Breaking Down the NFL's Top QB-WR Duos for 2012
The 2011 NFL season brought us record-breaking seasons from Drew Brees (passing yards) and Aaron Rodgers (passer rating), as well as the first time in NFL history that three quarterbacks threw for more than 5,000 yards (Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford).
What's coming in 2012 for these quarterbacks?
Today we look at the top 10 quarterback-wide receiver duos in the NFL, taking into account their careers, the 2011 season and the potential the players have individually and as a unit.
10. Matt Ryan to Roddy White
Roddy White had the quietest 100-catch season in NFL history, but there is no doubting that White is an elite wide receiver. He led the NFC in catches last year, totaling over 1,200 yards receiving.
Ryan hasn't quite improved at a high rate, but he's still a playoff quarterback who can take over games with his arm.
2011 stats: 100 catches, 1,296 yards, eight touchdowns
9. Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace
The Steelers are known for smash-mouth football, but the passing duo of Big Ben to Mike Wallace took off over the last few seasons. Barring a holdout by Wallace, the two should enjoy a huge year together in 2012.
Wallace's deep threat ability combined with Roethlisberger's cannon makes them one of the tougher duos in the AFC.
2011 stats: 72 catches, 1,193 yards, eight touchdowns
8. Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings
Aaron Rodgers has so many weapons in the Green Bay offense, it's telling that Greg Jennings is his go-to player. Jennings has rare ability to get deep and also beat cornerbacks on underneath routes. He's among the most polished route-runners in the game, which is why it seems like he's always open when No. 12 drops back to pass.
2011 stats: 67 catches, 949 yards, nine touchdowns
7. Cam Newton to Steve Smith
Cam Newton exceeded all expectations in his rookie season, setting a new record for most touchdowns by a first-year player. In Smith, Newton found a deep threat and safety valve in the passing game.
As Newton develops further in his first full offseason, expect this combination to become even more deadly.
2011 stats: 79 catches, 1,394 yards, seven touchdowns
6. Eli Manning to Victor Cruz
If this were based on the playoffs alone, Eli Manning and Victor Cruz would be much higher. How Cruz responds to playing on the line of scrimmage more in place of Mario Manningham will be interesting, but there is no doubting the two are straight-up playmakers.
2011 stats: 82 catches, 1,536 yards, nine touchdowns
5. Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson
Injury slowed down the Houston Texans' passing game in 2011, but back healthy this fall, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will be a force to reckon with in the AFC South. Johnson's all-around game is among the best you'll see at the position, and Schaub is an underrated passer in his own right.
2011 stats: 33 catches, 492 yards, two touchdowns (seven games played)
4. Drew Brees to Marques Colston
Marques Colston isn't flashy, but he's the perfect complement to Drew Brees' pinpoint accuracy. Colston is able to get open in creases, and Brees fires the ball into tight spots better than anyone in the game. Colston may not be a sprinter, but his physical style of play fits the Saints offense perfectly.
2011 stats: 80 catches, 1,143 yards, eight touchdowns
3. Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson hasn't received national recognition yet for his playmaking, but watch out for him in 2012. Nelson doesn't see huge statistics (just 68 catches in 2011), but his playmaking skills showed up in points scored. His potential is outstanding, and having the reigning MVP throwing to you also helps.
2011 stats (from Rodgers): 59 catches, 1,101 yards, 12 touchdowns
2. Tom Brady to Wes Welker
The reigning AFC passing champ, Tom Brady is among the all-time greats at the position. Wes Welker is no slouch either. Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions last year, a full 22 ahead of the second-place finisher.
What Brady and Welker do isn't explosive, but it's highly productive and nearly impossible to stop.
2011 stats: 122 catches, 1,569 yards, nine touchdowns
1. Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson
There is no wide receiver more talented in the NFL today, and in Stafford's first full season as a starter he tossed over 5,000 yards passing despite having an average offensive line, no true No. 2 wide receiver and an incredibly tough division schedule.
2011 stats: 96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 touchdowns
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