The Atlanta Falcons have fallen on rough times. While fans are hoping for a potential resurgence in the 2020 NFL season, they can still take solace in the fact that their franchise history boasts a rich tradition of productive playmakers.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has had the luxury of playing with a number of elite pass-catchers throughout his career. However, the Falcons always had a tendency to showcase at least one elite talent at wide receiver in each decade spanning back to the 1970s.
Here are the five greatest wide receivers in Falcons history.
5. Alfred Jenkins
Prior to joining the NFL, Alfred Jenkins was regarded as the best player to come out of the World Football League. He enjoyed a successful transition between leagues by emerging as the go-to option in Atlanta’s passing game from 1875-1983.
Jenkins retired as the most productive wideout in franchise history after amassing 360 receptions, 6,267 yards, 40 touchdowns during that span and was named to two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team while spending his entire career with the Falcons.
4. Terance Mathis
Terance Mathis’ career got off to a slow start after making his bones as a return specialist for the New York Jets. After failing to top more than 400 yards through his first four seasons in New York, the change-of-scenery to Atlanta turned out to be just what he needed after enjoying a career year with 111 receptions for 1,342 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
Mathis helped lead the franchise to Super Bowl XXXIII where he had seven catches for 85 yards. He went on to register 573 receptions for 7,349 yards and 57 touchdowns during eight seasons with the Falcons.
3. Andre Rison
He collected 423 receptions, 5,633 yards, and 56 touchdowns and brought the Falcons some great moments.
Andre Rison wasted no time in making his presence felt upon his arrival in Atlanta from 1990-1994 by topping 1,000 yards receiving in all but one year during that span. His efforts helped him rack up first team All-Pro honors in 1990 and second team All-Pro honors in 1991, 1992, and 1993.
Despite his short tenure with the Falcons, “Bad Moon” still managed to finish fourth all-time in touchdowns (56) and fifth all-time in yards (5,633).
2. Roddy White
Roddy White initially struggled to fit the billing as a former first-round pick after hauling just 952 yards and 3 touchdowns through first two seasons. However, he quickly turned things around by producing 6 consecutive 1,100 yard seasons from 2007-2012 and was named to 4 straight Pro Bowls along with first-team All-Pro honors after leading the league in receptions in 2010.
Although White may still hold the franchise marks for receptions (808) and touchdowns (63), it is only a matter of time before they are broken by the next member on this list.
1. Julio Jones
The passing of the torch could not have worked out any better for the Falcons’ hierarchy of receivers with the pairing of White and Julio Jones in 2011. Once their days as a tandem were over, Jones had no problem emerging as the clear-cut No. 1 wideout in the NFL by producing five consecutive 1,400-yard receiving season from 2014-2018.
Jones is not only poised to break every notable receiving mark for the Falcons’ franchise within the first few weeks of the 2020 NFL season, but he continues to make his case as one of the greatest wideouts in NFL history.