Best wide receivers by route type

DeSean Jackson excels on crosses; Megatron dominates multiple areas

Updated: June 26, 2014, 4:53 PM ET
By Steve Palazzolo | Pro Football Focus

Calvin JohnsonJoe Sargent/Getty ImagesUnsurprisingly, Calvin Johnson is the best NFL receiver at multiple route types.

If you could have one NFL wide receiver to run each of the pass patterns on the route tree, whom would you choose for each route? We can answer that question with a process that we at Pro Football Focus added for 2013 -- we started tracking every route that every NFL receiver ran, giving us not only a description of the passing concept but also an in-depth look at what each receiver is asked to do over the course of a season.

We can track how often a receiver runs each route, how often he's targeted and what he does with those targets. Instead of looking at just a receiver's total numbers, we can get a snapshot of where the yards came from and how efficiently each receiver ran each route.

Here's a look at the best receivers on each of the basic routes in the route tree, using total yards as a guide:


Crossing routes: DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (273 yards)

Not just a go-route option in Eagles coach Chip Kelly's offense, Jackson did a lot of damage on the crossing route last season, whether it was the shallow drag or the deep crosser behind the linebackers. His speed was an asset, as he was able to run away from underneath coverage on the drag while sifting through the coverage on the deep crosser as part of the downfield concepts that Kelly teaches.

Jackson ran 70 crossing routes on the season, picking up 273 yards, which made up 20.5 percent of his season total of 1,332. With Jackson moving to the Redskins this season, expect new head coach Jay Gruden to tap into the receiver's ability to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically with the crossing routes.