Check out our list of the top NFL receivers of all time—as well as some budding candidates to consider in the coming years.
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Passing has never been a bigger part of the NFL than it is now. Quarterbacks are breaking records every season because they're throwing so much. And someone is always on the receiving end of those passes. It's a relationship conducive to greatness.
Of course, the best NFL receivers of all time isn't a list populated with many NFL receivers in 2020. It has more past players than active ones. But some of the game's current top NFL receivers do make the cut, including a few newcomers from the past few years.
Top 10 NFL Receivers of All Time
10 (Tie). DeAndre Hopkins"DeAndre Hopkins" by The Brit_2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Let's start this list off with an active wideout who will only make the cut in the most recent of editions like this one. DeAndre Hopkins is an absolute monster. Many think he has the best hands of any wide receiver ever. We're not about to argue.
Though Hopkins will have to work in order to keep this spot, let alone move up, we have faith in him. He's about to crack the top 50 of all-time receiving yards—all before his 29th birthday. The best may be yet to come.
10 (Tie). Reggie Wayne
One of Peyton Manning's favorite targets, Reggie Wayne played his entire 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts—winning a Super Bowl title in 2006. Wayne is considered to be one of the best wide receivers of all time and the stats can support that claim.
The six-time Pro Bowler sits 10th on the all-time receiving leaders with 14,345 yards.
9. Calvin Johnson
Imagine where Calvin Johnson would be on this list if he didn't retire in 2015, at only 30 years old. It was a decision that surprised pretty much everyone. He was still one of the two or three best wideouts in the game.
As it stands, even with his career-ending in premature fashion, he ranks in the top 30 all-time of both receiving yards and touchdowns. The numbers will never fully make his case. He doesn't have the longevity. But he put together one of the most dominant and protracted stretches of prime football the league has ever seen. That matters, and it will float a top-10 ranking for at least the next few years, if not longer.
8. Marvin Harrison
Another Colts great makes our top 10, and he's a doozy. Marvin Harrison is considered to be one of the most productive receivers in NFL history.
A Super Bowl champion with the Colts, Harrison was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Harrison collected 14,580 career reception yards, putting him ninth among all-time receiving leaders.
7. Isaac Bruce
When you think of the greatest players to ever play for the St. Louis Rams, Isaac Bruce's name should be one of the first-mentioned.
Drafted by the Rams when the team was still in Los Angeles, Bruce helped the franchise win the Super Bowl in 1999. Oh, also: He amassed 15,208 reception yards over a 15-year career, which puts him fifth among all-time receiving leaders.
6. Cris Carter"Cris Carter is All Smiles at a Media Day Event" by WEBN-TV is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Cris Carter's spot on this list is essentially inarguable. The numbers speak for themselves. He has 13,899 career reception yards (13th all-time), and only four receivers in NFL history have snagged more touchdowns.
No, the real talking point worth harping on is the absence of a Super Bowl. The eight-time Pro Bowler never even played in one while spending almost his entire career, save for one season, in the NFC with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. It remains, to this day, a damn shame.
5. Julio Jones
Julio Jones, another active player, has been among the NFL's absolute best two or three receivers for the better part of a decade. And he's somehow still underrated.
Many know him as the guy who should have a bunch more touchdowns. The Atlanta Falcons have never featured him enough in the red zone. Whatever, though. His body of work still speaks volumes. At the age of 31, still in his prime, he already ranks inside the top 10 of all-time reception yards. If he keeps this up, he'll have a real shot at entering the top five by the end of his career.
4. Larry Fitzgerald
Holy longevity, Larry Fitzgerald. The speedster wideout has been tearing up the NFL since 2004—and he's still going at the age of 37. It's absolutely mind-blowing.
So, too, are his numbers. He now ranks second all-time in receiving yards and sixth in touchdown catches. By the end of his career, there's a genuine chance he moves even higher than No. 4, in spot the third or even second spot.
3. Terrell Owens"Terrell Owens" by Cheryl Action Jackson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Entertaining both on and off the field, Terrell Owens easily ranks among the best wide receivers in NFL history. If you look at his physical tools, there's a chance he might be the most talented to ever stop on the field.
Owens' 15,934 receiving yards ranks second overall, behind only Jerry Rice. He is also third in touchdown receptions, trailing only Rice again and Randy Moss. A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team all-star, the only thing missing from Owens' impressive NFL career was a Super Bowl.
2. Randy Moss
There may be no stealing the second overall spot from Randy Moss—at least not anytime soon.
The Hall of Famer also holds several impressive records, including most reception touchdowns in a single season with 23. Moss, who played for five different teams over a 14-year career, is fourth in all-time NFL receiving yards with 15,292 and second in all-time touchdown grabs with 156.
1. Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice is going to be here forever. And ever. Times infinity.
Never mind the raw, physical talent. No one stands to ever match Rice's longevity. He spent 20 years in the NFL, nearly all of which saw him play at an impactful level.
Running through his list of credentials is wild. Thirteen Pro Bowls. Ten first-team all-star bids. First all-time in receiving yards—by a 5,000-plus yard margin. And first all-time in touchdown catches—by a 41-TD margin. It's all just so absurd, and by extension, it's enough to earn him this top spot by a country mile...and then some.