The NFL Network recently named Jerry Rice the greatest player in the history of the sport. For two decades, the question of who the best wide receiver in the NFL was had an obvious answer, and thereafter, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss were at the peaks of their careers, laying claim to the title.
Now, it's not so simple.
Last season, the answer was probably that Andre Johnson was the best. He put up league-leading statistics — something that shouldn't have been particularly surprising given his consistently impressive numbers up to that point. This season, Roddy White looks to be doing almost the exact same thing — having a career year after a half-decade of Pro Bowl level play.
Johnson and White, however, are two very different players. Johnson is a physically imposing speedster, whereas White does what he does with grit, route running, intelligence and some speed — much like Rice.
Neither, however are as physically dominant as Calvin Johnson, the league's most imposing receiver. If Johnson were on a better team, he would likely lead the league in every receiving category, but even in Detroit, he puts up big numbers. He already has eight touchdowns this season — nine if you count the game-winner against Chicago that was disallowed.
Even more imposing than Johnson was Moss in his prime, but that may be a few years removed from the present. Still, he has incredible over-the-top speed, and is as great of a deep threat as anybody — when he's playing hard.
Others such as Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin probably deserve some consideration as well.