Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has put up some monster numbers over the course of his career that will certainly send him to Canton, but he couldn't have done it without some great receivers along the way.
While Rodgers has enjoyed such great talents as Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, the Packers have seen several of their late-round draft choices fail miserably at the receiver position.
For every great receiver the Packers have drafted, there have been more misses than hits, which is to be expected when a team is taking receivers so late in the draft. However, when the Packers hit with a receiver, they hit big, with Nelson, Jennings and Randall Cobb being some of the more recent examples.
The tight end position has also been a source of great pass-catchers for Rodgers; although after the retirement of Jermichael Finley, the Packers were sorely missing a receiving threat from the position for a few seasons. That is, until they signed the often turbulent but talented Jared Cook to a contract during this past offseason.
A quarterback like Rodgers can make receivers better and he has certainly done that in his career. Regardless, it has been proven time and time again that not just anyone can step into an offense run by Rodgers and be successful.
We see you, Jarrett Boykin.
Without further adieu, we're going to break down every great and bad receiver Rodgers has ever played with and explain to you why each receiver has earned their respective status in Packers lore.
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16 Best: Jared Cook
Say what you want about his up-and-down play, Jared Cook is still as talented a pass-catching tight end as there is in the league when at his best. Even with some horrible quarterbacks throwing him the ball over the course of his career, Cook has still managed to put up some impressive numbers, including four seasons of 500 yards or more, as well as 16 career touchdowns prior to 2016.
Because of that fact, Cook is easily the best tight end Rodgers has had since Finley was unable to return to the team. Unfortunately for Cook, his Packers tenure didn't get off to a great start in 2016. An injury has caused him to miss a handful of games, but upon his return, he did break 100 yards and scored a touchdown. If he can ever get his head on right, Cook could be a huge weapon for the Packers.
15 Worst: Richard Rodgers
Even without a clear-cut No. 1 tight end during his time with the team, Richard Rodgers hasn't done much to establish himself as a top receiving option. Rodgers was taken in the third round of the 2014 draft and followed that up with a rookie campaign that saw him total 20 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns. When the Packers needed him in 2015 as part of a depleted receiving corps, Rodgers answered the bell with 58 receptions for 510 yards and eight touchdowns.
Just when it looked like Rodgers could be the team's No. 1 guy this season, the Packers showed their lack of confidence in him by acquiring Jared Cook as a free agent. When Cook inevitably went down with an injury early in the 2016 season, Rodgers was almost nowhere to be found and failed to make any impact in the passing game. For a third-round pick, the Packers haven't come close to getting value out of their lackluster tight end.
14 Best: Davante Adams
It took Davante Adams some time, but he's finally emerging as a top wideout for Rodgers and the Packers. Following his first two seasons in Green Bay that were marred by inconsistency, Adams has established himself as a real threat in the Packers offense and the No. 2 target behind Nelson. That's right, he's more important in the offense than Cobb at the moment.
Adams is not only on pace for double-digit receiving touchdowns, but he also might break 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Adding to that, he may finish with more receiving yards this season than he had in his previous two combined. Adams also has a few nice playoff performances under his belt, with a seven catch, 117-yard, one touchdown showing against the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFC Divisional game being his best.
13 Worst: Jarrett Boykin
The promise was certainly there for Jarret Boykin, but unfortunately, he fell off the map as expectations grew higher. Boykin had a breakout campaign in 2013 with 49 catches for 681 yards and three touchdowns, which led many to believe he'd be a major factor in the Packers' passing attack moving forward. In fact, the Packers let James Jones walk because they had faith in Boykin.
Then 2014 came. Boykin had a disastrous season with just three catches for 23 yards and no touchdowns in 13 games played. To make matters worse, Boykin dropped passes and completely lost the confidence of his quarterback as he struggled to get open. After the 2014 season concluded, the Packers decided to let Boykin test the free agent market and didn't bring back their disappointing receiver. It's obvious that as more attention was paid to Boykin, he simply couldn't handle it and was exposed as the truly below-average receiver he always was.
12 Best: James Jones
With the emergence of Jarrett Boykin in 2013, the Packers let James Jones walk despite his production at the receiver position. Granted, Jones never totaled more than 900 yards in any season, but he was normally playing second fiddle in the Packers' offense to a better receiver.
Jones notched 635 yards or more from 2010 to 2013, with his best season of his first stint with the Packers coming in 2012 when he racked up 14 touchdowns and 784 yards through the air. Jones got a second chance in 2015 after the injury to Nelson, and he made the most of it with 890 yards and eight touchdowns, six of which came in the team's first six games. Jones is one of those middle-of-the-road receivers, but he's still one of the best Rodgers has thrown to.
11 Worst: Jeff Janis
Taken in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, Janis has never amounted to much in Green Bay. During his first two seasons in the league, Janis caught four balls for 95 yards without scoring a touchdown. The 2016 season was supposed to be the year when we saw more of Janis, but so far that hasn't happened.
The injury to Eddie Lacy opened the door for Janis to get more playing time. As the team needed fellow wideout Ty Montgomery to do more out of the backfield, it was almost certain Janis would see more targets. Well, the exact opposite has happened and Janis is seeing fewer targets than he did in the middle of the season. Rodgers and Janis have had miscommunications on numerous occasions this season and that has clearly hurt the quarterback's confidence in his receiver. A great combination of speed and size, Janis clearly needs more than just his physical gifts to be a good receiver.
10 Best: Randall Cobb
Since being drafted in the second round by the Packers in 2011, Randall Cobb has always been part of a 1-2 punch with Nelson. Granted, Cobb is the Robin and Nelson is Batman, but the veteran wideout has been one hell of a Robin. Cobb's breakout season came in 2012, his sophomore season. The wideout totaled 954 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. Sadly for Cobb, he was slowed by injuries the next season and his numbers suffered as a result. Cobb totaled 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in a great comeback season in 2014.
After a season-ending injury to Nelson in 2015, Cobb took the reins as the team's best receiver left and didn't fare so well. He caught 79 passes for 829 yards and six touchdowns, which was a disappointing output for him considering the circumstances that he was the team's No. 1 receiver by default. That shouldn't have been too surprising, though. Cobb has never been a No. 1 guy and he instead flourishes as a second option. Cobb's production has fallen off again this season, but there's no denying how great he was when at his best in the past.
9 Worst: Jared Abbrederis
The Packers spent a fifth-round pick on Jared Abbrederis, but the pick never paid dividends for Green Bay. Things didn't start well for him, as the wideout missed his rookie season due to injury. In his first full season with the Packers in 2015, Abbrederis caught nine of 16 targets for 111 yards and no scores. Granted, Abbrederis didn't have great numbers, to say the least, but there was some promise shown from the young wideout.
With expectations slightly higher in 2016, Abbrederis did not answer the bell. In five games, Abbrederis corralled one of his two targets for eight yards and failed to find pay dirt. His 2016 campaign was cut short thanks to a thigh injury, and the Packers later released their former fifth-round pick with an injury settlement shortly thereafter.
8 Best: Jermichael Finley
Yes, Jermichael Finley is a tight end, but it's impossible to exclude him from a list of the best receivers Rodgers has ever had. Finley is by far the best tight end Rodgers has had the privilege of working with, which is evidenced by his three seasons with 667 receiving yards or more in six seasons with the team. Finley was also a great red zone target for Rodgers, as he notched 19 touchdowns from his sophomore season on, including eight in 2011.
Finley's best showing in the playoffs came back in 2009 when he torched the Arizona Cardinals for six catches and 159 yards in a losing effort during the NFC Wild Card game. The super talented tight end tragically had his career cut short after suffering a bruised spinal cord in 2013, which temporarily left him without movement or feeling in his extremities. The former third-round pick was later forced to undergo neck surgery and officially retired in 2015, citing the fact that he had nerve damage in his entire upper body and it wasn't safe for him to return.
7 Worst: Trevor Davis
At the start of the 2016 season, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy installed new packages into the playbook that would feature the team's speedy young receivers, one of which was Trevor Davis. The Packers took Davis in the fifth round of the 2016 draft and he has yet to make much of an impact with the team.
After seeing his snaps rise at the start of the season, Davis is nowhere to be found on the team's offense - and that's especially troubling with Janis being non-existent and Jared Abbrederis getting injured and released. While Davis has found the end zone once, he has been targeted sparingly in the passing game over the course of the season and doesn't appear to be a factor moving forward. Sure, the jury might still be out on Davis, but so far things aren't looking good.
6 Best: Greg Jennings
As Rodgers came onto the scene in 2008, he had a helping hand from Greg Jennings, who was at one point an elite receiver in the NFL. After finishing with 920 yards through the air in 13 games in his sophomore season, Jennings once again broke out for nearly 1,300 yards in 2008, his first of three 1,000-yard seasons in Green Bay. Over the three-year span, Jennings racked up 25 of his 53 career touchdowns with the Packers.
In what was perhaps his greatest contribution to the team, Jennings had a big Super Bowl XLV performance. He caught four passes for 64 yards but more importantly found the end zone twice in the game. It was just one great performance from an overall monster showing from Jennings in the playoffs that season, as he notched 21 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns altogether.
5 Worst: Brett Swain
Brett Swain was yet another example of a late-round bust for the Packers at the wide receiver position. Swain was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft and didn't catch his first pass in the NFL until 2010. In that season, Swain caught six of his nine targets for 72 yards and never reached the end zone, however, he did get a Super Bowl ring after his team won Super Bowl XLV.
After being unable to stay healthy in camp, Swain was let go by the Packers in 2011 as he was surpassed by numerous receivers, and the selection of Randall Cobb in the draft certainly didn't help, either. Swain did get another chance with the San Francisco 49ers that season, but he caught just two balls for 15 yards in five games played.
4 Best: Donald Driver
Not only was Donald Driver one of the best wide receivers Rodgers has ever played with, he's one of the best in Packers history. Driver totaled seven seasons of 1,000 yards or more during his time with the Packers, with two of those seasons coming while Rodgers was the full-time starter in 2008 and 2009. Furthermore, Driver is the team's all-time leader in both receptions and yards.
During the Packers' Super Bowl run at the end of the 2010 season, Driver posted 14 catches for 169 yards in four playoff games, including two catches for 28 yards in the big game. While Driver was on the downside of his career when Rodgers took over, he remains an elite talent at the position in franchise history and is arguably the best receiver Rodgers has ever played with.
3 Worst: Kevin Dorsey
A seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2013, Dorsey was seen as a sleeper late in the draft because of his size and special teams potential. He didn't see an NFL field until the 2014 season and it was in that season he was able to stick with the Packers' roster because of his ability to play on special teams.
Aside from that, there wasn't really much else to be excited about for Dorsey. He wasn't able to stay healthy and in the three games he played for the Packers, Dorsey caught just one pass for four yards before breaking his foot and being sent to injured reserve. Early in 2015, the Packers decided to part ways with Dorsey as McCarthy stated he wanted more from his special teams players. Dorsey never played another NFL snap.
2 Best: Jordy Nelson
A former second-round pick of the Packers in 2008, Jordy Nelson is currently one of the best wide receivers in the NFL today, and that has been the case since 2011 when he had a breakout season with 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Nelson has now recorded three seasons of 1,200 yards or more and could have had two more if he didn't miss four games in 2012 and all of the 2015 season due to injury. In 2016, Nelson is once again on his way to 1,000 yards.
Regular season success isn't the only kind Nelson has enjoyed. The star wide receiver was a force for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV. His nine receptions on 15 targets for 140 yards were tops on the team, and his touchdown reception was second to only Greg Jennings' two scores. If not for an absolutely stellar performance from Rodgers, Nelson easily could have won the game's MVP honors. If Nelson keeps up at his current pace, he will undoubtedly be one of the greatest receivers in Packers history.
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