Hey there! Do you like wide receivers? Yeah? Well, then this is the top 10 list for you! Five of the next ten players lined up outside or in the slot in their careers, and all five of them earned trips to Canton. In all, the fourth round has 8 Hall of Famers, and all of them found their way onto our list.
Jared Allen – #69 Defensive End – Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers
Jared Allen played college football at Division I FCS school Idaho State. He was a three year starter there, and had 17.5 sacks in 12 games in 2003. He was drafted 126th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Allen started 10 games as a rookie in 2004, recording 9 sacks and 31 tackles. In 2005, Jared had his first double digit sack season, with 11, in 15 starts. He would play with the Chiefs through 2007, leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks in ’07 and being named a First-team All-Pro and voted to his first Pro Bowl.
In April, 2008, Allen was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a first round pick, and two third round picks. Minnesota signed Allen to a 6 year, $72.36 million contract with $23.5 million in bonuses. At the time, this was the richest contract for a defensive player in the history of the league.
Allen recorded 14.5 sacks in both 2008 and 2009, being named to two more First-team All-Pro teams and two more Pro Bowls. In 2011, Allen set a personal best with a league leading 22 sacks. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Year, was named to his fourth and final First-team All-Pro team and voted to another Pro Bowl. Allen played in two more seasons with Minnesota, reaching double digit sacks both years.
In March, 2014, Allen signed with the Chicago Bears. He had his worst statistical season yet, finishing with 52 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Prior to week 4 of the 2015 season, Allen was traded to the Carolina Panthers, where he started 12 games. He played in Super Bowl 50 with Carolina, but fell to the Broncos, 24-10.
Jared Allen retired in February, 2016 the Vikings’ record holder for sacks in a season with 22. He totaled 643 tackles, 136 sacks, 31 forced fumbles, and 4 safeties in his 12 year NFL career, and will certainly be in Hall of Fame talks a few years from now.
Morten Andersen – #5, #7, #8 Kicker – New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings
Morten Andersen, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, had never played American Football until he was a senior in high school. As an exchange student in Indiana, Andersen impressed so much in one season of high school ball, he was given a full scholarship to Michigan State University. The left-footed kicker starred for the Spartans, and wan an All-American in 1981.
Andersen was drafted 86th overall in the 1982 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He missed eight weeks of his rookie season with a sprained ankle, but would bounce back, and over the next 13 seasons, would make 6 Pro Bowls, and was a 5-time All-Pro.
Andersen was released by the Saints after the 1994 season, after his accuracy began to decline. He joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1995 and went back to the Pro Bowl and was once again named an All-Pro. Morten played eight total seasons with Atlanta, from 1995-2000, and again in 2006 and 2007.
In 2001, Andersen signed with the Giants, then became a Kansas City Chief for two seasons in ’02 and ’03, before going to Minnesota in 2004. He was out of football in 2005, commentating NFL Europe games, before returning to Atlanta for his final two seasons.
Over his 25 year NFL career, “The Great Dane” made 565 field goals and 849 extra points. He holds several NFL records, including most games played (382), most field goals made, most points (2,544), most seasons with 75+ points (24), most game winning field goals (103), and most consecutive games scoring (379). Morten is also the all-time scoring leader for both the Saints and Falcons.
Andersen was named to both the NFL 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Teams, and will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
Harry Carson – #53 Inside Linebacker – New York Giants
Harry Carson went to college at South Carolina State, a historically black University who plays in Division I FCS. From 1972 to 1975, Carson played every game for the Bulldogs, winning back to back Defensive Player of the Year honors in the MEAC. In 2002, Carson was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The New York Giants selected Carson with the 105th pick in the 1976 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 13 year career with the Giants, and was a founding member of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense of the 1980s and early 1990s alongside fellow Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get a year-by-year count of Carson’s tackles, but the Giants’ website lists him at 856 solo tackles in his career. He also had 19 sacks, 11 interceptions, and 14 fumble recoveries. His best season looks to have been 1979, when he recovered 3 fumbles and intercepted 3 passes.
Carson was a 9-time Pro Bowler, just missing out on going to ten consecutive all-star games, thanks to an injury shortened 1980 season. A 2-time First-team All-Pro, and 4-time Second-team All-Pro, Carson finally won a ring in Super Bowl XXI, after the 1986 season.
Bill Parcells was said to have Carson stand next to him during the national anthem for good luck. Bill Belichick, an assistant coach for many of those Giants teams, claimed Carson was the best all-around linebacker he ever coached, an impressive statement considering Belichick has coached the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Clay Matthews Jr., and Willie McGinest.
Carson, who often discredits the Hall of Fame due to the media voting players in, and not their peers, was inducted into Canton in 2006.
Cris Carter – #80, #88 Wide Receiver – Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins
Cris Carter played college ball at Ohio State, where he was a three year starter. Prior to his senior season, Carter signed with an agent, making him ineligible to play. Due to his issues at Ohio State, Carter wasn’t drafted until the fourth round of the 1987 Supplemental Draft. (Still a fourth round pick, don’t fight me)
Carter rarely appeared in the offense as a rookie, but in 1988 he became more involved in the passing game, catching 39 passes for 761 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 1989, he caught 45 passes for only 605 yards, but a team leading 11 touchdowns. Prior to the 1990 season, Carter was a surprise cut by coach Buddy Ryan. Carter later stated he was cut because he was addicted to alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana. He credits Coach Ryan releasing him as the turning point in his life.
The Minnesota Vikings, still reeling from the disastrous Herschel Walker trade in 1988, signed Carter in September, 1990. He didn’t see much action in his first season, but in 1991 became the team’s leading receiver with 72 receptions for 962 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
In 1993, Carter emerged as one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers. With veteran Jim McMahon at quarterback, Carter posted career high numbers with 86 receptions, 1,071 yards, and 9 touchdowns. From 1993-2000, with quarterbacks Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, and Randall Cunningham at the helm, Carter posted eight straight 1,000 yard seasons, 81 touchdowns, and went to 8 straight Pro Bowls. He was a two time First-team All-Pro, and was a Second-team All-Pro in 1995. Carter’s best season was actually 1995, when he caught 122 passes for 1,371 yards, and 17 touchdowns. He didn’t make First-team All-Pro because Jerry Rice decided to go for 1,800 yards that season, because that’s what Jerry Rice does.
The Vikings added Randy Moss to their WR core in 1998, and the duo of Moss and Carter led Minnesota to a 15-1 record and an NFC Championship Game appearance that season. The team tumbled to a 5-11 record in 2001, and Carter’s numbers dropped to his lowest since 1992. He left the team after that season, played briefly in Miami, then retired after the 2001 season.
At the time of his retirement, Carter was 2nd all-time in receptions (1,101) and touchdowns (130), but have since been passed by Marvin Harrison in receptions, and former teammate Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in touchdowns. He finished his career with 13,899 receiving yards, was an 8-time Pro Bowler, and a 3-time All-Pro.
Carter was named as part of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team, and in 2013 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Rich Gannon – #12, #16 Quarterback – Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders
I’ll be honest, Rich Gannon in on this list for the most part due to his four year run with Oakland between 1999 and 2002. That body of work is small, but you know what? So was Terrell Davis’ and he gets to wear a cool golden jacket in August.
I want a cool golden jacket…
Rich was the original elite quarterback from the University of Delaware, a Division I FCS school. Gannon was a three year starter at quarterback and was an All-American in his senior season. He was drafted with the 98th pick of the 1987 draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
He spent his first three seasons in the league as a backup, appearing in 7 games over 3 years. Gannon started 35 games from 1990 to 1992, totaling 6,349 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 35 interceptions. Oddly enough, in week 12 of ’92, with Vikings sitting atop the NFC Central at 8-3, Gannon was benched by coach Dennis Green in favor of Sean Salisbury. He was traded to the Washington Redskins during the preseason of 1993, for a conditional 5th round pick.
Rich played in 8 games, starting 4, for the Redskins in 1994. He threw 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He missed the entire 1994 season due to shoulder surgery and signed with the KC Chiefs in 1995. In four seasons in Kansas City, Gannon started 9 games, throwing for 3,997 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
In 1999, Gannon signed with the Raiders as a free agent. Here, finally given the green light as the starting quarterback, is where his career really began. In ’99 the Raiders went 8-8, while Rich threw for a career best 3,840 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The next season Oakland went 12-4, and Gannon was named a First-team All-Pro after throwing for 3,430 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 11 picks. After a Pro Bowl season in 2003, the Raiders entered the 2002 season with high expectations.
Gannon led Oakland to an 11-5 record, throwing for an impressive 67.6 completion percentage, a league leading 4,689 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. Rich was named a First-team All-Pro, and was named NFL MVP. The Raiders made a playoff run and appeared in Super Bowl XXXVII, where they were dismantled by an elite Buccaneers defense which forced 5 interceptions out of a clearly rattled Gannon.
His career ended at 39, after a serious shoulder injury halfway through 2003, and a severe neck injury in 2004. Gannon’s final numbers as a Raider were 45 wins and 29 losses, a 62.6% completion percentage, 17,585 yards, 114 touchdowns, and 50 interceptions, with a 91.2 rating. He went to four consecutive Pro Bowls, was a 2-time AFC Offensive Player of the Year, a 2-time First-team All-Pro, and the 2002 NFL MVP.
For his career, Gannon threw for 28,743 yards, 180 touchdowns, and 104 interceptions. I for one believe if the Vikings and Chiefs ever gave him a fair shot, he would have been an incredible career quarterback, unfortunately we only have the short glimpse of what Rich was capable of in the silver and black.
Charles Haley – #94 Defensive End/Outside Linebacker – San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
Charles Haley was a three year starting linebacker at James Madison University, a Division I FCS school in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He was a two time Division I-AA All-American and set a school record with 506 tackles in his career. Due to a poor combine, his draft stock fell, and he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 96th pick in the 1986 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, Haley played in all 16 games, making his presence felt with 12 sacks and 59 tackles. In 1987, he was made a pass rusher specialist, a move which practically cut his stats in half. In 1988 however, Haley was named the team’s starting left outside linebacker and made the Pro Bowl after a 11.5 sack, 69 tackle season. He made it to his first Pro Bowl, and helped the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIII. The next season, he would again help San Francisco win a championship, blowing out the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. 1990 was Haley’s best statistical season. He finished with 16 sacks and 58 tackles, going to his second Pro Bowl, and was named a First-team All-Pro.
Haley’s relationship with the team, and especially head coach George Seifert began to deteriorate in 1991, and during the 1992 preseason the 49ers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for a 1993 2nd round pick and a 1994 3rd round pick.
The Cowboys moved Charles to defensive end to better fit their scheme, and was named an All-Pro after leading the Cowboys #1 defense with 42 quarterback pressures, and 6 sacks. Haley would win his 3rd Super Bowl with Dallas in 1992, and would repeat for the second time in his career when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVIII following the 1993 season.
In 1994, Haley was again named a First-team All-Pro after a 12.5 sack, 42 tackle season, however the Cowboys fell in the NFC Championship Game to his former team, the 49ers, who would go on to win the Super Bowl. In 1995, Haley had a great start to the season, recording 10.5 sacks and 31 tackles in 13 games, but injured his back, which caused him to miss the rest of the regular season. The Cowboys made it back to the Super Bowl, and Haley played, and performed well, against the Steelers. He won a record 5th Super Bowl, a record that would be unmatched for 21 years.
After only 5 games in the 1996 season, Haley’s back injuries, and his daughter being diagnosed with Leukemia forced him to retire. He was out of football until 1999 when the 49ers signed him to play in the 1998 postseason, and returned for one final year in 1999.
Haley finished his 13 year career with 100.5 sacks, 485 tackles, and 26 forced fumbles. He was a 5-time Pro Bowler, a 2-time First-team All-Pro, and most notably won 5 Lombardi Trophies, a record he shares with Tom Brady as the most in NFL history.
Haley was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, and has been a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame since 2006.
Charlie Joiner – #18 Wide Receiver – Houston Oilers, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers
Charlie Joiner played collegiate ball at Grambling State University, a historically black college in Grambling, Louisiana who play at a Division I FCS level. Joiner was drafted 93rd overall in the 1969 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers as a defensive back, but only played 7 games before being badly injured and switching to wide receiver for the 1970 season.
In 29 games with the Oilers, from 1970 to 1972, Joiner caught 75 passes for 1,403 yards, and 12 touchdowns. He was traded to the Bengals in the middle of the 1972 season.
In 39 games with the Bengals, from 1972 to 1975, Joiner caught 74 passes for 1,330 yards, and 6 touchdowns. He was traded again to the San Diego Chargers after the 1975 season.
In San Diego, Joiner’s career took off. He was a key part of the Air Coryell offense of the 1970s and 1980s, along with quarterback Dan Fouts, tight end Kellen Winslow Sr., and fellow wide receiver John Jefferson. In his first season as a Charger, Joiner caught 50 balls for 1,056 yards, and 7 touchdowns and was a Pro Bowler.
Joiner’s best season came in 1981, at 34 years old. He caught 70 passes for a career high 1,188 yards, and 7 touchdowns, and helped the Chargers reach their second straight AFC Championship Game.
Charlie played 18 seasons, not retiring until after the 1986 season when he was 39 years old. He was the very last player remaining from the American Football League. Joiner was voted to three Pro Bowls in his career, and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1980. He finished his career with 951 receptions, 13,198 yards, and 65 touchdowns, retiring the NFL’s all-time leading receiver. Joiner was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and is a member of the Los Angeles Chargers Hall of Fame.
Steve Largent – #80 Wide Receiver – Seattle Seahawks
Steve Largent went to college at Tulsa, where he was an All-American. Despite this, Largent wasn’t selected until the 117th pick of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He was set to be cut by Houston in the preseason, but in a stroke of luck was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a 1977 8th round pick.
Seattle made Steve a starter immediately, and as a rookie he caught 54 passes for 705 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He had his first career 1,000 yard season in 1978, catching 71 balls for 1,168 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Largent would go on to play his entire 14 year career with the Seahawks.
Largent was a Pro Bowler and a Second-team All-Pro for the first time in 1978, and in 1979 he was voted to both again after leading the NFL with 1,1237 receiving yards. In his career, Largent reached 1,000 yards receiving eight times, and likely would have made it nine straight seasons if his 1982 season hadn’t been derailed by injury.
In 1985, Largent was a First-team All-Pro after leading the league with a career high 1,287 receiving yards. He would continue to play at a high level until 1988 when his numbers began to fall, and after the 1989 season, Largent retired.
At the time of his retirement, Largent was the NFL record holder for most receptions (819, most receiving yards (13,089), and most touchdown catches (100). Steve was selected to 3 First-team All-Pro teams, 4 Second-team All-Pro teams, and 7 Pro Bowls in his career. He is a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, and was inducted into Canton in 1995.
Andre Reed – #83, #84 Wide Recevier – Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
Andre Reed played college ball at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, who plays football at the Division II level. Reed was drafted 86th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 1985 NFL Draft, where he would play for 15 years, until after the 1999 season.
Reed was an immediate starter on the Bills’ offense, recording 48 catches for 637 yards, and 4 touchdowns as a rookie. With the arrival of Jim Kelly from the USFL in 1986 would set up an era of domination for the Bills… well, at least in the AFC.
Reed went to his first Pro Bowl in 1988, after a 71 reception, 968 yard, 6 touchdown season. In 1989, he was a Second-team All-Pro and went to another Pro Bowl, having recorded his statistically best, and first 1,000 yard season.
From 1990 to 1993, Reed was a very important piece to a Buffalo Bills team who won four straight AFC Championship games. Unfortunately, the Bills couldn’t manage to win any of the four Super Bowls they played in, losing to the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys twice.
Reed went to 7 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1988 to 1994, and was a 3-time Second-team All-Pro in that time. He had one final 1,000 yard season in 1996, Kelly’s final year with the team, before seeing his numbers drop. I blame 1997 on Todd Collins’ being, well… Todd Collins. I have no excuses for Reed when Doug Flutie was actually playing well at quarterback in ’98 and ’99.
In 2000, Reed left Buffalo for Denver, but asked to be released after being buried in the depth chart. He then was signed by the Redskins, and caught 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown before retiring at the end of the 2000 season.
Reed retired with 951 receptions for 13,198 yards, and 87 touchdowns. He still sits in the top 11 in NFL history for each of those stats. He was voted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2006, and after a rather long wait which garnered a lot of media attention, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
John Stallworth – #82 Wide Receiver – Pittsburgh Steelers
John Stallworth went to Alabama A&M, where he was an All-SIAC receiver in 1972 and 1973. He graduated with a degree in Business Administration and an MBA with a concentration in finance in 1973.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Stallworth 82nd overall in the 1974 NFL Draft. He was active in the postseason, and capped his rookie year with a Super Bowl win over the Minnesota Vikings 16-6. By his second season he was the starting wide receiver and helped the Steelers win their second straight title, defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl X.
In 1978, Stallworth had a playoffs to remember, catching 4 touchdown passes, including 3 receptions for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. In 1979, Stallworth went to his first Pro Bowl and was named a First-team All-Pro after having his first 1,000 yard season, and catching 8 touchdowns. He had another incredible postseason scoring 3 touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams.
Stallworth would have another 1,000 yard season in 1981, and went to his second Pro Bowl in 1982. In 1984 he had his best statistical season with 80 receptions for 1,395 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He was named to his final Pro Bowl that season.
Stallworth played his entire 14 year career with the Steelers, finishing with 537 receptions for 8,723 yards, and 63 touchdowns. While he was always a very talented player, he is most known for his playoff, and specifically Super Bowl, catches that helped lift the Steelers to their third and fourth Lombardi Trophies.
Stallworth was named to the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.