Receivers are new alpha dogs

Joe Theismann takes a look at the importance of the receiver position in today's NFL.

Updated: November 22, 2006, 4:09 PM ET
By Joe Theismann | ESPN Insider
I've been around the game of football my entire life, either playing, watching or commentating on it. But the past few seasons, I've seen something different about this game that I haven't seen anyone else talk about. Somehow, wide receivers have become the new alpha males of the NFL. For years, when you talked about the best players in the league and talked about the leaders on a team, you were talking about the quarterbacks … but not anymore.

Now there are only a handful of quarterbacks in this league who are the true engine of the organization. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre and Michael Vick are the only quarterbacks in the league who have that distinction of being the engine.

There were always teams that had a defensive player who led the way or a running back who was special, but teams that were led by their wide receivers were few and far in between.

Joe Theismann

Football analyst
Former college and pro football star Joe Theismann has served as an analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football since 1988. He also is frequently heard on ESPN Radio, regularly contributes to ESPN.com and has contributed to the NFL Draft.