Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, and he will go down in history as one of the greatest to ever play the position with innovation. We have been spoiled over the last generation or so by outstanding play behind center if you think about Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and of course Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre. But Brady is still playing so how can Rodgers be considered the best!?!? Well, I will tell you why so R-E-L-A-X. Rodgers has the keen ability to make something out of nothing while Brady executes his system almost flawlessly. Of course, Rodgers also proves he can run an offense better than most, but if you need the occasional offsides on the defense to be called, or Hail Mary to be answered, or risky prophecy to eerily ring true then the excitement factor usually leans in the Packers’ direction.
Rodgers set records at the University of California – big whoop, everyone sets records in college – but now he continues his success in the NFL with amazing feats. We’re not talking about famed MVP’s and Super Bowl’s here, but rather passer ratings and touchdown-to-interception ratios that will never be matched. Ahh, that’s the good nerdy stuff.
He was drafted in 2005, and after watching and learning form one of the great gunslingers the NFL has ever had, the aforementioned Brett Favre, he was ripe and ready to take over in 2008. After a debut season where he eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and threw 28 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions, a star was immediately introduced to the league and there has been no looking back. He’s earned his status, and because of that he requires the best his receivers can offer in hard work and reliability. With that being said, not everyone can be Jordy Nelson. Here are the top 15 receivers that Rodgers would hate to have running routes.
17 Cole Beasley
The modern era of football has introduced the importance of a slot receiver and the skill of undersized men. Well, let’s be clear, undersized in the NFL is still bigger than most people so despite the fact that you think you can play the position better or beat up one of these receivers, you are surely mistaken. Cole Beasley is one of these undersized slot receivers we’re talking about. Julian Edleman was the new Wes Welker and now Beasley is the new Edleman – except lacking the Boston boxer-like attitude. These pass-catchers are known for their intelligence and route perfection. However, Welker and Edleman have been known to drop the ball, but the reason Beasley makes the top 15 is because he’s too precise in his business. That is certainly not a flaw, but when Rodgers is outside the pocket improvising then he expects his receivers to do the same, and not get clobbered in the process.
16 Terrell Owens
Let’s start out with the fact that Terrell Owens played for the Packers’ two most hated rivals outside their division: the 49ers and the Cowboys. Now, let’s move on to the obvious: Owens is impossible to deal with. During his career he always had something to say, some reasoning behind his lack of production, and was always craving attention on and off the field – especially in the form of interviews during ab workouts. Even if Owens played with Aaron Rodgers he would still complain about not getting the ball, and Rodgers has been known to share the wealth. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished; if you’re open then Rodgers will find you, and if you’re not running your routes correctly he won’t. Owens was incredibly skillful, and relied a lot on his athleticism, but he was prone to drop the ball, and if you’re going to talk the talk you better catch the catch.
15 Randy Moss
This is definitely a stretch because Randy Moss is one of the greatest receivers of all time. He was a rare breed during his playing years, a combination of strength, size, agility, and speed. So why wouldn’t one of the greatest want to throw to one of the greatest? Three reasons: his attitude, the competitive nature of great athletes, and his ties to the Vikings. The two former claims were partially fixed during his brief stint in New England. Bill Belichick doesn’t stand for attitude issues and the competitiveness was trumped (am I allowed to use trumped still?) by the temptation of an undefeated Super Bowl run led by Tom Brady that eventually fell one game short. I remember when LeBron James decided to form the super group in South Beach and got heat (no pun intended) from greats such as Michael Jordan. You want to beat these guys; it’s not fun for the league and it’s not fun for the fans outside that certain city if a win is almost automatic. Why would Moss and Rodgers want to be on the same team anyway when they played for NFC North rivals? Not at the same time of course, but colors run deep.
14 Doug Baldwin
Speaking of rivalries, Aaron Rodgers attended the University of California and Doug Baldwin attended the Golden Bears’ enemy, Stanford. Okay, they probably aren’t enemies – maybe Stanford’s band still has some hard feelings, but that was kind of their fault running onto the field when the game wasn’t over, and being in music they should have been aware that the fat lady had yet to sing. When people think of Stanford and UC-Berkeley it’s usually more of an educational rivalry; like which program is going to advance the world technologically or something booky like that. However, the athletic programs are just as competitive and though Rodgers and Baldwin didn’t attend school at the same time, there is still some sort of deep-rooted competitiveness there. Also, Baldwin has performed well against the Packers when it counts so there may also be a little jealousy between the two Super Bowl winners, and a will to out duel the other every year.
13 Calvin Johnson
Though his career was cut short for personal reasons, Calvin Johnson was great in his time; probably the most unstoppable receiver in the league. However, he played on the Lions, and though Matthew Stafford is a very good quarterback and would rely heavily on his wideout, the rest of the team just couldn’t push Detroit to the next level. Maybe Johnson was just burnt out. One thing that is surprising though is that Johnson actually did have an issue with dropping the ball, something Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t be a fan of. This, however, is explainable. You try catching every pass thrown your way when you’re being double-covered and targeted almost every play. The guy never got a break; he was constantly swarmed by pesky defensive backs, but yet Stafford could only really throw to his star… and somehow they still were able to accomplish a lot. No wonder he is one of the few NFL players who wish to stay retired. He can’t play with Rodgers because he's no longer able to, plus Lions and Packers just don’t mix well together.
12 DeSean Jackson
Where to begin, where to begin? DeSean Jackson is a diva. His attitude has always needed an adjustment, but that's just the kind of player he has become and will remain; his personality would clash with Aaron Rodgers. He’s careless. His game in Dallas as a young member of the Eagles proves that point; Rodgers would not appreciate the antics especially considering the quarterback works incredibly hard to make plays happen and probably doesn’t like things ruined by stupidity. He’s too small for a Rodgers-like long ball. The prominent deep threat for almost the last decade in the NFL wouldn’t be able to go up and grab a Hail Mary; Rodgers wouldn’t be throwing it his way though, just everybody’s way. He’s running out of words. His mouth gets him in trouble, but not getting him the ball gets quarterbacks in trouble; he won’t be happy until 100% of targets are in his direction. To sum up, the two wouldn’t keep each other happy even though they're both Cal alums.
11 Antonio Brown
This is definitely an odd choice for this list because other than Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown is the best receiver in football. However, it’s about happiness as stated above. On the other hand, this is a different type of happiness, committed relationship-type happiness. I know, that phrase seems like somewhat of an oxymoron; seriously, who is actually happy in a committed relationship – liars, that’s who. The special bond that Brown and Ben Roethlisberger have is seemingly unbreakable; it’s come to the point where it’s kind of weird and creepy actually. The two are on the same page constantly while running the Pittsburgh offense and Aaron Rodgers would hate to be the guy to come between them; he just doesn’t seem to be the homewrecker-type. Plus, he has Olivia Munn so that’s pretty cool. I think we’re getting off track here. Rodgers and Brown: a great match, but already with better-suited partners.
10 Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant has standards. He expects every player on the field to match his emotional energy which is pretty much borderline insane. Aaron Rodgers is also emotional, but in a more cool and controlled fashion. When you can guarantee winning the rest of your regular season games or tell the media to “relax” and that everything is fine during a losing streak then you’re a pretty cool customer. Bryant is not cool and not controlled; he wants the ball and if he doesn’t get it then he is definitely going to let the quarterback know, as well as the media, and probably his family, pets, neighbors, and neighbor’s pets as well. That would be the case with Rodgers – in fact, it used to be the case with everyone other than Tony Romo… and even Tony Romo! Whether it’s a back shoulder throw, a corner fade, or a deep bomb, everything Bryant loves to catch can be accurately thrown by Rodgers, but that doesn’t mean he would always look his way.
8 Amari Cooper
Let’s get one thing straight with this list: there are plenty of worse receivers in the NFL – present and past – who Aaron Rodgers would definitely not want to throw the ball too, but the point is to bring attention to players you have actually heard of instead of the Johnny Holton’s of the world. He’s on the Raiders (as of now) by the way. His teammate, Amari Cooper, is a very good receiver, but can be inconsistent at times – I would know, he was on my fantasy team this year. He runs his routes very well, but we know Rodgers likes to improvise, but Cooper has also had an issue with drops already in his young career. Of course, he is getting better each season which is scary for the AFC West and the rest of the league, but that is in large part to the progression of Derek Carr as well. They are a budding duo in the league; another breakup Rodgers wouldn’t want to be a part of.
7 Michael Crabtree
Speaking of the Raiders, and speaking of drops, Michael Crabtree is involved with both. He was an excellent college receiver – how could someone forget the great play against Texas at the buzzer in 2008, solidifying Texas Tech as a power program during his tenure – and he is turning into a solid WR2 or slot in the NFL, but he does have a problem hanging on to the ball at times. The good thing is that like Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr enjoys spreading the ball around. The bad thing is that you have to make the most of your opportunities. Also, and this isn’t just a Crabtree thing, but more of a receiver thing in general, if you catch a pass (finally, for some) then just go back to the huddle and run the next play instead of acting like you’re the most talented and important player who has ever graced the field. We get it, you did what you’re paid to do, you’re such a bad ass.
6 Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron is a Detroit Lion. That’s good enough reason for Aaron Rodgers to hate the thought of having the tight end in yellow and green. However, a more valid reason is that Ebron drops a lot of balls, and Rodgers relies on his tight ends as a safe bet when a play is needed. Ebron doesn’t catch his targets about 9% of the time which isn’t bad by all means – I drop pens, keys, and my phone like ten times a day – but a reliable receiver or tight end should be hauling in almost all the balls thrown in their direction. It may seem a little outlandish to ask so much from a person who is supposed to catch a football and is paid a lot of money to do so, but football is a lot tougher and riskier than what people who have never played in the NFL know, so of course we can give the guy some slack.
4 Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas has been in the top 10 for drops from 2012-2016, and of course has made the Pro Bowl four of those five seasons. With that being said, he’s obviously a good receiver and drops are really something that don’t matter to anyone. The percentage is small really, and with all joking aside, these players make up for the occasional “whoopsie” with great catches, scores, blocks, and runs… and then some. However, there’s a trust issue; it’s kind of like a girl kissing another guy when you’re just dating, but now that you’re married it’s really not a big deal, yet it’s still in the back of your mind for some dumb reason even though they’ve done so much more for you since. I mean, Thomas was dropping balls that Peyton Manning was throwing his way and he puts them right where they need to be. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t like dropped balls; it’s that simple.
3 Mike Evans
There’s a trend starting here. Mike Evans is one of the good young receivers in the NFL and is becoming more dominant each year. He’s tall and strong and athletic, but once again it comes down to catching everything thrown your way. There is a saying, an unwritten rule to receiving that if you can get your hands on the ball then you should be able to catch it – at a professional level at least. Evans led the league in drops in 2015 and is top ten again this year, but at least he’s getting better. We also have to give him the benefit of the doubt because Jameis Winston is also getting better so maybe not every ball thrown Evans’ way was perfect. They will develop into a very good duo each and every season, but Aaron Rodgers would probably prefer more sure-handed receivers on his Green Bay core.
2 Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn Jr. is an exciting player, and always has been from high school to college to the pros. He’s also a difference maker – there’s no telling what would have happened if he didn’t hurt himself after returning the opening kickoff against Florida for a touchdown in the 2007 BCS Championship Game. His dynamic returns change games, his speed is always a threat for the long ball, and his legs can be utilized on reverses and trick plays. With that being said, he certainly stumbles a lot and drops the ball even more. Ginn is either great or below-average, there’s no real in-between. Aaron Rodgers would love to have the great Ginn on his team, but would hate the below-average Ginn because he’s just not reliable. Maybe something can be worked out if Ginn stuck to the special teams and Rodgers threw to other people, but that’s for the front offices to talk about.
1 Brandon Marshall
Oh geez, this guy. Brandon Marshall is something else – he’s got attitude, he’s got a mouth on him, and he’s got prima donna swagger. I believe he’s matured over the years, but everything Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want in a receiver can be found in Marshall. Thing first: Dropped Balls. Since 2010, Marshall has been in the top five of dropped balls every year except one (2014, which was an incredibly reliable year for some odd reason). Thing second: His Personality. The guy lets everyone know what everyone else’s problem is. Thing third: He was a Bear. Being a rival is the third strike. At this rate we are bound to discover that Marshall is lactose intolerant and just breathing the Wisconsin air – which is obviously full of cheese fumes – would make the receiver sick. Now why would Aaron Rodgers want to play with a receiver who is sick during home games all the time? Are we crazy to assume? Probably.