Isaac Bruce recorded 1,024 receptions, 15,208 receiving yards and 91 touchdowns and starred in the ‘Greatest Show On Turf’. Only four players in NFL history have racked up more career receiving yardage.
Bruce knows more than most about what it takes to be an elite pass catcher. He’s been there and done it with a ring and four Pro Bowl selections.
Bruce said, “I would say Cliff Branch. I don’t think Cliff Branch gets enough recognition, kind of like ‘Bullet’ Bob Hayes, for being as fast and fluid as he was.
“They weren’t really throwing the ball up and down the field like that during his era, but he did make a huge, huge dent, in terms of receiving yards when he played.”
Branch was a sprinter in college alongside his receiving duties. He won three Super Bowls in his 14-year pro career.
The former fourth-round pick starred for the Raiders for the majority of his time in the NFL. The recently relocated franchise is still looking for its first Super Bowl since Branch’s second ring with the club in 1980.
Bruce also spoke about the modern game, identifying two receivers who are ahead of the rest. There’s always debate about the best wide receivers in the NFL at a given time, but it’s hard to argue with Bruce’s picks.
He said, “There’s a 1A and a 1B. DeAndre Hopkins for the Cardinals, I really, really enjoy watching him play, from his ability to release off the line of scrimmage, his ability to make contested catches, impactful plays.
“And not only that, he has the ability to make the other receivers on his team better. He pulls them up, he’s teaching other guys. I like looking at the guys around the top guy to see how they’re developing, and I think they have it pretty good in Arizona right now…
“I think 1B would be Davante Adams. Everything else I said with Hopkins, Adams is very similar. I only named him 1B because he’s playing with the great Aaron Rodgers. Hopkins has done it with two different quarterbacks.
“Adams has had probably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play this game for his entire career. So the jury’s still out.”
Hopkins and Adams are widely acknowledged as two of the best in the game right now. It’s a great time to be a wide receiver, with rules protecting pass catchers and teams scheming more and more towards throwing the ball downfield.
Bruce might have featured in the Greatest Show On Turf, but he could put up even more outrageous numbers if he was in his peak in the 2020s.
Sitting 12th in career receiving touchdowns and 13th in total receptions, only a handful of players can rival Bruce’s knowledge of wide receiver play. His Rams are set to contend again in 2021, but they have their work cut out to keep Hopkins and Adams quiet, who star for two of the NFC’s strongest teams.