Over the last few years, several wide receivers have emerged as the cream of the crop at the position. Among those has been Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones, who many including Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, have pegged him as being the game’s best wideout. However, New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas has been historically making headway in the 2019 season behind far ahead the most productive wide receiver in the league. All of that has begged the question about whether Thomas has supplanted Jones as the game’s best wideout.
Michael Thomas’ case
Since entering the league, Thomas quickly earned the role as the No.1 wide receiver in the passing game for star quarterback Drew Brees. His talent has taken him to tremendous heights with his production that has seemingly been unmatched through that stage of an NFL career.
Thomas has taken that to an entirely new level in the 2019 campaign as he’s tallied league-best numbers with 104 receptions and 1,242 receiving yards along with six touchdowns. That has him well on pace to surpass Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison with 151 receptions while finish with 1,807 receiving yards.
The 26-year-old has already set several NFL marks, such as being the fastest to reach 400 career receptions (56 games), holds the all-time mark for most catches through his first four seasons, and is the first player to have 90-plus receptions in the first 10 games of a season.
On top of that, he is also the fourth player in league history to tally four straight 1,000 receiving yard seasons while reaching more than 90 receptions every year. Thomas became the first player in Saints history to notch 1,000 receptions in a single season, while his four straight 1,000 receiving campaigns are an all-time team record.
He has simply proven to be a bonafide superstar, who could be on a Hall of Fame trajectory if he keeps up this hectic pace.
Julio Jones’ case
Thomas has made a strong argument for that title, but it shouldn’t completely overshadow what Jones has accomplished throughout his career.
Beyond being one of the most athletically gifted players at the position, he has backed that up with his production as he has tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards six times while posting more than 80 receptions five times, including more than 100 catches on three occasions.
Jones is well on pace to add a sixth straight campaign with at least 1,000 receiving yards, which would tie him with the likes of Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Randy Moss and Jerry Rice to accomplish that feat. He is also the fastest player to reach career receiving yard marks at 7,000, 9,000, 10,000, and 11,000.
The 30-year-old holds the NFL mark for most campaigns, averaging at least 100 receiving yards per game (five), consecutive seasons with 1,400-plus receiving yards, fewest games to record 500 career catches (80), most receiving yards per game (96.7), and most receiving yards through the first 100 career games (9,618).
The list could go on and on for Jones in the NFL record books that further demonstrate his game-changing ability. His case for the game’s best wideout is well-documented.
Who’s better: Julio Jones or Michael Thomas?
Although this narrows down the choice between these two unique talents, there are several other players such as Brown, Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., and A.J. Green that deserve recognition in this conversation.
Like any sport, the NFL is a “what you have done for me lately” type of league, which would give a slight edge to Thomas at the moment. There has been no wide receiver in the game that is producing at the level he has weekly.
That doesn’t diminish what Jones has accomplished this season or in previous years as anything short of phenomenal. However, when comparing that to what Thomas has put forth, it’s hard to choose otherwise.
Nonetheless, it should make for another entertaining Thanksgiving matchup between the Saints and Falcons that will feature two of the game’s best wideouts looking to outperform one another.