Look around the NFL and you'll see a healthy mix of talent at the wide receiver position. Every week, it seems, this crew of playmakers tries to one-up each other. We saw the Lions' Golden Tate score an electrifying, game-winning 66-yard touchdown last Sunday against New Orleans. In Week 10, Antonio Brown roasted the Cowboys for 14 catches, 154 yards and a score. And in Dallas' very next game, Dez Bryant proved uncoverable in the red zone with two TDs.
With Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. getting ready to battle on a prime-time stage this Sunday night, let's run through the best WRs in all the areas that matter: route running, ball skills, big-play ability after the catch, body control and much more.
Toughest to cover
Julio Jones, Falcons
Jones is the most complete wide receiver in the game based on the tape I watch and the freakish measurables he brings to the field. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds with game speed in the low 4.4 range, Jones is a consistent matchup issue. He uses his rare size-speed combo to create leverage at the point of attack, adjust to the football and win with physicality.
Jones is more than just a deep-ball guy or a red zone weapon. With elite footwork, route-running ability and natural movement skills, this guy can beat opposing defenses from multiple alignments and he produces at all three levels of the field. Think of the 3-step game, intermediate cuts and the vertical shots that rip the souls out of opposing secondaries. You want a wide receiver who can take over on Sundays? It's Jones.
Just look at how he creates separation against Patrick Peterson on the "shake-7" route:
With Peterson playing from an off-man position, Jones presses the release vertically up the field to eat up the cushion of the Cardinals cornerback before stemming inside to sell the in-cut. This is when Jones sinks the hips, turns the All-Pro cornerback around and breaks back to the football. See the separation created? That's an excellent route against one of the best defensive backs in the game.
Honorable mention: Antonio Brown, Steelers