Packers Wide Receiver Breakdown: Full Evaluation and Depth Chart Analysis
The Green Bay Packers are going into the 2013 NFL season without wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Driver retired this offseason after 14 years with the Packers, and Jennings left via free agency to sign with the Minnesota Vikings after seven years with the Pack.
Over the combined 21 years that Driver and Jennings spent with the Packers, the duo gave the Packers a combined 1,168 receptions for 16,674 yards and 114 touchdowns. That's a lot of production.
But the Packers still have the talent at wide receiver to overcome the losses of both Driver and Jennings, which was proven last season. Driver barely saw the field at times in 2013, while Jennings missed half the season due an abdominal issue.
Even with the aforementioned receivers rarely being in the lineup, the Packers still kept clicking at the wide receiver position. This was mostly due to the productive trio of Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson (who also missed some time due to injuries).
All three will be back in 2013, and now there will be two—possibly three—spots available for other wide receivers on the roster as well.
This slideshow will breakdown the depth chart at wide receiver for the Packers in 2013.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers believes that third-year wide receiver Randall Cobb has big-time potential. In an interview with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers shared his thoughts about Cobb and how productive he can be in Green Bay:
I think he can be a 100-catch guy. We haven't had that here in a while. But I think he can. I think he's a special player. As long as he can stay healthy, I think he's going to be a big-time star for us.
That's high praise, but Cobb has proven how good he can be, based on how quickly he became an integral part of the Green Bay passing attack.
In his rookie season in 2011, Cobb had 25 catches for 375 yards and one touchdown. Last season, Cobb exploded onto the scene with 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cobb has also been the primary return man for the Packers during the last two years, and he has produced 2,492 yards via kickoff and punt returns while scoring three touchdowns.
In 2013, Cobb will concentrate solely on being wide receiver, although he will also get chances to run the football in certain situations this year. Last season, Cobb rushed for 132 yards on just 10 carries, so he is a threat to gash a defense any time he has the rock in his hands.
Bottom line: expect Cobb to get to the next level as a wide receiver. Does that mean 100 catches? I certainly wouldn't bet against it.
Last season, Jordy Nelson was not as productive as he was in 2011, mostly due to knee and ankle woes. Still, Nelson had 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games.
But in 2011, Nelson showed how truly dangerous he can be when he caught 68 passes for 1,263 and 15 touchdowns. Nelson also had a very healthy 18.6 yards per catch average that year.
Nelson has been with the Packers since 2008, and he really took off in the 2010 season, which included a very productive postseason too (21 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns).
In his career with the Packers, Nelson has 217 receptions for 3,276 and 28 touchdowns.
Expect another banner year from No. 87 in 2013, with numbers closer to his performance in 2011.
When James Jones was drafted in 2007 by the Packers, he had a reputation of being very sure-handed. However, during his first few years with Green Bay—especially in the 2010 postseason—Jones was prone to some costly drops.
Last season, however, that situation changed drastically. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones only had three drops all season, compared to 20 during the previous three years.
Jones was also a touchdown machine in 2012, as he led the entire NFL with 14 touchdown receptions. Jones also had 64 catches for 784 yards.
The former San Jose Spartan has 251 catches for 3,488 yards and 34 touchdowns in his six-year career in Green Bay so far.
Jones has a lot of faith about how productive he, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will be in 2013 for the Packers, as he recently relayed in an interview on May 21:
We're going to be the same guys we were last year. All of us that are here were the lead receivers on the team in some category. We're going to be the same leaders that we were last year, and that's not going to change because Donald and Greg are gone.
Virginia Tech wide receivers certainly have built quite a legacy in Green Bay, especially when one looks back on the careers of Carroll Dale and Antonio Freeman. Together, the two combined for 706 receptions for 12,073 yards and 92 touchdowns in their careers with the Packers.
That's not to say that second-year wide receiver and former Hokie Jarrett Boykin will ever approach those numbers, but at least he made the Packers roster in 2012 after not being drafted last year.
Boykin appeared in 10 games last season and had five receptions for 27 yards. Like Freeman, Boykin doesn't have exceptional speed. However, he is big (6'2", 218 pounds) and has nice hands with solid route-running ability.
Even as good as Dale and Freeman were with the Packers, Boykin was the very best at Virginia Tech, at least in terms of all-time receptions (184) and all-time receiving yards (2,884).
Expect Boykin to take his game to the next level in 2013, as he will get more opportunities due to his size, hands and route-running ability.
Jeremy Ross has not caught a pass in two seasons in the NFL—his first being with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 before joining the Packers last year. Ross was added to the Green Bay roster late in the 2012 season after first being put on the practice squad.
Ross did, however, have a decent collegiate career as a receiver at Cal, where he had 57 career receptions for 764 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6'0", 215-pound Ross was primarily used by the Packers as a returner late in the 2012 season after Randall Cobb was injured returning a punt.
Ross appeared in five games with the Packers last year, and he averaged 28.7 yards on three kickoff returns, while also averaging a very robust 25.8 yards on four punt returns.
Ross will get the first shot to replace Cobb in the return game this year, even after his very costly fumble on a punt return deep in Green Bay territory during the team's Divisional Round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers last postseason.
Ross has the size and speed to become a factor in the passing game as well, but his first responsibility will be in the return game.
In the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft, Ted Thompson decided to select not one, but two, wide receivers for the Packers. The first one Thompson selected was Charles Johnson of Grand Valley State.
Johnson appears to have everything one would want as a wide receiver—size, speed and production. The 6'2", 215-pound Johnson ran a very impressive 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day.
In addition to that, Johnson had 72 catches for 1,199 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012 for Grand Valley State.
In his collegiate career, Johnson played for three different programs (Eastern Kentucky, Antelope Valley Community College and Grand Valley State), which might be considered a red flag to some.
Still, Johnson's measurables and potential give him a decent shot at making the Green Bay roster, depending on how he fares in training camp and the preseason. Even if Johnson doesn't make the final cut, expect to see him on the practice squad this season.
Kevin Dorsey of Maryland was the second wide receiver taken by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft. Dorsey has nice size (6'1", 207 pounds) and had a decent four-year career with the Terrapins.
Over his career at Maryland, Dorsey had 80 receptions for 1,092 yards and nine touchdowns. After catching 45 passes his junior year, Dorsey saw his reception total drop to just 17 in his senior year, which was mostly because of inept play at the quarterback position.
Dorsey will need to have a nice training camp and also show well in the preseason for a chance to stick on the final roster of the Packers.
If Dorsey doesn't make the 53-man roster, there is a reasonable chance that he will be put on the practice squad of the Packers.
Of the four undrafted rookie wide receivers I have listed above, the guy to keep an eye on is Myles White. White played at Louisiana Tech, along with the more highly-touted wide receiver Quinton Patton.
In two years at La. Tech, the 6'0", 182-pound White had 86 receptions for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns.