Unit grades in order by week: A-, C+, B+, A-, B, B, A-
The big question is how much of the success of the receivers is predicated on the skill of Aaron Rodgers, and vice versa. Obviously, they feed off one another, but there are some statistics that are more a credit to receivers than the quarterback.
Packers receivers are in the upper echelon of the league in catches, yards, yards per catch and touchdowns. But they have also been on the top of the NFL all season in yards after the catch while having among the fewest drops and fumbles (still none), stats barely influenced by quarterback play.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this unit is its depth. While Greg Jennings is having a Pro Bowl season, there are 10 Packers tight ends and wide receivers who have caught a pass, and seven who have a touchdown.
Greg Jennings: 42 catches, 677 yards (16.1) with five touchdowns
Jennings is on pace for over 1,500 yards, which would be a franchise record. He is the best player on the best unit in the league, and despite their best efforts, defenses have yet to find a way to stop him. He does benefit from not having to see a lot of double-teams other than safety help deep, and he did drop one pass that resulted in an interception, but this performance is clearly worthy of an A.
Jordy Nelson: 24 catches, 465 yards (19.4) with four touchdowns
Nelson has emerged as the Packers' second best receiver, and the best at stretching the field. He is on pace for nearly 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns, and could be the first Packer since James Lofton in 1984 to have over 35 catches and average over 20 yards per catch. For a second receiver who was fourth on the depth chart last season, this is an A- effort.
Jermichael Finley: 25 catches, 334 yards (13.4) with four touchdowns
Last season, Finley had 21 catches for 301 yards (14.3), but just one touchdown through four games before having his season end on a knee injury at the start of Week 5. This season, he had 22 catches for 301 yards and three scores through the end of the fifth week, but has had just two catches for 33 yards and one score since. Still, that puts him on pace for nearly 60 catches, 800 yards and eight or nine touchdowns, worthy of Pro Bowl consideration and an A-.
James Jones: 19 catches, 326 yards (17.2) and three touchdowns
Jones was re-signed this offseason with an obvious expectation that he would compete for the second receiver role, but he is under 80 percent the production of Jordy Nelson in catches, yards and scores. Still, his pay is not unreasonable for the best third receiver in the league, and if he continues at the present pace, his 45 catches, 700 yards and seven scores will be worth over $3 million per year, earning him a B-.
Randall Cobb: 11 catches, 187 yards (17.0) and one touchdown; one carry for one yard
Cobb was drafted to improve the Green Bay return game, but those skills are not part of his grade on offense. While it was thought he would contribute when the Packers had the ball, the prevailing wisdom told one that with the return of Finley, the Packers would not run many five-wide sets and he would get little playing time. Instead, he has been effective enough to be fourth on the team in receiving yards, which easily earns him a B+.
Donald Driver: 13 catches, 107 yards (8.2) and two touchdowns
By this point, it is pretty clear that Donald Driver is not going to be back next year. He is still one of the toughest guys to cover and tackle, but he no longer has deep-threat speed. Someone will want his veteran leadership and give him a chance to get more than the 30 catches and 250 yards he will get as a Packer this season. But while no one can reasonably question his character, it is equally indisputable that by falling from second to fourth or fifth on the depth chart in one season, he should not earn better than a D.
Andrew Quarless: one catch, 21 yards
Quarless was drafted only 13 picks later than Williams to be a poor man's Finley. He still is the likely starter, based on sheer athleticism, if another injury should befall Jermichael, but has shown no improvement over last year, when his production was disappointing given the unexpected playing time. Thus, he cannot earn higher than a D.
Tom Crabtree: two catches, 19 yards (9.5)
Crabtree is the only tight end on the active roster who was not drafted, and is clearly the team's second tight end. He is better as a blocker than as a receiver, but being on the field much more has led to more opportunities to catch passes. Still, he has shown little to make one think he will ever be more than a blocking tight end, but since that is all he is expected to be and he does that fairly well, he earns a C+.
D.J. Williams: one catch, seven yards
Williams was drafted and kept for his potential, and should be able to push reserve tight ends for playing time who were selected later in the draft or signed undrafted, albeit the previous year. Yet he has barely gotten on the field, and in a crowded but unspectacular reserve trio, that cannot earn better than a D.