Ranking each NFC North team’s best WR
By Matt Urben
Comparing each NFC North team’s best receiver heading into 2016
1. Alshon Jeffery
Bears 2015 Stats:
54 Catches 807 Yards 4 Touchdowns
Alshon Jeffery has become the top receiver in the NFC North’s after Calvin Johnson’s retirement. He put up decent numbers in just nine games last season. When healthy, he has shown to be a prototypical number-one receiver. His production was good enough for the Bears to trade Brandon Marshall before last season. Quarterback Jay Cutler has developed great chemistry with Jeffery, particularly with the deep ball. The team drafted receiver Kevin White in the 1st-round of the 2015 draft, but White missed his entire rookie campaign with an injury. Jeffery should benefit from White’s presence next season. If he can stay healthy, expect top-10 wide receiver production from Jeffery in 2016.
2. Jordy Nelson
Packers 2015 Stats:
0 Catches 0 Yards 0 Touchdowns
Nelson missed last season after suffering an ACL injury in the Preseason. Still, in the previous seasons he had established himself as one of the best receivers in all of football. I was tempted to put Golden Tate in this spot, but Tate has only had one 1,000+ yard season in his career and Nelson has had 3. Assuming he comes back healthy, he could have another monster year as Aaron Rodgers’ top target. Nelson has always had great breakaway speed and there is some concern he may have lost some of it due to the severity of his injury. We will have to wait to see if he looks like the old Jordy in 2016.
3. Golden Tate
Lions 2015 Stats:
90 Catches 813 Yards 6 Touchdowns
Tate will finally get his chance to be the lead dog in the Lions’ offense next season. In 2014, he had over 1,300 yards but fell back to earth last year, with a healthier Megatron stealing his touches. Now that Johnson has retired, Tate should have a slight lead over Marvin Jones as Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. Tate is Y.A.C. machine and is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands. His smaller frame makes him especially elusive in the open field. Expect numbers similar to his 2014 season, with a chance to prove he’s the NFC North’s best WR.
4. Stefon Diggs
Vikings 2015 Stats:
52 Catches 720 Yards 4 Touchdowns
Diggs came out of nowhere last season to be the Vikings’ leading receiver. As a 5th-round rookie, he more than exceeded expectations. This year’s first-round draft pick, Laquon Treadwell, will fight Diggs for catches next season and is a more polished overall receiver. It’s too soon to write off Diggs, however, as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has developed good chemistry with him. He has decent size and great speed. Diggs will have to prove last year wasn’t a fluke and avoid any kind of sophomore slump to remain on this list.