Building the perfect NFL wide receiver may seem as easy as saying "Jerry Rice" or "Randy Moss" and calling it a day. Of course, both would be great options, but what individual traits do scouts and coaches look for when evaluating the position?
A top-level wideout must be smart enough to adjust his routes, alignment and positioning based on what the defense shows. He also needs to be strong enough and fast enough to beat coverage with his athleticism. And in today's NFL, with rules built to help the offense, you need a wide receiver who can win on jump balls and outrun defenders in a pitch-and-catch situation against soft zones.
Looking across the league today, which NFL wide receivers would make up the perfect player?
Head: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Throughout his brilliant 13-year-career, Reggie Wayne has played with two unbelievable talents at quarterback in Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. While their success stands alone, it helps to have a receiver with the eyes and intelligence of Wayne.
The former Miami Hurricane was never the biggest or strongest wide receiver but has built a Hall of Fame resume on being in the right place at the right time. Wayne's ability to process what the defense is showing pre-snap is what made he and Manning such a threat together. In fact, you could argue he's the best we've ever seen in that department.
Wayne also excels at adjusting after the snap. He'll read what the defense is doing—coverage, blitzes, etc.—and make the right route adjustment to coincide with what the quarterback is facing. That synergy between quarterback and wideout is invaluable, and Wayne is the best at it.
Arms: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
He has only been in the league for two seasons, but Alshon Jeffery has emerged as one of the elite talents at the wide receiver position. The sole reason? His exceptional length and the strong hands he displays on routine and ridiculous catches alike.
Jeffery's 2013 season is a case study in how a jump-ball wide receiver can win in the NFL today and just how important body control is for the position. Jeffery isn't the fastest receiver and fell to the second round of the NFL draft because of that, but he's able to beat cornerbacks and safeties due to his leaping ability, long arms and super-strong hands. Body position equals separation in the NFL, even if Jeffery isn't able to run away from coverage. His high-pointing ability is the best in the game today.
Combine Jeffery's natural length and big hands with his surreal focus and exceptional positioning, and it's easy to see why he's locking up this category.
Body: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
You knew Calvin Johnson would show up on this somewhere.
Johnson, or Megatron, has the ideal build and athleticism for the wide receiver position. At 6'5" and 236 pounds, Johnson looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver, but he moves and glides through coverage with 4.35 40-yard-dash speed. If that sounds impossible to you, it was supposed to be, but Johnson's freakish skills are the real deal.
With a statuesque body and out-of-this-world measurements, Johnson is the clear-cut model from which every NFL general manager, coach and scout wishes all receivers were made.
Legs: Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
You could easily put Calvin Johnson's legs on this Frankenstein wide receiver and be happy with the result, but in an effort to mix things up, throwing Percy Harvin's wheels on our ideal player would be interesting.
Harvin, when healthy, has unreal second-gear speed and the short-area quickness to simply leave tacklers hugging air. He's shifty but also straight-up fast, something many players struggle with.
Harvin can shake a defender and then turn on the jets and run with power, which is why his legs are the choice for the NFL's ideal wide receiver.
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