Packer Report continues its position-by-position training camp preview with a look at the wide receivers. The list after "depth" includes all of the players on the current roster. The list after "final cut" is our prediction on who will make the final roster, with the number of players based on past seasons.
Review: If the Packers' receivers aren't the best from top to bottom in the NFL, they're darned close. Greg Jennings had a monster year, posting career highs with 80 receptions and 1,292 yards. His amazing ability to get deep without top-end speed allowed him to catch a league-high eight 40-yard receptions. His average per catch of 16.2 yards ranked seventh among the league's top receivers, and he added nine touchdowns to give him 21 over the last two seasons. Driver posted yet another 1,000-yard season and, defying Father Time, got better as the season went on. Jones had a miserable year with a knee injury that just wouldn't go away and plunged from 47 receptions as a rookie to only 20. Taking his place as the No. 3 receiver for most of the season, sure-handed Jordy Nelson ranked fifth in the NFL among rookie receivers with 33 receptions and dropped only one pass. Martin saw his numbers decline and was mostly a nonfactor in the passing game, though the Packers like his willingness to do some of the dirty work that goes unseen on television. Swain and Allen spent their rookie seasons on the practice squad. The other four are undrafted rookies, with Heckendorf, Simmons and Harris being the best receivers in their schools' history.
Weakness: For all of their talent, it can be argued this group can — and should — be better. For one, they drop too many passes. Jennings dropped nine of them last year, including three in the first quarter of the season finale against Detroit. Jones has perhaps the best hands on the team. Maybe he trusts those hands too much or maybe they cause lapses in concentration, but he dropped four in limited action last year. The Packers weren't nearly as dangerous after the catch as in 2007, when they led the league in yards after catch. About 41 percent of Aaron Rodgers' passing yards came on run after the catch. That ranked in a five-way tie for 32nd among the NFL's top 40 quarterbacks. Nelson, in particular, offered practically nothing after getting the ball. Jennings still hasn't finished a season strong. In 13 games played in November, he has only one 100-yard game: 101 in last year's shellacking at New Orleans. In 13 games played after Dec. 1, Jennings has two 100-yard games: 101 vs. Detroit (0-16) and 100 vs. Oakland (4-12).
Quoteworthy: "Just keep getting better, to keep being a positive example and just being who I am," Jennings said after signing his contract. "I've never been one to let things change who I am, my personality, my character. Not a diva receiver, never have been a diva receiver. If I start to become a diva receiver — that would never happen. That's not in my character. That's not who I am. I've always tried to be within myself, my own personality."
Final cut (5): Jennings, Driver, Jones, Nelson, Martin.
It's tempting to go with Swain, and he could very well beat out Martin to be the fifth receiver. But with Driver, Jennings, Nelson and Jones — not to mention Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee — Rodgers has plenty of weapons. Martin's willingness to do the little things gives him the edge.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.