Between Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, the late-1990s and early-2000s produced some of the greatest NFL quarterbacks in history. But maybe the best of them all is the 32-year-old gunslinger in Green Bay, who is already statistically putting together some of the best passing numbers ever.
Since Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Packers in 2005, his stat line almost seems fake. In 12 seasons, he's thrown for 32,399 yards and 257 touchdowns, which rank 35th and 17th all-time, while completing an absurd 65.1% of his passes. Of his more than 4,000 pass attempts, 6.4% have gone for touchdowns, while only 1.6%, or 65 passes, were intercepted. He has a nearly 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his 104.1 career passing rating is currently the highest in NFL history.
What's even more impressive is that the two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion has largely done his damage with a below-average receiving corps. He's completed touchdown passes to 24 different players, with only four players catching more than 30. Of those players, only Donald Driver is currently expected to have a shot at the Hall of Fame.
Rodgers' innate ability to get the most of his receivers was on full display during last season after injuries to top targets Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. During the Divisional Playoffs against the Arizona Cardinals, Rodgers led a comeback by throwing passes to a pair of former late-round picks. Jeff Janis, a seventh-round pick in 2014, and Jared Abbrederis, a fifth-round pick the same year, combined for 11 catches for 200 yards against one of the NFL's top secondaries. To put that into perspective, the pair had caught only 11 passes combined during the regular season. While the Packers went on to lose the game, Rodgers' performance dominated the headlines.
In honor of the greatness that is Aaron Rodgers, here’s a list of the 15 worst receivers Rodgers has ever had to thrown to (parentheses denote years in Green Bay):
15 Ruvell Martin (2006-2008)
Ruvell Martin came to the Packers as an undrafted free agent from Saginaw State in 2006. He played three seasons in Green Bay, including his final season with Rodgers as starter. In his first two seasons, the speedster averaged 21.4 yards on 37 receptions, including five touchdowns. However, when Rodgers took over the offense, that average dropped to only 9.9 yards on 15 receptions. Martin went on to play four more NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, catching only 24 passes total, with only one touchdown. He retired in 2013.
14 Ty Montgomery (2015)
Ty Montgomery was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft after a standout career at Stanford, which saw him excel in both the receiving and return games. However, that success did not translate to the NFL in his rookie season. He caught only 15 passes in six games before missing the remainder of the season with an injured ankle. He's on this list because he’s still a work in progress. Some analysts believe he has the potential to be an all-around receiver, but most believe he offers little outside of his explosiveness. Overall, he’s widely regarded as a receiver who should be getting way less than the 15 offensive touches he got a game in college.
13 Charles Johnson (2013)
Charles Johnson, who has found a home playing for the rival Minnesota Vikings, couldn't crack the Packers' active roster after he was drafted by Green Bay in 2013. He spent a year on the Packers' and Browns' practice squads, before joining the Vikings in 2014. Johnson experienced a breakout year in Minnesota in 2014, ranking third on the Vikings with 31 receptions for 475 yards in just 12 games. However, he followed that up with only nine receptions in 11 games in 2015.
12 Andrew Quarless (2010-2015)
Andrew Quarless has been a solid third-down and red-zone receiving tight end for the Packers. However, his success has been marred by inconsistency. Over the course of the past six seasons, he has 89 receptions for 940 yards and six touchdowns, but 90 percent of that production came during three seasons (2010, 2013, 2014). He's been targeted 141 times by Green Bay quarterbacks, meaning he's caught only 63.% of his targets, which is about average for an NFL tight end. While he's a good role player and roster filler, he's not a great pass-catching option.
11 Kevin Dorsey (2013-2014)
Like Charlers Johnson, Dorsey had trouble making an impact in Green Bay after being drafted by the team. A seventh-round pick in 2013, Dorsey played in only three games over seasons, going largely unnoticed on the field. After spending 2013 mostly on the practice squad, he was targeted twice and caught one pass for four yards in a three-game stint at the end of the 2014 season. Unlike Johnson, he could never find another NFL home and was out of football by 2015.
10 Brandon Bostick (2012-2014)
Brandon Bostick served as the No. 3 option at tight end during a three-year stint with the Packers. He appeared in 24 games, catching only 50 percent of his targets, or nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His receiving ability will mostly be remembered as a result of a special teams play during the NFC Championship in 2014. He dropped a potential game-ending onside kick, which allowed the Seattle Seahawks to come back and win in overtime, advancing them to Super Bowl XLVIII. He hasn't appeared in an NFL game since.
9 David Clowney (2007)
David Clowney is on the list because he's the only Packers receiver drafted after Aaron Rodgers to never spend regular season time with Green Bay. After the Packers drafted Clowney in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, he was released during the preseason after a poor showing. He latched onto New York Jets' practice squad and eventually played 28 NFL games over parts of three seasons with the Jets and Carolina Panthers. He caught 22 passes total on 40 targets for 341 yards and one touchdown. He hasn't played professionally since 2013.
8 Brett Swain (2008-2010)
Brett Swain, who was drafted by the Packers in the last round of the 2008 NFL Draft, was inactive during his first professional season before cracking the receiver rotation during Years two and three. He played 22 games in 2009-2010, including all 16 games in 2010, but only caught 6-of-10 targets for 72 yards. He was mostly known during his time in Green Bay for his contributions on special teams, and will most likely be remembered for recovering a fumble during the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV victory. After Green Bay, he played one season for the San Francisco 49ers, catching only two passes in five games in 2011.
7 James Jones (2007-2013, 2015)
James Jones has played eight of his nine NFL seasons in Green Bay, averaging 45 receptions and 650 yards with Rodgers as the starter. While the numbers appear to be a good model of consistency, he’s never topped 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He’s also experienced some big-time drops, including a sure touchdown in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV. He was further exposed after leaving the Packers for one season in 2014. While it was widely believed Jones, who spent time behind more athletic options like Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson, had the potential to be a good No. 2 receiver elsewhere, he failed during a stint with the Oakland Raiders in 2014. He had just 666 yards receiving with the Raiders and returned to Green Bay after he was released.
6 Jarrett Boykin (2012-2014)
Jarrett Boykin was mostly unproductive in 39 games over three seasons for the Packers. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns. However, that was sandwiched by two poor seasons; he caught only eight passes combined in 2012 and 2014. In the three seasons, he caught 57 of his 101 targets, or only 56.4 percent. In 2014, he dropped three of his 12 catches, reeling in only three receptions. By the end of the season, he lost his receiving job to Janis and was relegated to special teams duty. He moved on to a new organization the following season and has not played in an NFL game since.
5 Davante Adams (2014-2015)
The Packers had big expectations for Davante Adams when they selected him with the 53rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, the Fresno State product has failed to live up to the hype, catching 88 passes over two seasons for only 929 yards and four touchdowns. After two seasons, his 10.6 yards per catch is well below-average, and he has only caught 55% of his targets. Adams struggled mightily in 2015 when he was given the opportunity to be Rodgers' primary receiver. During a three-game stretch with Randall Cobb banged up and Jordy Nelson out, out Rodgers completed only 42.9 percent of his passes to the second-year professional, with an average of 3.7 yards per pass. During the same stretch, he completed 56.3% of his passes to everyone else with an average of 6.0 yards per pass. He's still young, but he'll need to make great strides in Year three to avoid being labeled as a bust.
4 John Kuhn (2007-2015)
John Kuhn, who came to Green Bay from Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2007, is widely respected among Packers faithful. However, his receiving abilities are not worth as much to Rodgers as his run-blocking ability. Kuhn has caught just 81 passes for 557 yards in his nine seasons in Green Bay. He has eight touchdown receptions, but the last one came in 2011. He's averaged only 7.0 yards a reception, and has only two career receptions for more than 20 yards. He's a great weapon for the Packers' offense, but can't be counted for more than short-yardage running and passing situations.
3 Jermichael Finley (2008-2013)
Like Davante Adams, the Packers had high hopes for Finley when they made him a third-round draft pick in 2008. Finley flashed a ton of potential, but couldn't stay healthy long enough to put it all together. Over the course of six seasons, he caught 223 passes for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he played in just 70 games and had more than 301 yards in a season just three times. Finley is one of the worst receivers Aaron Rodgers threw to because he's largely considered a bust. To complicate matters further, he not only didn't live up to his potential, but also publicly called out Packers' brass because he felt his role in the offense was limited. Finley suffered a nxeck injury in 2013 and officially retired from the NFL in 2015.
2 Randall Cobb (2011-2015)
Randall Cobb has been an extremely productive No. 2 weapon behind Jordy Nelson since he was drafted by the Packers in second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. However, he makes the list of worst receivers because he was exposed while Nelson was out with a torn ACL during the 2015 season. From 2011-2014, Cobb averaged 57 catches for 762 yards and six touchdowns, which included his only 1,000-plus receiving yards season in 2014. However, when given the opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver, he flopped, catching just 79-of-129 targets for 829 yards and six touchdowns. Cobb provides value through his versatility -- he's an excellent kick and punt returner, and has found success lining up as a running back and receiver in the backfield. However, after last season, it's pretty apparent that his productivity is determined by the other weapons around him.
1 Greg Jennings (2006-2012)
Greg Jennings is the worst receiver Rodgers ever had for one main reason: he called the highly regarded quarterback overrated. What's pretty ironic about the comments is that Jennings has not performed as well with other quarterbacks since leaving the Packers during the 2012 offseason. Jennings, who was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, was extremely productive for the Packers in seven seasons, catching 425 passes for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns. He topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark three times and was twice named to the Pro Bowl. A major knock on his production was that he only caught 57.% of his targets during that time period. After a dominant three-year stint from 2008-2010, he had back-to-back underwhelming seasons and was allowed to sign elsewhere. He latched on with the Minnesota Vikings and then the Miami Dolphins, and has only caught 146 passes for 1,754 yards and 11 touchdowns since leaving Green Bay. That's pretty overrated, if you ask me.