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Here are the Top 10 No. 1 receivers in the NFL

Chicago Bears wide receiver BrandMarshall (15) is tackled by WashingtRedskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (97) defensive back BrandMeriweather (31) first half

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) is tackled by Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (97) and defensive back Brandon Meriweather (31) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: October 9, 2012 2:57PM



When evaluating receivers, coaches and scouts weigh a number of variables: his measurables, his hands, his route-running skills, his intelligence and instincts and his knack for making big plays.

There’s a hierarchy in which numbers are assigned: He’s a 3, he’s a solid 2.

Technically, since there are 32 NFL teams, there are 32 No. 1 receivers.

But scouts and coaches know better.

There are criteria to determine if a receiver is deserving of the No. 1 distinction, as outlined by Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman.

“A No. 1 receiver is your go-to guy. When you need that big play ... you’re going to throw it to him, and he’s going to make something happen,” Tillman said. “Not saying he’s No. 1 because of where he is on the depth chart, but what he can do physically with his athleticism.”

Someone who, despite his quarterback, despite the defense’s coverage, regularly produces.

One thing that sets Larry Fitzgerald apart is not only how he performed when two-time MVP Kurt Warner was throwing to him but how he’s performed with the likes of Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.

“The thing I try to do is work with that guy and make that guy comfortable,’’ Fitzgerald said.

Numbers can be deceiving, especially when a receiver has the luxury of an elite quarterback.

Welker is prolific (122 catches), and he’s clutch (33 catches for touchdowns or for third- and fourth-down conversions), but he doesn’t stretch a defense.

“He’s not dangerous in certain aspects, like going deep. He’s a shorter guy, so it’s easier to knock [the ball] down,” 11-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey said of Welker. “So I can’t put him with Larry Fitzgerald.”

The only short of stature to make the list was Smith.

“Steve Smith, on the other hand; he’s done it at a high level for so long,” Bailey said, “and he’s still doing it.

“It’s like, ‘Wow.’ ”

CLICK HERE to see who makes Sean Jensen's Top 10 list of No. 1 receivers, plus 5 emerging receivers who just missed.



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