Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been to the Pro Bowl two of the last three seasons. It may have been three straight seasons if he wasn’t forced to miss time because of an ankle injury in 2012.
Last year, he made the (second-team) All-Pro list for the first time after catching 110 passes for 1499 yards and eight touchdowns. He also did something that nobody had ever done before, catching at least five passes for at least fifty yards in every game of the season.
On the NFL website’s wide receiver rankings, the All-Pro class of wide receivers includes Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, and Josh Gordon.
The only name from that list that I would have much to argue with might be Gordon, and that would primarily be a case of sample size.
He only has one season of elite production under his belt, but that was an All-Pro year leading the league in receiving yards despite missing two games.
Gordon also caught nine touchdowns in those 14 games, and perhaps that might be where Brown falls slightly behind the absolute cream of the crop of the wide receiver position.
In truth, this modern era of the NFL may have its highest concentration of elite talent in the history of the game, though the rules aiding the passing game doesn’t hurt either.
In Jones’ first two seasons, for example, he caught 18 touchdowns. Bryant has 25 in the last two seasons. Thomas has 24, and Green has 22.
Johnson has at least 12 touchdowns in three of the past four seasons, and broke the single-season receiving yardage record in the other season.
Antonio Brown only has 15 touchdowns for his career, though more than half of them came last season, so perhaps he can cement himself into the All-Pro discussion next year.
Notice what all of those other receivers have in common, of course: they’re all exceptionally tall for their position.
Only Bryant, at a mere 6’2”, falls below the 6’3” mark. Brown is at least five inches shorter than most of them, which no doubt plays a role in the touchdown figures.
While Brown has made a couple of spectacular touchdown catches, just watch some of the passes that the quarterbacks heave up to their colossal targets over helpless cornerbacks who have no chance to reach the precipice of the pass.
Of course, that doesn’t prevent Brown from either being a prolific scorer nor an elite wide receiver. After all, he made the All-Pro team last season, and is coming off his best year as a producer in the end zone.
And I half suspect there will be a vocal contingent of readers in the comment section arguing that Brown deserves to be in that top rank. I don’t know that I disagree.