LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Not every wide receiver is blessed with the natural gift of height, but that hasn’t stopped these pass catchers from being some of the best in the entire NFL.
Here are the top 6 NFL WR’s who are under 5-feet-10 tall.
6. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Julian Edelman is listed at just 5-feet-10, but has been one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in New England since 2009.
In his first year with the team, Edelman collected 37 receptions for 369 yards and a touchdown, but was targeted 54 times.
If you fast forward to 2013 however, the former Kent State product hauled in an impressive 105 catches while also racking up 1,056 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
He also led the Patriots with 151 targets in ’13, which also was good enough to make him the 10th most-targeted WR in the NFL during the 2013 regular season.
Despite missing two games last season, Edelman caught 92 balls for 972 yards and four touchdowns, and also led the Patriots with 135 targets.
The team went on to win the Super Bowl in large part due to Edelman’s consistently being a viable option for Tom Brady on the field thanks to his excellent route-running skills.
5. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Since entering the league in 2012, the 5-foot-9 wide out has not been targeted less than 91 times in a season.
His rookie season, Hilton caught 50 passes for 861 yards and a touchdown.
Hilton went in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft after playing his collegiate football at Florida International University.
In 2013, he was targeted 138 times, caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and scored 5 touchdowns.
In 2014, he was targeted 130 times, caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards, and scored 7 touchdowns.
His 2013 and 2014 seasons are eerily similar, but he only was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season.
Hilton has emerged as Andrew Luck’s favorite target, and in an offense that averaged the sixth-most points per game last season with 27.1, Hilton’s numbers are only going to get better.
4. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Tate joined the Lions last season after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
The 5-foot-10 receiver set career-highs in targets, receptions and yards last year in his first campaign paired up with gun-slinging quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Tate made the Pro-Bowl last season after hauling in 99 passes for 1,331 yards and four touchdowns.
Tate was targeted a team-high 142 times, which ranked 10th among WR’s in the entire NFL.
His targets have gone up every season since he’s been in the NFL (2010: 38, 2011: 58, 2012: 68, 2013: 98, 2014: 142) and being paired with Calvin Johnson has opened up space for Tate.
The 27-year old played his college football at the University of Notre Dame, and was drafted by the Seahawks in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Tate’s numbers have only gotten better as he has matured, so except a huge season from him this year.
3. Steve Smith Sr, Baltimore Ravens
Steve Smith has been underestimated and undervalued his entire football career.
The 5-foot-9 wide receiver was selected in the 3rd round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers after playing college football at Santa Monica College and ultimately the University of Utah.
With 14 seasons under his belt, Smith has put together what seems to be a Hall of Fame career.
Smith has the personality of a bulldog on the field, and won’t hesitate to get into scraps with almost any defensive back in the league.
Since the NFL began tracking targets in 2006, Smith has never been targeted less than 100 times in a season.
He has made the Pro-Bowl five times and is the Carolina Panthers all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, punt return yards, and punt return touchdowns.
His best season came in 2005, when he hauled in 103 receptions for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Smith has gained over 1,000 receiving yards 8 separate seasons during his NFL career, including last year, which was his first with the Baltimore Ravens.
Now entering his second-year with the Ravens, the 36-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down his pace of play or his attitude.
Although the should-be Hall of Famer announced that this will be his last season, I would’t expect a dip in production from Smith.
In fact, I would predict he has one of his best seasons in the NFL.
2. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb is a small receiver at 5-feet-10, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of Aaron Rodgers favorite options.
Since he entered the league in 2011, Cobb has developed into a Pro-Bowl talent.
Last season, his best in the NFL, Cobb caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He was targeted 126 times, which was good enough for 25th in the NFL.
He played in just 6 games due to injury in 2013, but caught 80 passes and was targeted 104 times during the 2012 season.
Despite injuring himself in the preseason, Cobb expects to be ready for the Packers season opener.
- Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Antonio Brown has made the most of his 5-foot-10 height.
Since his first full season in 2011, Brown has been targeted no less than 105 times per season.
He has tallied three 1,000 yard receiving seasons in his first four full years in the NFL, and also has caught over 100 passes twice.
He led the NFL in 2014 with 129 receptions and 1,698 yards, and for good measure, added 13 receiving touchdowns as well.
He was targeted a whooping 182 times, which was just two targets shy of the NFL-lead for WR’s in 2014.
Only Odell Beckham Jr. averaged more yards per game last season among all NFL wide outs.
In 2013, he caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards and 8 touchdowns, and was targeted 165 times, which was 4th highest in the NFL over that season.
Brown was not a highly-sout after talent going into the 2010 NFL Draft.
He was undersized, small, and played at a small University.
When he went to the Steelers in the 6th round in 2010, he wasn’t even the team’s first receiver they had selected that year in the draft.
Fast forward five years, and Brown finds himself at the top of the wide receiver food chain.
His name is mentioned in the same conversation with Calvin Johnson (6″5), Julio Jones (6″3) , and Dez Bryant (6″2) for best WR in the NFL, proving that height does not matter if you can make up for it with speed, route-running, elusiveness, and quickness.