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.