Among the top 20 active receivers in career receiving yards, all but two were drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. The exceptions are Donald Driver and Derrick Mason, who remain the leading receivers on playoff-caliber teams at the advanced age of 34. Two predominantly possession receivers have built exceptional careers without flash or ego. Both players are now invaluable security blankets for emerging young quarterbacks in their second years as full-time starters. Both will take center stage Monday night.
Driver is an extremely unlikely NFL star. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft out of Alcorn State and caught a whopping three passes as a rookie. Over the next two seasons, Driver remained the team's fourth receiver and entered the 2002 season as a 27-year-old receiver with only 37 career receptions. He's now on pace to record his seventh 1,000-yard season in the eight years since becoming a starter.
Mason was slightly more touted out of college, drafted by Tennessee in the fourth round out of Michigan State. He immediately earned playing time as a kick returner but rarely saw the field as a wide receiver. When the Titans lost the Super Bowl after the 1999 season, Mason had played three years and totaled 47 receptions. He only entered the starting lineup in 2000 thanks to injuries, but he took off from there, closing the season with 40 catches in his last eight games. Since 2001, he has gained at least 1,000 yards every year but one.