Predicting which five or six will make the Packers' final roster is extra challenging this season. Like in past seasons, the Packers will probably go with five receivers, meaning they will have to make some tough decisions on whom to keep around. Unlike previous seasons, the top five are far from cut and dried.
From this scribe's point of view, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Ruvell Martin, James Jones and David Clowney are Green Bay's top five receivers heading into training camp. That leaves some notable receivers out in the cold, including Robert Ferguson, Carlyle Holiday and Shaun Bodiford, all of whom have NFL experience, as receivers and on special teams. Others, like Carlton Brewster and Calvin Russell, have a lot to offer, but unless a chaotic situation among others ahead of them erupts in training camp, they have little chance of making the team.
Consider Driver, Jennings, Martin and Jones locks to make the team this year. Driver, a Pro Bowler, and Jennings, who had a strong rookie season last year with 45 catches, will be the starters. It would be a major surprise if either of those two lose their starting spots.
Martin is an up-and-coming No. 3 receiver poised to make some big plays this season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder gave the team snapshots of his ability last season by starting in three games. He averaged a team-high 17.0 yards per catch, making 21 catches in 439 offensive snaps. When Ferguson went down with a foot injury in early October, Martin made the most of his playing time, and deserves to remain among the top three receivers on the team.
Jones, selected in the third round of the recent NFL draft, has been lining up as a slot receiver this off-season, a position previously occupied by Ferguson. Jones has good hands and appears fearless going over the middle. As long as his attitude and ability to catch the ball in traffic doesn't change any in training camp when the pads are on, he will retain that position. If he suddenly drops catchable passes, he will be headed for the practice squad, but don't expect that to happen.
The fifth and final spot among receivers probably will go to Clowney because of his ability to stretch the field with his excellent speed, and to play on special teams. Ferguson, Holiday and Bodiford, however, will provide plenty of competition. In fact, the fifth spot will be up for grabs between those four receivers. However, Clowney was drafted by Green Bay in the fifth round this season, so he has that going for him. He will have to be better at catching passes consistently than he showed in off-season practices. If he does, he'll make the team. If not, flip a coin between Ferguson, Bodiford and Holiday.
Moss certainly would have been an interesting addition to Green Bay's receiving corp, but he only would have hindered the growth of up-and-comers like Martin and Jones. He's better off in New England, where the Patriots have loaded up Redskins-style in a Super Bowl-or-bust run.
Also, general manager Ted Thompson has an ace up his sleeve in veteran Koren Robinson. If the Packers feel they need more veteran depth at the position, Robinson will be available to join the team after his league-mandated suspension for substance abuse expires near the end of September.
In four games with Green Bay last year, Robinson gave the offense a spark. He has been living and working out in the Green Bay area this off-season, so he presumably is in good shape and eager to get back onto the field. The Packers will cross that bridge as the season is under way.
For now, the Packers have receivers with the ability to complement Driver, who is coming off his third straight 1,200-plus yard receiving season, and produce much-needed big plays for the offense. The ability is there; now it's a matter of execution.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.