Greg Jennings: Quietly Outplaying Calvin Johnson and the Rest of the NFL

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIOctober 28, 2011

Greg Jennings: Quietly Outplaying Calvin Johnson and the Rest of the NFL

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    Quick, think of the best receiver in the NFL. Was the first name to pop in your mind Calvin Johnson or Wes Welker? What about Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald?

    While all these players are fantastic receivers, I would disagree that they are currently the best receiver in the league. My choice is Mr. Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers.

    Let me show you why Jennings is quietly outplaying Calvin Johnson and the rest of the NFL.

A Look at the Statistics

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    The way that most people decide who is the best at their specific position is based on statistics. While this can sometimes be a valid argument, statistics can also be rather misleading.

    For example, Cam Newton currently has the fourth most passing yards in the NFL. However, no one truly believes that Newton is even close to the fourth best quarterback in the league.

    Let's look at the two key statistics for wide receivers and how they are misleading concerning Greg Jennings' position as the best receiver in the NFL.

Receiving Yards

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    The top five receivers in receiving yards are Steve Smith, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings. Here is how they stack up with receiving yards and the percentage that their yards make up of their quarterback's total passing yards:

    Steve Smith - 808 receiving yards and 39 percent of quarterback's yards

    Wes Welker - 785 receiving yards and 37 percent of quarterback's yards

    Mike Wallace - 730 receiving yards and 38 percent of quarterback's yards

    Calvin Johnson - 679 receiving yards and 36 percent of quarterback's yards

    Greg Jennings - 677 receiving yards and 29 percent of quarterback's yards

    As you can see, even though Greg Jennings currently ranks fifth in receiving yards, his percentage is also quite a bit lower than the receivers above him. If Jennings were receiving 39 percent of Aaron Rodgers' passing yards, he would have 925 receiving yards on the season, which would be easily good enough for the league lead.

    We all know how much Aaron Rodgers loves spreading the ball around, so the fact that Jennings is even close to the league lead in receiving yards is quite the accomplishment.

Receiving Touchdowns

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    We'll apply the same rules to the top five players in receiving touchdowns:

    Calvin Johnson - 10 receiving touchdowns and 63 percent of his quarterback's touchdowns

    Wes Welker - 6 receiving touchdowns and 38 percent of his quarterback's touchdowns

    Plaxico Burress - 5 receiving touchdowns and 42 percent of his quarteback's touchdowns

    Mike Wallace - 5 receiving touchdowns and 42 percent of his quarterback's touchdowns

    Greg Jennings - 5 receiving touchdowns and 25 percent of his quarterback's touchdowns

    Once again, we see how much Aaron Rodgers loves to look for different receivers near the end zone. If Jennings were to have caught 63 percent of Rodgers' touchdown passes this season, he would have 13, which would easily put him on track to break Randy Moss' NFL record.

What Do the Statistics Really Show?

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    We can see that while statistics are nice, they don't paint the entire picture.

    Simply because Greg Jennings is fifth in the NFL in receiving yards and touchdowns doesn't mean he is a worse receiver than Calvin Johnson or Wes Welker. It simply means that his team is stacked with talented receivers and Aaron Rodgers enjoys getting the ball into different players hands.

    If Jennings were on a team like the Detroit Lions or Carolina Panthers, where there isn't as deep and talented of a receiving corps, it is very likely that he would be having a much better statistical season.

    So, we can look at statistics, but they aren't the end all in determining who the best receiver is.

Why Is Jennings the Best?

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    If you were to surround Calvin Johnson with players like Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb, there is no way that he would have the type of season he is currently having.

    The same goes for Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson or any other candidates for the best receiver in the NFL. However, even with all these talented receivers surrounding him, Jennings has still shown his ability to shine bright and have great season after great season.

    There isn't a single area of Jennings' game that is lacking. He has fantastic hands to combine with great speed and route running ability. Jennings might not be an elite physical specimen, but he is extremely fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game.

    If Jennings were a member of the Carolina Panthers or Detroit Lions, there is no doubt that more would notice his stellar play. Thankfully for fans of the Green Bay Packers, he is a member of our team and week in and week out we get to watch the best receiver in the entire NFL.