NFL on CBS analyst Nate Burleson spent 11 seasons in the NFL, racking up 457 receptions for over 5,600 yards and 39 touchdowns. So, he knows a thing or two about catching passes in the league. With that in mind, we decided to ask him who he thinks are the top wide receivers in the NFL when we caught up with him at NFL on CBS media day last week. As you would expect, some familiar names were at the top of his list.
“Listen, we’ve got Antonio Brown and it’s Antonio Brown and then the field,” said Burleson. “His ability to get open is some of the best I’ve ever seen and when he goes into the history books I think he’ll go down as one of the best route-running wide receivers to play the game.”
Brown is the clear number one choice for Burleson, but in the two spot, things are a little tighter between Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. Burleson gives the nod to Hopkins because of the slew of quarterbacks he’s had to play with during his five years in the league. He’s expecting even bigger things now that Deshaun Watson is back and presumably healthy this season.
Right behind Hopkins and Jones, Burleson has Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. With OBJ, Burleson thinks it’s possible that he can reach an even higher level now that the Giants offense has a few more weapons that teams need to focus on trying to stop.
“I’ll say this about Odell, his first three years I believe it was 1,200-plus yards, 10-plus touchdowns, which is like Randy Moss numbers,” said Burleson. “He’s done that without a running game. The running backs, on average, a little under four yards per carry so he wasn’t getting much help from that perspective. Now, with Odell having Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Eli understanding that their window is closing, this could be the best Odell we’ve ever seen.”
“Think about that for a second. We’ve seen Odell and we’ve said to ourselves ‘is he the best receiver in football?’ That thought has crossed our minds. He’s done that while teams are putting double coverage over the top and shading defenders to his side. Now a team has to literally pick their poison.”