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Position Review: Wide Receiver

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If the Packers use their 1st round pick on offense, their two greatest needs are on the offensive line and wide receiver. Receiver might not seem like a major need, but in Mike McCarthy's pass first offense, the plays are designed with the receivers in mind, and the backs and tight end are an afterthought. Plus they do occasionally play with five WRs. Despite the emergence of RB Ryan Grant, the biggest difference in the offense was the major step forward by WR Greg Jennings in his second season. The bad news is if an injury were to happen to either Driver or Jennings, the other would certainly be double teamed a lot, and the offense could return to its poor 2006 form.

Donald Driver
Age 32, 6'0", 190 lbs. Nine seasons in Green Bay.
He just played in the Pro Bowl and had his 5th consecutive season with a 1000 yards receiving. His TD receptions were way down, but teams focused their pass coverage on Driver early in the season until QB Brett Favre was able to exploit the single coverage on everybody else. Football Outsiders ranked him among the top 15 WRs in 2007. At some point he won't be able to bounce back from a big hit over the middle, but it hasn't happened so far.

Greg Jennings
Age 24, 5'11", 197 lbs. Two seasons in Green Bay.
Jennings appeared to have a solid rookie season in 2006, with 45 receptions compared to 53 receptions in 2007, but the two seasons were night and day. Jennings struggled with the transition to the NFL and a mid-season injury. In 2006 he only caught 43% of the passes thrown his way, according to Football Outsiders, and that season ended with a horrible 1 for 13 in the final home game against Minnesota. He missed the first two games of 2007 as the team was careful with a hamstring injury, and he immediately began catching TD passes. He ended up catching 63% of the passes attempted at him, thanks again Football Outsiders, despite running many deep, low percentage, routes. Football Outsiders ranked him in the top 15 as well, ahead of Driver, and his career looks bright.

James Jones
Age 23, 6'1", 207 lbs. One season in Green Bay.
Rookie Season A: 45 receptions, 632 yards, 3 TD.
Rookie Season B: 47 receptions, 676 yards, 2 TD.
Rookie A was Jennings in 2006 while Rookie B was Jones in 2007. Nearly identical stats in those categories, but he was much better in his rookie season compared to Jennings. Jones managed to catch 59% of the passes attempted at him, and while it wasn't a great season, ranked 69th by Football Outsiders right ahead of career disappointment Oakland's WR Jerry Porter, it was pretty good for a rookie. He only lost two fumbles all season, but they came against Chicago on consecutive drives and made the difference in the loss. You can see he has talent and he can become a very good receiver, but he's not there yet and 2008 will be a big year to prove himself.

Ruvell Martin
Age 25, 6'4", 210 lbs. Two seasons in Green Bay.
He's an undrafted veteran of the now defunct NFL Europa who led that league in TD receptions in 2005, and he's also the biggest receiver playing for a head coach that loves big receivers. He made the team in 2006 almost by default when every other receiver battling for a roster spot fumbled away their chances while he held onto everything that came his way. His 16 receptions in 2007 aren't impressive, but 4 of them were for TDs. He only caught 57% of the passes thrown his way, but nearly all of them were deep, low percentage attempts. For the second season in a row he was one of the leading receivers who had less than 50 reception attempts according to Football Outsiders. If he ever got a chance at a starting job, he might actually get noticed around the league, but in the meantime he's a lanky receiver who never looks impressive although he might be one of the best backups in the league.

Koren Robinson
Age 27, 6'1", 205 lbs. Two seasons in Green Bay.
If the Packers did draft a wide receiver in the first round, then Robinson would be the guy who would lose out. The seven year vet is still only 27, but he made little impact after his return from suspension. Football Outsiders ranked him below Jones, and Robinson doesn't have a rookie excuse. He did miss almost a year of practice and playing time, and no doubt he had to work himself back into game shape. He was supposed to provide a spark on kickoff returns, but nothing happened. It doesn't hurt to see what he can do after a normal offseason and a full training camp, but he hasn't shown any reason to keep him around.