Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown is one of the best in the NFL and has flourished even more since arriving in the NFC East after three years with Tennessee. Brown finished his first season in Philly a few yards short of 1,500 yards receiving, which was good enough to rank fourth in the league. Thus far, he is in his second year in an Eagles uniform; Brown is second in the NFL in receiving yards. So, of course, he’s being asked hard-hitting questions about who he’s got in his top five all-time WR ranking and he has no issue giving a straight answer:
1. Jerry Rice
2. Julio Jones
3. Calvin Johnson
4. Larry Fitzgerald
5. Antonio Brown
One thing Brown should receive credit for is maneuvering outside the box. Brown added a couple of names to his list you don’t always hear mentioned in the top five all-time WR conversation. As good as they were, you don’t often hear Julio Jones and even Larry Fitzgerald mentioned among the top five in the history of the game.
It often feels like the new generation of players goes against the grain with these rankings for the sake of being different. It’s all subjective and, ultimately, their opinions. However, Jones at No. 2 for Brown feels more like a sentimental choice, honoring a player who’s been a mentor. It makes even more sense seeing how the two were recently reunited in Philly with the signing of Jones.
Fitzgerald has longevity on his side, finishing his career toward the top in some of the primary receiving statistical categories. He’s second all-time in receiving yards (17,492) and receptions (1,432) behind Jerry Rice. Even with all the stats to back it up, Fitz is rarely included in the top five. He wasn’t flashy and didn’t win much other than the few years when Kurt Warner was his quarterback.
The bigger story really revolves around the names Brown excluded. Most notably, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Most times, with these lists of the top five WRs, Owens and Moss are usually mainstays. Even when players like Tyreek Hill choose to omit Rice, they’ll have T.O. and Moss somewhere amongst the five.
Indeed, the game continues to evolve with bigger, faster, stronger wideouts entering the league each year, but it still doesn’t feel right when Rice, Moss, or Owens are left off these lists. The way all three took over games during eras when teams weren’t throwing as much as they do today was incredible. More so for Rice, but Owens and Moss entered the NFL during the 1990s when many offenses were still centered around the ground game. Regardless of how the game has evolved, leaving any of those three Hall of Famers off the top five list feels blasphemous.
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