These days, the average height of an NFL wide receiver is a hair over 6 feet tall, and height has become an important measurement at the NFL Combine. But across history, there have been plenty of talented wide receivers under that 6-foot mark.
Here are the nine best WRs under 6 feet tall currently playing in the league.
Top 9 WRs Under 6 Feet Tall
9. Elijah Moore, Browns
Elijah Moore’s personal matters in New York last season, and the week-to-week inconsistency of the Jets’ passing game, obscured the fact that Moore, a high second-round pick in 2021, showed flashes of brilliance in his 11 games as a rookie.
He aligned in a variety of places (inside, off the ball, at boundary X, in the backfield, etc.). He showed high-level command at the top of his routes and was patient and precise getting into those routes. There was a controlled nuance to his movement. Given that Moore and Amari Cooper can play anywhere but are clearly at their best inside, it will be interesting to see how the Cleveland Browns line both up this season.
8. Odell Beckham Jr., Ravens
Considering Odell Beckham Jr. has played just 25 games (including the postseason) since 2020, being ninth on this list is somewhat of a lifetime achievement award. While Beckham’s recent comments to Peter King about how he would have had 250 yards receiving in Super Bowl LVI if he hadn’t gotten injured might have been hyperbole, Beckham’s underlying point is not.
There’s a good chance the Los Angeles Rams don’t win that game without him. If he regains even 80 percent of the dynamic smoothness he showed that day, Beckham will be a quality 1,000-yard (give or take) receiver in the Baltimore Ravens’ new offense.
7. Hunter Renfrow, Raiders
There are surprisingly few pure slot receivers on this list. (Julian Edelman, where art thou? Also, did anyone else know Tyler Boyd is 6-foot-2?) Hunter Renfrow is perhaps the most prototypical of the slot receivers in the game right now. The traits that put him at this spot on the list are obvious: shiftiness, patience in setting up and executing breaks and a feel and understanding of leverage.
Another critical trait that is less obvious (unless you’re a quarterback) is how he presents himself as open — in other words, the way a receiver shows his hands to the quarterback to indicate he’s ready for the ball. Renfrow is great at presenting himself to the passer in a friendly manner.
6. Christian Kirk, Jaguars
Christian Kirk performs slot and Z duties (think off-ball, on-the-move receiving) as soundly as anyone. He’s not exciting, but rest assured no coach or teammate of his cares one bit. Kirk’s football IQ is strong, and so is his dependability.
He doesn’t just understand how to run his route but how that route fits into the bigger picture of the play. He can make adjustments before the snap and on the fly, which is why he had six-plus catches and more than 70 yards in nine of 17 games last season.
5. Darnell Mooney, Bears
Everything begins and ends with Darnell Mooney’s speed. Early in his career, that was seen on pure vertical routes, which the Chicago Bears, to their credit, did a good job of creating for him, often by aligning him inside. But entering Mooney’s fourth season, we’re now talking about his overall playing speed.
It shows up most on crossing routes, which is important, given how integral those are to the play-action and bootleg designs that will help drive Justin Fields’ development. Mooney has also shown some acumen on rub routes.
4. Diontae Johnson, Steelers
Diontae Johnson deserves a lot of credit for how his route running has improved each of the last few seasons. He’s now an elite inside receiver who can also win on the perimeter.
He fits well in a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that often spreads out and affords him space and de facto 1-on-1 matchups. With the Steelers featuring 3×1 formations as much as (usually more than) any other team, there are a variety of ways to use Johnson inside.
3. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
Randy Moss was known for his deep ball dominance. Everyone thought that was because of his speed and leaping ability, but more than that, it was because of his speed and ball tracking ability.
Moss was incredible with “late hands” (i.e. not reacting to the ball until the last minute); he gave defenders no clues on when to look for the ball. Because of this, Moss barely left the ground on many of his best downfield catches.
It’s that sort of ball tracking ability that lands Tyler Lockett on this list. While his “late hands” are good but not quite uncanny like Moss’, Lockett’s ability to get that extra final step under a soaring ball’s trajectory is borderline unreal.
He’s 5-foot-10, but in these instances, he might as well be 6-foot-2. Lockett is also one of the league’s best deep route runners. He is nuanced in the early parts of his route and has deceptive speed in its latter stages.
2. Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
Incredibly, the Miami Dolphins not only have Tyreek Hill but have maybe the NFL’s best Tyreek Hill comparison: Jaylen Waddle. Waddle’s 11.6 yards per target led the league last season, as did his 18.1 yards per reception.
He can maintain his speed and fluidity when making breaks. For an NFL receiver, your ability to accelerate and reach top speed is just as important as your ability to decelerate and throttle down. Waddle is superb here.
1. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins
If not for Justin Jefferson, Hill would be in the discussion for the NFL’s top wide receiver — period. It’s not just that he’s fast, it’s how fast he can become fast; his acceleration, in other words. Most guys who can truly accelerate do so off the snap or a few steps into their route. Hill does both. In Miami’s offense, Hill’s speed and acceleration have become even more potent thanks to all the jet motion and switch releases.
What’s more, there is also a deceptiveness to Hill’s speed. The in-game mic’d up audio that makes its way to the public is generally light on meaningful football information. In fact, if not for guys screaming “Let’s go,” 90 percent of that audio would cease to exist.
But in the Week 2 game between the Ravens and the Dolphins, NFL Films produced a fascinating soundbite from Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey. He talked about the unusual herky-jerkiness of Hill’s movement, stating “The hardest people to guard are the people who don’t run naturally.”
Andy Benoit worked for Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff from 2020 through 2022. Before that, he was a football analyst, writer and content producer for Peter King’s MMQB at Sports Illustrated, as well as at CBS Sports and The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter @Andy_Benoit.