Ranking the 5 Best Receiving Options in the NFC North
The NFC North features some of the best passing attacks in the league with great quarterback and wide receiver play.
Last season, the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions featured lethal passing attacks that were atop the NFL, the Chicago Bears had an off-and-on passing attack without a true No. 1 receiver and the Minnesota Vikings attempted to rebuild under rookie Christian Ponder.
The NFC North has a plethora of talent in the form of receiving options, and narrowing down the list was no easy task. As new talent is added and old talent builds on past success, the NFC North is in great shape going forward.
Here are the five best receiving options in the NFC North.
5. Percy Harvin
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Percy Harvin has improved his game each season he has been in the league, and 2011 was just another step. With Sidney Rice off the team, Harvin became the Vikings' primary receiving threat and was one of the few bright spots during the Vikings' season.
Harvin caught 87 passes for 967 yards and six touchdowns, but he was also a big threat on the ground as well. Harvin had 52 attempts for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored a touchdown on a kickoff return.
With a young quarterback in Christian Ponder, Percy Harvin's development will be big for the Vikings' future.
4. Brandon Marshall
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Brandon Marshall has the talent to be higher on the list, but his frequent drops and confusing decisions on and off the field have him ranked fourth. The Bears made a great move by trading draft picks to acquire Marshall in order to finally give Jay Cutler a legitimate threat.
Marshall had a very good season with the Miami Dolphins, recording 81 catches for 1214 yards and six touchdowns. Comparatively, the Bears leading receiver in 2011 was Johnny Knox, who had 69 catches for just 727 yards and two touchdowns.
Marshall has suffered from drops recently—something the Bears are quite familiar with. He will need to do a better job holding onto the football in the future.
If the Bears can keep Marshall focused in, both he and the Bears are better off in 2012. With a healthy Cutler, he could easily climb these rankings.
3. Jordy Nelson
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After the year Jordy Nelson had in 2011, it seems that the Packers' committed highway robbery when negotiating a new contract for Nelson earlier this year. Nelson signed a three-year, $13.35 million extension to stay in Green Bay.
With attention given to Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley, Nelson took full advantage and posted monster numbers on the year. Nelson finished the season with 68 catches, 1263 yards and 15 touchdowns. He led the Packers in nearly all major receiving categories, only falling short to Jennings in targets. Jennings was targeted 101 times to Nelson's 96.
Nelson found the end zone in every Packers' home game, except for the playoff loss.
There is no doubt that Nelson benefits from playing in the NFL's top passing attack, but his play when Jennings was injured showed his success last season was not a fluke.
2. Greg Jennings
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While Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald make eye-opening catches, Victor Cruz salsas and Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball, Greg Jennings does his job without over-the-top showmanship.
And he does his job quite well.
Jennings didn't put up stunning numbers like other top receivers, but his consistency, reliability and big-play ability have quietly made him one of the best in the game.
Jennings totaled 67 catches, 949 yards and nine touchdowns on the year, playing in just 13 games after suffering a sprained MCL. With so much talent surrounding him on the Packers, Jennings has stood out as the leader of the bunch.
Jennings' possesses a certain smoothness to his game that sets him apart from almost everybody else in the division as a receiving threat. Whether it is route-running, juking or catching the ball and turning up-field in one slick motion, Jennings does it all for the Packers.
1. Calvin Johnson
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There really is no question who the top threat is in the NFC North, or the rest of the league for that matter. Calvin Johnson apparently got tired of the debate over whether he or Larry Fitzgerald was the biggest threat in the NFL.
Johnson ended the debate by posting ridiculous, video-game like numbers.
On the year, Johnson has 96 catches for 1681 yards and 16 touchdowns. He led the league in yardage and finished second in touchdowns, behind only tight end Rob Gronkowski.
It wasn't just the incredible numbers, it was the way in which Johnson posted them. At times, Johnson was blanketed by not one, but two defenders in perfect coverage. Somehow, Johnson was able to come down with the ball more times than not.
As long as his quarterback stays healthy, Johnson will continue to put up massive numbers and remain the top threat in the NFC North.