Each Friday this offseason, Audibles will pit two players head-to-head in an attempt to figure out which one will have a better 2013 season. We'll then take it to Twitter, to get your opinions on the debate.
The showdown for our inaugural toss-up: Green Bay WR Randall Cobb vs. Seattle WR Percy Harvin.
Randall Cobb: The Packers' do-everything threat raised his game during his sophomore season in the league, totaling a league-leading 2,392 all-purpose. That number included 964 yards on kick returns plus team-bests in receptions (80) and receiving yards (954).
Cobb very well could be Aaron Rodgers' No. 1 target again in 2013, especially with Greg Jennings having moved on to Minnesota. The Packers were creative last season with how they used Cobb out of the slot, and his dynamic presence should take pressure off the revamped run game -- and vice versa. Should new arrivals Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin help Green Bay crank up its ground attack, Cobb could find even more open space, and he excels with the ball in his hands.
Percy Harvin: The Seahawks' trade for Harvin still stands as one of the offseason's biggest stories. The 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year struggled with injuries last season but still averaged 149.7 total yards per game in his nine outings.
Seattle still has to decide if it wants to use Harvin as a kick returner, where he's proven extremely dangerous (he has at least one return TD in each of his four seasons, with three of longer than 100 yards). Either way, he'll jump into the slot for the Seahawks' offense and should soar past Sidney Rice's 2012 team-leading 50 receptions. Harvin also recently told the Seattle Times that he'll play "a little bit of running back" in 2013. The thought of Harvin, QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch combining to run the option might make defensive coordinators sick.
Harvin, assuming he can stay on the field for 16 games. This is a tough one with which to start our toss-up series off, because both Harvin and Cobb are set up to have monster 2013 seasons and it would not be a surprise to see them in the MVP race come winter.
The Seahawks have not really had a sure-fire No. 1 receiver for some time -- Darrell Jackson, with three seasons of more than 1,000 yards from 2001-04 might have been the closest this millennium. Harvin further opens up an already dangerous offense and, with the Seahawks' backfield causing so many headaches, should find ample room to catch and run.
The other factors that tipped the scales, ever so slightly, in Harvin's direction: Green Bay's attempt to bolster its run game (meaning less need for Cobb in the backfield) and the plethora of other weapons Rodgers has available. While Lynch is a legitimate star at running back, Seattle's other pass catchers are average at best. Compare that to Green Bay, which still employs Jordy Nelson (nearly 1,300 yards receiving in 2011), James Jones (64 catches and 14 touchdowns last season) and TE Jermichael Finley (61 receptions in '12).
An argument could be made that Rodgers' elite passing ability ought to push Cobb ahead of Harvin. But the flip side there is that Rodgers loves to spread the ball around and does so at will. Russell Wilson, in year two as Seattle's starter, will rely on Harvin to carry the passing attack.
You can't really go wrong here. This duo should be among the NFL's most electrifying players this season. And both Harvin and Cobb will see plenty of touches in their respective offenses.
The Fans Speak
@chrisburke_si Cobb. Catching passes from the best QB in the game, two years of practice, no Jennings, no migraines.
— Jeff Borrelli (@commayef) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si Seattle ranked 31st in defensive snaps and only 29th in offensive snaps as well. More opportunity for Cobb.
— Alexander Taylor (@takingbackoj) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si From a Seahawks fan: probably Cobb. Seahawks are run-first team with Lynch and Michael. Cobb likely will get more chances.
— 12th Man Rising (@12thMan_Rising) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si Cobb. Increased targets without Jennings. Probably 120+. Packers spread will provide Cobb plenty of YAC opportunities/space.
— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si Harvin. Was real close for me before the Packers took Lacy and Franklin. Backfield snaps gone now for Cobb. Lot of mouths...
— Alessandro Miglio (@AlexMiglio) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si Statistical: Cobb. Overall: Harvin.
— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) May 24, 2013
@chrisburke_si Harvin. With that offense Harvin can best use his skills from playing RB at Florida in that read-option offense and speed. — Andrew Tomlinson (@drew_tomlinson) May 24, 2013