Antonio Brown was off most teams’ radars in the 2010 NFL Draft, and 193 players were called out on the podium before Brown’s name was announced. The Steelers found use for Brown immediately, who broke his second season with the team, catching 69 passes for 1,108 yards.
Since then, it’s been nothing but success for Brown. Nine seasons in the league, he has over 11,000 yards receiving and 74 touchdowns. He’s been to the Pro Bowl every year since 2013. He was recently traded to the Raiders, who then released him and within hours, picked up by the New England Patriots, who plan on using the pro bowl wide receiver in a pivotal role. While Brown’s career has been met with steady success, the 22 wide receivers who went before him have not had the same production, most of which are out of the league right now.
Here are the 22 wide receivers who were taken before Antonio Brown was selected in the sixth-round:
22) Pick 191: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (Bengals)
Briscoe was selected just four picks ahead of Brown in the sixth round. While drafted by the Bengals, Briscoe never saw the playing field there. Instead, he was quickly cut and picked up by the Buccaneers where he played 18 games with Josh Freeman as quarterback, catching 41 passes for 480 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.
He then was waived and signed by the Redskins, but after spending a season there and not playing more than seven games, he injured his shoulder the next preseason. He was waived and not picked up by any teams. Briscoe surpassed 3,000 receiving yards at Kansas, scoring 31 touchdowns.
21) Pick 177: Carlton Mitchell, South Florida (Browns)
The Browns were a team that could have used Brown, struggling to find the right quarterback and pass catchers over the last couple decades. Mitchell entered the draft after his junior year and was known for his speed. However, he failed to score more than nine times in college.
He spent two seasons in Cleveland and dressed in 16 games, but only ended up catching three passes for 31 yards on five targets. The Browns cut Mitchell after the 2011 season and he wasn’t picked up by any other teams.
20) Pick 165: Kerry Meier, Kansas (Falcons)
The Falcons had a lot of hope for Meier, who caught over 100 passes his senior season at Kansas and broke multiple receiving records at the school. Selected towards the end of the fifth round, Meier injured his knee prior to the 2010 season and spent the year on Injured Reserve.
He worked his way back to health and tried to re-establish him in 2011, but never made an impact. He dressed in 12 games, but caught no passes and was waived following the season and never picked up.
19) Pick 159: Riley Cooper, Florida (Eagles)
Selected in the fifth round, Cooper would end up being used in the same sentence with Brown as one of the bigger steals of the draft. Cooper was an impact pass-catcher his senior season at Florida, and despite a slow start in Philadelphia, he eventually worked himself into a starting role. Cooper played six seasons with the Eagles, his best season being in 2013 where he caught 47 passes for 835 yards, scoring eight times.
However, after a foot injury in 2015 ended his season, he was released by the Eagles and never saw the field again. He tried out for the Bucs but wasn’t able to make the team. He officially retired in 2017.
18) Pick 156: David Reed, Utah (Ravens)
David Reed was drafted out of Utah as a kick return specialist and a wide receiver. He helped lead Utah to a 13-0 season in 2008 and ranked 15th in total receiving yards per game in the nation in 2009. The Ravens drafted him and immediately put him as a kick returner, where he found a lot of success, despite being suspended for four games his rookie season for marijuana use.
While Reed only caught six passes his entire NFL career as a wide receiver, he returned 63 kickoffs and averaged over 27 yards per return, including a 103-yard return for a touchdown his rookie season. Reed was a part of the Ravens Super Bowl team in 2012, but was traded after the season to the Colts. Reed only played a handful of games with Indianapolis before being waived. He never played another NFL game.
17) Pick 108: Jacoby Ford, Clemson (Raiders)
Ford, a fourth-round pick, played four seasons with the Raiders before being waived and not picked up. He was ranked by many NFL scouts as a top-10 receiver coming into the draft along with teammate C.J. Spiller. Ford and Spiller combined to record the most all-purpose yards for a duo in NCAA history during Clemson’s 40-24 win over Florida State in 2009.
With the Raiders, Ford 25 balls for 470 yards his rookie season, but made a bigger impact as a kick returner where he returned three kicks for touchdowns his rookie season. He broke the franchise record for most returns for touchdowns, 4, during the 2011 season.
16) Pick 107: Marcus Easley, UConn (Bills)
Selected in the fourth-round, Easley played 42 games with the Bills, but never really saw much action. He was placed on injured reserve after his rookie season. He mostly chipped in as a special teams player and occasional kick returner.
Easley ended his career after three seasons with three catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
15) Pick 101: Mike Williams, Syracuse (Bucs)
There was a lot of hype surrounding Mike Williams in Tampa Bay when they drafted him in the fourth round. Williams was seen as one of the best receivers in the draft, but dropped because of character issues and off-field concerns. Williams would have some success with the Bucs, recording 25 touchdowns and 215 receptions in four years.
The Bucs re-signed Williams in 2013, but after an injury that placed him on injured reserve, the Bucs traded him after the season to the Bills for a sixth-round pick. Williams stint with the Bills was short lived and they released him during the 2014 season, ending his NFL career.
14) Pick 99: Mardy Gilyard, Rams (Cincinnati)
Gilyard was a standout receiver from Cincinnati drafted in the fourth round and saw action in 11 games with the Rams during his rookie season. In that time, he caught six balls for 63 yards, but failed to make a significant impression. He failed to make the final roster in the 2012 season and was placed on waivers.
He was picked up by the Jets twice, Eagles, and Chiefs, but after failing to make it with any of those teams, he tried playing for the CFL, AFL, and even the NAL.
13) Pick 90: Taylor Price, Ohio U. (Patriots)
Price was the last of four wide receivers taken in succession in the third round. Price set a Bobcats record with 2,019 yards receiving his senior season. He impressed the Patriots with his 4.40s 40-yard time, but his career with the team was short-lived. Price was inactive the entire season but the last game where he caught three passes for 41 yards and was then waived.
He was picked up by the Jaguars and Seahawks but never made it past the practice squad.
12) Pick 89: Armani Edwards, Appalachian State (Panthers)
Edwards made a name for himself…as a CFL player. The App State star quarterback who set dozens of passing records was drafted by the Panthers in the third round as a wide receiver. He was utilized as both a receiver, kick returner and emergency quarterback. However, he saw barely any game action.
After being cut in 2013 and failing to latch onto to another team, Edwards tried his career in the CFL. He currently plays for the Argonauts and has racked up over 2,100 receiving yards on 175 receptions in three seasons in the league.
11) Pick 88: Andre Roberts, The Citadel (Cardinals)
A third round pick, Roberts has made a name for himself in the NFL as a backup wide receiver. In nine seasons, he caught 254 passes for 2,990 yards. His best season came in 2012 with the Cardinals where he started some games and caught five touchdowns and had 759 yards receiving. After his stint with the Cardinals, he landed with the Redskins for two seasons, the Lions for one season, the Falcons for one season, the Jets for one season, and now the Bills.
He’s been buried on the depth chart and has caught just 36 passes since the 2015 season. He is currently on the Bills roster, but hasn’t dressed yet for a game.
10) Pick 87: Eric Decker, Minnesota (Broncos)
Eric Decker’s best seasons came with the Broncos playing alongside Peyton Manning, who utilized the slot receiver plenty. Decker played four seasons with Denver and had two 1,000+ yard seasons and caught 33 touchdowns. He signed with the Jets in 2014 and continued to have success, totaling over 2,000 yards combined in 2014 and 2015.
However, a shoulder injury that put him on injured reserve in 2016 was the beginning of the end of his career. He signed on with Tennessee for one-year in 2017 and saw limited action, but wasn’t re-signed and hasn’t played in the league since.
9) Pick 84: Jordan Shipley, Texas (Bengals)
Shipley wasn’t the biggest wide receiver out there, but was drawing a lot of comparisons to Jordy Nelson when he was drafted by the Bengals. The Texas standout had a great rookie season, catching 52 balls for 600 yards and scoring three touchdowns. But the following season, he tore two knee ligaments in week 2 against the Broncos, one being an ACL tear, and it ended his 2011 season. He could never fully recover from that injury, and was waived by the Bengals the following season.
He had a brief stint with the Jaguars where played in six games and caught 23 passes, but was never re-signed by the team in the off-season. He retired from football in 2014.
8) Pick 82: Emmanuel Sanders, SMU (Steelers)
A standout at Southern Methodist, Emmanuel Sanders was selected in the third-round by the Steelers and is one of the few wideouts taken above Antonio Brown that has had a big impact in the league and is still having an impact. Sanders has totaled over 7,000 yards receiving and 38 touchdowns in his career. His best season came after he was acquired by the Broncos in 2014 and paired with Petyon Manning in his second-to-final season.
Sanders caught 101 passes that season for more than 1,400 yards, and was a big part of the offense in 2015 that led the Broncos to a Super Bowl. Sanders still plays a big role as a starting receiver for the Broncos today.
7) Pick 78: Brandon LaFell, LSU (Panthers)
Drafted by the Panthers in the third-round, LaFell has bounced around the league the last five years, but has had some solid seasons. His best success came in New England with Tom Brady in the Patriots 2014 Super Bowl season where he started and totaled just 1,000 yards receiving. After a short stint with the Bengals, LaFell recently signed with Oakland in 2018, but was placed on Injured Reserve after six games and hasn’t seen the field since.
He has just under 5,400 receiving yards in his career thus far, and the jury is still out if he will make a comeback.
6) Pick 77: Damian Williams, USC (Titans)
A first-team Pac-10 wide receiver at USC, the Titans had a lot of hope for Williams and even put him in a starting role in 2011 after a season-ending injury to Kenny Britt. However, Williams struggled to stand out. Williams caught 107 total passes in his career after six seasons in the league. He was not re-signed by the Titans after the 2013 season, and failed to see much action in Miami or St. Louis the following seasons.
He hasn’t seen the field since being let go by the Rams in 2014.
5) Pick 60: Golden Tate, Notre Dame (Seahawks)
Tate was an explosive weapon at Notre Dame under Charlie Weiss’ offense. While he didn’t do much in Seattle, his best seasons came in Detroit when paired with Matthew Stafford and where he was alongside Calvin Johnson. He started on the outside and had three 1,000-yard seasons in his five seasons there. He has 38 total touchdowns and over 7,000 yards receiving so far in his career.
After a brief stint with the Eagles, Tate is currently a wide receiving on the New York Giants, but his impact doesn’t seem anywhere near what it was when he was with the Lions. Tate made the Pro Bowl in 2015.
4) Pick 39: Arrelleous Benn, Illinois (Buccaneers)
Benn was a standout at Illinois and a Maxwell Candidate after his final season there. The Bucs tried to make Benn a weapon and put him on the field a lot during his first two seasons. Some of the issues, however, were the struggles of Josh Freeman at quarterback. After 55 receptions his first two seasons in Tampa, Benn’s production dropped off dramatically. He was relased after the 2012 season and went three years without seeing the game field before being given a chance by the Jaguars.
Benn only caught six passes there and was released after the 2016 season and has been out of the league since.
3) Pick 36: Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss (Chiefs)
Dexter McCluster was drafted early in the second-round and was considered a Tyreek Hill-type weapon, loaded with speed and playmaking ability and one that would scare defenses. He was used as both a wide receiver and a running back, but failed to find a starting role after seven years in the league. His best season came in 2011 where he had 900 all-purpose yards on the ground and through the air.
He bounced around from Kansas City to Tennessee and finished his career in San Diego in 2016. He ended up with 236 receptions for 1,993 yards and 250 rushes for 1,042 yards rushing.
2) Pick 24: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (Cowboys)
After moving on from the Terrell Owers, the Cowboys spent their first-round pick on the Oklahoma State star wide receiver. In his career with the Cowboys, Bryant caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns. He had three 1,000+ yard seasons and was selected to three pro bowls. However, Bryant was released by the Cowboys following the 2017 season and struggled to latch on to a team since.
He signed with the Saints midway through the 2018 season but tore his ACL before his first game. He is currently unsigned but looking to return to the league.
1) Pick 22: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech (Broncos)
Thomas was seen as a freakish athlete coming out of Georgia Tech with size and speed. He excelled during his time in Denver, especially playing with Peyton Manning. Thomas had five consecutive 1,000+-yard seasons and has totaled over 9,000 yards receiving during his career. Thomas currently ranks No. 2 all-time among Broncos wide receivers in yards and touchdowns. Thomas has been to five pro bowls as a member of the Broncos.
Thomas was traded to the Texans in 2018 and then cut and signed by the Patriots, where he tore his ACL. He was recently traded to the Jets where he is currently playing.