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.
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 [email protected].
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