Top 10 Detroit Lions WRs of All-Time

One funny story from my childhood is that I wanted a Calvin Johnson jersey from Christmas. I ended up getting it one year but never wore it and eventually just forgot I even had it. When creating a new Christmas list for the following year, my mind went to sports jerseys again because I was one of those kids who has a hard time finding things I want. So even though I already had a Calvin Johnson jersey, I asked for one again. My parents were quick to point out that I already had one and it has become a running joke that I always want a Calvin Johnson jersey for Christmas… even almost a decade later. But enough with the personal story, in this article, I’ll be covering the top Lions’ wide receivers of all-time. Hopefully, you’ve caught on at this point who is going to be at the top. Here are the top 10 wide receivers in Lions’ history.

RankPlayerSeasons Played for the Lions
1Calvin Johnson2007-2015
2Herman Moore1991-2001
3Johnnie Morton1994-2001
4Gail Cogdill1960-1968
5Brett Perriman1991-1996
6Golden Tate2014-2018
7Roy Williams2004-2008
8Cloyce Box1949-1950, 1952-1954
9Terry Barr1957-1965
10Kenny Golladay2017-Present

1. Calvin Johnson

When thinking about the top Lions’ players of all-time, it goes Barry Sanders then Calvin Johnson. “Megatron” played all of his 9 seasons with the Lions and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his final 6 seasons, being named First-Team All-Pro in 3 of them. He holds the record for the most receiving yards in a single season when he brought in 1,964 yards in 2012. In 2011, he had 16 receiving touchdowns which ranks tied for 14th all-time in NFL history for single-season receiving touchdowns. In total, he has had eight seasons of 1,000+ yards from scrimmage. He helped get the Lions to the playoffs twice. In their 2011 playoff game, he had 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, which as history shows, was not enough for the Lions who were eliminated after one game. Because of his career length not being very long compared to the best of the best, he sits at 31st on the all-time receiving leaderboard, but he would have had the chance to make his way close to the top if not for his early retirement. He will go down as the best Lions receiver for a long time.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 11,619
Receiving Touchdowns: 83
Pro Bowls: 6
HOF: Will be on the 2021 ballot

2. Herman Moore

Calvin Johnson was the receiver of the 2000s and Herman Moore was the receiver of the 90s. In his 4 Pro Bowl seasons, he made it over 1,000 yards receiving and at least 8 touchdowns. 3 of those seasons, he was voted First-Team All-Pro. During his time, the Lions made the playoffs 6 times, all of which ended in miserable attempts to make any sort of run. The farthest they ever finished was in the NFC championship game where they were blown out by the Super Bowl champion Redskins. Since you will never find a Super Bowl champion Lions team, it is impossible to base success off that. Moore was a reception machine. In 1995, he broke the record for most receptions in a single-season with 123 which has been later been broke several times. Despite that, he was one of the best receivers during the 90s.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 9,174
Receiving Touchdowns: 62
Pro Bowls: 4
HOF: No

3. Johnnie Morton

Paired with Hermon Moore was Johnnie Morton. While Moore took the majority of the targets away from Morton, he still put up some incredible numbers. He had four of his own 1,000+ yard seasons but never was selected to the Pro Bowl as he was overshadowed by Moore. He saw 3 of the Lions’ failed attempts of making it to the playoffs towards the end of the 90s. Throughout his eight-season career with the Lions before leaving to the Chiefs, he ranked up the receiving leader board right behind Moore and eventually sat one and two with him. Johnson has since passed both of them, but the fact that two receivers during the same time period reached one and two is a feat in itself. The only thing missing for Morton is touchdowns with 8 being his single-season record but averaged just above 4 per season. Morton still deserves a high spot due to his success alongside Moore which is why he finds himself at #3 on this list.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 6,499
Receiving Touchdowns: 35
Pro Bowls: 0
HOF: No

4. Gail Cogdill

Moving farther back in time, we have Gail Cogdill from the 1960s. Cogdill came out hot for the Lions after being drafted, but a knee injury would change the direction of his career. In the five great seasons that the Lions got out of him, he passed 600 yards every season. He was selected to 3 Pro Bowls and had a 10 touchdown season in 1963 which was tied for 4th. 3 times, Cogdill hit over 900 yards receiving which ranked at least in the top 7 receivers every season. All of this is to say that while Cogdill was healthy, he was an elite receiver of his time. Who knows what type of numbers he could have put up if he remained healthy? He was able to climb the Lions’ receiving leaderboard up to the top for which he held the number one position for over the next 20 years.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 5,221
Receiving Touchdowns: 28
Pro Bowls: 3
HOF: No

5. Brett Perriman

Brett Perriman is yet another receiver of the 90s for the Lions who found great success. Perriman climbed up to 3rd at one point on the Lions’ receiving leaders before Johnson took over everyone. In 1995, he finished the season with 1,488 yards which ranked 6th in the league. This was while Herman Moore finished with 1,686 yards which ranked 3rd in the league. The ‘95 Lions were dominant, but as history shows, they came into the ‘96 season with nothing to show. In ‘96, Perriman reached 1,000 yards yet again. If I haven’t named enough times that a Lions receiver dominated a playoff game in which they lost, here is another. In the ‘93 first-round game, Perriman had 10 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. Nonetheless, the Lions are the Lions and lost to their division rivals, the Packers. Just like this whole list, team success will never be a comparable statistic. What shows is how Perriman was able to put up top tier numbers with two other top receivers around him.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 5,244
Receiving Touchdowns: 25
Pro Bowls: 0
HOF: No

6. Golden Tate

Golden Tate was already showing his growing success as a slot receiver in Seattle when the Lions signed him, but no one could have guessed what Tate did in his first season in Detroit. Tate finished the 2014 season with the 7th most receiving yards with 1,331. He also was selected for the Pro Bowl which was the only in his career. After getting 854 yards from scrimmage the following season, he wrapped up his time in Detroit with two more 1,000+ yard seasons while being on track to reach it again for a third time before being traded. Tate was never a red-zone type of receiver as he never reached above 6 touchdowns in Detroit, but it can be seen for how he moved the Lions’ offense when it struggled almost everywhere else. His ability to make something out of nothing will always be remembered by myself and many other Lions’ fans.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 4,741
Receiving Touchdowns: 22
Pro Bowls: 1
HOF: No

7. Roy Williams

Roy Williams is the earliest Lions’ receiver that I can remember watching. All of his success happened in Detroit, especially in 2006 in which he was selected to his only Pro Bowl. He finished the season with 1,310 yards which ranked tied for third for the most receiving yards that year. He never reached 1,000 yards after that, but in only 4.5 seasons, he was able to climb to 9th on the all-time Lions’ receiving leaderboard. He posted 8 touchdown receptions in each of his first two seasons and ended up with 29 for the Lions. While he never saw the playoffs with the Lions, he helped lay the foundation for Calvin Johnson to move in later.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 3,884
Receiving Touchdowns: 29
Pro Bowls: 1
HOF: No

8. Cloyce Box

Cloyce Box had a short career, but there were two seasons in which he dominated for the Lions in 1950 and 1952. He was selected for the Pro Bowl in both seasons and First-Team All-Pro in ‘52. He ranked 2nd in receiving in ‘50 with 1009 yards and 4th in ‘52 with 924 yards. On top of that, he ranked 2nd in receiving touchdowns in ‘50 with 11 and 1st in ‘52 with 15. While he only played for 5 total seasons in his career (all with the Lions), he made a mark in history, bringing 2 National Championships home to Detroit.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 2,665
Receiving Touchdowns: 32
Pro Bowls: 2
HOF: No

9. Terry Barr

Terry Barr is similar to Cloyce Box in which he had two dominant seasons that I will be focusing on (1963-1964). He was selected to the Pro Bowl in both seasons, showing how much of a force he really was. Starting with 1963, Barr finished with his career-high 1,086 receiving yards which ranked 4th that season and 13 touchdowns which ranked 1st. The following year he had 1,030 yards which ranked 2nd and 9 touchdowns which ranked 4th. Having back-to-back seasons in which you finish top of those two most important categories is very impressive. If he had this success earlier in his career, he would have been outstanding, but he retired after the next season.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 3,810
Receiving Touchdowns: 35
Pro Bowls: 2
HOF: No

10. Kenny Golladay

Finishing off this list, I had to put Kenny Golladay. He is still in the process of cementing himself into Lions’ history, but his last two seasons have been nothing short of impressive. He has been Matthew Stafford’s go-to guy and it shows. After taking his rookie season to fit in, he exploded the following two seasons with amassing above 1,000 yards each season. Last season, he finished 7th in yards with 1,190 and led the league with 11 receiving touchdowns. Things are only looking up for the young gun. He already has the nickname of “Babytron” as the next upcoming huge receiver after “Megatron”. I, for one, am very excited to see where Golladay takes the Lions as they continue to look for that elusive Super Bowl appearance. By the end of his career, I would not be surprised if he finishes at least top 3 in receiving yards in Lions’ franchise history.

Stats while with the Lions

Receiving Yards: 2,730
Receiving Touchdowns: 19
Pro Bowls: 1
HOF: No

  
I am a student at the University of Michigan studying Sport Management. I have been involved in sports as long as I can remember, playing football, baseball, and basketball. I also love learning how to play songs on the piano and ukulele.

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