The Top 10 Wide Receiver Corps Entering the 2012 NFL Season

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJune 19, 2012

The Top 10 Wide Receiver Corps Entering the 2012 NFL Season

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    There's no secret that the NFL is a passing league. In fact, there's no secret at all that the league has turned into a pass-first league.

    How can we be so sure? Well for starters, we saw three players surpass the 5,000-passing-yards mark in 2011, and we saw a rookie throw for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns. 

    But what makes these quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton so successful? 

    The players that they're throwing to, especially the wide receiver corps—or at least that has a lot to do with it.

    In that spirit, let's take a look at the top 10 wide receiver corps entering the 2012 NFL season. 

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    Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus.

10. Chicago Bears

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    It's about time Jay Cutler actually has some decent wide receivers to throw to with the Chicago Bears.

    Over the years, Cutler has been dealing with Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett—a group that many would consider to be backups.

    However, the Bears actually added some talent to this position this offseason with the likes of Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery out of South Carolina.

    This corps could be listed higher on this list, but Marshall, Jeffery and Cutler have yet to play together, so we'll just have to wait and see how they play on the football field prior to making any major assumptions. 

9. Philadelphia Eagles

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    As long as DeSean Jackson's head is screwed on right and Jeremy Maclin can stay healthy, then the Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver corps is one of the best in the NFL.

    Not only do the Eagles have Jackson and Maclin, but they also have some depth with Jason Avant and Riley Cooper—which probably makes up the most talented tandem of backup wide receivers in the game today. 

    But my biggest concern with this group is at the front end. As long as Jackson keeps his thoughts clear and plays the game correctly, and Maclin can stay on the field, then this group should very well be in the top five—but that concern is just far too significant and yet realistic. 

8. Dallas Cowboys

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    I really like the group that the Dallas Cowboys have entering 2012.

    Dez Bryant is no question one of the top wide receivers in the NFL today while Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree are two very solid secondary options. Additionally, rookie Danny Coale could surprise a few this upcoming season.

    The only concern that I have with this group is that I'm a little bit worried that they'll be able to make up the lost production of Laurent Robinson, as he's now a Jacksonville Jaguar. 

7. Atlanta Falcons

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    Roddy White and Julio Jones are probably the NFL's best dynamic duo for wide receivers.

    In 2011, this tandem combined for 154 receptions for 2,255 yards and a stellar 16 touchdowns.

    Add in Harry Douglas, and this is a very productive and talented wide receiver corps. The receiver position could still use some depth, but the talent at the front end is just so overwhelming. 

6. San Francisco 49ers

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    Alex Smith could very well go from the ultimate game manager to one of the NFL's elite passers in 2012 due to the fact that his wide receiver corps is loaded with talent.

    Coming out of 2011, the San Francisco 49es had Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr., leading the way. Entering 2012, the team now has new faces Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins. 

    As long as Smith can get the ball downfield to these guys, then there's no reason why they shouldn't be a very productive bunch this upcoming season. 

5. New York Giants

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    The New York Giants may have lost Mario Manningham via free agency this offseason, but this team still has one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the NFL.

    Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are about as good as it gets for a team's starting wide receivers. Meanwhile, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Domenik Hixon are very talented players that should have no problem making up for the loss production left by Manningham's departure.

    I'm not sure how it is with this team, but either quarterback Eli Manning makes these guys look good or these guys make him look good. Either way, stats don't lie, and you have to realize that this is a very talented and productive group. 

4. New Orleans Saints

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    The loss of Robert Meachem to the San Diego Chargers via free agency this offseason certainly doesn't help, but the New Orleans Saints without a doubt have one of the elite wide receiver corps in the NFL entering 2012.

    The team's corps is led by one of the league's elite receivers in Marques Colston, who caught 80 passes for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing two games in 2011.

    To go along with Colston, the Saints have Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and rookie Nick Toon. 

    Let's just say this: Drew Brees wouldn't have broken Dan Marino's single-season passing record in 2011 if it weren't for his wide receivers. 

3. Detroit Lions

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    If it weren't for Calvin Johnson, then this wide receiver corps probably wouldn't even be in the top five. 

    There's no doubt that Megatron is the NFL's most dangerous wide receiver, as he finished 2011 with 96 receptions for an incredible 1,681 yards while snagging 16 touchdown receptions. 

    To go along with Johnson, the Detroit Lions have Nate Burleson and Titus Young, who both combined for nine touchdowns in 2011. The team will also be welcoming rookie Ryan Broyles to the corps in 2012.

    Detroit's offense is very young and is only going to get better in years to come. 

2. Green Bay Packers

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    We saw how dominant the Green Bay Packers could be in 2011, as they went 15-1 in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers had a field day each and every week as he finished with 45 touchdowns and 4,643 passing yards.

    Most of that has to do with his amazing weapon arsenal that he gets to throw to.

    Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson are among two of the elite wide receivers in the NFL today, while Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb are three very talented players that always find ways to contribute. 

1. New England Patriots

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    This might be rather shocking to you, as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots throw to their tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez a lot. But let's just say that the Patriots throw the ball a lot in general.

    Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, Donte' Stallworth, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater—those are the players that I'm projecting to make New England's final roster, and to be quite honest with you, no team is as deep at this position than the Patriots are.

    The 2012 season is going to be a dream for quarterback Tom Brady and an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. 

    The Patriots' receiving corps led the AFC in receiving yards in 2011 with a whopping 2,691—and that's without Lloyd, Gaffney and Stallworth.

    You might call me crazy, but the 2012 season for New England's passing attack could very well be as successful as it was in 2007 when Brady threw for an NFL-record 50 touchdowns. 

    NFL secondaries, you're in for a long season.