My Top-10 Receivers, And Room For Debate

July 27th, 2020

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Mike Evans isn’t backing down, and that’s a good thing for Buc fans.

Keenan Allen struck a nerve with Evans after the Chargers wide receiver plunged from No. 38 to No. 77 on the NFL Network’s list of Top 100 NFL players. When Allen took a swipe at Tyreek Hill and Evans, No. 13 responded on Twitter:

Top-5, explains Ira Kaufman

“Be realistic,” Evans wrote to Allen. “You’re not on my level bro.”

An angry Evans is a motivated Evans, and that’s bad news for opposing defensive backs. Allen is a very good player, but he’s not Mike Evans.

Let’s see how he likes catching passes from Tyrod Taylor instead of Philip Rivers this fall.

There’s plenty of room for debate when assessing the league’s Top 10 wide receivers. Evans and Allen both make my list, so here goes.

10) Chris Godwin: Evans’ trusty sidekick has markedly improved his numbers across the board in each of his first three seasons – and he’s still only 24. He excelled in the slot last year, and that’s where Tom Brady’s targets typically thrive. Godwin’s 66 percent career catch rate is impressive.

9) Amari Cooper: Only 26, Cooper has already earned four Pro Bowl berths during his five NFL seasons, topping 1,000 yards four times. He has few peers as a smooth route runner and has developed a nice
rapport with Dak Prescott.

8) Keenan Allen: Nobody boasts a better release or more of a knack for keeping cornerbacks off balance. “He just knows how to get open,” Chris Harris says about Allen, who catches 68 percent of the passes sent his way.

7) Odell Beckham Jr.: Entering the league in 2014, the same year as Evans, Beckham caught 35 TD passes in his first three seasons to establish himself as a star. He has reached the end zone only 13 times since, but Beckham’s average of 86.8 yards per game ranks No. 3 all-time.

6) Davante Adams: The favorite target of Aaron Rodgers has reached double digits in TD catches three times in six seasons. Injuries slowed him down in 2019, but a fourth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl is likely.

5) Mike Evans: In starting his career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Evans joins only Randy Moss in that regard. He’s been the best Buc player since arriving in 2014, although that 55 percent catch rate could use a bump.

It helps to actually cover Julio Jones

4) DeAndre Hopkins: A 3-time first-team All-Pro, Hopkins is the best boundary receiver since Cris Carter. His footwork is immaculate and now he takes his talents to the Arizona desert, hoping to flower with Kyler Murray.

3) Tyreek Hill: You shouldn’t judge Hill by his numbers, unless you start with that breathtaking 4.2 speed. He’s a game-changer who deserves credit for working on his craft. His 44-yard catch against the 49ers, off an artful route, turned the Super Bowl around.

2) Julio Jones: This guy has been so good for so long that we tend to take him for granted. Jones doesn’t score a lot of TDs, but his average of 96.2 receiving yards per game is by far the best in the league’s 100-year history. He’s a pro’s pro in every way.

1) Michael Thomas: What can you say about a relentless receiver still on the rise? Those 274 receptions in the past two years are a testament to his hands, durability and ability to find open seams. When a guy boasts a 78 percent catch rate, you keep throwing him the ball. And by the way, he loves to torment the Bucs.

Enjoy Mike Alstott’s June interview on the Ira Kaufman Podcast.

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14 Responses to “My Top-10 Receivers, And Room For Debate”

  1. Yeah Says:

    Julio, Hopkins, Hill, Thomas, Evans.

  2. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Ira, I think you have Tyreek ranked too high.

  3. Youngbucs Says:

    Thomas is not the best WR sorry Ira.

  4. YouKnow1 Says:

    You know, most of Julios yards are garbage time yards.

  5. gotbbucs Says:

    Don’t hold Evans’ and Godwin’s catch rates against them too much. Look at the clown that was throwing them the ball.
    Evans would be on an insane career trajectory had he not been saddled to a nincompoop at QB.

  6. Jerry Jones Says:

    I’d swap OBJ and Hills rankings and move Evans into the #5 spot.

  7. Jerry Jones Says:

    Julio is a beast and always has been, garbage time comments are a swirling.

  8. Says:

    Our new running back is on the Covid list… hope he wasn’t around anyone else.

  9. TheBradyBunch Says:

    @ Jerry Jones – you would move Evans to the 5 spot from the 5 spot?

  10. unbelievable Says:

    That’s a pretty solid list Ira.

    I would rank Hopkins higher than Michael Thomas though.

    Thomas has had one of the greatest QBs in the history of the game throwing to him his entire career. Whereas Hopkins has had a whole lot of slop.

  11. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Oh man, Ira. Evans ahead of Godwin? I don’t see it. Evans has struggled with untimely drops, and is known for falling right after the catch (although plenty of blame can be placed on ball placement by our former QB). Godwin is so smooth, so precise, fantastic hands. The analytics support this. PFF has Godwin barely behind Michael Thomas for 2nd overall, with Evans at 7. DVOA actually has Godwin as #1, with Thomas at 8, and Evans all the way down at 14. I think you may be biased in favor of Evans because he has been elite for a longer amount of time, but Godwin was better last season.

    My rankings:
    1) Michael Thomas
    2) Chris Godwin
    3) Julio Jones
    4) Hopkins
    5) Tyreek
    6) Mike Evans

  12. SB Says:

    5) Mike Evans: In starting his career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Evans joins only Randy Moss in that regard. He’s been the best Buc player since arriving in 2014, although that 55 percent catch rate could use a bump.


    LOL once he gets a more accurate QB that 55% will go Way up.
    Jaymiss was Famiss for throwing the 50/50 ball to Evans who bailed him out Constantly
    Much like he did Johnny.

  13. BrianDorry55 Says:

    Godwin is a Top 5 receiver. You wanna get into longevity, fine. But today, he’s a Top 5 guy.

  14. Buczilla Says:

    Good article Ira. Godwin at ten is fair since he just had his breakout year, but I have a feeling that he will be top 5 next year with a better quarterback.

    Finally, finally, someone made an argument that makes sense to me as to why Evans shouldn’t easily be considered the best wide receiver in the game. 55% catch percentage does not look good compared to the guys ahead of him, but in fairness to Mike, he also averages more yards than all of them and scores more touchdowns. I’m predicting Tecmo Bowl numbers from Mike this year with Brady throwing him the ball. I’ll look like a dumba$$ if I’m wrong, but I’m sticking to it.

    4) DeAndre Hopkins: Pedestrian compared to Mike. Averages less yards and touchdowns. His catch percentage is only 5% better than Mike’s and he’s had better quarterbacks throwing him the ball. He also got shut down by (I still have hope for him) Carlton Davis last year in a meaningful game for Houston with an all world quarterback throwing him the ball. Speaking this cats name in the same sentence as Chris Carter is akin to saying that Roseanne Barr is as hot as Salma Hayek. C’mon man.

    3) Tyreek Hill: You must be drinking Chris Simm’s koolade. This guy is fun to watch but shouldn’t even be on the list. Despite his 4.2 speed compared to Mike’s 4.5 and the best quarterback in the league throwing him the ball, he still averages less yards and touchdowns than Mike. For such a supposedly huge threat down the field, Mike averages over a yard more than this dude. I wasn’t even going to comment on this one Ira, but you are a legend and deserve respect. 😁

    2) Julio Jones: Man, people got it bad for this guy and he’s very good, but not great. His average yards per game is impressive and his catch percentage is better than Mike’s, but Mike is superior in every other way. Julio has also had one of the better quarterbacks of this era throwing him the ball for his entire career and despite this, his touchdown production is pretty sad for a supposedly elite receiver. Not in Mike’s leaugue.

    1) Michael Thomas: Holy hell this guy is good in the short to intermediate range
    of the field and his touchdown production has been consistently good. This was the toughest one for me, but I still gotta give it to Mike. Thomas has had the most accurate passer in NFL history throwing him the ball for his entire career. He’s also not even remotely close to Mike as a deep threat. This is one of those “choose your flavor of receiver” kind of deals, but Mike is just more dynamic and dangerous in my opinion than Thomas.

    You are awesome Ira and I agree with you on most things, but Mike is the best since Randy Moss and Antonio Brown. As the immortal Logen Ninefingers is fond of saying, “you’ve gotta be realistic about these things”.