The Green Bay Packers enter the 2012 season with one of the deepest and most talented receiving corps in the NFL. Players like Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb could easily start for a majority of other teams in the league but are considered backups in Green Bay.
This is because of two players who have established themselves as top-10 receivers in the league: Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.
While Jennings has been one of the better receivers in the league for years, Nelson had a breakout campaign in 2011 that instantly entered him into conversations as a premier receiver.
The big question heading into the 2012 season is which of these talented receivers will be better in 2012.
Will the crafty, proven veteran or the athletic young-gun have a more productive season this year?
Today we'll make a case for both players and draw an ultimate conclusion as to whether Jennings or Nelson will be more productive during the 2012 season.
The Case for Jennings
Jennings is sort of an enigma as an NFL receiver because he isn't overly athletic and he isn't a physical freak of nature, but he consistently produces at a high level.
He's been voted to each of the past two Pro Bowls, and it is likely that the streak will continue for the foreseeable future.
What makes Jennings such a dangerous receiver are his hands, intelligence and ability to make something out of nothing. His hands are some of the best in the league, but it's his ability to get open that makes him so dangerous.
Last year, despite missing the final three games, Jennings still led the Packers in targets (96) and amount of snaps he was on the field (672). This shows that Jennings is still the No. 1 target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the fact that he plays more snaps than any other receiver on the team makes him the likely candidate to have the more productive season.
While it is unlikely that he'll see his 120 targets from two years ago, Jennings should still be the top target in 2012 for the Packers, mostly because he is still the most trusted receiver on the roster.
The Case for Nelson
To say that Nelson had a breakout year in 2011 is quite the understatement.
He went from a solid role player to superstar due to his 68 receptions, his 1,263 yards and a ridiculous 15 touchdowns. His 18.6 yards per reception were the sixth best in the league, and Victor Cruz was the only player with to see more targets.
Nelson uses his elite athleticism and his above-average strength to make big plays after the catch. While drops were an issue in his first few seasons in the league, he improved greatly in 2011 and rarely dropped a pass that he should have caught.
The problem with Nelson heading into the 2012 season is that he isn't going to be sneaking up on anyone this year.
While teams focused their attention on Jennings and Jermichael Finley in the passing game last year, that won't happen this season. Nelson has earned the right to be plotted against by opposing defenses, and that will certainly happen.
With that said Nelson is simply too talented and too much of a threat not to get a similar number of targets (93 last year) in the upcoming season. The Packers will find ways to get him in the open field.
And once that happens, Nelson is as dangerous as any other player in the league.
Who Will Be More Productive In 2012?
Who'll Be More Productive?
Despite Nelson coming off one of the better receiving seasons in Packers' history, it is unlikely that he'll be able to produce at that level again in 2012. The big reason is that a good chunk of Nelson's production (17 receptions, 306 yards and five touchdowns) came in the final three weeks of the season, when Jennings was sidelined.
Since we have to expect Jennings to play a full season, it will be difficult for Nelson to put together a stretch like that this year.
We also can't forget about the competition behind Nelson this year.
Whereas Jennings will enter the season as the No. 1 receiver and get his targets, Nelson could see a chunk of his targets lost to Jones, Driver, Finley and especially Cobb.
While both Jennings and Nelson will be productive during the 2012 season, Jennings will be more productive thanks to his experience, trustworthiness and standing as the No. 1 receiver in Green Bay.