In an offseason where it seems the only actual football related buzz has been created by player rankings and top ten lists, Hines Ward and the NFL Network give you... a top ten list. The Top Ten Receivers in Football, according to Hines Ward was unveiled on the NFL Network. It is viewable on NFL.com, or skip it if you choose to save yourself from listening to Jamie Dukes and Warren Sapp continually talk over Hines.
One of the most well rounded players at any position in football, Hines' take on the top playmakers at his own position is hard to overlook. His knowledge of the position, and his ability to recognize talent and take part in grooming it in Pittsburgh is well known by Steelers fans everywhere. He's played a big role in the development of Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes, both were taken under his wing after being drafted by the Steelers out of Ole Miss and The Ohio State respectively.
Hines did not rank himself however, saying that he "was past that now", with his trademark smile showing that he has clearly fine with where his game is at now, even if his best years are behind him in his own opinion.
At number ten, he ranks his teammate, the aforementioned Mike Wallace (1257 yards, 10 TD's). According to Hines:
I'm tellin' you, he's the fastest guy in the league.
Ninth on his list in Greg Jennings (1265 yards, 12 TD's). The sad truth from Hines:
We could not stop this guy (in the Superbowl).
Dallas' Miles Austin (1041 yards, 7 TD's) comes in at number eight on Hines' list, and as far as receiver's receiving goes, he reminds me of Hines the most personally.
You gotta go with Miles, he's made some phenomanal catches.
Former Steeler receiver Santonio Holmes (746 yards, 6 TD's) ranks seventh, according to Hines.
Even though he missed part of the season, he's still impact.
A Steelers fan growing up, Brandon Marshall (1014 yards, 3 TD's) appears on the list in the sixth spot.
The guy's just a beast of a player. He can go inside, outside, he just makes the tough catches.
Peyton Manning's go to guy, Reggie Wayne (1355 yards, 6 TD's) is Hines' fifth best receiver.
He's been putting it down for years, him and Peyton... you can't get enough of that tandem there.
Roddy White (1389 yards, 10 TD's) is in at four and according to HInes:
He's all the Falcons had, in the receiver corps.
University of Pittsburgh product Larry Fitzgerald (1137 yards, 6 TD's) comes in at number three, and according to Hines, his quarterback situation is what lowered his ranking.
I like Larry Fitgerald, I think he's a beast. But that quarterback situation... that's what brought him down a little bit.
Calvin Johnson (1120 yards, 12 TD's) of the Detroit Lions ranks second, Hines on his off-season training partner:
He's very quiet, but his game is very loud.
And, according to Hines Ward, the best receiver in the NFL is Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans (1216 yards, 8 TD's, 1 punch to Cortland Finnegan's head). As you would expect, when talking about the best, Hines' praise flows:
He goes inside, outside, he can catch a screen and take it to the house, he'll jump up and catch that thing... he will whip your butt.
It's hard to argue with Hines' opinion, but there were a few names that I can only assume didn't quite make the cut. Players like Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, DeSean Jackson and possibly Brandon Lloyd come to mind, but the list as is definitely pretty good as is.