Once again this April, the Press-Gazette will provide a pre-draft breakdown of the Green Bay Packers’ roster at each position by beat writer Rob Demovsky. This will lead up to the start of Pete Dougherty’s annual position-by-position draft series on April 21.
What they have
Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones*, Brett Swain, Chastin West
* -- Could be an unrestricted free agent depending on a new collective bargaining agreement
Jennings was nearly forgotten early last season, when the offense was centered around tight end Jermichael Finley, but was rediscovered after Finley was lost for the season because of a Week 5 knee injury. In the last 11 games of the regular season, Jennings was nearly unstoppable but for a few drops. He had 62 of his team-high 72 catches and 1,082 of his 1,265 yards and nine of his 12 touchdowns (which matched a career high) during that 11-game stretch. His average of 98.4 yards per game led the league in that span. Though he had just four drops, one cost the Packers a touchdown (and possibly the game) at Detroit. Still, Jennings made his first career Pro Bowl and even when Finley returns this season, Jennings should remain a big part of the offense.
The seemingly ageless Driver, 36, couldn’t finish the Super Bowl because of an ankle injury and was bothered by a quad injury during the regular season. Still, he continues to be a productive No. 2. Jordy Nelson had a monster Super Bowl, catching nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown but dropped three passes in that game alone. Was that his breakout or just a one-game wonder? The inconsistent Jones has been maddening for the coaches, who love his ability to make tough plays but are frustrated by his inability to make routine ones. Swain’s roster spot is more because of special teams. West spent the entire season on the practice squad.
As good as Jennings is, this is still a position of need both because of Driver’s age and because Jones probably will sign elsewhere if he’s an unrestricted free agent. GM Ted Thompson has taken receivers early in the draft before. Terrence Murphy (2005), Jennings (2006) and Nelson (2008) all were second-round picks and Jones (2007) was a third. He hasn’t picked a receiver at all in the last two drafts, and almost certainly will do so this time around. There are probably only a couple of first-round receivers – Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones – and they’ll be gone long before the Packers pick at 32. There’s a decent-sized group of receivers pegged for rounds 2-3.
-- Rob Demovsky, firstname.lastname@example.org