NFC NORTH

NFC North: Which team has the best trio of receivers?

Posted Jul 5, 2013

Tim Twentyman looks at the three best receivers currently on the rosters for the Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings

The fight for the top spot in the NFC North will have a lot to do with the arms race between the four quarterbacks.

Former MVP Aaron Rodgers has been the cream of the crop in the division for the Packers since 2009.

Detroit's Matthew Stafford is considered one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and player on the rise. Jay Cutler has one of the biggest arms in the NFL and Christian Ponder is entering a make-or-break third season.

How well those four perform in 2013 will depend, in part, on how well the players catching their passes perform.

PACKERS

Projected top 3 receivers in 2013:

Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones

2012 stats:

Cobb – 80 catches, 954 yards, 8 touchdowns

Jones – 64 catches, 784 yards, 14 touchdowns

Nelson – 49 catches, 745 yards, 7 touchdowns

Comment: The Packers might have the best trio of receivers in the NFL.

Cobb had a breakout season in 2012 and could have a huge 2013 as one of Rodgers' go-to weapons. Nelson and Jones are savvy veterans. The Packers love to throw the ball down the field and all three players are deep threats.

The Packers completed 54 passes of 20-plus yards last year and 15 of those were for touchdowns.

BEARS

Projected top 3 receivers in 2013:

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett

2012 stats:

Marshall – 118 catches, 1,508 yards, 11 touchdowns

Bennett – 29 catches, 375 yards, 2 touchdowns

Jeffery – 24 catches, 367 yards, 3 touchdowns

Comment: Marshall is one of the best receivers in the NFL and he’s got great chemistry with Cutler. Jeffery dealt with a number of injuries last season that limited him to 10 games as a rookie. There’s the potential for him to a have a bounce-back season in 2013, given his size and speed, opposite Marshall.

LIONS

Projected top 3 receivers in 2013:

Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles

2012 stats:

Johnson – 122 catches, 1,964 yards, 5 touchdowns

Burleson – 27 catches, 240 yards, 2 touchdowns

Broyles – 22 catches, 310 yards, 2 touchdowns

Comment: Megatron is Megatron. The Lions need one or two guys to step up and give him a hand on the outside.

Burleson was on his way to a 50-plus-catch season before breaking his leg Week 7 and Broyles was coming on strong before he tore an ACL Week 13 vs. Indianapolis. The good news for the Lions is both Burleson and Broyles are ahead of schedule in their rehabs and are expected to be ready for Week 1.

VIKINGS

Projected top 3 receivers in 2013:

Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson

2012 stats:

Jennings (with Packers) – 36 catches, 366 yards, 4 touchdowns

Wright – 22 catches, 310 yards, 2 touchdowns

Patterson (college stats) – 46 catches, 778 yards, 5 touchdowns

Comment: The Vikings have the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson. The missing piece has really been the development of the passing game under Ponder.

The Vikings have given Ponder some nice weapons to work with in Jennings and Patterson this offseason. Add up-and-coming tight end Kyle Rudolph to the mix, and Ponder now appears to have some weapons to work with in the passing game.