With the NFL becoming a more "pass-happy" league, teams are relying more on quarterbacks and the weapons around them to score. Although there are still dominant running backs in the league, wide receivers and tight ends are being utilized and becoming more essential to an offensive scheme.
Although many quarterbacks receive credit for making their weapons dazzle, some fail to realize that it is actually the wide receivers and tight ends that make the quarterback dazzle. These receivers complement each other very well with their skill set and at times help the other be less covered by picking up the double coverage.
Without further ado, here are the top five WR/WR and WR/TE duos that any quarterback would love to have.
Arguably the best receiver in the league right now (with all due respect to Larry Fitzgerald), Calvin Johnson put up ridiculous numbers last season. He helped the Lions offense resurge and helped the team make their first playoffs since 1999.
Nicknamed "Megatron," Johnson is the prototypical game-changing receiver, and anyone would love to have him on their team. Trough the first five games of the 2011-2012 NFL season, Megatron scored nine touchdowns, an NFL record.
No one can dispute his talent. However, the Lions do not have a proven No. 2 receiver or tight end, which does not gives the Lions a top-five duo in the league. Unfortunately, this puts Megatron off the list.
In the 2011 NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons were sitting on the 27th pick, desperate to move up in the top 10 to draft a receiver. In a move that surprised most, the Falcons traded away their first- (27th overall), second- (59th) and fourth-round (124th) picks in 2011, and their first- and fourth-round picks in the 2012 draft. That is how much the Falcons coveted Julio Jones out of Alabama; they traded away five picks for him.
Roddy White, a consistent top-10 WR every year, has already proved that he can run every route and has proven to be a big target for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. With the addition of Julio Jones, this gave Matt Ryan two great receivers, as well as veteran Tony Gonzalez at tight end.
Julio Jones, who had a solid rookie season, finished only 41 yards shy of 1,000 yards and finished the season with eight touchdowns. While Roddy White can run almost every type of route, Jones excels in the deep ball, as his longest touchdown went for 80 yards. Let's not forget, Jones ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash with a broken foot last year at the NFL combine.
The Falcons hope for more from Jones, as well as another consistent season from White. With Falcons running back Michael Turner turning 30, the Falcons may not rely as heavily on him as they used to. With Matt Ryan having Jones and White on opposite ends, it should make opposing defenses really work to keep them out of the end zone.
Known for his salsa dance, Victor Cruz blew up in Week 3 last season, when he caught two touchdowns for 110 yards, with one of the touchdowns going for 74 yards. Both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks finished with 1,000-plus yards, and finished top 15 in receiving yards.
Both receivers are capable of big plays, as Cruz had nine catches of 40 or more yards (one of which went for a 99-yard touchdown), while Nicks had five catches of 40 or more yards.
One area where Victor Cruz succeeds in is the "yards after catch" statistic. Cruz finished in the top 10 in the "YAC" category during the regular season among all players. This shows Cruz's ability to break tackles and also catch balls in stride.
Although Nicks has gone through a series of injuries throughout his career, he still manages to perform, bringing in 18 touchdowns for over 1,000 yards in the past two seasons. However, it is imperative that Nicks stays healthy for Cruz to put up the numbers that he did this past season. Cruz is a better target as a slot receiver, as opposed to lining up at the split end.
Both are great receivers, and both will be highly utilized in the Giants passing scheme with the departure of Mario Manningham.
Both Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings have been blessed to say the least to be playing for the Packers. Playing with arguably the best signal-caller in the game, Aaron Rodgers, both Nelson and Jennings posted great numbers. With essentially no running game, both Jennings and Nelson have benefited greatly, as the Packers rely on their passing game to score.
Both Jennings and Nelson are very similar to Nicks and Cruz. Both are very much considered the top options in their respected offensive scheme. As we look at the numbers, it just shows how reliable and consistent both targets have been to Rodgers and the Packers.
With longtime Packer Donald Driver near the end of his career, Jordy Nelson has made a great replacement as one of the top targets in this Packer offense. Finishing ninth in the league last season in yards with 1,263, Nelson also finished the season with 15 touchdowns, only one behind Calvin Johnson. It is worth noting that Nelson had seven games with 90-plus yards receiving, even though he finished the season tied for 50th in targets.
Although Greg Jennings did not surpass 1,000-plus yards this season, that may be due to the fact that he missed the last three games of the regular season. As Rodgers' favorite option, Jennings excels in his route running and catching the deep ball, and he does it as well as anyone in the league. Jennings consistently put up at least one touchdown per game last season, never going consecutive weeks without one.
Both Jennings and Nelson are great weapons in the Packers' pass-heavy scheme, and Aaron Rodgers really brings out the most in them. After a disappointing playoff run last season, the Packers look to use their weapons and go back to the Super Bowl next season.
Jimmy Graham is 6'7". Marques Colston is 6'4". What quarterback wouldn't love to throw these guys?
Although Colston's production has dropped, it's not because his skill level has dropped. Drew Brees has significantly made the whole receiving corps relevant, thus limiting Colston's touchdowns and targets. Although Brees utilizes all the weapons on the field, Colston and Graham have both been able to catch for 1,000-plus yards this season, as well as remain an important part of the offense. Colston had 80 receptions, while Graham had 99 receptions this past season.
Both have incredibly great hands as well, making them reliable on third downs and other important game-time situations. Both are likely to thrive for another season under Drew Brees and that pass-happy offense, but with the suspension of Sean Payton, will their production take a tumble?
There's no denying the talents of both players here. Rob Gronkowski, standing at 6'6", is a huge target, as he set tight end records with 1,327 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns this past season. Quite possibly the best two options in the passing game on the Patriots, both are targeted heavily, and both are used effectively.
Welker had another outstanding year, leading the league in receptions with 122, proving to be one of the most consistent receivers in this system. Standing at only 5'9", Welker is best used in the slot, where he excels at gaining yards after the catch. At the end of the regular season, Welker finished with a "YAC" stat of 732, showing his playmaking ability out of the slot.
Gronkowski also had an amazing year, breaking tight end records for both touchdowns and yards in a single season. His huge frame makes him a target on almost every play, especially in the red zone. With Welker at the slot, and Gronkowski at the tight end position, it makes defenses miserable as they have to guard the middle very well to limit the production of these two outstanding athletes.