Right now at the wide receiver position, there are four players who can make a case that they’re the best at what they do. This exclusive list includes Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, and Dez Bryant. The debate has been a bit a bit skewed because of injuries to Bryant and his quarterback Tony Romo, as well as Brown’s QB Ben Roethlisberger, but Antonio Brown is emerging as the leader of the pack.
With Jones and Megatron battling injuries over the past two seasons, Bryant and Brown are the two standouts from this group of late. Some would say Bryant is the better receiver because he’s a great blocker and a more physical receiver. At three inches taller about twenty pounds heavier than Brown, he’s more naturally equipped for the position. He’s also the Cowboys’ emotional leader. But one of the keys to success in anything is consistency, and this is what Brown brings to the table.
Brown has been one of the most consistent players in the league since making a real name for himself two years ago. Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, Brown finally ended his streak of thirty-five games with at least 5 catches and 50 yards; he finished with 5 for 47, a solid day by more pedestrian standards. If he can manage to play another nine seasons at the rate he’s going, Brown will wind up third on the all-time receptions list behind Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez.
Antonio Brown always seems to be open. His 4.4 speed can seem like 4.2 when in the open field. Not just a wide receiver, he does a pretty good job returning punts. Only five-foot-ten, the guy has no clear height advantage over corners but he still dominates as if he were six-four. The Central Michigan alumnus had 129 receptions last season, which is the second highest season total in NFL history, and he led the league with 1,698 receiving yards. Back in the 2013 season, Brown was second in receiving yards to Josh Gordon and second in receptions behind Pierre Garcon. But if his stats make a good argument as to why he should be considered the best, watching him play confirms it. The guy catches darn near any ball that’s thrown in his vicinity, and can rack up a ton of YAC (yards after catch) if given any space.
When it’s all said and done, Calvin Johnson may still be considered the best receiver in the post-Randy Moss era. But for now, Antonio Brown is making a strong counter-argument.