The NFL Network has been talking about which team has the best group of receivers over the last few days, and that has sparked a great deal of debate. There are a few teams in the discussion, but the Denver Broncos have to be at the top of the list.
In 2012, Peyton Manning threw for almost 4,700 yards with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas as his primary targets. The argument can be made that even with Brandon Stokley last season the Broncos had a top five group in the league.
Now with the free agent addition of Wes Welker, there can be little debate. I understand the view that it might take Manning and Welker a little to get onto the same page, but I’m just not buying it. These are two of the hardest workers in the NFL, and by the time the season opens their chemistry will be there.
Welker has been played most of his career with another franchise quarterback in Tom Brady. Something tells me that a lot of the routes he runs with the Broncos are not going to be that different from what he ran with the New England Patriots. Manning was on the same page with Decker and Thomas by week six of the 2012 season, and that was coming off of an injury and adjusting to a new team.
Now that Manning is comfortable and in complete control of the Broncos offense, adding Welker should be very smooth. Manning and Welker will have the rest of the OTAs (offseason training activities), a June mini-camp, training camp and preseason games. By the time the Baltimore Ravens come to town on September 5th, Manning to Welker will be second nature.
It’s difficult to believe, but I still think Thomas doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a number one receiver. He has the size and the speed that is only matched by Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. I’m not saying Thomas is in the same class as Johnson, but he has the same physical tools. It baffles me when people list the top five receivers in the league and don’t list him. He is easily one of the best and will face more single coverage with the addition of Welker.
If teams somehow manage to cover Thomas and Welker on the same play, then Decker is likely going to be open. Decker may not blind anyone with his speed or wow anyone with his physical size, but he seems to be open a lot. In 2013, he is likely to be matched up versus a third cornerback or a safety. I’ll take Decker everyday in those matchups.
If forced to, I would have the Packers second followed by the Seahawks. The Patriots will be good, they always are, but the loss of Welker and other receivers will hurt. They are also facing injury concerns with their tight ends which are their bread and butter in the passing game.
The one thing all of these teams have in common is an elite quarterback, and the Broncos are no different, obviously. Manning turned no names into names while playing for the Indianapolis Colts, and now he has the best supporting cast he has ever had at the receiver position.
Records fall when great players are put into great situations; that describes the Broncos’ receivers in 2013.
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