Randy Moss 40 time and overall skill, has him ranked as one of the top-three greatest wide receivers in NFL history. He had it all – blazing speed, accurate and elite route-running, sticky hands, and a personality that can’t be compared to anyone else. He was a defensive back’s worst nightmare.
Moss’ incredible ability earned him the nickname ‘The Freak,’ which is fitting if you’ve ever seen him play. He was a man among boys and it didn’t take long for him to mark his territory in the NFL. He recorded at least 1,200 receiving yards in each of his first six seasons in the NFL.
He would end up recording 1,000+ yards in ten of his 14 seasons, 10+ touchdowns in nine of his 14 seasons, 100+ receptions in two of his 14 seasons, and set an NFL record with 23 receiving touchdowns in 2007. He also had 17 touchdowns in 1998 (rookie season) and again in 2003.
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What Was Randy Moss 40 Time?
Anyone who has ever watched Randy Moss in action understands that he’s faster than most players he lines up against. With that said, it’s no surprise that he holds one of the fastest 40 times in NFL Combine history. Of course, that begs the question, what is Randy Moss’ 40 time?
Randy Moss’ 40 time in the 1998 NFL Combine was hand-timed at 4.25 seconds. While we’ll never know how accurate that time is, especially since the NFL didn’t start laser-timing the 40-yard dash finish until 1999 – the year after Randy Moss showcased his blazing speed.
Stil, Randy Moss’ 40 time at his Marshall University Pro Day was clocked at 4.38 seconds – which is slower, but still fast. Whether it was 4.25 or 4.38, we’re going to detail 20 NFL players that posted similar numbers to Randy Moss’ 40 time – some of which might surprise you.
20. DeSean Jackson
40-Yard Dash: 4.35 seconds
Years Active: 2008-present (14 seasons)
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career Stats: 174 games, 631 receptions, 11,105 receiving yards, 66 total touchdowns
DeSean Jackson ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine, which ranked ninth among prospects that year. He was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles and spent the next six seasons with the team – recording 32 touchdowns over that span.
Although Jackson has never finished a season with double-digit touchdowns, he had nine touchdowns on two occasions. He also had five seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving, which is impressive considering he never recorded more than 82 receptions in one season.
19. Michael Vick
40-Yard Dash: 4.33 seconds
Years Active: 2001-2015 (13 seasons)
Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers
Career Stats: 143 games, 61-51-1 record, 22,464 passing yards, 6,109 rushing yards, 169 total touchdowns
Michael Vick ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2001 NFL Combine, which was the second fastest time among prospects that year. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons and revolutionized how we view the quarterback position for the next six seasons.
After spending two years in prison for his involvement in dog fighting, he returned to the NFL and spent five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He reinvented himself and put up even more impressive numbers than he did before. He’s definitely one of the fastest quarterbacks ever.
18. Darrius Heyward-Bey
40-Yard Dash: 4.30 seconds
Years Active: 2009-2018 (10 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts
Career Stats: 144 games, 202 receptions, 2,897 yards, 16 touchdowns
Darrius Heyward-Bey ran a 4.30-second 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Combine, which was tied for the fastest time among prospects that year. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the seventh overall pick – a selection that, unfortunately, never materialized on the football field.
He spent four seasons with Oakland and only recorded 140 catches, 2,071 yards, and 11 touchdowns in that span – not what you expect from a seventh overall draft pick. His decline continued with the Colts in 2013 and over the next four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
17. Darrent Williams
40-Yard Dash: 4.30 seconds
Years Active: 2005-2006 (2 seasons)
Teams: Denver Broncos
Career Stats: 27 games, 140 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 6 interceptions, 19 passes defensed, 2 defensive touchdowns
Darrent Williams ran a 4.30-second 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL Combine, which was the fourth fastest time recorded among prospects that year. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round and made an immediate impact, starting nine games his rookie season.
Through his first two seasons, Williams recorded six interceptions, 19 passes defensed, and two defensive touchdowns. He was on his way to becoming a household name in the NFL, but his career was cut short after he was shot to death by bullets meant for someone else.
16. Tyreek Hill
40-Yard Dash: 4.29 seconds
Years Active: 2016-present (6 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs
Career Stats: 89 games, 472 receptions, 6,588 receiving yards, 717 rushing yards, 67 total touchdowns
Tyreek Hill ran a 4.29-second 40-yard dash at his 2016 West Alabama Pro Day. While that’s an impressive time, it doesn’t even begin to explain the speed Hill has with pads on – which makes him one of, if not the fastest players in the NFL. He was drafted by the Chiefs in the fifth round.
He made an immediate impact, recording 61 catches, 593 yards, and six touchdowns his rookie season. Since then, he recorded at least 1,183 yards in four of the past five years – including two seasons (soon to be three) with more than 10 touchdowns (12 in 2018 and 15 in 2020.)
15. JJ Nelson
40-Yard Dash: 4.28 seconds
Years Active: 2015-2019 (5 seasons)
Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders
Career Stats: 58 games, 85 receptions, 1,475 yards, 11 touchdowns
JJ Nelson ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Combine, which was the fastest time that year. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round and spent his first four seasons with them. He had 11 catches, 292 yards, and 2 touchdowns his rookie season.
In 2016 and 2017, Nelson looked like he was turning a corner. He combined for 63 catches, 1,076 yards, and 8 touchdowns in those two seasons, but saw a massive drop in production the following season. He spent 2019 with the Oakland Raiders, but hasn’t played in the NFL since.
14. Jacoby Ford
40-Yard Dash: 4.28 seconds
Years Active: 2010-2013 (3 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Raiders
Career Stats: 38 games, 57 receptions, 848 yards, 3 touchdowns
Jacoby Ford ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Combine, which was the fastest time among prospects that year. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders, who are known for drafting speedy wideouts, in the fourth round. Unfortunately, that speed didn’t amount to much.
As a rookie, Ford recorded 25 catches for 470 yards and 2 touchdowns. That production dropped slightly the following season before missing the entire 2012 season due to injury. He returned in 2013 and saw another dip in production. He hasn’t played in the NFL since.
13. Champ Bailey
40-Yard Dash: 4.28 seconds
Years Active: 1999-2013 (15 seasons)
Teams: Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos
Career Stats: 215 games, 931 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, 52 interceptions, 203 passes defensed, 4 defensive touchdowns
Champ Bailey ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 1999 NFL Combine, which was the second fastest among prospects that year. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins with the seventh overall draft pick and he went on to have a 15-year Hall-of-Fame career.
Bailey recorded 18 interceptions over his first five seasons in the NFL – all of which were with Washington. He then spent the next 10 years of his career in Denver, where he recorded another 34 interceptions. He had 4 career defensive touchdowns and 203 passes defensed.
12. Stanford Routt
40-Yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
Years Active: 2005-2012 (8 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans
Career Stats: 119 games, 265 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 12 interceptions, 55 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown
Stanford Routt ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL Combine, which was the fastest time among prospects that year. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders (surprise, surprise) in the second round. He only started four games in his first two NFL seasons.
He had a breakout year in 2007, starting 14 games and finishing with 3 interceptions. Despite only starting 5 games over the next two seasons, he was a regular starter in 2010 and 2011, recording 6 interceptions in that span. Unfortunately, he was out of the NFL by 2013.
11. Marquise Goodwin
40-Yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
Years Active: 2013-present (9 seasons)
Teams: Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears
Career Stats: 87 games, 158 receptions, 2,623 yards, 14 touchdowns
Marquise Goodwin ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine, which was the fastest time among prospects that year – by an impressive 0.07 seconds. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the third round and spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the team.
After a decent four years in Buffalo, Goodwin had a career year with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, finishing with 56 catches, 962 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Production dipped in his final two years with the 49ers and he’s currently playing for the Chicago Bears in a limited role.
10. Henry Ruggs III
40-Yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
Years Active: 2020-2021 (2 seasons)
Teams: Las Vegas Raiders
Career Stats: 20 games, 50 receptions, 921 yards, 4 touchdowns
Henry Ruggs III ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine, which was the fastest among prospects that year. He was drafted by the – you guessed it – Las Vegas Raiders with the 12th overall pick. They had high expectations for the wideout, but it quickly backfired.
Ruggs III recorded 26 receptions, 452 yards, and 2 touchdowns his rookie season. He took a huge leap in the 2021 season and already had 26 catches, 469 yards, and 2 touchdowns through seven games. Unfortunately, his season got cut short due to a DUI accident that killed one person.
9. Anthony Schwartz
40-Yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
Years Active: 2021-present (1 season)
Teams: Cleveland Browns
Career Stats: 12 games, 9 receptions, 122 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17 rushing yards
Anthony Schwartz ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash in the 2021 Combine, which was the fastest among all prospects that year. The Cleveland Cavaliers ended up drafting him in the third round and are excited about his potential in this league – though he does have a long way to go.
He opened his rookie season with 3 catches for 69 yards and one rush for 17 yards in his first NFL game. He went catchless in the next four games, but put up 5 catches for 48 yards over the next four games. He caught his first ever NFL touchdown (for 5 yards) on Christmas Day.
8. Deion Sanders
40-Yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
Years Active: 1989-2005 (14 seasons)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 188 games, 512 tackles, 1.0 sack, 10 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, 53 interceptions, 10 defensive touchdowns, 9 return touchdowns, 3 receiving touchdowns
Deion Sanders ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 1989 NFL Combine, but it also depends on who you ask. Some records say he ran it in 4.29 seconds, while other records say he ran it 4.21 seconds. Either way, his speed was obvious and he showcased that speed in style.
Sanders was the fifth overall draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons and went on to become one of the greatest players in NFL history. He did it all – he was a lockdown corner, a terrific returner, an emergency receiver, and he even played in the MLB. There’s a reason they call him PrimeTime.
7. Ike Taylor
40-Yard Dash: 4.26 seconds
Years Active: 2003-2014 (12 seasons)
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers
Career Stats: 174 games, 636 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 14 interceptions, 134 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown
Ike Taylor wasn’t invited to the 2003 NFL Combine, but ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at his University of Louisiana of Lafayette Pro Day, though some people had him clocked at 4.18 seconds. If he was invited to the combine that year, he would’ve been the fastest player there.
Taylor was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round and spent his entire 12-year career with the team. He recorded at least one interception each year between 2004 and 2012, and was a regular starter between 2005 and 2013. To this day, he’s extremely underrated.
6. Jerome Mathis
40-Yard Dash: 4.26 seconds
Years Active: 2005-2007 (3 seasons)
Teams: Houston Texans
Career Stats: 12 punt returns, 68 punt return yards, 72 kick returns, 2,054 kick return yards, 3 kick return touchdowns
Jerome Mathis ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL Combine, though some people had him clocked in at 4.28. Either way, that’s very impressive and isn’t that far off from Randy Moss’ 40 time. Mathis was drafted by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the draft.
Despite being one of the fastest prospects at the time, Mathis’ speed never translated on the football field and he only lasted three years in the league. He had an impressive rookie year as a kick returner, finishing the year with 54 returns, 1,542 return yards, and 2 return touchdowns.
5. Chris Johnson
40-Yard Dash: 4.24 seconds
Years Active: 2008-2017 (10 seasons)
Teams: Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets
Career Stats: 130 games, 9,651 rushing yards, 307 receptions, 2,255 receiving yards, 58 total touchdowns
Chris Johnson ran a 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine, which was the fastest of any prospect that year and also the fastest official time in NFL Combine history (at the time). That record stood until John Ross, who we discuss below, broke it with a 4.22 40 time.
Johnson was drafted 24th overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2008 and spent the first six years of his career with the team. He amassed 1,000 yards in each of those six seasons, including 2,006 yards during the 2009 season. He also scored 58 touchdowns in that span with the Titans.
4. Donte Stallworth
40-Yard Dash: 4.22 seconds
Years Active: 2002-2012 (10 seasons)
Teams: New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles
Career Stats: 115 games, 321 receptions, 4,837 yards, 35 touchdowns
Donte Stallworth ran an unofficial 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the 2002 NFL Combine. I’m not sure why it’s considered an unofficial time or why it’s not the current Combine record. In fact, most people don’t mention his time of 4.22 seconds, but they do John Ross’ 4.22-second run.
Nonetheless, Stallworth was drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 12th overall pick in 2002. He had a productive four years with the Saints, but his production started to decline once he left the team in 2006. He played for five teams over the next six seasons before retiring.
3. John Ross III
40-Yard Dash: 4.22 seconds
Years Active: 2017-present (5 seasons)
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants
Career Stats: 37 games, 62 receptions, 957 yards, 11 touchdowns
John Ross III ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine, tying Stallworth’s time and breaking Chris Johnsons’ record that stood for nine years. Ross was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the ninth overall pick, largely due to his speed more than anything else.
Ross III only played in three games his rookie season due to injury. He played in 21 games over the next two seasons, combining for 49 catches, 716 yards, and 10 touchdowns. In the two seasons since then, he has only recorded 13 catches for 241 yards and one touchdown.
2. Joey Galloway
40-Yard Dash: 4.18 seconds
Years Active: 1995-2010 (16 seasons)
Teams: Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 198 games, 701 receptions, 10,950 yards, 77 touchdowns
Joey Galloway ran an unofficial (not recognized by the NFL) 4.18-second 40-yard dash in 1995. That would make him faster than Randy Moss, if we’re basing that off of their 40 times. Galloway was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the eight overall pick in the 1995 draft.
Galloway averaged over 1,000 yards per season through his first four years in the league and scored 36 touchdowns in that span. After two down years due to injury, production picked back up in 2001 and he amassed 1,000 yards three times between 2005-2007. He retired in 2011.
1. Darrell Green
40-Yard Dash: 4.09 seconds
Years Active: 1983-2002 (20 seasons)
Teams: Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 295 games, 1,202 tackles, 1.0 sack, 5 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 54 interceptions, 8 defensive touchdowns
Since we’re mentioning Joey Galloway’s unofficial time of 4.18, we may as well mention the impressive – and alleged – 4.09-second 40-yard dash set by Darrell Green at the Redskins’ 1986 training camp. Although not recognized by the NFL, he was much faster than Moss.
Green was drafted by the Reskins with the 28th overall pick in 1983, three years before running that 40. He played in three different decades across his 20-year career. He recorded at least one interception in each of his first 19 seasons, failing to do so in his farewell tour in 2002.
Other Players That Were Built With Speed
Throughout the years, plenty of players have showcased their speed at their Pro Day, the NFL Combine, Training Camp, or on their own time. Of course, the only 40-yard dash times that are recognized by the NFL are those that occurred at the NFL Combine, and for good reason.
In addition to the 20 people above that either came close to or beat Randy Moss’ 40 time, there are several other players that impressed with their speed at the NFL Combine. For example, Rondel Menendez was clocked at 4.24 seconds and Dri Archer ran a 4.26-second 40 time.
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Other players that finished between 4.27 and 4.30 include Jalen Myrick, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Fabian Washington, Zedrick Woods, Javelin Guidry, Tye Hill, Yamon Figurs, and Jamal Dean. Only time will tell if we see anyone top Randy Moss’ 40 time like some of those above.
Top Ten Receivers 2016: Where Are They Now?
Do you remember who the top ten receivers 2016 were? It might seem like it was yesterday, but that was five years ago. And in the NFL, a lot can change in five years. Some players get better, other players get worse. They might retire, get injured, change roles, or change teams.
The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ kind of league — much like any other pro sport. With the number of players that come and go on a yearly basis, the stars we see today might not be the stars we see tomorrow. You truly never know what you’re going to get in the NFL.
One thing’s for certain — the true superstars of this league are able to make a difference on the field year-in and year-out. They’re sustainable, reliable, and committed to being the best player possible. One good year isn’t enough for them. Instead, they want to do it over and over again.
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Who Were the Top Ten Receivers 2016?
For those of you that just started following the NFL, you might not recognize all of the top ten receivers 2016. Then again, you’ll likely recognize most of them because eight of them are still prominent today — only two of them have retired since putting up good numbers in 2016.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that we are basing the top ten receivers 2016 on receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. We aren’t taking into account rushing stats or return stats. We’re only interested in how they played as a receiver back in 2016.
As we rumble our way through this list of top ten receivers 2016, we’ll display their stats both in 2016 and 2020 (last year). We’ll also discuss where they’re playing in 2021 and how they got there. It might surprise you that only three of these players have yet to change teams or retire.
With that said, let’s hop to it!
10. Amari Cooper (OAK, DAL)
2016 Stats: 83 receptions, 1,153 yards, 5 touchdowns (Oakland Raiders)
2020 Stats: 92 receptions, 1,114 yards, 5 touchdowns (Dallas Cowboys)
Amari Cooper was drafted 4th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, so expectations were high for him coming into the league. 2016 was his second year in the league and he continued to impress the Raiders’ staff with 83 catches, 1,153 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
At the time, his receptions and yards were both career highs for him. His 1,153 yards ranked 8th in the NFL. To be fair, we could’ve easily inserted his teammate, Michael Crabtree, into this spot — considering Crabtree put up 89 catches, 1,003 receiving yards, and 8 receiving touchdowns.
Cooper had a mediocre 2017 season and was eventually traded to the Dallas Cowboys midway through the 2018 season. Despite failing to amass 1,000 yards in 2017, he has done so every year since (including career bests in yards and touchdowns in 2019, and receptions in 2020).
9. Doug Baldwin (SEA)
2016 Stats: 94 receptions, 1,128 yards, 7 touchdowns (Seattle Seahawks)
2020 Stats: RETIRED
Doug Baldwin entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. The Seattle Seahawks saw potential in him and they certainly don’t regret their decision to give him a shot in the NFL. In fact, he played a big role in the team’s Super Bowl victory against the Denver Broncos in 2013.
In 2016, Baldwin posted 94 receptions, 1,128 yards, and 7 touchdowns. His receptions (8th in the league) and yards (11th in the league) were both career highs, but his 7 touchdowns was nowhere near his career best of 14 in 2015. Besides that, it was his best year in the NFL.
Despite amassing 1,000 yards in 2015 and 2016, Baldwin failed to do so in 2017 and 2018. He took a small step back in 2017 and another step back in 2018. After the 2018 season, the Seahawks released him due to a failed physical and he decided to retire three days later.
8. Brandin Cooks – (NOR, NWE, LAR, HOU)
2016 Stats: 78 receptions, 1,173 yards, 8 touchdowns (New Orleans Saints)
2020 Stats: 81 receptions, 1,150 yards, 6 touchdowns (Houston Texans)
Brandin Cooks was drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He had a decent rookie season, but exploded on the scene in 2015 with 84 catches, 1,138 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He would put up similar numbers in his sophomore season.
Although 2016 saw a small dip in both receptions and touchdowns, a large reason was due to the addition of Michael Thomas (who we’ll discuss next). Still, his 78 receptions, 1,173 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 2016 were impressive — including his 98-yard touchdown pass in Week 1.
Brandin Cooks was traded to the New England Patriots in 2017, traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, and traded to the Houston Texans in 2020. He has posted more than 1,000 yards with each team, showing that he can be a receiving threat no matter who his quarterback is.
7. Michael Thomas (NOR)
2016 Stats: 92 receptions, 1,137 yards, 9 touchdowns (New Orleans Saints)
2020 Stats: 40 receptions, 438 yards, 0 touchdowns (New Orleans Saints)
It might be surprising to see two teammates listed as top ten receivers in 2016, but that’s the case with Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas. The reason we have Thomas listed one spot higher is because he had more receptions and touchdowns — and he was a rookie in 2016.
The Saints selected Thomas in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and he made an impact immediately. His 92 receptions, 1,137 yards, and 9 touchdowns were unheard of for a rookie. His receptions and yards ranked 9th in the league, while his touchdowns ranked 6th in the NFL.
Thomas only got better from that point forward. He improved his stats every year for the next three years, eventually totaling 149 receptions (NFL record), 1,725 yards, and 9 touchdowns in 2019. An injury in 2020 sidelined him for most of the season and the start of the 2021 season.
6. T.Y. Hilton (IND)
2016 Stats: 91 receptions, 1,448 yards, 6 touchdowns (Indianapolis Colts)
2020 Stats: 56 receptions, 762 yards, 5 touchdowns (Indianapolis Colts)
T.Y. Hilton was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact on the team and became one of Andrew Luck’s favorite receivers. In fact, he has amassed 1,000 yards in five (almost six) of his eight seasons with the team.
In 2016, he took things to another level. He finished with 91 receptions, 1,448 yards, and 6 touchdowns. He not only led the league in yards, but also ranked 10th in receptions — both numbers being career bests to this day. It was his fourth-straight year over 1,000 yards.
Hilton finished 2017 with 966 yards, but returned to form in 2018 with 1,270 yards. Unfortunately, injuries held him to just 501 yards in 2019 and he had a subpar 2020 season with 762 yards. Due to neck surgery during the 2021 offseason, he is starting this season on injured reserve.
5. Julio Jones (ATL, TEN)
2016 Stats: 83 receptions, 1,409 yards, 6 touchdowns (Atlanta Falcons)
2020 Stats: 51 receptions, 771 yards, 3 touchdowns (Atlanta Falcons)
Julio Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth overall pick in 2011. He finished his rookie year with 959 yards and 8 touchdowns, despite playing 13 games. He followed that up with 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 before injuries derailed most of his 2013 season.
Over the next two years, Jones showcased his talent with 240 catches, 3,464 yards, and 14 touchdowns. In 2016, he continued his dominance with 83 catches, 1,409 yards, and 6 touchdowns in just 14 games. He would be higher on this list if he played a full season.
In the three years following that 2016 season, he was just as good with 300 catches, 4,515 yards, and 17 touchdowns. He was haunted by injuries during the 2020 season and was eventually traded to the Tennessee Titans prior to the 2021 season after a rift with the Falcons.
4. Antonio Brown (PIT, NWE, TAM)
2016 Stats: 106 receptions, 1,284 yards, 12 touchdowns (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2020 Stats: 45 receptions, 483 yards, 4 touchdowns (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
No one expected Antonio Brown to burst onto the scene when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Though he didn’t see much action his rookie year, he showed up in a major way his sophomore season and never looked back.
In the first six years of his career, he totaled 526 receptions, 7,093 yards, and 38 touchdowns. He continued that dominance in 2016 with 106 catches, 1,284 yards, and 12 touchdowns. It was the fourth-straight year he amassed 100 catches and 1,200 yards — which is incredible.
Over the next two years, Brown stayed hot with 205 catches, 2,830 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his ego got in the way and he was eventually traded to the Raiders and Patriots, where he continued to hurt his legacy. He’s now making a comeback with the Buccaneers.
3. Jordy Nelson (GNB, OAK)
2016 Stats: 97 receptions, 1,257 yards, 14 touchdowns (Green Bay Packers)
2020 Stats: RETIRED
Jordy Nelson was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played in a limited role until 2011, when he quickly became Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. Over the next four years, he totaled 300 catches, 4,841 yards, and 43 touchdowns.
After missing the 2015 season due to injury, he came out swinging in 2016 with 97 receptions, 1,257 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He led the NFL in touchdowns, while ranking 6th in yards and 5th in catches. It was his third-straight 1,000+ yard season and second with 13+ touchdowns.
The following two seasons saw Nelson slowly decline. He finished with 482 yards and 6 touchdowns with Green Bay in 2017 and was released that offseason. He played one year with the Raiders (739 yards and 3 touchdowns), but was cut the following year. He retired in 2019.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG, CLE)
2016 Stats: 101 receptions, 1,367 yards, 10 touchdowns (New York Giants)
2020 Stats: 23 receptions, 319 yards, 3 touchdowns (Cleveland Browns)
Odell Beckham Jr. had high expectations when he was drafted 12th overall by the New York Giants in 2014. He lived up to those expectations, recording 187 catches, 2,755 yards, and 25 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL. He was a threat every play he was on the field.
That didn’t stop in 2016, when he finished with 101 receptions, 1,367 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He ranked third in the league in receptions and yards, and fifth in touchdowns. It was his first season above 100 catches and third-straight season with 1,300+ yards and 10+ touchdowns.
Injuries derailed most of his 2017 campaign and character flaws overshadowed his final season with the Giants — despite totaling 77 catches, 1,052 yards, and 6 touchdowns. He was traded to the Browns ahead of the 2020 season, but injuries have haunted him ever since the trade.
1. Mike Evans (TAM)
2016 Stats: 96 receptions, 1,321 yards, 12 touchdowns (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
2020 Stats: 70 receptions, 1,006 yards, 13 touchdowns (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Mike Evans was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft — five spots ahead of Odell Beckham Jr. He has been one of the most consistent receivers in the league since then, amassing 1,000 yards every single year.
2016 was a prominent season for Mike Evans, finishing with 96 receptions, 1,321 yards, and 12 touchdowns — all career highs at that point. He ranked sixth in the league in receptions, fourth in yards, and second in touchdowns. His 96 receptions remains a career best to this day.
Over the next four years, Evans continued to exert his dominance. He barely misses games, has never caught less than 1,000 yards in a season, and recently won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady at quarterback. If Tampa Bay is smart, Evans won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Will Their Legacies Continue?
With the 2021 season underway, most of these players are still trucking along. With that said, a majority of them likely won’t find themselves in the top ten this season. Injuries, role changes, slight declines in targets, and a new wave of talented receivers are mostly to blame for this.
Mike Evans and Antonio Brown are competing for targets from Tom Brady, T.Y. Hilton, Michael Thomas, and Odell Beckham Jr. have already missed the first two games, Julio Jones doesn’t look the same with his new team, and Amari Cooper has a hard time staying healthy.
With that said, we have plenty of other talent to drool over — including Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Juju Smith-Schuster, Calvin Ridley, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel.
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As the 2021 season continues, we’ll see if some of the top ten receivers 2016 can play like they did five years ago or if some of the other guys will take their place.
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