Who else is happy to have NFL football back?!?!
Fans of football, specifically the NFL, are accustomed to seeing a certain group of players score touchdowns; when Ben Roethlisberger airs it out, it's a foregone conclusion it winds up in the hands of Antonio Brown. Or when Eli Manning launches a ball downfield, you can bet your life Odell Beckham Jr. is the receiver chasing after it.
Matt Ryan... Julio Jones. Deshaun Watson... DeAndre Hopkins. Andy Dalton... A.J. Green.
The list goes on and on -- the NFL has never had more bonafide superstar wide receivers in it than it does today.
Given the league's transformation, it's no surprise that wide receivers are finding themselves in the spotlight (and end zone) more than ever. Offenses are more pass-oriented compared to prior eras -- teams no longer expect running backs to carry the ball 30 or 35 times, but they will have their quarterback (good or bad) air it out 40 times on any given Sunday.
The 2017 NFL season saw just under 1.5 receiving touchdowns scored per game but not every catch-for-six comes from an All-Pro wideout. Sometimes the lesser-knowns get their time to shine, allowing them to show off their celebration style and skills in the process. If you don't like the relaxed approach to celebrations then you don't like fun, and that's a problem.
Here are 20 players that have, through some miracle, caught a touchdown in the past five seasons. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard much about them before coming here.
20 Blake Bortles
Bortles, in 2016, caught a touchdown pass on a trick play and it had some Jaguars fans wondering if Marqise Lee should be their quarterback of the future instead of the often-off Bortles...
The Jaguars elected to stay the course and were ultimately rewarded for their sticktoitiveness when Bortles, aided by an ooberly talented defensive unit, upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in last season's playoffs.
Bortles has had a roller coaster beginning to his NFL career but seems to have settled in now. This coming season will go a long way in defining what path his career will follow. For the first time in forever, the Jaguars enter an NFL season facing lofty expectations. If they're unable to meet them and Bortles is the reason for their downfall, it could mark the beginning of the end of his tenure as an NFL starter.
19 Matt Barkley
A college star turned NFL bust is how one would go about describing Matt Barkley. A four-year starter at USC, Barkley was selected by the Eagles in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. He would play in only four games for them.
Last season, as a member of the rebuilding Chicago Bears, Barkley started six games going 1-5. He threw eight touchdowns (not bad) but also 14 interceptions (yikes!). However, Barkley did haul in a two-yard touchdown pass which should, if nothing else, give him a leg up on the Bears other wideouts (Chicago continues to feature the worst cast of receivers in the league).
Destined for backup duty for the duration of his career however long that may be, Matt Barkley is proof that while it can help predict professional success, collegiate dominance is not to be blindly relied upon as a foolproof predictor of NFL success.
18 Marcus Mariota
The Titans quarterback actually has two career receiving touchdowns -- one coming in Mariota's rookie season, a 41-yard fly route that was aided by Mariota's defender falling down, allowing the speedy QB to walk into the end zone. The passer was running back, Antonio Andrews. Trivia gurus take note.
The other came in last year's playoffs and was one of the more bizarre plays you'll ever see in a game of football. Facing the Chiefs, trailing by 18 points in the third quarter, Mariota attempted a pass into the end zone but it was tipped by a Kansas City defender. Rather than giving up on the play, Mariota actually caught the deflection and ran it in for a touchdown. Totally legal play.
17 Will Tukuafu
As a member of the 2015 Seattle Seahawks, Will Tukuafu found the end zone once, catching a 7-yard pass off play-action. Being a defensive tackle lined up as a fullback, the defense thought he was in as a lead blocker. Instead, the rugged d-lineman snuck out in the flat and found himself in space at which time quarterback Russell Wilson found him for his one and only touchdown in the NFL.
Nobody really knows what position Tukuafu actually played, lining up at both fullback and defensive tackle over the course of his career. In total, he played 50 NFL games, recording six tackles and scoring one touchdown along the way. One more than I got, so who am I to judge?
16 Donald Penn
Penn, an 11-year veteran offensive lineman has FOUR CAREER TDS. His most recent visit to paydirt, back in 2016, came on a play-action bootleg at the goal line.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, rolling to his right, hit what is unequivocally the biggest target he's ever had the pleasure of throwing to. Penn gobbled the ball up *literally* and Oakland had six points to the good.
If we're choosing sides, I'm more interested in lineman scoring goal-line touchdowns via the run vs. the pass. Watching big fellas scamper out into the flat is entertaining don't get me wrong, but getting to see them bulldoze a throng of humanity into the end zone is just better television. Good luck preventing a three hundred plus pound human-being from gaining one yard...
15 Leonard Wester
Wester has played in only 11 games through his first two seasons, after going undrafted in the 2016 draft. A season ago, in Week 14, Wester tallied his first career reception which also happened to be a touchdown. Can't shut him down forever...
Wester's touchdown amounted to a tight-end screen -- lining up on the far left side of the line, he initially began the play by blocking a rusher. However, once the defender passed him, the big lineman snuck out and was subsequently delivered the ball from quarterback Jameis Winston. Nobody was within 10 yards of Wester when he caught it.
Blown assignment? Not so much -- nobody could've known Wester was the go-to option on the play.
14 Steven Jackson
The former bruising running back finished his career with 69 rushing touchdowns. Jackson also had nine receiving touchdowns but most came in the earlier stages of his career. His last receiving touchdown came back in 2013, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
A long-time St. Louis Ram, Jackson ran for over 11,000 yards in 160 career games. Eight consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons likely puts him in the Canton conversation but with only two seasons of 10+ touchdowns, Jackson may never get that coveted gold jacket (along with the gold bust that comes with it). The numbers may indicate he was an effective and borderline-elite running back, but there'll always be those who feel he could've been much better than he wound up being.
13 Matthew Mulligan
The rarely-used tight end last scored in 2013 -- if there was ever a time for a defense to use a mulligan, it's ironic that it would come on a Matthew Mulligan touchdown.
Presently a free agent, it's unlikely anybody requires the services of the now 33-year old, relatively unathletic tight end. Mulligan's best season as a pro came back in 2012 when he caught eight balls (on 12 targets) for 84 yards and one touchdown. His other seasons seemingly were highlighted by defenses focusing their efforts on shutting him down, limiting Mulligan to 18 career catches in the process.
Anybody hoping for a Matthew Mulligan resurgence in 2018 is more than likely signing up for disappointment. And come to think of it, a resurgence would imply he was once "hot" which is simply not the case.
12 Trent Richardson
Everybody remembers the star college running back who essentially ate himself out of the NFL -- talking of course about Trent Richardson, the former Alabama standout.
To be fair, Richardson was forced to run behind two totally incompetent offensive lines, having played for Cleveland and Indianapolis. Both those franchises have been neglecting their offensive lines for years and as a result, neither has made the playoffs in quite some time.
More recently, he tried to resurrect his football career in Canada, signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League but did not last long.
Richardson is one of the bigger draft busts in recent memory -- he did catch a touchdown in 2013 though, so he gets a spot on the list!
11 Jake Stoneburner
After catching 13 touchdowns in college, playing for THE Ohio State University, Jake Stoneburner has been limited to just two in the NFL. In 2015, he was targeted five times (career-high) and caught all five balls. Stoneburner has some soft mittens...
Since then, however, Stoneburner has bounced around the league, signing with various practice squads only to be waived in the weeks or months to follow; forever a victim of the numbers game. Sporting a career catch percentage of 100, it's mind-boggling that this man remains a free agent...
Somebody give Stoneburner's agent a call and get him some goal line looks!
10 Clay Harbor
Prior to 2016, Clay Harbor had scored at least one touchdown in each season, dating back to 2010 (his rookie season). As a result, he may be the least qualified to be on this list. Harbor missed 2017 with injury and also appeared on The Bachelorette, ultimately leaving the show after being injured on a football-themed date ironically.
Harbor last scored an NFL touchdown in 2015 and hopes to continue his football career in 2018, now healthy (but still single I think?). Don't quote me on the last part.
If you never saw Harbor go full beast mode while vying for Becca Kufrin's heart, I highly recommend you scour the internet for the footage. A herculean effort that ultimately led to him winning the date rose but also forced to leave the show because, during the play, Harbor suffered a wrist injury that required surgery in the process.
9 Taylor Lewan
Another offensive lineman getting in on the scoring action, Taylor Lewan caught a 10-yard touchdown in 2016 which clearly had to be a factor in the Titan's decision-making process to reward him with a five-year, $80 million contract this past July.
This past season saw defenses scheme more carefully for Lewan's antics and the work paid off with Lewan being held without a catch in 2017. As a result, the Titans have revamped their coaching staff in hopes a new leadership cast can get the ball in their big playmaker's hands...
...ok, seriously, Taylor Lewan should stick to blocking -- he's really good at it and the Titans should not require his offensive playmaking skills moving forward. It certainly was a helluva run though.
8 Russell Wilson
The slithery Seahawk quarterback remains one of the toughest players to tackle in the league. Just when you think you have Russell Wilson in your grasp, he ducks, dives, dips ducks, or dodges his way out of trouble and turns a bad situation into a fruitful one.
When he's not evading oncoming tacklers and throwing touchdowns, Wilson can periodically be found hauling in touchdown passes. In reality, he only has one career touchdown catch so perhaps I oversold it a tad.
Wilson's lone TD grab came on a trick play that saw Doug Baldwin receive a backward lateral from Wilson who then proceeded to run a shallow wheel route to the corner pylon. Great throw, great catch, touchdown Seahawks, and cue the Pete Carroll sideline sprint.
7 Nick Bellore
Nick Bellore's 2017 offensive stat line read "one catch, one yard, one touchdown".
The middle linebacker has played predominantly special teams since entering the league in 2011 with the New York Jets. The last two seasons saw him start 12 games, prior to 2016 Bellore had not started a game.
The touchdown he scored in 2017 isn't the only catch of his career -- having caught one other pass in his NFL career, in New York as a member of the Jets Bellore caught a 23-yard pass. How does an interior linebacker possibly gain 23 yards on a pass play? Was the defense even on the field?
6 Kapri Bibbs
Bibbs' first year in the league came in 2014 but he didn't see meaningful action until the following season. Beginning with the Broncos, he rarely saw the field until 2016 when he managed to get himself 29 carries and two receptions while playing in 12 of the Broncos' games.
This past season, playing in Washington, Bibbs finished the year with 37 touches, totaling 224 yards. In the past two seasons, he has two touchdowns so he's not what you'd call an end zone regular.
5 J.J. Watt
In 2014, Captain America, J.J. Watt managed to score not one, not two, but THREE touchdowns -- all coming from inside the 3-yard line. His longest reception...two yards.
That season saw Watt catch more touchdowns than Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, and Wes Welker, all of whom had more than 40 receptions on the year (admittedly down years for all three sure-to-be Hall of Famers but given Watt's status as an interior defensive lineman it's still an impressive feat).
Watt, heading into 2018, hopes to return to full health after being limited to eight games combined the past two seasons. At 29-years old, he still has some juice left in the tank but is far from the dominant force he once was. Perhaps a clean bill of health will afford him an opportunity to get back to his All-Pro form.
4 Percy Harvin
Harvin entered the league profiling as an electric playmaking receiver but failed to live up to that billing.
In three college seasons, Harvin amassed nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage to go along with 32 touchdowns. At the pro level, he had trouble staying on the field, battling injuries and migraines throughout his career.
The former Gator's last official action came in 2016 as a member of the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, he only played in two games before being forced to call it a career. In the few years previous, Harvin had managed to find the end zone a few times but never once scored more than eight touchdowns in a single season.
Hard to fault Harvin for how his career turned out but you can rest assured the Minnesota Vikings wish they could have that draft pick back.
3 Seyi Ajirotutu
In his six seasons of service, Ajirotutu was targeted only 48 times. His best season came as a rookie, in 2010, when he caught 13 passes, two for touchdowns. His last touchdown came in 2013. Ajirotutu has since retired, with his final season coming in 2015 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Missed out on a Super Bowl ring by a couple of years. I'm genuinely curious how they would have fit his name on a ring had he been a member of the 2017 Eagles team.
In 2014, Ajirotutu was voted by teammates as the San Diego Chargers special teams player of the year.
2 Zach Line
Two touchdowns for his career, Zach Line has been blocking fullback for the majority of his time spent in the NFL -- imagine that? Play after play, all you are is a smaller version of an offensive lineman who is tasked with running full speed ahead in hopes of plowing a path for your exponentially quicker backfield brother...
Despite the less-than-ideal job description, Line has been a highly effective fullback for the majority of his career. Amongst all the blocks, Line has made time for periodical end zone visits, having been there two times: once in 2015 and another time this past season.
In 2015, he added two rushing touchdowns, giving him three scores for the season. Despite that, it's wise to steer clear of Zach Line when looking to fill out your fantasy rosters.
1 Sidney Rice
If Sidney Rice had Brett Favre as a dedicated quarterback his entire career, he'd potentially have become a first ballot hall of famer. Rice's best season came in Favre's first year as a Viking, hauling in 83 catches for over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. It was Rice's only season of over 1,000 yards receiving.
Outside of that career year, Rice never caught more than 50 balls, never gained more than 750 yards receiving, and was little more than a periodical deep threat in the passing game. His last season came in 2013, as a member of the Super Bowl champion, Seattle Seahawks. While Rice does have a ring that no one can take away from him, he caught only 15 balls that season (he did, however, score three of his 30 career touchdowns).
Rice retired in 2014, citing concussions as the reason for his decision. Today, he is still only 31 years old, more than young enough to still be playing if he so chose.