Like Calvin Johnson? How about Mike Wallace? What about Julio Jones?
These are just some of the best the NFL has to offer for pass catchers for 2012. All of them have validated their worth in today's game, all looking to continue their dominance on the field as the season approaches closer and closer.
Who's the best receiver in football? Well, that's a debate best saved for someone else. However, there's are plenty of names you can refer to and judge.
Many receivers put up great stats last season, but let's look at 10 guys for this upcoming 2012 season that have the chance to put up even better numbers.
Simply put, Calvin Johnson is the beast of football.
After landing on the NFL stage in 2007, Johnson was an instant hit for the Detroit Lions, who rebuilt the franchise with him in mind as the savior and a major cornerstone.
He proved to be that guy in every way. In just five short years, this is what he's been able to do: 5,872 receiving yards, 49 touchdowns, 366 catches and an average of 16 yards per reception. There's not much else to say about what Johnson means to the Lions and to football.
If that wasn't enough to prove his value, the Lions sure did, signing him to a monster deal this offseason. They showed him the money, and now Johnson will continue to validate his place in the game.
Look for Johnson to continue his dominance against the best that NFL defenses have to offer. There may not be much you can do to slow him down.
It’s a bit of a surprise that no team this offseason tried to sign restricted free-agent Mike Wallace to a big-time contract, when you take into account what he’s been able to do so far in such a short amount of time.
Wallace, 25, has proven to be one of the most dynamic receivers in football the last three years. He has recorded 1,100 yards in each of the last two season, combined for 18 touchdowns, 132 catches and averaged an astounding 18.8 yards per catch over that span.
Despite his contract situation that allows him to test free agent after this upcoming season, make no mistake about it: Wallace has the ability to separate himself from pretty much any other receiver in the league—doing all that he has with the inconsistencies of starter Ben Roethlisberger, who has been sidelined at times with injuries.
Wallace is a playmaker who will surely look to increase his numbers with an uncertain future ahead. The best thing that he can do for himself is to just continue to improve and pad his stats.
Look for Wallace to put himself in position to be one of the highest-paid receivers in football after posting a brilliant 2012 season. There’s no telling what his numbers could be.
Atlanta appears to be the place to go if you want a heavy dose of offense. This season, second-year stud Julio Jones is looking to put an exclamation point at the end of that statement.
After the Atlanta Falcons moved up to get Jones in the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones put up a rookie season that surely indicates that he has what it takes to be one of the game’s best. The Alabama receiver caught 54 balls for 959 yards and eight scores in only 13 games last year. He battled leg injuries that sidelined him for a portion of the middle of the season, but that didn’t stop him from making big plays when he was on the field.
Jones averaged 17.8 yards per catch with had a long of 80 yards, showing his ability to vertically stretch a defense, something that the Falcons will surely look to do going forward.
The fact that Atlanta has a crop of young and talented receivers shouldn’t hamper Jones’ chances of putting up monster numbers. If Jones is healthy, on the field and wants the ball, expect Matt Ryan to do everything he can to get it to him.
Look for Jones to bust out and continue to prove that he was worth every penny.
Putting aside the fact that Andre Johnson is one of the most dynamic receivers in football and that he has freakish ability, 2011 couldn’t have been any worse for the star in Houston.
Johnson was bothered all season long with a variety of injuries that hampered not only his availability, but his numbers when he was able to get on the field. Johnson only played in seven games, catching 33 passes for a disappointing total of 492 yards.
Johnson has battled injuries countless times over the course of his career, but 2011 was one to surely forget.
The nine-year vet will enter training camp next month with a chance—yet, again—to validate his place in football. However, when healthy, there’s not much that he needs to prove, as it's all in the pudding: five 1,000-plus yard seasons, 52 total touchdowns, 706 catches and the ability to come up big when the game is on the line.
Starter Matt Schaub went down late in the season and really hampered the entire offense. With Schaub out, a rookie under center for the playoffs and injuries galore, Johnson will look to write it all off and get back to square one in 2012.
If Johnson is able to do that, expect him to have a monster statistical year.
No one is saying that DeSean Jackson doesn’t have what it takes to be a top-5 receiver in football.
However, a luke-warm relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles after intense and frustrating contracts talks, combined with his passionate—and sometimes over the top and unnecessary antics—has Jackson’s persona slowly and slowly becoming that of a selfish player.
In 2012, with a new contract, a full offseason to work out with his teammates and all the talent coming back, this could be Jackson’s year to write off all the critics.
In 2011, Jackson put up respectable stats, despite all the problems surrounding the Eagles over the course of the year. Despite posting 58 catches, 961 yards and four touchdowns, Jackson was seen as a disappointment, as well as the rest of the offense, including quarterback Michael Vick.
Jackson enters his fifth NFL season with over 4,000 total receiving yards to his credit. His contract situation is no longer an issue, as he has a new deal that will pay him around $50 million. There’s no telling how good Jackson can be when all the variables around him are working in his favor.
In 2012, expect Jackson to put up monster stats and move another step forward in the right direction.
Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals started anew.
A new quarterback under center, a new receiver set out and slotted at the numbers, a new offensive philosophy after years with the likes of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco—all that spelled a new beginning for a middling franchise that was desperate to become one of more prominent teams in football.
Last season, that’s exactly what they got and A.J. Green was the answer.
After being selected fourth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Green exploded onto the NFL scene. He played in 15 games, caught 65 balls for an impressive 1,057 receiving yards, also scoring seven touchdowns.
Green even showed up for the Bengal’s wild card loss to the Houston Texans, catching five balls for 47 total yards.
Green’s big-play ability has pundits thinking that he has what it takes to be an elite receiver—something the Bengals will desperately need as the franchise looks to rebuild at some positions and tinker with others.
The key to whether Green can build on last season—or regress, for that matter—lies in the offensive around him, no one counterpart more important than that of second-year quarterback Andy Dalton.
Green has what it takes to be one of the best receivers in football in 2012. Don’t expect him to go away anytime soon.
It’s hard to imagine the road that Brandon Marshall has had to walk these last few seasons, but after getting traded to the Chicago Bears this offseason, Marshall is getting back in touch with his pro-football roots.
Marshall once again will have Jay Cutler throwing him the football. Between 2006-2008, the duo worked hand in hand while teammates for the Denver Broncos. Both put up good stats and had something really going. Unfortunately, after a change in coaching and management, Cutler was dealt to the Windy City before the 2009 season. Marshall was traded a season later, and after a series of injuries and inconsistencies with the Miami Dolphins, Marshall is back with Cutler to make some noise in the NFC North.
Despite the negative persona Marshall developed while in Miami, his performance remained steady: 1,000-plus yards in 2010 and 2011, 167 total catches and nine scores.
Cutler and Marshall could tear up the NFC in 2012 as both look to regain top-form. If everything works out, the two may have a interesting dynamic.
If you’re looking for the perfect blend of playmaking ability and consistency at the wide receiver position, there may not be one quite like Atlanta Falcons’ Roddy White.
White has called Atlanta home since arriving in 2005, and his impact has been nothing less than a pleasant surprise and an extraordinary uplift for the franchise. Since 2007, White has gained at least 1,100 yards receiving ever year, twice eclipsing the 1,300-plus yards mark. He had over 100 catches in 2010 and 2011, combining for 18 touchdowns over that span.
There’s no denying White’s abilities between the numbers, but the scary thing is that he could accumulate even more in 2012.
This is the year for QB Matt Ryan to step up and take his game an even high level. After posting middling numbers in his first two NFL seasons, Ryan progressed in 2010, throwing 28 touchdowns against a blistering nine interceptions. In 2011, he followed up with another efficient campaign, throwing one more touchdown than the previous year.
Ryan is entering his fifth NFL season, and with a plethora of talented receivers to throw to, he’s expected to up his game. If everything come to fruition, and Ryan finds ways to get guys catches all over the field, White’s big-play ability may come more into the picture in 2012 as he may look to stretch the field more and more.
If that happens, look out.
In 2010, Brandon Lloyd led the league in receiving yards with a monster number of 1,448.
It’s only been two years since Lloyd busted onto the NFL scene, but after getting traded to the St. Louis Rams early last season—combined with a middling Rams’ team that finished 2-14 and couldn’t seem to keep Sam Bradford on the field—Lloyd fell into a spiral of irrelevance for six months on team that went nowhere.
Fortunately, for Lloyd, he had one enticing carrot awaiting him: free-agency.
Lloyd agreed to a three-year deal with the New England Patriots in March, with reports saying the contract is worth upwards of nearly $20, after you add in incentive-based agreements. Lloyd has always been a guy with ability, but questions swirled around in regards to his character during this offseason as potential teams rated his value. Lloyd played for six different teams before landing in New England.
However, if you draw out his numbers from last season over a full 16 game slate, you’ll find that Lloyd projects out to have over 90 catches, nearly 1,000 receiving yards and anywhere from 8-to-10 touchdowns.
With Tom Brady throwing him passes Lloyd may have an opportunity to put up some big stats in 2012 and make a statement. Beware this combo in the 2012 season.
It’s been over two years since the Dallas Cowboys moved up to select Dez Bryant with the 24th pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
It hasn’t always been great for the Oklahoma State All-American since arriving, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t shown flashes of brilliance that some say are similar to another Cowboy great in Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who allowed Bryant to wear his no. 88 after being drafted by Dallas.
Despite only starting in two games his rookie season, Bryant was able to make valuable contributions playing in the slot, as well as on special teams, returning kicks and punts. Last season, Bryant made significant strides and became more consistent game-to-game, not disappearing for large portions. The dividends paid off: in 15 games last season, Bryant caught 63 balls for 928 yards and nine scores, averaging 14.7 yards per catch.
A lot of what happens with Bryant in 2012 is contingent upon the performance of quarterback Tony Romo, who bounced back in 2011 (31 TDs, 10 INTs) after suffering a broken collarbone that sidelined him for all but six games the previous year. Another factor to consider is that Bryant–who earned the starting job opposite of Austin Miles going into last season after the Cowboys decided to part ways with Roy Williams–is going into his third NFL season, but was locked out last summer. For the first time in his career, Bryant is going into a stable offseason environment with a full workout and schedule of goals to work towards, something that he was deprived of last offseason.
If Romo stays healthy and Bryant continues to improve this offseason, there’s no telling how great this dynamic duo could be in 2012.