ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson put together a list ranking the league’s true No. 1 receivers, and what’s interesting is the Chicago Bears are the only team considered to have two top targets with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Here is a list of Williamson’s criteria for a true No. 1 receiver:
They need to have the ability to separate from man coverage, understand how to find the soft spots in zones and have very strong athletic traits.
They need to be strong, fast and play big, which often -- but not always -- can eliminate shorter wide receivers from this equation.
They must be productive, even when opposing defenses are scheming to take them out of the equation; No. 1 receivers can be uncoverable and never come off the field.
They must display the above traits with consistency.
Certainly Marshall and Jeffery possess all the above attributes, which is why Chicago should finish among the top 10 in offense in 2014.
Williamson lists Jeffery in the category of "Freaks of nature, but a step below Calvin Johnson" and ranks him No. 9, below A.J. Green at No. 4, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas.
Williamson writes: Jeffery didn't eclipse 51 receiving yards in Chicago's first three games and also had three other outings in which he had fewer than 60 yards receiving, but he was utterly dominant against the Saints and Vikings. Still a little up-and-down, the 24-year-old has rare size and body control for such a big man. He also has very strong hands.
Only Gordon and Calvin Johnson averaged more yards per catch than Jeffery in 2013. Jeffrey was the Bears' most feared receiver by the end of his second NFL season.
As for Marshall, Williamson lists him among the “Oldies but still very goodies” at No. 10 on the list.
Williamson writes: Drops were a problem for Marshall in 2013, which has been a recurring theme throughout his career, but he caught 100 passes (for the fifth time in his career) and scored 12 touchdowns. Marshall attacks the football in the air and is a very aggressive ball carrier once it is secured.
Marshall just turned 30 years old, but his style of game should translate for some time, and he is showing zero signs of slowing down.
What’s even more encouraging about Marshall is he’s participating fully in a conditioning program right now after finishing the season pretty much injury free. If you remember last offseason, Marshall was recovering from arthroscopic hip surgery. Without the hip being a hindrance to training now, Marshall should come back an even better player in 2014.