Over the next two weeks, we will take a look at each position group on the Packers and provide grades and insight on how they performed in the 2014 season. Today, we'll be looking at the wide receiver position. Follow along with all of our positional breakdowns here.
Three new wide receivers were added to Aaron Rodgers' disposal in 2014, all of them being rookies. Meanwhile, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb established themselves as arguably the best wideout duo in the league, while setting historic marks for the Green Bay Packers. Nelson and Cobb were the first duo to finish with 1,000 yards receiving in a season since 2009 for the Packers (Greg Jennings and Donald Driver). They also became the first receiving duo for the Packers to catch 10 or more touchdowns apiece in a single season.
On the other end, rookie Davante Adams showed that he could make the transition to the NFL, while Jarrett Boykin went in the opposite direction of his second season. The other two rookies were non-factors.
Stats: 16 games, 98 receptions (151 targets), 1,519 yards (94.9 yards per game), 13 touchdowns.
For the second straight season, Nelson started all 16 games and averaged 15.5 yards per reception. As Rodgers' favorite target, Nelson's 151 targets and 1,519 receiving yards qualified him for fourth in both categories around the league. In Week 2 against the New York Jets, he set a new career-high for yardage in a game with 209, which included an 80-yard-cutback touchdown against cornerback Dee Milliner. It was another stellar season for one of the best players at his position.
Also, he's still being overlooked in the NFL: T.Y. Hilton was selected above him in the Pro Bowl draft.
Stats: 16 games, 91 receptions (127 targets) 1,287 yards (80.4 yards per game), 12 touchdowns.
Cobb had the best season of his career at one of the most critical times. In a contract year, Cobb brushed away injuries and played in every single game in a season for the first time in his career. Cobb went over 100 yards receiving in six games, recorded 5.7 receptions per game (another career-high), and finished tied for fourth in touchdowns. Mostly known as a player who works the slot, Cobb was also tied for third in the league with Denver's Emmanuel Sanders for receptions over 20 yards.
Stats: 16 games, 38 (66 targets), 446 yards (27.9 yards per game), three touchdowns.
After a slow start and disappointing end to his first season, rookie Davante Adams showed the flashes that made him a 2014 second-round pick (separation off the line, physicality). He took the No.3 receiver spot from the inefficient Jarrett Boykin at the beginning of the year, and even after his own struggles (just four catches for 29 yards in December), remained at the spot from that point on. In Green Bay's first playoff game against Dallas, Adams stepped up huge for Packers, catching seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, and he also had a big game in the Packers' victory over New England.
Stats: 13 games, three catches, 23 yards, no touchdowns.
Boykin lost the connection he had with quarterback Rodgers and was ignored all season. At this point, it seems unlikely that he'll return.
Abbrederis, a fifth-round draft pick, was expected to contribute in the slot and on special teams, but he missed the entire season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp.
Stats: Two catches, 16 yards
Janis was inactive for 13 games and wasn't a factor on the offensive side of the ball or special teams unit. It was effectively a redshirt season for the talented but raw rookie.
A great statistical season from Nelson and Cobb make this grade easy, but there was production lacking elsewhere at the position. Adams and Janis went through their first years and rookie pains, along with Abbrederis being out, so they get a pass.
Boykin had no excuse, though, as he was terrible on offense. Even though Adams ultimately would have passed him up, he could have added a lot more than three measly catches as a fourth receiver. Having their No.1 and No.2 options both healthy all season was a blessing for the Packers, because without them, this group would have floundered.