Warfield Ranks as All-Time Best

The Browns have had a large number of great wide receivers through the years. Frank Derry takes on the onerous task of picking out the ten best from over fifty years of Browns football.

From Dante Lavelli to Kevin Johnson, the Browns have been blessed with a plethora of outstanding wide receivers over the past 50 years.

This week, I'll give my personal list of the Top 10, most of whom I've had the opportunity to watch throughout their careers. There are a few guys like Lavelli and Mac Speedie, both of whom I've seen only on film, yet both make my list because they were considered to be among the best in their generation. I'm leaving Ozzie Newsome off the list because, even though he played like a wide receiver, he was indeed a tight end. Nor do I include Hall-of-Famer Bobby Mitchell because he was used strictly as a halfback by the Browns before going on to become a Pro Bowl flanker for the Redskins.

1. Paul Warfield

Undoubtedly one of the most fluid, graceful and gifted wide receivers in the history of the game. He was his era's version of Jerry Rice, catching everything he could reach. He wasn't afraid to go over the middle. He put up outstanding numbers for teams both in Cleveland and Miami that annually featured 1,000-yard runners. He definitely deserved his Hall of Fame selection in 1983.

2. Dante Lavelli

A 1975 Hall-of-Fame enshrinee, Lavelli, known as "Glue Fingers" because of his outstanding hands, was instrumental in the Browns dominating not only the old AII-America Conference, but also their early years in the NFL. He stood out in an era when the passing game was not featured the way it is today. Played his entire career with the Browns.

3. Gary Collins

As a teenager growing up in the mid-1960s, I idolized him. His performance in the 1964 Championship Game, in which he caught three touchdown passes from Frank Ryan in the stunning 27-0 victory over the Colts, made him larger than life in my eyes. The fact he also was one of the best punters in the NFL just added to his lore. Is the team's all-time touchdown reception leader with 70 and still ranks No. 2 on the Browns' all-time reception list with 331.

4. Mac Speedie

Again, much like Lavelli, I never had the opportunity to see him play other than on film. There's no doubt that he combined with Lavelli to give the Browns one of, if not the best, wide receiver combos in the AAFC and NFL. Led the team in receptions two out of the three years he and Lavelli played together in the NFL

5. Webster Slaughter

His 1986 season still ranks yardage-wise as the greatest in Browns history. He also holds the record for the longest reception in team history, a 97yarder from Bernie Kosar in 1989. When Kosar went to the air, Web was his go-to guy.

6. Dave Logan

One of the greatest clutch receivers I've ever seen. He used his large physical frame to take advantage of smaller comers and he had deceptive speed in that he could effectively go deep when necessary.

7. Brian Brennan

Ranks No. 4 on the Browns' all-time reception list with 315. Brought a cocky attitude to the game which allowed him to play bigger than his size. Had deceptive speed and also made numerous clutch catches to keep scoring drives alive.

8. Reggie Rucker

Somewhat in the Paul Warfield mold, although definitely a step below talent-wise. Wasn't afraid to go over the middle and also had the speed to go deep. Ranks No. 5 on the all-time team reception list with 310.

9. Kevin Johnson

It's only a matter of time before he moves way, way up on this list. Had statistically the greatest rookie season for a wide receiver in team history in 1999. Has been successful despite having little help from fellow receivers. Can catch the ball in a crowd and has the ability to get open deep.

10. Ray Renfro

Probably deserves a much higher spot. Is third in team history with 50 touchdown receptions. Is the team's alltime leader in yards per catch, averaging 19.6 per reception. Might very well deserve to be tanked in Top Five.


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