Denver Broncos legendary wide receiver Rod Smith recently made Gil Brandt’s all-time wide receiver list. Let’s take a look at where he ranked…
Most Denver Broncos fans realize that Rod Smith is an extraordinary story and a legendary receiver. As an undrafted wide receiver out of Missouri Southern, Smith latched on with the Denver Broncos in 1995.
Only three seasons into his career, he posted his first 1,000-yard season and won his first Super Bowl ring.
This was just the start. Smith went on to accumulate seven more 1,000-yard seasons in his spectacular 12-year career. For his career, he caught 849 passes for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns.
He easily sits atop Denver’s leaderboard in each category. As for the NFL, he sits 27th all-time in career receptions and 32nd in career receiving yards.
Despite the impressive production, Smith was only selected to three Pro-Bowls and has yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Broncos, however, realize the value Smith brought to the franchise; they inducted him to the Ring of Fame in 2012.
Legendary NFL executive Gil Brandt agrees with the Broncos.
Where does Rod Smith Stand?
It should mean a lot to be on this list amongst all-time great wide receivers. Although lists like this can cause plenty of controversies, creating a list of top wide receivers provides an extra layer of difficulty just like ranking top quarterbacks. The league is continuously evolving, and passing attacks are increasingly more sophisticated than in earlier years.
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Additionally, the players themselves are changing. Players are getting bigger, faster, and stronger. The unimaginable is now the norm. Finding a 6’4’’ 220-pound wide receiver that can run a 4.40 forty-yard dash used to be unheard of.
Placing players on this list requires analysis that goes beyond statistics but represents time periods. It’s pertinent to normalize the data and accolades to the time period the player was in.
This is why receivers such as Elroy Hirsch and Mac Speedie make this list.
It’s important to understand this because it provides more context as to how phenomenal it is to see Bronco legend Rod Smith on this list. His production and skill set transcend time.
Who did and did not make this list?
The greatest receiver of all time according to Gil Brandt (and most NFL enthusiasts) is Jerry Rice. Don Hutson, Randy Moss, Lance Alworth, and Antonio Brown round out the top five.
Other notable names to make the list is recent Hall of Fame inductee Terrell Owens, current Arizona Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald, and former Colt Marvin Harrison. Analyzing these wide receivers in the context of time is why you will see Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, and Hines Ward behind Smith. All have better career statistics than Smith but didn’t make the same type of impact as Smith did.
This list is currently in its second year, and I hope Brandt continues to update this as new receivers break into the league and older receivers continue to accumulate significant statistical production. Many fans in Broncos Country may be pointing to a current Bronco that could see his name on the list; Demaryius Thomas.
Unfortunately, Thomas, although very talented, will likely not make this list.
His statistics, when placed into the perspective of his peers, don’t even make him a top-five five wide receiver in the league today. This doesn’t take away from his accomplishments. He will likely be inducted to Denver’s Ring of Fame upon retirement.
Rod Smith will still stand as the greatest wide receiver of the Denver Broncos. It’s great to see him receive the recognition he deserves for his accomplishments.