US Sports Veteran
Publish Date: 05/31/2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Modern NFL offenses gave birth to multiple historic performances by wide receivers during the 2010s. In a decade where running backs saw their prominence decline, the wide receiver position was one of several that produced a new iconic class of players. Today we’ll look back at some of the best seasons by receivers during the 2010s.
I limited each wide receiver to only one entry. Several receivers produced multiple All-Pro seasons in the 2010s, but this way, we can relive even more standout performances.
The Illinois product put together one breakout season during his long career. In 2010, Lloyd led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards. The former fourth-round pick also tallied 77 receptions and 11 touchdowns on his way to his only Pro Bowl appearance.
Fitzgerald is the definition of a consistent wide receiver, but he never posted ridiculous numbers in a single season. His three best seasons arguably came during the 2000s, but Fitzgerald still earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2011. The career Cardinal caught 80 passes for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns. He also set a career-high with 17.6 yards per reception.
Johnson led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards twice during the 2000s, but he still authored three Pro Bowl campaigns during the 2010s. In 2012, Johnson finished fourth in receptions (112) and second in receiving yards (1,598). However, he only reached the end zone four times. Houston went 12-4 during the regular season, and Johnson earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection.
From 2008 to 2011, White made four consecutive Pro Bowls. The career Falcon is often overshadowed by his former teammate, Julio Jones. However, White was one of the best receivers in the late 2000s and early 2010s. During his six-year peak (2007-2012), White tallied 563 receptions, 7,773 yards, and 49 touchdowns.
In 2010, White earned the only First-Team All-Pro selection of his career. He set single-season career-highs with a league-leading 115 receptions and 1,389 yards. White also scored ten touchdowns.
Beckham peaked early in his NFL career. The LSU product averaged 108.8 receiving yards per game in his rookie season (2014). However, Beckham only appeared in 12 games, so he didn’t post ridiculous statistics. In his second season, Beckham played in 15 games and made 96 receptions for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Associated Press selected Beckham as a Second-Team All-Pro.
The former undrafted free agent often gets buried in New England history below Julian Edelman and Randy Moss. However, Welker made five Pro Bowls and earned two First-Team All-Pro selections during his six seasons with the Patriots. He also led the NFL in receptions three times, with one instance coming in the 2010s.
In 2011, Welker led the league with 122 receptions. He also tallied 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns on the way to the final All-Pro selection of his career.
Bryant peaked from 2012 to 2014, amassing at least 88 receptions, 1,200 yards, and 12 touchdowns in each season. During the final year of that peak, Bryant recorded 88 receptions, 1,320 yards, and a league-leading 16 touchdowns. He also earned the only First-Team All-Pro selection of his career. Bryant immediately suffered the worst season of his career in 2015, and he never fully recovered from several injuries.
Nelson made the only Pro Bowl of his career in 2014. The former second-round pick did produce several noteworthy seasons during the 2010s, but he put together a well-rounded statistical campaign in 2014. The Kansas St. product scored 13 touchdowns and set career-highs with 98 receptions and 1,519 yards. He also earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection.
In the second year of his career, Gordon flashed incredible potential. The former Supplemental Draft pick earned a First-Team All-Pro selection after leading the NFL with 1,646 yards. Incredibly, Gordon amassed that many yards in only 14 games, meaning he averaged 117.6 yards per game. The Baylor product also reached the end zone nine times.
In 2014, Peyton Manning posted his final Pro Bowl season, and Thomas set career-highs with 111 receptions and 1,619 receiving yards. His touchdown production did decrease from 14 to 11 between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but Thomas generated more than enough output in other areas. The Associated Press selected Thomas as a Second-Team All-Pro for the second year in a row.
During the 2010s, Hopkins produced three seasons that all deserved consideration for this spot. However, I chose to side with his 2018 campaign, where Hopkins caught 115 passes for 1,572 yards. Both totals marked career-highs. Hopkins also scored 11 touchdowns, and the Houston Texans won the AFC South with an 11-5 record.
Marshall authored two 1,500-yard seasons during this past decade. In 2012, he earned a First-Team All-Pro selection, but I’d argue he played better in 2015. During his final Pro Bowl campaign, Marshall tallied 109 receptions, 1,502 yards, and a league-leading 14 receiving touchdowns. Marshall earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection and led the New York Jets to a surprising 10-6 record.
Jones earned the first of two consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections in 2015. He led the NFL with 136 receptions and 1,871 yards. However, Jones falls short of the second and third spots because he only scored eight times. Jones is notorious for piling up huge chunks of yardage, but he’s not a high-volume scorer.
This past season, Thomas won the Offensive Player of the Year award by leading the NFL with 149 receptions and 1,725 receiving yards. He also recorded nine touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints won 13 games, despite Drew Brees sitting out for five weeks with an injury. Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season receptions record.
Before jumping off the deep end last year, Brown put together the best five-year stretch in the past decade. In 2015, he led the NFL with 136 receptions. Brown also recorded 1,834 yards and ten touchdowns. The Pittsburgh Steelers went 10-6, but the team lost Brown to an illegal hit by Vontaze Burfict in the Wild Card Round. Pittsburgh defeated Burfict and Cincinnati but lost the following week.
During the decade, Brown led the league in receptions and receiving yards twice and receiving touchdowns once. He also made seven Pro Bowls and earned four First-Team All-Pro selections, more than any other wide receiver during the 2010s.
Megatron built a larger than life one-field presence during his prime. However, he only produced two seasons that garnered attention for a top-five spot on this list. I decided to choose his 2012 campaign, where Johnson set the single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards. He also led the NFL with 122 receptions.
However, Johnson only reached the end zone five times, which made me consider his 2011 campaign. Johnson scored 16 touchdowns in 2011 and led the NFL with 1,681 receiving yards. Either way, Megatron deserves the top spot on this list.