Packers Have Best Receiving Corps in NFL

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Interesting article this morning in the Journal-Sentinel on the Packers’ receivers.  The article focuses on Donald Driver and notes that opposing defenses still treat him as the top receiving threat.  I think that’s crazy — did these defensive coordinators watch Greg Jennings last year? — but I’m not complaining.  We are better off if teams try to cover Jennings with their second best corner and double-team Driver.

But the article triggered a thought I’ve been having for quite some time: The Packers have the best five-deep receiving corps in the NFL and I don’t think anyone is close.  Here is Driver on that point: “If they get to the point where they stop me and Greg, I promise you James Jones and Ruvell Martin and Jordy Nelson will take care of business. I promise you that one.  No one can stop us, we can only stop ourselves. And we know that.”

There’s a lot of chest-puffing in that comment, of course, but I think it’s true.  We still don’t know how good Jordy Nelson will be but if the Ted Thompson track record is any indication, he could be quite good.  But let’s assume for the sake of discussion that he ends up being just a guy — average or a little above average.  Driver, although older, still has the waterbug-like elusiveness that has taken him from the 7th round to the Pro Bowl.  Jennings is smooth, he runs crisp routes and he has obvious football speed beyond his 40 times.  Although he’s not nearly as physical, I would group him with Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall in terms of what he can do after the catch.  James Jones is solid, not spectacular, and after he got over the drops early last season went on to be one of the most productive rookie WRs last year.  He always seems to be in the right place and he, too, has shown that he can elude defenders after the catch.  Ruvell Martin is without question the best #4 WR in the league.  All he does is make plays — and usually at crucial times in the game.  He, like James Jones, would be a starting wide receiver on probably half of the current NFL rosters.  (Off the top of my head: Cleveland (w/o Donte Stallworth), St. Louis, Seattle, Tennessee, Atlanta, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland, Tampa.)

There are only two receiving corps that come close: Arizona and Indianapolis.  Arizona has Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, of course, in my view the best two starting receivers in the league.  I think Steve Breaston is actually going to be a very good #3.  I like Jerheme Urban, formerly of the Seahawks, and we don’t yet know how good Early Doucet will be.  In Indy, Reggie Wayne is solid and Anthony Gonzalez might be the best #3 receiver in the league.  But Marvin Harrison is banged up and even the most devoted fantasy football freaks cannot name their #4 and #5 receivers.  (Roy Hall and Pierre Garcon.)

Bottom line: I wouldn’t do a wholesale swap of receivers with any other NFL team.

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6 Responses to “Packers Have Best Receiving Corps in NFL”

  1. joshywoshybigfatposhy Says:

    i have a kind of cautious appreciation for the fact that these guys, especially the 3,4 and 5 (i suppose the 5 is a rookie this year) guys don’t whine and moan about getting enough attention or passes. they really seem to take pride in being such a good unit. i realize though, that part of that is being so young – and it will probably not last too long.

    but part of it is being led by such a quality guy in driver. when your #1 was a 7th rounder, and scrapped his way to the top to be one of the most consistently (and surprisingly i think, to people around the league) elite receivers out there, that helps keep young guys in line. as long as jennings, jones, martin and nelson don’t go walker on us – we should be set for the long haul. and part of my appreciation comes from the fact that i don’t think these guys will. they seem to also be, as hayes would put it, ‘quality.’ not ‘quality guys,’ not ‘high-quality character players’. just quality.

    still, i think that the probability of at least one of them pursuing a starting job elsewhere for more money skyrockets when driver retires. even if jennings becomes the #1 in a year or two and driver slides down the ladder a bit (which i think is the best case scenario given the inevitable slowness of oldness and creakness and bangedupness), this group is going nowhere but up if it stays together.

    it proves the value of drafting well even more – relatively normal guys don’t usually get greedy until they’ve proven (proved/proven?) something, and that usually takes 2-3 or so years. keep drafting well, and you’ll have good players who just do their job and even worry a bit about the next youngster coming in to challenge them for it. it’s why the patriots can keep saying “so long” to veterans who seem indispensable to the outsider. when you have three 22 year-olds waiting for the spot, chances are – one of them will be able to perform.

  2. MC Says:

    I think they’re definitely up there as a group, No. 1 or No. 2 in the league. What I find most exciting about them is that they’ll reach out and snare bad passes, a far cry from the days of, say, Bill Schroeder, who never pleasantly surprised anyone with such a catch.

    These guys get separation, they make big plays, they catch poorly-thrown balls…several times a game they make me smile…

  3. verno329 Says:

    While I think Jennings is the best of the lot, Driver is the one who sets the tone for the way our receivers play. As joshywoshybigfatposhy points out

    “when your #1 was a 7th rounder, and scrapped his way to the top to be one of the most consistently (and surprisingly i think, to people around the league) elite receivers out there, that helps keep young guys in line.”

    I find Driver similar to Hines Ward, not in playing style but in the way that the way that they set the tone for their position on the team. If you want to be a wide receiver on the Steelers you have to be willing to block downfield, play hard all the time, and give it your all in practice. If you don’t want to do that you will not last with the Steelers as a receiver. Driver has the same type of effect on the Packers receivers. He has established the type of effort and commitment that is needed to be a receiver in Green Bay. To me that is how he is most valuable to us. Thanks DD!

  4. ScottinDC Says:

    I think one of the best characteristics of our receiving corp is their unselfishness. WRs tend to be the biggest hotheads in the game, both on and off the field. Take a moment and think of the 5 NFL players (current and former) that rankle you most. I gaurantee you that at least 3 of them will be WRs. If not, well, I owe you a beer! My point is, it’s rare for a team to have a corp that gets along as well as ours. An example, the James Jones touchdown against Detroit. The intended target was Jennings, but Jones jumped in front of it and made a nice grab. Jennings was the first guy to congratulate him! Now, let’s say Tony Romo has just fired off a pass for TO in the back of the end zone and Patrick Clayton jumps in front. He’d probably have a smile on his face, but TO would pull Clayton to the corner of the end zone and lecture him. Granted, TO and Dallas constitute an extreme example, but I think it holds up for most other teams as well!

  5. daveK Says:

    Jenning was a guest on Driver’s show last week. You can tell they get along and it wasn’t just for the show. I was very impressed with Jennings. You can just tell the guy is smart and humble. It would make me extremely happy if Thompson were to use a good chunk of the cap space to extend him for a few years even though he has a few years left on his current deal.

  6. Aaron Says:

    daveK: You can rest assured that Jennings will get an extension before the end of the year.

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