What Does A Wide Receiver Do In Football?

Football Wide Receiver

A wide receiver in football is a player on the offense who is tasked with catching the football thrown by the quarterback and occasionally running the ball. The wide receivers line up on the line of scrimmage outside of the offensive line. They make breaks downfield through open lanes and try to get open for a pass.


On the snap, the wide receiver will almost always run downfield to catch a throw from the quarterback. Regardless of the play and formation, wide receivers always line up wide, which is how they get their name. They are constantly running and being used in plays, which is why they are some of the quickest players on the team. In fact, they are usually the first players that quarterbacks look to after receiving the snap. Wide receivers work to outrun their defensive opponents, use quick turns on receiving routes, and get themselves into good positions to receive a pass.

When the ball is caught by a receiver, it is tallied as a reception. Receivers can also be given the ball in the backfield and rush downfield like a running back.

Wide receivers are put under a lot of stress when the defense's pressure is high. They should be excellent catchers, as their main role is to catch passes, no matter how difficult. Great wide receivers should withstand and power through any hits or blocks from defensive members, and be able to hang onto the ball when hit directly after they catch it. They should also have an excellent understanding of their positioning on the field to ensure they stay inbounds when catching passes.

Important Wide Receiver Skills

  • Agility
  • Body Control
  • Strength
  • Quickness
  • Soft Hands
  • Physical Stamina
  • Concentration/Focus
  • Hand-Eye Coordination

List of Famous Wide Receivers

There have been many strong wide receivers over the course of football history. Some of these famous players include:

  • Calvin Johnson
  • Lance Alworth
  • Marvin Harrison
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Cris Carter
  • Steve Largent
  • Terrell Owens
  • Randy Moss
  • Don Hutson
  • Jerry Rice


What skills do football wide receivers need?

While wide receivers need lots of skills to succeed on the football field, the three most important skills for them to have are speed, good hands, and the ability to run routes properly. Speed comes in handy when running toward the end zone, either with the ball or on a route before catching the ball. Having good hands ensures that the wide receiver will confidently catch the ball when it is thrown to them. Lastly, wide receivers need to be able to run routes correctly so that the quarterback can throw them the ball safely with less of a worry of being intercepted.

Who is the best NFL wide receiver of all time?

While this question may often be debated, the most common answer is Jerry Rice. Rice played wide receiver for four different NFL teams: the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, the Las Vegas Raiders (known as the Oakland Raiders at the time), and the San Francisco 49ers. Over his career in the NFL, he was a Pro-Bowler 11 times and was named to First Team All-Pro 10 times. He was able to lead the league twice in catches and six-times in receiving yards and touchdowns. Rice was also a three-time Super Bowl Champion and the 1987 NFL Most Valuable Player. His awards and statistics show him to be easily one of the best wide receivers in NFL history, if not the best.

What are the different types of wide receivers?

While all wide receivers are labeled as such, there are specialized titles that are often given to players depending on the routes they run most often. The two main labels that can be used to describe most receivers are "slot receiver" and "outside receivers." Slot receivers are usually smaller players with phenomenal route running abilities and speed. This is the most dangerous wide receiver role to play, as slot receivers will often catch the ball on short passing plays over the middle of the field. This leaves them exposed to direct collisions with the far larger defensive players like middle linebackers, which could lead to injuries such as broken bones or concussions. Examples of slot receivers include Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and Larry Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, outside receivers are deep threats in any given offense. While they certainly could utilize their speed to gain yardage on short plays, more often than not they are tasked with speeding past the defensive secondary to rattle off massive receptions that could very well shift the momentum of the game entirely. These outside receivers include players like Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, and Terrell Owens.