Jordy Nelson, Player To Watch on Green Bay Packers
Call it a gut instinct if you will—that, along with some flashes he has shown thus far into training camp.
For whatever reason, something inside of my body is telling me that 2010 will be a breakout season for Jordy Nelson.
Nelson hasn't put up monster statistics as of yet—he still has yet to top 400 receiving yards in a season and has caught only two touchdown passes in his first two seasons—but he has shown flashes of emerging as a key component of what is a deep Packers receiving corps.
Until the great Donald Driver retires, Nelson will rise no higher than No. 3 on the depth chart.
That's not to say I am rushing Driver out the door.
Driver is playing like he was ten years ago and is a tremendous role model for the Packers and the entire NFL.
That said, Driver's time is running short and it is Nelson, not James Jones, who seems primed and ready to take his place when he finally retires.
Thus far in his career, Nelson has shown deceptively quick speed and softer than expected hands.
In 2008, Nelson was the first rookie in Packers history to record 30 plus catches in a season.
Nelson's ability to evade defenders reminds me of a younger Don Beebe in his prime with the Buffalo Bills—all Packer fans remember Beebe's contributions to the 1996 Super Bowl champion squad.
Not only that, but Nelson has shown ability in special teams as well.
Last season Nelson was the first rookie in team history to record a 45 yard plus kick return. However, with the return of Will Blackmon from injury, it is likely Nelson will not be featured as much in the return game in 2010.
There is one other big reason that Nelson could be the breakout player in 2010 for the Packers—his work ethic.
Coach Mike McCarthy has singled out Nelson time and time again from organized team activities through the current training camp.
Usually when McCarthy singles out a player like that, they produce. For proof, look at Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings or Clay Matthews.
Personally, I have the same feeling about Nelson that I did with Jennings and we all saw how well No. 85 has turned out thus far.
This not to toot my own horn, but rather that Nelson is starting to turn some heads.
Should Nelson pan out the way we all think this year, he adds yet another weapon to Rodgers' already lethal receiving arsenal.
Trying to cover Jennings and Driver is hard enough for opposing defense's but throw in blossoming star tight end Jermichael Finley and Nelson, and the Packers passing offense will be dangerous to stop.
Off the field, Nelson fits the mold of a player that would be instantly popular in Green Bay.
Coach McCarty and General Manager Ted Thompson constantly talk about finding "Packer people." Nelson seems to fit that category.
Nelson is entering his third year in the league and that is typically when receivers have their make or break year. Nelson has done nothing to prove he won't be a key cog in this well oiled offense for a long time to come.
In 1996, Beebe turned out to be a key player on a Packers team that won Super Bowl XXXI.
Will Nelson do the same for the Packers this season?
Time will tell, but if I asked a Magic 8-Ball that question, it would probably say:
"All signs point to YES."
Follow Kris Burke on Twitter @KBurkePackers
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