Five new QB-WR connections to keep an eye on

Great quarterback–receiver combinations just sound good together, like Manning to Harrison, or Montana to Rice.

A busy NFL offseason has created some new QB–WR combos that could put up prolific numbers. Here are five to watch:

Anquan Boldin should take the heat off Derrick Mason in Baltimore's offense.
Anquan Boldin should take the heat off Derrick Mason in Baltimore’s offense.

Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin

Why they will click: Boldin is a physical receiver willing to run routes in traffic. Flacco has the arm to throw into tight spaces. The Ravens should throw more, and with more success.

"This is the one that really jumps out at me," NFL analyst and former quarterback Joe Theismann said. "Boldin gives them a presence. I’ve felt the wide receiver position was holding them back, because they’ve never had a complement to Derrick Mason. Now they do."

After making the playoffs as a wild card the past two seasons, the Ravens think Boldin can help them win the AFC North and go farther in the postseason.

"I think Flacco is a due for a breakout year," NFL analyst Mike Mayock said. "To me, the Baltimore Ravens are a team that can win the Super Bowl next year, as long as they can hold up on the corners defensively. The thing I love about Boldin is that he fits the Ravens both on and off the field. He’s so tough, he’s so physical, he brings that veteran presence. You can’t roll everybody at Mason now."

Chad Henne to Brandon Marshall

Why they will click: With a new contract and a new home, Marshall should be poised for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. And Marshall is just 26 years old, while Henne turns 25 in July. They could have some seasons together.

"Davonne Bess is a good wide receiver, Greg Camarillo is a good wide receiver, Brian Hartline is a good wide receiver," Mayock said. "But they had nobody who could make a play. That’s why they had so many snaps out of the Wildcat, because they were trying to manufacture plays. Now that you have a Brandon Marshall, that changes their whole team, that guy on the edge who can make plays."

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts believes Marshall will be a huge asset for Henne in the red zone.

"I’ve always liked tall receivers," said Fouts, an analyst for CBS. "You get near that goal line, and you can just throw it up into the corner, or at the crossbar near the back of the end zone, and he can go get it. Marshall is a gifted player, and Henne has a strong arm. Can’t see how they won’t work well together."

Donovan McNabb to Chris Cooley

Why they will click: McNabb loves throwing to tight ends. He made L.J. Smith look better than he was, and Brent Celek enjoyed a breakout year with the Eagles catching passes from McNabb. Cooley had rapport with Jason Campbell, but McNabb is better. Fred Davis gives McNabb another viable tight end target, but Cooley should be a go-to guy.

Tony Romo to Dez Bryant

Why they will click: Joining a loaded offensive team will make it easier for Bryant to have instant impact as a rookie. Plus, Bryant was considered the draft’s best receiver, and only fell to the Cowboys at No. 24 due to concerns about some off-field issues.

"I think Dez is in a perfect situation," Mayock said. "He’s on a veteran team, surrounded by good players. Teams can’t roll coverage to him. I really believe the next two years, he’s going to have highly productive years.

"I look at Aaron Rodgers a few years back. People thought he was a top-five pick, went late first round, ends up playing behind Brett Favre, ends up on a really good football team where he doesn’t have to produce early. I look at DeSean Jackson a couple of years ago with the Eagles. He slipped for similar reasons that Dez did, off-the-field concerns. What kind of work ethic does he have? Is he going to be manageable, show up on time? He slid into the second round and became the most productive rookie receiver in the NFL. A lot of times when kids fall, it ends up working out for the better."

Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes

Why they will click: Holmes has been a Super Bowl MVP and is motivated to prove the Steelers made a mistake by trading him away. After serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Holmes will become Sanchez’s favorite target.

"Holmes has got a little bit of that diva personality, but there’s no question he’ll help that team," Mayock said. "For that team to take another step, they’ve got to get a little more balance. They run the ball and they play great defense. Mark Sanchez has to take another step, and they’ve got to get a little bit better throwing the football. Now you’ve got a guy who can stretch the field a little bit, and along with (Jerricho) Cotchery and (Braylon) Edwards, that’s a pretty good group of guys."

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Great quarterback–receiver combinations just sound good together, like Manning to Harrison, or Montana to Rice.

A busy NFL offseason has created some new QB–WR combos that could put up prolific numbers. Here are five to watch:

Anquan Boldin should take the heat off Derrick Mason in Baltimore's offense.
Anquan Boldin should take the heat off Derrick Mason in Baltimore’s offense.

Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin

Why they will click: Boldin is a physical receiver willing to run routes in traffic. Flacco has the arm to throw into tight spaces. The Ravens should throw more, and with more success.

"This is the one that really jumps out at me," NFL analyst and former quarterback Joe Theismann said. "Boldin gives them a presence. I’ve felt the wide receiver position was holding them back, because they’ve never had a complement to Derrick Mason. Now they do."

After making the playoffs as a wild card the past two seasons, the Ravens think Boldin can help them win the AFC North and go farther in the postseason.

"I think Flacco is a due for a breakout year," NFL analyst Mike Mayock said. "To me, the Baltimore Ravens are a team that can win the Super Bowl next year, as long as they can hold up on the corners defensively. The thing I love about Boldin is that he fits the Ravens both on and off the field. He’s so tough, he’s so physical, he brings that veteran presence. You can’t roll everybody at Mason now."

Chad Henne to Brandon Marshall

Why they will click: With a new contract and a new home, Marshall should be poised for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. And Marshall is just 26 years old, while Henne turns 25 in July. They could have some seasons together.

"Davonne Bess is a good wide receiver, Greg Camarillo is a good wide receiver, Brian Hartline is a good wide receiver," Mayock said. "But they had nobody who could make a play. That’s why they had so many snaps out of the Wildcat, because they were trying to manufacture plays. Now that you have a Brandon Marshall, that changes their whole team, that guy on the edge who can make plays."

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts believes Marshall will be a huge asset for Henne in the red zone.

"I’ve always liked tall receivers," said Fouts, an analyst for CBS. "You get near that goal line, and you can just throw it up into the corner, or at the crossbar near the back of the end zone, and he can go get it. Marshall is a gifted player, and Henne has a strong arm. Can’t see how they won’t work well together."

Donovan McNabb to Chris Cooley

Why they will click: McNabb loves throwing to tight ends. He made L.J. Smith look better than he was, and Brent Celek enjoyed a breakout year with the Eagles catching passes from McNabb. Cooley had rapport with Jason Campbell, but McNabb is better. Fred Davis gives McNabb another viable tight end target, but Cooley should be a go-to guy.

Tony Romo to Dez Bryant

Why they will click: Joining a loaded offensive team will make it easier for Bryant to have instant impact as a rookie. Plus, Bryant was considered the draft’s best receiver, and only fell to the Cowboys at No. 24 due to concerns about some off-field issues.

"I think Dez is in a perfect situation," Mayock said. "He’s on a veteran team, surrounded by good players. Teams can’t roll coverage to him. I really believe the next two years, he’s going to have highly productive years.

"I look at Aaron Rodgers a few years back. People thought he was a top-five pick, went late first round, ends up playing behind Brett Favre, ends up on a really good football team where he doesn’t have to produce early. I look at DeSean Jackson a couple of years ago with the Eagles. He slipped for similar reasons that Dez did, off-the-field concerns. What kind of work ethic does he have? Is he going to be manageable, show up on time? He slid into the second round and became the most productive rookie receiver in the NFL. A lot of times when kids fall, it ends up working out for the better."

Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes

Why they will click: Holmes has been a Super Bowl MVP and is motivated to prove the Steelers made a mistake by trading him away. After serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Holmes will become Sanchez’s favorite target.

"Holmes has got a little bit of that diva personality, but there’s no question he’ll help that team," Mayock said. "For that team to take another step, they’ve got to get a little more balance. They run the ball and they play great defense. Mark Sanchez has to take another step, and they’ve got to get a little bit better throwing the football. Now you’ve got a guy who can stretch the field a little bit, and along with (Jerricho) Cotchery and (Braylon) Edwards, that’s a pretty good group of guys."

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*