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Who's the NFL's most feared pass catcher heading into 2018?

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  • By NFL.com
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Earlier this week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the New York Giants and Odell Beckham Jr.'s agent engaged in "good faith negotiations" on a deal that would make Beckham the highest-paid receiver in the league. He would surpass Antonio Brown's $17 million per year and Mike Evans' $16.5 million average.

With that kind of money in the balance, Beckham is considered one of the premier pass catchers in the league -- along with receivers Brown, Evans, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green, as well as tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, among others. Each has a dynamic skill set that, in a sense, strikes fear into defenders.

So, who is the most feared pass catcher in the league right now?

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Shaun O'Hara: Don't overcomplicate this: It's Antonio Brown

There are several wide receivers out there who have phenomenal skills. Yet, the one thing defenders fear is speed, so I've got to give this one to Antonio Brown. He puts his lightning speed on display weekly with quickness off the line and great acceleration to blow the top off the defense. He's like the Energizer Bunny -- he doesn't get tired.

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David Carr: Speed demon Tyreek Hill can burn any defensive back

There are two guys who are absolute monsters when they get behind the defense -- Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill. If I had to pick the one who I'd fear most -- other than receivers who would drop my passes (took this one a little too literally ...) -- it would be Hill. The Chiefs do so many different things with him at the line of scrimmage and he's really come into his own as a No. 1 receiver. The speedster also led the league in catches that were at least 40 yards (with nine) in 2017. I bet he'll keep that kind of production up with a gunslinger like Patrick Mahomes under center.

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Elliot Harrison: Odell Beckham Jr., Travis Kelce have rare attributes at their respective positions

In order to respect the changing nature of the game, I'm gonna go with a wide receiver and a tight end. Odell Beckham Jr. is not the most complete receiver in the game, but he's the scariest. As if his skill set isn't impressive enough, he can go get any football, has the numbers to back it up and has been a prolific scorer since entering the NFL. That's something you couldn't always say about Calvin Johnson, and it has been an issue for Julio Jones and the Falcons' offense as of late.

As for tight end, Travis Kelce is a mismatch problem for every defensive coordinator. As is Rob Gronkowski; however, for all Gronk's greatness (and I think he's a Hall of Famer already), availability is a question at this stage of his career. Kelce is scary for inside linebackers who are asked to get out in space. He's scary for safeties who aren't the best cover guys. And I think we can all agree: He's scary for his employers. OK, that's a pot shot.

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Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: When he actually gets on the field, Josh Gordon terrorizes defenses

I'm going with Josh Gordon -- if he's on the field come September. He missed the entire 2015 and '16 seasons, but came back more cut and stronger (if that's possible) than he was at the time of his initial suspension. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Gordon is so physically imposing and can beat any defender.

All that said, if Gordon's not back on the field, I have to say Antonio Brown is the most feared. He catches everything thrown his way and runs the cleanest routes of any receiver right now. When Big Ben heaves the ball his way, there's no doubt in anyone's mind who's coming down with it.

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James Jones: Rob Gronkowski is the unstoppable force

It hurts to say this, as a wideout myself, but I gotta say Gronk. The Patriots tight end is a man among boys with a physique that makes it nearly impossible for any defender -- cornerback, safety or linebacker -- to bring him down. If Gronk's healthy, there isn't anyone who can who can stop him.

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Marcas Grant: Are we seriously even pondering this question?

I'm not sure how the answer can be anyone other than Antonio Brown. He's been the league's best receiver over the past few seasons ... and it really hasn't been debatable. When you can miss two games and still be nearly 100 yards better than the next closest pass catcher in the league, I think we can put the argument to rest.

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