and out of breaks in his routes and working back toward the football. His body control allows him to also track the ball deep and push the defense. His underneath routes look to be ill-timed occasionally, but there’s not a route that Nelson can’t run successfully.

    Speed

    17/20

    With his body type, Nelson brings good speed to the position. He’s quick in space and has enough acceleration off the line of scrimmage to get a defender turned out of his backpedal. After the catch, he’s able to create with speed and vision.

    Overall

    85/100

    In 2013, Nelson had his best year and was also able to start all 16 games for the first time since entering the league. He’s quietly emerging as one of the best go-to receivers in the league.

23. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    44/50

    A true offensive weapon, Randall Cobb (5’10”, 192 lbs, three seasons) attacks the ball. He also shows soft hands, looking the ball in before accelerating downfield. Cobb doesn’t fear traffic, either, and he does a good job making tough grabs when surrounded by defenders. His catch radius isn’t huge, and he could do a better job of tracking deep balls over his shoulder, but we like what the former Kentucky Wildcat showed in 2013.

    Route Running

    22/30

    Coming into the NFL, Cobb was raw as a route-runner. That still remains the case in some ways. He’s incredible on stop-and-start routes, but when asked to get positioning or leverage on a defensive back, he can still struggle.

    Speed

    19/20

    Few defenders are able to keep up with Cobb in space. He’s electric coming off the line or out of the backfield, and he has the horsepower to run past a cornerback. Give him the ball and he’s even faster.

    Overall

    85/100

    Cobb missed major time between Weeks 6 and 17, but when he was on the field, it was clear how much he's improved. With his speed, versatility and improved hands, Cobb could be in the top 10 by this time next year.

22. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    40/50

    Nagging injuries hampered Roddy White (6’0”, 211 lbs, nine seasons) throughout this past season, and it showed in his production. He wasn’t as consistent at looking the ball all the way in, leading to more dropped passes. Once White started to get healthy toward the end of the year, he started to put up the numbers that we have come to expect from him, hauling in 43 grabs in his final five games.

    Route Running

    29/30

    One of the best route-runners in the game, White shows clean cuts and has great body control. He wasn’t able to explode out of his breaks and accelerate to full speed early in the season and struggled creating separation. 

    Speed

    16/20

    A true possession receiver, White will move the chains all day, but he isn’t going to be a threat to make big plays on a regular basis. He has to rely on his quickness and precise routes to create space between him and defenders.

    Overall

    85/100

    White had his worst statistical season since becoming a full-time starter in 2007. When healthy, he is still a magnet for the football, but he will turn 33 next season, and you have to wonder if he can remain healthy for an entire year.

21. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Hands

    44/50

    The Super Bowl champions’ most productive wide receiver, Golden Tate (5’10”, 202 lbs, four seasons) is an aggressive, active player. Tate has strong hands (Packers fans know what I mean) and can high-point to attack the ball. As an underneath receiver, he will put a few on the ground, but for the most part, he’s a consistent hands-catcher with good extension and vision.

    Route Running

    23/30

    Tate has had to develop as a route-runner in the NFL, but that process has gone well. He’s learned to position his body in traffic and how to undercut defenders in space. His timing on breaking routes looks like it could use some cleaning up, but he will fight for the ball if he can’t separate with speed.

    Speed

    19/20

    A former running back in high school, Tate still shows those moves in the open field. He has the top-end speed to flat-out run past defenders and can make people miss with the ball in his hands.

    Overall

    86/100

    Seattle wide receivers don’t get a ton of publicity, but Tate’s play in 2013 was as important to the team’s turnaround as anyone other than Russell Wilson or Marshawn Lynch. He’s quickly becoming a top target at the position, and the Detroit Lions, who signed him as a free agent, will reap the benefits in 2014. 

20. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    42/50

    DeSean Jackson (5’10”, 175 lbs, six seasons) is able to attack the defense at any level, and in 2013, he showed his versatility as a receiver. He’s able to adjust and control his body to make over-the-shoulder grabs and can also hang in through traffic and fight for balls. Jackson didn’t drop one ball in the hot zone (zero to nine yards off the line and over the middle) where so many struggle. His drops, and there were a few, came in the 10- to 19-yard range where the safeties play. Pulling in passes while preparing for a hit from a safety is something he could improve.

    Route Running

    26/30

    Jackson is an accomplished and versatile route-runner with exceptional quickness off the line. That allows him to beat press coverage despite being a smaller player. He gets into his route quickly and is effective on breaking routes. The knock on Jackson is that defenders can bump, grab and rub him off his route once in space.

    Speed

    18/20

    An electric mover in space, Jackson has the speed to burn past most defensive backs in the league. He’s also able to create on the go, thanks to his start-and-stop skills.

    Overall

    86/100

    Jackson doesn’t have elite size, but he’s a gamer with the talent to produce as a wide receiver or a return man. His post-catch production and dazzling open-field moves are some of the game’s best.

19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Eric Decker (6’3”, 214 lbs, four seasons) has seen an explosion in his production since Peyton Manning came to Denver. The question is, can he produce as well outside of Manning’s offense? He has good arm extension and big hands, but he’ll also put the ball on the ground at times. He has to be willing to extend more to reach fingertip passes.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Watching Decker execute a breaking route is a thing of beauty. He’s fluid in his cuts and does a great job setting up defenders with his feet. He might be a bit tall for some scouts, but his smooth movements and subtle fakes produce high-end results. He’s accomplished as a route-runner at every level of the field.

    Speed

    16/20

    Decker’s top-end speed isn’t elite, but he has a long stride and eats up yardage coming off the line of scrimmage. That’s good enough to get most cornerbacks to flip their hips and run. He doesn’t give you much after the catch, but he can generate yardage within his route.

    Overall

    87/100

    A top-tier No. 2 wide receiver, Decker, who signed as a free agent with the New York Jets, will be out to prove he can be a legitimate No. 1 in a new offense. The talent is there for him to be a major producer if he gets the looks and targets.

18. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Victor Cruz (6’0”, 204 lbs, four seasons) has gone from complete unknown to a legitimate star at wide receiver. He has solid hands on the outside and expert technique when extending to grab the football. Underneath, especially in traffic, Cruz can put the ball on the ground if he’s trying to move or protect himself before completely securing the ball. But those drops are few and far between. For the most part, he’s been a consistent, versatile pass-catcher.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Cruz refuses to be typecast as a small, slot wide receiver. He does that by showing off his versatility as a route-runner. You’ll see him streaking upfield on go routes and working the deep intermediate areas on crossing and breaking routes. He’s electric underneath and on crossing routes, too. That’s an area where he’s nearly uncoverable.

    Speed

    18/20

    Cruz is actually quicker than he is fast, which is saying a lot given just how fast he is. Few defenders can keep up with him in a short area. And when he’s given space to freely run, he has the top-end speed to stretch a defense.

    Overall

    87/100

    Cruz has emerged as a true No. 1 threat in New York without having ideal size or NFL readiness coming out of college. His speed, quickness and aggressive style of play make him a dangerous playmaker on the outside or inside of the formation.

17. James Jones, Green Bay Packers

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    46/50

    James Jones (6’1”, 208 lbs, seven seasons) was too often the forgotten man in Green Bay, but his talent is eye-opening. An injury to Aaron Rodgers likely hurt his production in 2013, especially in the red zone, but Jones still had a stellar year. He didn't often put the ball on the ground, no matter who the quarterback was, and had top-notch concentration when working back toward the ball for a grab with defenders on his back.

    Route Running

    26/30

    Timing and space were keys for the Packers passing attack, and Jones, who recently signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders, was a master at both. He’s not the biggest guy, so he got open with his feet. He was able to leave a defensive back with good quickness in and out of cuts. Green Bay saw a lot of zone coverage, and Jones was great at finding holes in space.

    Speed

    15/20

    Jones isn’t a burner, but he’s quick at changing direction and can get loose in a hurry. What he doesn’t bring are the big plays after the catch. But he is a versatile player with enough speed to get open deep or beat defenders on breaking routes.

    Overall

    87/100

    The term “possession receiver” has some negative connotations, but that perfectly describes Jones. He’s a great No. 2 wide receiver who will have some big games and can consistently produce on the outside. 

16. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    As his brilliant career comes to a close, Reggie Wayne (6’0”, 200 lbs, 13 seasons) is out to prove he’s still got it. Wayne has consistent hands, for the most part, but he did struggle to bring in some fastballs over the middle in 2013. He’s versatile enough to pull off route-adjustment catches and can even go up to contest traffic for the ball.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Wayne is still one of the game’s best route-runners. His timing is the stuff of legend, and he’s so good at adjusting to make the play the quarterback wants. Wayne will torture a defensive back with subtle head fakes and hip swivels to throw him off his route. He’s crafty, athletic and precise. 

    Speed

    14/20

    After 13 seasons and some wear and tear, Wayne is no longer the speedy player he was coming out of the University of Miami. That said, he’s quick enough to win in his route tree, even if he won’t be running away from defenders post-catch.

    Overall

    87/100

    Injuries ended Wayne’s season after seven games, but we’re grading what he did while on the field. Even as a 13-year pro, Wayne still has the hands and superb route-running skills to be a No. 1 target for the Colts.

15. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    42/50

    With two quarterbacks throwing to him in 2013, Vincent Jackson (6’5”, 230 lbs, nine seasons) remained one of the more productive pass-catchers in the NFL. His ability to threaten the defense over the middle and up the field makes him a versatile target. His long arms and big hands make for a huge catch radius, and Jackson uses that well, especially in the red zone. He had more drops than you’d like to see from a No. 1 target, especially over the middle.

    Route Running

    28/30

    With a big frame and massive reach, Jackson is able to play the wide receiver position like a power forward plays basketball. He gets positioning on inside routes and is great at finding space. On deep routes, he has the body adjustment and balance needed to track the ball. Lining himself up for outside routes is one area where he could slightly improve.

    Speed

    17/20

    Jackson doesn’t have elite speed, but with his size and reach, what he does have makes him dangerous to the defense. He’ll get upfield in a hurry and can stretch defenders, even though he’s not a great post-catch runner.

    Overall

    87/100

    Jackson has the size, reach and understanding to be a dominant receiver on the outside. He’s the type of weapon you build an offense around. 

14. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    Most people will remember Wes Welker (5’9”, 185 lbs, 10 seasons) dropping a ball from Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLVI. That pretty much sums up his current ranking as well. Welker makes a ton of catches, but his actual catch radius is quite small. He accelerates well to track the ball but lets a lot of throws that are just out of reach sail by.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Known for his dominance on option routes, Welker is a master at getting in and out of his breaks quickly and leaving defenders behind. On routes over the middle, he’s an expert at reading the defense, finding space and getting open. That may also come on some legal—or illegal—pick plays, but Welker finds a way to get open.

    Speed

    15/20

    Quicker than fast, Welker does have the giddy-up to run past a defender or make a play in space. His use as a slot receiver is predicated on quickness in and out of breaks, and he uses his impressive burst to beat defenders and pick up yardage.

    Overall

    88/100

    Welker didn’t have the dominant statistical season that many expected, but his overall play was up to par with previous seasons. He’s still the best slot wide receiver in the NFL.

13. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    44/50

    A smart veteran receiver, Anquan Boldin (6’1”, 220 lbs, 11 seasons) is known for his strong hands. In 2013, he struggled to adjust to the velocity of Colin Kaepernick’s throws. But the former Florida State quarterback was still an elite pass-catcher. Boldin excels at bringing in passes thrown over his shoulder. He also has the strength and frame to make catches in traffic with his hands and not his body.

    Route Running

    30/30

    The best quality of Boldin’s game is his ability to understand timing and use his frame to shield defenders from the ball. In the 49ers offense, we also saw him expand his game to more upfield routes and seam plays. Boldin showed the footwork, strength and balance to excel no matter what route was called.

    Speed

    14/20

    Boldin was knocked when he entered the NFL for his lack of speed, and 11 years later, he’s still not fast. But what makes him special is his ability to make contested catches with defenders draped all over his body and his knack for separating from defenders with his body and his technique. 

    Overall

    88/100

    Boldin became the go-to receiver the 49ers needed after Michael Crabtree was lost to injury. His size, strong hands and precision route running made him a huge part of the team’s success in 2013.

12. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    43/50

    Few NFL wide receivers are as good against man coverage as Dez Bryant (6’2”, 222 lbs, four seasons). With long arms and big hands, his catch radius is huge. The issue with Bryant is, and has always been, concentration. He has to limit the easy drops that plague his game film. Bryant is naturally gifted enough to be elite if he can erase the inconsistencies.

    Route Running

    28/30

    When Bryant is keyed in, he has high-level talent as a route-runner. He’s big enough to shield the ball from defensive backs but is also quick and fluid through his breaks. He still has room to improve his timing and route adjustment.

    Speed

    17/20

    Bryant doesn’t have world-class speed, but he has the ability to run away from defenders with the ball in his hands. He’s also able to separate using his size as well as his speed. So his lack of elite top-end speed isn't a major weakness.

    Overall

    88/100

    Bryant has the physical gifts to be one of the absolute best and most productive wide receivers in the NFL. But to reach that status, he has to play smarter and limit his drops and blown assignments.

11. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    42/50

    The offensive explosion in Denver benefited Demaryius Thomas (6’3”, 229 lbs, four seasons) greatly. He grabbed 14 of Peyton Manning’s NFL-record 55 touchdown passes and saw his awareness and control improve. He’ll still drop the easy pass, and that has to improve. But Thomas is a player with a big catch radius and soft hands who has continued to improve from when he was as a forgotten man in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.

    Route Running

    28/30

    A dynamic threat in any part of the field, Thomas shows good body control and the speed to push defenses upfield. That allows him to be effective on crossing and comeback routes. To make his score a perfect 30, Thomas just has to show better timing on routes breaking to the sideline.

    Speed

    18/20

    Thomas, like Julio Jones, has crazy speed for such a big frame. His 229 pounds shouldn’t move up the field like they do. But he has the straight-line burst to run past defenders and is a constant threat to make big plays over the top.

    Overall

    88/100

    Thomas continues to develop into one of the game’s best targets. It helps to have Manning throwing passes his way, but we’re seeing the fourth-year star develop his route running, awareness and the finer points of the position along the way.

10. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

     

    Hands

    41/50

    Still great at 32 years old, Andre Johnson (6’3”, 230 lbs, 11 seasons) turned in another 100-catch season in 2013 despite uncertainty at quarterback. He’s a smart, tactical wide receiver with a big catch radius and strong hands. What we saw, though, were uncharacteristic drops from the veteran both over the middle and on the outside. It has to be noted that nearly all of his drops came late in the season as the quarterback play and team were plummeting.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Johnson hasn’t started to show the wear and tear of an 11-year veteran just yet. His routes are run with speed, precise timing and the sort of knack for body positioning you’d expect from a future Hall of Famer. 

    Speed

    17/20

    Never a speed player to begin with, Johnson is still able to win in battles with defenders, thanks to his off-the-line quickness and good open-field awareness. If needed to take the ball and run after the catch, he can still get the job done.

    Overall

    88/100

    Even after 11 seasons, Johnson’s still got it. In a 2013 season without consistency at quarterback, the former Miami Hurricane proved his greatness once again. Soon, he’ll leave these lists for a more important one—the Hall of Fame wait list.

9. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    42/50

    A rare athletic specimen, Julio Jones (6’3”, 220 lbs, three seasons) has all the natural tools to be an elite weapon. In 2013 (especially against the Patriots), we saw an injured Jones struggle at times with his hands, as he tried to make big plays happen before securing the ball. But Jones hasn’t been plagued by drops in the past. Over a larger sample size (he played in only five games), the drop issue also may have gone away. But in 2013, the drops for Jones keep his hands grade down.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Big wide receivers are usually stiff and sacrifice speed and agility for bulk and size. Not so with Jones. With his quick feet and flexibility, he’s the best of both worlds. He could learn to better use that size to box out defenders in the red zone, but that’s being very picky.

    Speed

    19/20

    Not only is Jones very fast, but he’s also very big. When you take his 220 pounds and run it at 4.3 seconds in a 40-yard dash, you’re talking about a weapon few defenses can handle. Jones uses that speed to get in and out of breaks quickly, but he’s also physical enough as a runner to be very dangerous post-catch.

    Overall

    89/100

    If healthy for the entire season, Jones could have come close to setting records for catches and yards in a season at the rate he was producing. However, the year ended in disappointment for Jones and the team, but his play while on the field was once again magnificent. 

8. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    44/50

    Antonio Brown (5’10”, 186 lbs, four seasons) may not have the size of most top-10 wide receivers, but he has the playmaking ability to compete with them all. Brown’s hands are solid outside the hashes, which is important because he’s asked to run a diverse route tree. He’s good at tracking the ball over either shoulder and getting his head around to see and complete the catch. Over the middle, especially at the second level with linebackers and safeties, he’ll get caught putting the ball on the turf a bit.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Brown is a quick-cut route-runner with the versatility to attack any area of the field. He’ll accelerate well off the line of scrimmage and is able to beat pressure off the line with quickness, active hands and a deadly juke move. He uses those same tools in space and is excellent at separating over the middle, up the seam or on the sideline.

    Speed

    17/20

    You won’t see exceptional speed from Brown, at least not in a 40-yard dash, but he’s able to get open consistently. He has a good burst off the ball to get cornerbacks turned and then uses his body control and quickness to keep defenders off guard.

    Overall

    89/100

    Brown doesn’t do any one thing great, but put all the traits needed to excel at wide receiver together, and he does them all well enough to excel. His production, impact and skills all add up to him earning a top-10 ranking.

7. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    44/50

    Michael Crabtree (6’1”, 214 lbs, five seasons) didn’t make his 2013 debut until Week 13, but he hit the ground running and proved his worth to the 49ers down the stretch. In the hands department, Crabtree has shown incredible body control, but he can lack concentration around defenders. He has strong hands but doesn’t have the biggest catch radius. 

    Route Running

    29/30

    Crabtree has become a technician as a route-runner. In 2013, we saw him shake off the rust of a leg injury to become the same plant-and-go performer we saw in previous seasons. He’s excellent at breaking off routes and working in tandem with the quarterback to find soft zones.

    Speed

    16/20

    Not a burner, Crabtree gets open and makes plays with subtle moves and good quickness. He doesn’t have runaway speed but shows good open-field shake and acceleration.

    Overall

    89/100

    Crabtree was limited during the 2013 regular season due to injury, but we grade what players do when they’re on the field. And for Crabtree, his impact when healthy was as good as we’ve come to expect.

6. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    46/50

    The 2013 season was Josh Gordon’s (6’3”, 225 lbs, two seasons) coming-out party. The 2012 supplemental draft pick emerged as the Browns’ best offensive weapon, even as their play at quarterback was far from settled. Gordon can improve his hands on passes thrown to him over the middle, as that was the only area where we charted a drop for the talented big man. His body control, vision and concentration on deeper throws were impeccable. 

    Route Running

    26/30

    As a second-year pro, Gordon is still developing as a route-runner. Remember that he was a late add before his rookie year as a supplemental draft pick, then missed the first two weeks of the 2013 season due to suspension, so his upside is big. On the field now, we see Gordon as an athlete but not yet a technician in routes. Once he gets his timing down, he’ll start working on setting up defenders and learning countermoves and fakes. Effort is the key. If Gordon wants to be great, he can be.

    Speed

    17/20

    Not only is Gordon fast, but he’s strong as a runner and looks for contact. While he’s not blindingly quick, Gordon is incredibly explosive. He gets to his top speed faster than most, even if that top speed isn’t elite.

    Overall

    89/100

    In one season, Gordon went from “the guy the Browns gave up a second-round pick for” to “the guy they’re building this offense around.” He’s truly an elite-caliber wide receiver and looks like a perennial lock inside our top 10.

5. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    46/50

    The Chicago Bears offense took off in 2013, thanks largely to the emergence of Alshon Jeffery (6’3”, 216 lbs, two seasons). The second-year player became a go-to threat and red-zone nightmare for defenses with his big, strong hands and catch radius. Jeffery made the impossible catch look routine while high-pointing pass after pass and beating defenders over the top. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    Jeffery’s evolution as a route-runner has been impressive. He’s gone from really only having a deep route under his belt to being a controlled runner on breaking routes, comebacks and fades. He can still work on his balance when changing direction, but the improvement in 2013 was dramatic.

    Speed

    16/20

    The biggest knock on Jeffery coming into the NFL was his lack of speed, but the big wide receiver separates from defenders without being a sprinter. He’s not a top-end runner, but he has good initial quickness and shows the burst needed to track the ball deep.

    Overall

    89/100

    Jeffery closed out 2013 as one of the league’s most improved players at any position. He’s well on his way to becoming an elite wide receiver and true go-to threat. As soon as his hands and routes become more consistent, he’ll be on A.J. Green's level.

4. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    43/50

    Brandon Marshall (6’4”, 230 lbs, eight seasons) caught 100 passes and dominated in press coverage during the 2013 season. He also dropped a league-high 15 passes. The catches he made did make up for it, but you’d like to see Marshall improve his ability to bring in the ball over the middle. While still one of the game’s best at high-pointing and making plays in the red zone, Marshall can be even better.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Marshall is among the best in the game when pressed at the line of scrimmage and asked to still get into his route. He’s big enough to box out defenders and also has nimble enough feet to make tough adjustments on the fly.

    Speed

    16/20

    When evaluating Marshall’s speed, it’s important to remember that he weighs 230 pounds. He isn’t an elite runner down the sideline. But he has good burst off the line of scrimmage and uses his quickness in conjunction with his size to make plays.

    Overall

    89/100

    Marshall doesn’t have the best height, the best speed or even the best hands. He just gets the job done. The total package he brings consists of incredible balance, body control and toughness. That adds up to plenty of impact and production.

3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    44/50

    A.J. Green (6’4”, 207 lbs, three seasons) has all the talent in the world. He also dropped 11 passes, the fifth most in the NFL. Even considering the high number of targets thrown his way, that’s too many. Green can make the spectacular catch and dominate the highlight reels, but he has to get better at making the routine catch with defenders closing in on him. 

    Route Running

    30/30

    Green is incredibly fluid for a big man and has elite body control when getting through his routes. His ability to plant-and-go to leave a defender makes his breaking routes top-notch. He’s also impossible to cover on fade routes, thanks to his reach and balance.

    Speed

    17/20

    You won’t see elite speed from Green, but he’s more than fast enough to run away from a defender. He may not have track and field speed, but Green accelerates well to attack the ball in flight.

    Overall

    91/100

    Green has the route-running ability, hands, size and speed to eventually challenge to be the top-ranked player on this list. To do that, he’ll have to minimize his drops and continue to dominate in single coverage.

2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    Hands

    50/50

    How many passes did Larry Fitzgerald (6’3”, 218 lbs, 10 seasons) drop of the 129 thrown to him in 2013? One. That’s why he comes in with a perfect score on hands. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    Timing is such a key to good route running, and Fitzgerald excels in that area. He’s precise and consistent with his steps, two big keys to establish a connection with a quarterback. The only knock on his routes would be a subtle stiffness when breaking to his right. Other than that? He’s nearly flawless.

    Speed

    15/20

    Burning speed has never been what makes Fitzgerald, who is now a 10-year veteran, a great wide receiver. That he can perform at such a high level without being an elite runner speaks to his world-class abilities.

    Overall

    92/100

    Fitzgerald isn’t the fastest wide receiver in the game, but he is a technician with high-level athleticism. That makes him a dangerous threat, even if his numbers don’t always match the top-producing wide receivers.

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

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    Hands

    47/50

    Calvin Johnson (6’5”, 236 lbs, seven seasons) is the premier NFL wide receiver. His production, impact and importance are among the best in the game regardless of position. That said, Johnson will drop some easy passes. His ability to reel in the impossible pass is well known, but his routine drops keep his score down.

    Route Running

    27/30

    The Lions offense hasn’t asked Johnson to be an elaborate route-runner, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run routes well. When used on slants and breaking routes, Johnson has shown the necessary agility, burst and body control. He’s still a bit stiff at times, but most men his size will be in space.

    Speed

    20/20

    A man with Johnson’s size shouldn’t run as fast as he does. His ability to run past defenders is underrated. And he uses that speed to excel at getting behind coverage. If used on more breaking routes, his speed would be even more obvious.

    Overall

    94/100

    He’s the total package at wide receiver. It will likely be a long time before anyone challenges Johnson for the top spot on this list.

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