WR Ranks: Calvin Johnson No. 1

Andre Johnson slips, while Steve Smith rises back into elite

Originally Published: August 20, 2012
By Matt Williamson | ESPN Insider

After watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc., in conjuntion with ESPN.com's Matt Williamson, has evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2012 season. Here's how the top wide receivers stacked up.

Note: No rookies were included in this exercise. Age refers to player's age at start of the 2012 season on Sept. 5.

Anyone that is preparing for their fantasy football draft surely knows that there is an extreme wealth of wide receivers in the NFL right now.

That holds true for elite wideouts such as Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. But it also holds true for sheer numbers of high-end players at this position. Rule changes, superb quarterback play and quickly advancing offensive playbooks all have helped this gluttony of great wide receivers take shape, but the fact is that top wide receivers come in all shapes and sizes.

Some of the shorter compact receivers such as Steve Smith, Wes Welker, Percy Harvin and Antonio Brown are incredibly quick in tight quarters and display remarkable lateral agility and burst. On the opposite end of the spectrum are taller, leaner wideouts such as A.J. Green, Mike Wallace and Brandon Lloyd who use long strides to run past their opponents. Then there are the guys who can play the game with a great combination of size and strength such as Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Bowe.

It all adds up to a lot of tough decisions in our receiver rankings. Here's how they shake out.

1
Calvin Johnson
94
AGE: 27
DOB: 9/29/85
HT: 6-5
WT: 236
POS: WR
Rec 96
Yds 1,681
Avg 17.5
Long 73
TD 16
Player Analysis

Johnson is an outstanding combination of size, strength and athleticism for the position. His length and strength create mismatches in most NFL secondaries.

MORE ANALYSIS

Opposing coordinators have to game plan for him, and his impact on the game is evident. He is physical with the ball after the catch and as a perimeter blocker. He wins most jump-ball opportunities and shows courage and concentration in traffic.

CLOSE ANALYSIS

2
Larry Fitzgerald
93
AGE: 29
DOB: 8/31/83
HT: 6-3
WT: 218
POS: WR
Rec 80
Yds 1,411
Avg 17.6
Long 73
TD 8
Player Analysis

Fitzgerald is an elite receiver who brings a rare combination of size, receiving skills and top-end speed. He is a good route-runner who can drop his hips in and out of breaks, has burst to separate and is one of the best in the league in terms of reacting, adjusting and competing on downfield passes.

MORE ANALYSIS

He routinely makes tough, acrobatic catches and is a serious threat to score after the catch. He does a good job reading coverages and adjusting on the move to find seams in zone coverage.

CLOSE ANALYSIS
3
Andre Johnson
90
AGE: 31
DOB: 7/11/81
HT: 6-3
WT: 226
POS: WR
Rec 33
Yds 492
Avg 14.9
Long 50
TD 2
Player Analysis
Johnson's combination of size, speed, athleticism and hard work makes him one of the most dynamic players in the game. He did miss nine games in 2011 with hamstring issues but has been pretty durable for most of his career.

MORE ANALYSIS

He is a strong route runner who can drop his hips to get in and out of his breaks with a good burst to separate. He does a good job of reading coverage on the move as he works his way into the open passing lanes against zone coverage. Johnson is strong to the ball when in a crowd and is a good open-field runner once he gets the ball in his hands. He has a very wide receiving radius that allows him to reach up to pluck the high ball or extend down to catch the low one without breaking stride.

CLOSE ANALYSIS


To see the rest of the Scouts Inc. wide receiver rankings -- and get access to rankings for every NFL player -- you must be an ESPN Insider.