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Packers Receivers Aren't Among the Best in the NFL, According to Broncos Receivers

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Packers Receivers Aren't Among the Best in the NFL, According to Broncos Receivers

Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

I've got one final item from New York City as we wrap up our coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII here at Cheesehead TV.

In the week leading up to the big game, I had the opportunity to ask the wide receivers of the Denver Broncos and position coach Tyke Tolbert two questions: A) Do the Broncos have the best group of receivers in the NFL, and B) Which other teams have a group of receivers considered among the best?

My ulterior motive was to see if they considered the Green Bay Packers as having one of the elite receiving corps in the NFL, leaving the question open-ended and not asking about the Packers specifically.

It wasn't long ago when the Packers were believed to have one of the best, if not the best, collections of receivers circa 2011 when they had a group that included Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and a young Randall Cobb.

Perhaps with a group like that, it should come as no surprise that the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011 and then went 15-1 in the regular season in 2011.

The results from my informal survey were mixed.

First off, yes, the Broncos receivers generally felt they're the best with the exception of Eric Decker, who didn't want to go out on limb and make such a proclamation.

It's no real surprise that they feel they're No. 1, but they also stake a legitimate claim with a group that also includes Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Andre Caldwell.

"I feel confident that when my guys go on the field, they can produce versus any defense in the NFL," said Tolbert. "So to say they're one of the best, I'm extremely confident in saying I think they are."

In hindsight, maybe the Broncos couldn't produce against any defense, failing to get anything going against the Seahawks until after the game had already been decided. But that still doesn't make the group in Denver chopped liver.

Welker, who's been around the block a few times in previous stops at New England, Miami and San Diego, shared similar sentiments.

"I think so," said Welker. "I think everybody has their own opinion and everything, but this is one of the best groups I've ever played with."

As for other groups that might give the Broncos a run for the money, they weren't exactly impartial judges of talent.

There were two mentions of the Seahawks having one of the best groups of receivers, although Tolbert admitted that he was so focused on the Super Bowl, he couldn't fathom to think of any other teams.

The Chargers also received a vote from Thomas, however, it could be argued that facing the Chargers and Keenan Allen three times this past season may have influenced his opinion.

One team coming up twice were the Falcons, which have a group featuring Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas. Also mentioned were the Cardinals and the 49ers.

The Packers were not mentioned once by any of the four people interviewed, although Thomas had an idea why that might be.

"They've got some great guys," said Thomas. "Injuries bother people. We were capable of going a year without nobody really getting hurt and injured, and I think that made us look better. Because (in) Green Bay, you had Randall Cobb get hurt, Jermichael Finley got hurt. And they were two of their playmakers, and without some of your playmakers on the field, it can get difficult."

It's probably fair to say the Packers don't have as much depth at the position as they did in 2011 when their entire group of receivers was filled with Pro Bowl caliber players, but how far have they fallen?

The Packers still have a very good ensemble with Nelson, Cobb and Jones leading the way and Jarrett Boykin emerging as a threat, but that group could be broken up depending on what happens in free agency.

Jones will be an unrestricted free agent in March, free to sign wherever he chooses. And if we include tight ends in the vague definition of "receiver," the future is even more uncertain with both Finley and Andrew Quarless having expiring contracts as well.

No matter what happens in the upcoming months, the Packers have a good group to build around, assuming they can stay healthy, which is easier said than done.

The Packers may have to look for reinforcements in the NFL draft, particularly depending on what happens in free agency at the tight end position.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Franklin Hillside's picture

I'd line Nelson, Cobb, Jones, Boykin, and Finley up against anyone. And, I'd win.

RC Packer Fan's picture

yup!

Drealyn Williams's picture

Which Finely,though?

Arlo's picture

The days of lining up that group of receivers is over.

Both Finley & Jones have caught their last pass as a GB Packer starting March 11th, 2014. --- You can book it.

packsmack25's picture

Just now getting over the San Fran loss, haven't been here in a while.

I don't think players are a good judge of who is the best at anything, because they aren't like us, and generally don't see anything about other players unless they're playing against them.

Also, when is the new layout coming? I'm so sick of trolls.

Point Packer's picture

Not surprising, given the injuries at that position over the years. However, outside of WI, Jordy doesn't nearly get the respect he deserves. When healthy, GB has a top five receiving corps. No doubt.

When taking a look at the list GB FA's this off-season, I have the hardest time predicting what will happen with James Jones.

Randall Cobb is straight up fast. And I wouldn't categorize any of our WR's as "slow". But part of me would like to a little more speed on the outside. I know part of it is defensive scheme, but we seem to have less and less productivity on the long ball. With Lacy, be nice to be able to stretch the field a bit.

Packerken's picture

I would love to see a speed threat come in as well. Pure speed on one side, Jordy and his amazing feet and hands on the other, Boykin in one slot with his possession ablilities, Cobb in the other or the backfield or wherever they want to put him... I think that core of WR with Lacy, Harris and Franklin in the backfield... could be prolific.

Mike's picture

Speed or size threat. I doubt it'll happen, but I'd love to see what Rodgers could do with a guy like Kelvin Benjamin

ArodMoney's picture

If we are talking receivers and tight ends all teams at full strength I'd rank the top 5 like this:

1. Broncos
2. Bears
3. Falcons
4. Packers
5. Seahawks

All teams above Packers have better #1 receivers and then comparable #2 and TEs. Seahawks are close to Packers but I'd take Jordy/Cobb over Harvin/Rice and I think Finley is better than Miller.

Evan's picture

I agree with your top 4 - but Seahawks at 5?

I'd take a lot of other WR/TE corps over them: Dallas, NYG, Saints, maybe even Philly.

ArodMoney's picture

I could see arguments against the Seahawks because they don't have a dominant #1, but the Seahawks go 5 deep of above average receivers. Rice isn't a great #1, but Harvin when healthy is as good as Cobb. Tate/Baldwin are great #3 options and would be #2s on a bunch of teams and Zach Miller is an above average TE.

Evan's picture

I think calling Rice "not great" is being very, very kind. Outside of one very good year with Favre in 2009, he's been either injured or pedestrian. (I didn't realize he's only 27, though.)

But, Harvin, man. He looked terrifying on his few touches in the Super Bowl. Zero to 100 in a second. I don't remember that at all from his Vikings days.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Harvin is lightning fast. But how much has he actually played in the NFL? He missed nearly this whole season as well as missing a lot at MN.

I don't see Seattle as having top 5 WR's/TE.
Saints are better, I would take Bengals with Johnson, Jones, Tate, Sanu, Eifert, Gresham over Seattle.
Also I would take the Bears over Seattle. Marshall, Jeffrey, Earl Bennett, Martellus Bennett.

Evan's picture

Oh, yeah, Bengals for sure.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Sorry, I listed the Bears on there, I didn't see it before.

Another one I would take over Seattle is 49ers.

Crabtree, Boldin, Manningham, Davis

Phatgzus's picture

Johnson? I think you meant Green, but agreed; I think Cincy and NOLA (dunno how) have 2 of the most underrated WR corps in the NFL.

Brian's picture

And having a "great" receiving core got the Broncos 1 TD.

Hank Scorpio's picture

WR groups that catch passes from great QB are highly prone to being over-rated. Especially by themselves.

Exhibit A: Greg Jennings. It was the same guy in purple #15 as the guy that wore #85 in green. Unless you knew that, you'd never be able to tell by watching tape. His own talent is probably somewhere in between the two extremes of what he did with a gawd-awful QB situation in Minnesota and what he did catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.

For the Packers, all that matters is whether they are good enough for Rodgers to do his thing. By that standard, they are good enough.

mike's picture

idle chit chat about nothing

Evan's picture

Welcome to the NFL off-season.

jeremy's picture

“I feel confident that when my guys go on the field, they can produce versus any defense in the NFL,” said Tolbert.

OOPS!

murphy's picture

*muted trumpet*

Lou's picture

Too bad Jennings ego took him to the Norsmen, although he was injured more his last 2 years like Nelson he was a very under rated receiver, together we would have had two #1's for a couple of years with Cobb out of the slot and it would be hard to think any trio was better. If Jones leaves Boykin appears to have the same potential (size and game speed) and don't forget the talented (but unproven) WR's on IR and the practice squad. A kid like Dorsey could be a real surprise in year 2.

MarkinMadison's picture

It was a business decision, and everyone benefitted from it. If GJ had gotten his you'd have to say goodbye to Cobb or Nelson, and both are better than GJ.

Jordan's picture

It wasn't just a business decision. It may have been business during the negotiating process, but once Jennings sister tweeted what she did, the negotiations were clearly over and their was zero chance of return.

All those media leaks/stories about Rodgers being a questionable leader disappeared after Jennings left. Coincidental of course. ;)

Nick Perry's picture

Agreed, throw in the whole Miami and warm weather crap, he was gone. Jennings didn't count on his old OC not showing interest, not even a call. Jennings spoke on how much he hated the cold. Funny thing is for the next 2 years the Vikings play their home games at TCF Field, where the Gophers play. The field is hard as a rock and was never made to play football in December and January. Just ask Brett Farve.

RunAndHyde's picture

Seahawks wr group is nowhere near the top 5. The idea that they are is honestly laughable.

ArodMoney's picture

Nice in depth analysis. Thanks for the input.

Phatgzus's picture

Bottom 5 more likely.

Ranch Tooth's picture

And when it counted the most, the Broncos receivers did nothing.

Better luck next time, fellas. Keep drinking your own Kool-Aid.

Point Packer's picture

I'm sick of seeing Wes Welker's face when I log on to CHTV.

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