|How good has Donald Driver been during his career? Statistically, he’s one of the best receivers to ever play the game.|
it’s incredible to consider that Driver enters this season ranked 32nd in NFL history with 735 receptions and is tied for 35th with 10,060 yards. Driver has more receptions than Hall of Famer receivers Charley Taylor, Don Maynard, Raymond Berry, Fred Biletnikoff, Lance Alworth, John Stallworth, Bobby Mitchell, Tommy McDonald, Don Hutson, Paul Warfield, Tom Fears, Elroy Hirsch and Bob Hayes.
Last season, Driver finished with 37 catches for 445 yards. If he matches those numbers this season, he’d pass Hall of Famers James Lofton, Charlie Joiner, Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk to move into 25th place in receptions, and pass Hall of Famers Alworth and Shannon Sharpe to move into 32nd place in receiving yards. Driver has 59 receiving touchdowns; only 70 players in NFL history have reached 60.
However, Driver’s days of dominance are over. He went from 70 catches in 2009 to 51 in 2010 and 37 last season. His combined 88 catches over the last two seasons fall short of his career-high 92-catch output in 2006. Back then, he was practially a one-man gang. From 2005 through 2007, he averaged a stunning 37.7 more catches than the No. 2 wide receiver. In 2006, he more than doubled Greg Jennings’ total of 45.
Time, of course, marches on. Jennings, even while missing three games with a knee sprain, had 30 more catches than Driver.
It’s not that Driver, 37, can’t contribute. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, Jennings is an established star, Jordy Nelson is a budding star and Randall Cobb is a potential star. Jermichael Finley needs to get the ball and James Jones is an underrated playmaker. For years, Driver’s greatest asset was his run-after-catch ability. With incredibly quick feet, it was rare to see the first defender get Driver to the turf. Last year, however, he broke just one tackle.
Driver will contribute and help win games, but the offense would keep rolling without him.
2011 preview: What does Donald Driver have left in the tank? Driver, who turned 36 in the days before the Super Bowl, went from six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to an injury-plagued campaign of 51 catches, 565 yards and a team-high seven drops out of 86 targeted passes. He needs 42 receiving yards to break Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton’s franchise record of 9,656. Breaking that record — and putting it out of reach — are what drive a proud pro who finally has his Super Bowl ring.
2010 preview: It’s the same question heading into 2010 as it was headed into 2009 and 2008. At some point, Driver needs to start playing like an old man, right?
OK, maybe not.
Driver, who turned 35 in February, caught 70 passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns last season. That makes it six consecutive seasons of 70-plus receptions and 1,000-plus yards. His six touchdowns were his best since eight in 2006. Had he finished with 1,065 yards, he would have posted a career high in yards per reception. Still, that 15.2-yard average was a full yard better than any season since 2004. It’s preposterous, really.
Driver, who with the Colts’ Reggie Wayne are the only receivers in the NFL to top 1,000 yards in each of the last six seasons, is the Packers’ career leader with 647 receptions. With 607 yards, he’ll top James Lofton’s franchise-record 9,656 yards.