Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter stirred up quite a storm prior to the 2011 season when he left Calvin Johnson off his list of the top five wide receivers in the game.
Calvin Johnson, he’s very, very good at Madden and Tecmo Bowl or whatever they’re playing now. But on film, when I watch film, and I break down the film, he’s not to the point of these guys yet. That doesn’t mean he can’t play. He just not there yet.
Criticism of Carter’s rankings proved correct when Calvin went on to catch 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. Add in another year of evidence in which Calvin broke Jerry Rice‘s single-season receiving yards record and Carter now ranks Calvin where he belongs:
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit: This is the easiest pick on this list. Calvin Johnson isn’t just the best wide receiver in the NFL. He’s one of the best players, period. There are only a few teams where you’ll find the head coach, general manager and strength coach all agreeing on who the hardest worker in their locker room is. Detroit is one of those teams. Johnson has the size (6-foot-5, 236 pounds) and speed (4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to dominate defensive backs on ability alone, but you can see the effort he puts into his game. He’s gotten better at releasing off the line and beating double coverage, and his toughness is unquestioned. In short — it will be a long time before his name ever leaves the top of this list.
You can check out Carter’s full top ten at ESPN.com.