The wide receiver position is dependent on quarterback play, but a handful of players are fully capable of changing games regardless of who throws them the ball. With all due respect to Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones and Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the two most explosive wideouts in the NFL today.
Neither Beckham, at 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, nor Brown, at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, possess the prototypical size for the position. For what they lack in height and weight, though, they more than make up for in playmaking ability.
We could reasonably argue that Beckham and Brown are the two most electric wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. As extremely tough football players, these exceptional route runners are lethal after the catch. Both Beckham and Brown are home run hitters in the downfield passing game. Their teams can count on them to produce every week.
We compared Beckham and Brown in several categories to decide which is better right now. While this required some nitpicking on our part, we were able to make a definitive decision. Here’s what we came up with.
This was the toughest category to evaluate, as Beckham and Brown are the two best wide receivers in the league when it comes to producing yards after catch. Both guys can take a simple screen pass and end up in the zone. We ultimately decided to give the nod to Beckham here because of his ability to run through arm tackles.
Downfield receiving ability
Again, both players qualify as outstanding here. But when you compare the two All-Pros it’s clear that Beckham holds an edge over Brown. After all, it was Beckham’s ability to beat opposing defenses over the top that officially put him on the map as an NFL superstar. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at this legendary catch by the former LSU Tiger on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.
Beckham is an underrated route runner, but he simply isn’t in the same class as Brown. The former Central Michigan star is the best route runner in the NFL today. He has a knack for finding a way to get open even when facing double coverage.
Both Beckham and Brown possess many of the characteristics of a stereotypical diva wide receiver. The main difference here, though, is that Brown’s actions typically do not cause distractions or drama. It does bear mentioning that we fully expect Beckham to mature with veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall — a loose canon himself early in his career — around to take the 24-year-old under his wing.
Beckham and Brown have been two of the most productive players in the NFL for the last three seasons (Beckham entered the league in 2014). Here is a quick rundown on their stats during that stretch of time:
- 288 receptions
- 4,122 yards
- 35 touchdowns
- 95.9 yards per game
- 371 receptions
- 4,816 yards
- 35 touchdowns
- 102.5 yards per game
Since 2014, Beckham has missed a total of five games, while Brown has missed just one. Based on that, and the above stats, we give the edge here to Brown.
This is another area where we could have gone either way. In the end, we chose to go with Brown because (as we previously mentioned) he rarely misses a game, and he also serves as the Steelers’ primary punt returner.
This one is easy. Brown is 29 years old and a near-finished product. Beckham is 24 years old and still has room to grow.
If we haven’t already made ourselves clear on this, you can’t really go wrong with either Beckham or Brown (fantasy football included). However, if we had to choose one of the two today, we would take Brown. His production is off the charts; he is a true professional; he is consistent; and he is more polished than any other wide receiver in the league right now.
Statistic courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.