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SI panel top ten NFL wide receiver rankings reminds us of the elite talent Raiders got in Antonio Brown

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With all the off the field controversy that surrounded Antonio Brown this offseason, it can be easy for some to forget just how great of a receiver he is. Dude has been to seven Pro Bowls in nine NFL seasons, including six straight. He’s also a 4-time All Pro. In the past six seasons he has averaged 1524 yards per season, 99.4 yards per game, and 11 touchdowns. Wait, wait, wait, let me reiterate that; HE AVERAGES NEARLY 100 YARDS PER GAME.

Recently Pro Football Focus listed him as the 5th best receiver in the NFL, despite noting that only one receiver had better numbers across the board than him — Julio Jones

In that regard, the guys over at Sports Illustrated got it right. A 3-person panel put together their rankings and Antonio Brown gets the two spot behind Julio Jones — the only receiver to average more yards per game (104.6) the past six seasons than Brown.

1. Julio Jones, Atlanta, 79 points (2 first-place votes)

2. Antonio Brown, Oakland, 73

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland, 72

4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston, 70 (1)

5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans, 62

6. Adam Thielen, Minnesota, 56

7. Keenan Allen, L.A. Chargers, 52

8. A.J. Green, Cincinnati, 49

9. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay, 48

10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh, 45

Andy Benoit said this of Antonio Brown.

What happens when corners scout wide receivers, they often break it down by the split. So they’ll watch every time Antonio Brown lines up outside the numbers, then they’ll watch every time he’s outside the numbers with a slot guy inside of them, then they’ll watch every time Brown is inside the numbers, and when they study him that way what they discover is a lot of patterns in the routes that those guys run. So your offense has to help you a little bit as a receiver, diversify your splits, because if they know what you’re going to run based on your split you’ve got a real problem. That happens a lot more than you would guess.

The really good receivers put deception into all of this, and their systems help them out. They understand how to get open and separate at the top of the route when the ball is in the air, and that gets into some of those little nuanced movements that we’ve talked about, that Antonio Brown is so great at, DeAndre Hopkins is great at. Basically, the ability to get away with misdemeanor, small-time offensive pass interference.