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)
DWAYNE BOWE, CHIEFS (6-2, 221): 81 catches, 1,159 yards, 5 TD, 14.3 yds/catch. One-time Pro Bowl selection had a whopping 15 receiving touchdowns in 2010, and he’s continued to produce despite questionable quarterback play.
LARRY FITZGERALD, CARDINALS (6-3, 218): 80 catches, 1,411 yards, 8 TD, 17.6 yds/catch. He’s topped 1,000 yards in 5 straight seasons, scoring 49 TDs during that stretch. According to STATS, 21.3 percent of his catches last season came with two defenders.
DeSEAN JACKSON EAGLES (5-10, 175): 58 catches, 961 yards, 4 TD, 16.6 yds/catch. Barely makes my list but does so for 2 reasons: benefits from outstanding RB in LeSean McCoy, which pressures defense; has 4.2 speed, which makes him home-run threat.
CALVIN JOHNSON, LIONS (6-5, 236): 96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TD,17.5 yds/catch. Lacks absolutely nothing and possesses absolutely everything. He’s huge, he’s lightning fast, he can jump, and he’s a load to bring down. No. 1 receiving target in NFL.
ANDRE JOHNSON (6-3, 230), TEXANS: 33 catches, 492 yards, 2 TD, 14.9 yds/catch. When healthy, he’s at the top of this list, alongside Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson because of his size, speed and playmaking ability in the face of double coverage.
MIKE WALLACE, STEELERS (6-0, 199): 72 catches, 1,193 yards, 8 TD, 16.6 yds/catch. Ekes into Top 10 with 18 TDs over last 2 seasons, and his career per-catch average is 18.7 yards. He was third last season in YAC with 6.8 yards.
RODDY WHITE, FALCONS (6-0, 211): 100 catches, 1,296 yards, 8 TD, 13.0 yds/catch. May not have potential or appeal of the others. But, his production is impossible to ignore: 5 straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards, not to mention 42 TDs over that tim
STEVE SMITH, PANTHERS (5-9, 185): 79 catches, 1,394 yards, 7 TD, 17.6 yds/catch. Is 33 years old, but had a brilliant 2011 season. He’s clutch, he makes tough catches in traffic, and he gives defensive back fits with his run-after-catch ability.
VINCENT JACKSON, BUCCANEERS (6-5, 230): 60 catches, 1,106 yards, 9 TD, 18.4 yds/catch. A physical freak, nearly the size of a tight end but with exceptional speed. Consistency has been an issue, though. Bucs hope big contract won't go to his head.
BRANDON MARSHALL, BEARS (6-4, 230): 81 catches, 1,214 yards, 6 TD, 15.0 yds/catch. One of the most consistently prolific receivers in the NFL. But, over the last two seasons, he’s managed to find pay dirt just nine times. Huge expectations reuniting with
(Emerging receivers who just missed Top 10 list)
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, (6-4, 207) A Pro Bowl selection as a rookie last season, he’s probably – in truth – already considered a No. 1. Doesn’t lack for anything, and he dropped just three passes.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys, (6-2, 220): Isn’t the biggest or fastest, but playmaking skills are showcased in circus catches and brilliant punt returns. Last season scored 9 receiving TDs, dropped just two balls and had 25 clutch catches, according to STATS.
Victor Cruz, Giants (6-0, 204): Numbers are tantalizing (82 catches for 1,536 yards and 9 TDs), but he does his damage in the slot, and his quarterback is Eli Manning. He’s got to put up big numbers again to make the jump into the elite category.
Julio Jones, Falcons (6-3, 220): Falcons moved up to draft him last year and it paid off. Led the league, averaging 7.9 yards after catch and was just 41 yards shy of 1,000. He’ll trend up for Falcons, while White, who is 30, slowly starts his descent.
Jordy Nelson, Packers (6-3, 217): Former college QB emerged in Packers’ Super Bowl victory against Steelers two years ago, and put up massive numbers last season: 68 catches for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Smart, quick, and he knows how to use size.