2013 NFL Predictions: Top 5 Wide Receivers – Megatron, B. Marshall, A.J. Green the NFL’s Best WR’s: As NFL offenses become more and more pass-happy, it is no surprise that teams are beginning to value receivers more than ever before. As a result, top athletes are beginning to migrate toward the position, creating a generation of athletic and explosive receivers. Last year alone, Calvin Johnson broke the single-season record for receiving yards previously held by Jerry Rice. Meanwhile, 10 players topped 1,300 yards receiving, and 10 players had double-digit receiving touchdowns. Offenses aren’t likely to slow down any time soon, and receiving records could continue to fall. With that in mind, here is a closer look at the top receivers in the NFL heading into the 2013 season.
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
If you could build a wide receiver in a laboratory, it would probably look a lot like Johnson. There isn’t a defensive back in the league that can match his combination of size, speed and athleticism, and he had a single-season record 1,964 yards last year to prove it. In fact, Johnson led the league in both catches and receiving yards last year, and he led the league with 16 touchdowns the year before. Whether he is running over or away from defenders or pulling down passes in triple coverage, “Megatron” is ultimate target for a quarterback.
2. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
While his attitude and focus was questionable early in his career, Marshall’s production has always been stellar. He has had more than 1,000 yards receiving in six straight seasons and has topped 100 catches four times during the stretch. Last year, Marshall’s 118 grabs, 1,508 yards and 11 scores were all career highs, and he earned All-Pro honors for the first time. His emotions can sometimes get the better of him, but the same intensity allows him to go over the middle and fight for balls in traffic as well as any receiver in the league. The only person that can stop Marshall is himself.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati certainly nailed it when they snagged Green with the fourth overall pick in 2011. After grabbing 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven scores as a rookie, Green finished last season with 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 scores. He is tall, fast and smooth when it comes to running routes, and he can torch defenses deep or bring down balls in traffic. Not to mention the fact that Green has started his NFL career with two great seasons despite facing constant double teams. Given his physical tools and instant success, a little more experience is the only thing standing between Green NFL stardom.
4. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, it would be easy to assume that Fitzgerald is starting to slip. However, his dramatic drop in production had everything to do with the quarterback carousel going on in Arizona last year. Keep in mind that Fitzgerald had topped 1,000 yards in five straight years heading into 2012, and he had registered his fourth 1,400-yard campaign just a year prior. He still has arguably the greatest hands in the NFL, and he might just be the top route runner, too. Fitzgerald doesn’t have blazing speed, but he uses his body well and is precise as they come when it comes to technique and fundamentals. With Carson Palmer under center in Arizona in 2013, Fitzgerald’s numbers should rebound in a big way.
5. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
If he could stay healthy, Andre Johnson would be in this spot, but physical prowess and potential don’t outweigh production in this case. After all, White may be the most underrated receiver in the NFL today. He has topped 80 catches and 1,100 yards in six straight seasons, and he has averaged more than 100 catches and 1,300 yards over the past three years. He is an expert route runner, and he knows how to create separation regardless of the coverage.
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