What Is A Wide Receiver? Top 10 NFL Wide Receivers

Wide receiver is one of the most crucial positions in American football. A wide receiver is a player who specializes in catching passes that the quarterback throws. 

In this article, we’ll examine what wide receiver is, what they do throughout a game, and the abilities they need to succeed.

What is a Wide Receiver?   

A player who lines up on the offensive side of the ball and is qualified to receive passes is known as a wide receiver. Split ends and flankers are the two different categories of wide receivers. 

Split ends set up shop on the line of scrimmage, while flankers set up shop a few yards back.

Importantly, a wide receiver’s primary duty is to collect passes that the quarterback throws, but they also perform duties like running routes to open up space for other receivers and blocking for the running back. 

Role of a Wide Receiver   

Wide Receiver Role

The wide receiver’s main responsibility is to catch the quarterback’s passes. For this, they must be quick and nimble, have outstanding hand-eye coordination, and adapt to the ball’s flight while it is in midair to accomplish this. 

Secondly, wide receivers must also be able to run accurate routes, necessitating a solid command of the offensive playbook and the ability to read the defense to necessitate a solid command of the offensive playbook.

Moreover, the wide receivers need to be proficient at blocking in addition to being able to catch passes. The wide receiver must be able to interact with a defensive player and deter them from tackling the running back when a running play is called. 

It is also worth noting here that a wide receiver who can’t block properly will not be as important to their team because blocking is a crucial aspect of the game. 

Skills Required to be a Wide Receiver 

Wide Receiver Skills

Many skills are necessary for a player to succeed as a wide receiver. However, we have listed the crucial skills required for a wide receiver.

Hand-eye Coordination: They must have exceptional hand-eye coordination first and foremost. It takes a lot of focus and quick reflexes to catch a football thrown at rapid speed.

Wide receivers need to be able to catch the ball while surrounded by defenders in order to make catches in tight spaces. 

Speed: Another essential quality for a wide receiver is speed. They must be able to sprint with quickness and gain speed quickly. 

Speed is important because it allows a wide receiver to pull away from the defense and create room for a catch. 

Agility: This is important for a wide receiver. To get open, they must be able to turn around rapidly and make precise cuts.

For a wide receiver to be effective, their footwork must be fluid and be able to shift directions and move laterally without losing their balance. 

Moreover, a wide receiver needs to be quite familiar with the game’s regulations. They must have the capacity to read defenses and comprehend their position within the offensive play. 

They must also be able to communicate well with the quarterback and other receivers to make sure that everyone is on the same page. 

Types of Routes Run by Wide Receivers 

Wide Receiver Routes

In American football, wide receivers use a range of routes to get open and catch passes from the quarterback. The most well-liked routes include: 

  1. Go route: In a straight-line route, the receiver tries to outrun the defense while running down the field to catch a long ball. 
  2. Slant route: To get away from the defender and grab the throw in stride, the receiver rushes diagonally toward the middle of the field. 
  3. Post route: The receiver races straight down the field before making an angled cut toward the middle of the field to catch a deep throw over the top of the defense. 
  4. Out route: To grab a pass along the sideline, the receiver rushes towards the sideline before breaking quickly in that direction. 
  5. Curl route: At the first-down marker, the receiver goes straight down the field before turning around to face the quarterback in an attempt to catch a pass. 
  6. Screen route: The quarterback swiftly delivers the ball to the receiver after the receiver runs a short route to the line of scrimmage, allowing him to run with the ball behind his blockers. 

What is expected from a Wide Receiver in American football? 

Wide Receiver Expectations
  1. Catching ability: The most important skill for a wide receiver is the ability to catch the ball. Receivers must have strong hands and be able to catch balls in various positions and angles.  
  2. Route running: To get away from defenders and open for passes, receivers need to be able to run a variety of routes, as was noted in the prior response. 
  3. Speed and agility: To outrun defenders and make rapid cuts to open spaces, wide receivers need to be quick and nimble. 
  4. Physicality: The ability to resist physical contact from defenders, compete for the ball in the air, and block downfield for their teammates are all requirements for receivers. 
  5. Football Intelligence: To be effective in their position, receivers must be able to analyze defenses, comprehend the offensive plan, and make quick changes. 

In general, a wide receiver should be a playmaker for their team, continually making catches and collecting yards to advance the ball down the field and score scores. 

Top Wide Receivers in American Football History 

Top NFL Wide Receivers

It’s challenging to choose just a few great wide receivers from the history of American football because there have been many of them.

Five of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history are listed below: 

Jerry Rice

During his 20-year career, Jerry Rice, widely recognized as the best wide receiver of all time, set several records, including the all-time records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. 

Moreover, many NFL playoff and Super Bowl records belong to Rice. He competed in four Super Bowls and eight conference championship games.

He was also awarded the Most Valuable Player in San Francisco’s Super Bowl XXIII victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and earned three Super Bowl rings with the 49ers.

In addition, Rice was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August 2007.

Randy Moss

Throughout his 14-year career, Moss dominated the NFL because of his remarkable speed and knack for making spectacular receptions. He is one of the most talented receivers in NFL history and ranks second all-time in receiving touchdowns. 

Apart from that, he was selected for the NFL 2000s and 1990s All-Decade Teams, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. Moss was a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time First-team All-Pro.

However, despite a successful career as a player, Moss couldn’t win a Super Bowl.

Terrell Owens

Physically impressive, Terrell Owens used his bulk and strength to overwhelm opponents. He is third all-time in receiving yards and touchdowns, and throughout his career, he was an important member of multiple teams. 

During 15 seasons, many honors were bestowed upon him, including three NFL receiving touchdown leading awards, five First-Team All-Pro selections, and six Pro Bowl selections.

In addition, Owens was selected for the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. He is a 2018 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Don Hutson

Don Hutson, who played in the 1930s and 1940s, was one of the NFL’s first truly outstanding receivers. Over his career, he broke multiple records, including those for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions in a single season. 

Hutson was a two-time NFL MVP and a member of the league’s All-Decade team for the 1930s. He was the league leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, eight and nine times, respectively.

Also, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, as well as the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Importantly, his glittering career included three championship wins.

Steve Largent

One of the most productive receivers of his day, Steve Largent was a member of the Seattle Seahawks in the 1980s. In terms of receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions, he held the record until his retirement. 

Largent played in the Pro Bowl seven times and made the First Team All-Pro once. Also, he held other NFL receiving records, including the most career receptions, yards, and touchdown receptions.

He is a 1995 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was chosen to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.

Top 10 Wide Receivers With The Most Receiving Yards In NFL History

Rank PlayerReceiving Yards
1Jerry Rice22,895
2Larry Fitzgerald17,492
3Terrel Owens15,934
4Randy Moss15,292
5Isaac Bruce15,208
6Tony Gonzalez15,127
7Tim Brown14,934
8Steve Smith14,731
9Marvin Harrison14,580
10Reggie Wayne14,345
Data collected from statista.com


To sum up, a wide receiver is the football field’s prima donna. They are the ones who demand the ball, pose after a catch, and celebrate touchdowns as if they have won the lottery.

But, let’s be real, they’ve got the talent to back it up. 

In addition, they outmaneuver opponents and make those amazing catches that leave everyone in awe by utilizing their speed, agility, and keen route-running skills.

With each play, they keep spectators on the edge of their seats and add excitement to the game. 

Nevertheless, don’t overlook the fact that they are also extremely resilient. They take significant blows, stand up, pick themselves up, and return to the fray prepared for more.

Furthermore, wide receivers are the offensive team’s lifeblood; they keep the ball moving and are constantly prepared to make a crucial play. 

The wide receiver is, in essence, the rockstar of American football, complete with all the necessary talent, charisma, and swagger. You can’t deny that they make the game much more entertaining to watch, whether you love them or detest them. 

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