Jones, Cobb, Nelson: Who will be Packers #1 receiver?


Dec 9, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) during the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. The Packers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For nearly two decades, it’s been clear who the Green Bay Packers‘ top receiver was heading into each and every new season.

Players like Sterling Sharpe, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver or Greg Jennings have been at the top of a talented and deep heap of receivers through those years and have given the Packers some incredibly productive seasons. Throw in a couple of other guys like Javon Walker and Bill Schroeder and you’ve got the entire list of receivers who topped the pass catchers of the Packers for the past 20 years.

For years, Donald Driver was one of the top Packers receivers.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Driver, who retired this past February, led the team in receiving four of the past 10 years, Walker was tops for two and Jennings was number one for three of them. The past two years have yielded two receivers who have taken over and should be around for years to come – Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

In fact, now that both Driver and Jennings are out of Green Bay, the Packers enter the 2013 season with a new look and a revamped offense. Joining Cobb and Nelson vying for the top receiver spot this coming year will be James Jones, an overlooked, but highly valued pass catcher who opened some eyes last year by finding the end zone 14 times – leading the league in that category.

Cobb led the team with 80 receptions, Nelson led the team in per-catch yardage (15.2).

If Nelson can return to his 2011 levels and stay healthy this year (he missed four games in 2012); if Jones can repeat what he did in 2012 with his clutch catches and ability to find pay dirt; if Cobb can maintain the chemistry he found with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it’s going to be difficult to decipher just which of these three players will become the Packers number one receiver.

And that’s a great problem to have.

When everyone was crying about the loss in free agency of Jennings to the Minnesota Vikings, we were all forgetting to look around to see who was still standing for the Packers. Jones, Cobb, and Nelson are some pretty good targets for Rodgers. And when you throw in Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross and the two rookies – Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey – you’ve got a corps for which most teams would kill.

Many feel that Randall Cobb has just touched the tip of his talent iceberg.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Yes, Ted Thompson knows how to flood a position of high importance to the team’s offense with quality players across the board.

That’s why it will be difficult to determine just which receiver will become number one. Given Mike McCarthy’s penchant for spreading the ball around and going with the hot hand, he’s got plenty of tools running routes this year to make this one of the most dynamic offenses to hit the frozen tundra in many years.

Include the revamped offensive line and the revitalized running game and we really don’t care who’s the number one receiver. There will be plenty of balls for everyone leading us to believe that 2013 should be another incredible year for the Green Bay Packers.