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As part of the lead up to the 2011 NFL season, CHARGED will be rolling out a daily "Make Your Choice" post. We will pit two guys who play the same position against each other, make our choice, and ask you to contribute your choice in the comments section.
Today we are looking at two of the best receivers in the NFC East, DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants. Jackson will be entering his fourth season and Nicks his third but both have already established themselves as top receivers in the NFC. Jackson helped get the Eagles into the playoffs with an electrifying punt return against the Giants. Nicks and the Giants could only sit and watch the playoffs as they just missed the cut at 10-6.
Here were their numbers last season:
Jackson - 14 games started, 47 catches, 1056 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
Nicks - 12 games started, 79 catches, 1052 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
But this isn't about the past. Giants fans can move on from that devastating punt return and start focusing on the new season about to start because our choice is Hakeem Nicks and here's why:
1. 3rd Down Conversions -
Any football analyst will tell you the ability to convert on third down is one of the key stats in determining team success. When it comes to these receivers, Nicks is much more valuable on third down. Nicks finished 17th in the NFC last season with 13 catches on third down that moved the chains. Jackson doesn't crack the top 25 and in fact teammate Jason Avant led the Eagles in third down conversions.
Some other telling stats related to being a quality receiver third down also give Nicks the edge over Jackson. Nicks had a 24% target percentage good for 12th in the NFL. Jackson's target percentage was 17.5% which places him as the 37th best in the NFL. Jackson also had a 19% drop percentage ranking him 104th in that category for wide receivers.
2. Red Zone -
DeSean Jackson is a big play receiver, probably the most dangerous one in the NFL. He's not good on third down and he's really bad in the red zone. Teams can't rely on the home run bomb to win games and this is another reason why Nicks is the choice.
Hakeem Nicks was third in the NFL last season with seven red zone touchdowns. Nicks finished behind tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten so he was actually tops in the category for wide receivers. Jackson had one red zone touchdown. In fact, Jackson only had four total catches in the red zone for eight yards. Nicks had more red zone touchdowns than Jackson had total TDs (6), and more TDs than Jackson's total red zone receptions (4).
3. Protecting the Football -
DeSean Jackson had 4 fumbles last year and has 11 in his three year NFL career. Nicks fumbled once last season, and only three times in his two year NFL career. The bottom line is Jackson averages more fumbles a season than Nicks has in his whole career. Protecting the football is key and a wide receiver fumbling can be especially costly.
So there you have it. The top three reasons why if we were an NFL GM we'd take Hakeem Nicks before DeSean Jackson. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below. Tomorrow we'll be looking at two AFC running backs, Darren McFadden and Ray Rice.
*Disclaimer: before Eagles fans go and accuse me of being a homer because I'm from New York, it should be known I'm a Cowboys fan and hate the Giants and Eagles equally.