Packers: Who is the best wide receiver in the Aaron Rodgers era?
While there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the Green Bay Packers‘ need to add another wide receiver, Aaron Rodgers has thrown to some great pass catchers over the years.
With a photo published on social media of Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones reuniting, it got me thinking, who is the best receiver Rodgers has played with?
All four had incredible careers in Green Bay and, at some point during their run, they have been teammates with each other.
Who do you think is the best receiver Rodgers has thrown to? And no, you can’t say Jeff Janis.
Note: Greg Jennings also had a great career in Green Bay, of course, but for this article, I just wrote about the four players in the photo.
One of Rodgers’ all-time great connections was with Jordy Nelson.
When these two were on the same page — which was often — there wasn’t much any defense could do about it. Not only are they two extremely talented players at their respective positions, but they always knew what the other was thinking. They read coverages the same way. Rodgers knew where to put the ball. Jordy knew where it was heading.
A Pro Bowl and All-Pro receiver during his time in Green Bay, while also starring in the team’s Super Bowl victory, Nelson did it all.
After nine seasons with the Packers, Nelson caught 550 passes for 7,848 yards and 69 touchdowns. Nice.
Nelson ranks fifth in receiving yards all-time for the Packers and second in receiving touchdowns behind Don Hutson.
Nelson’s tag-team partner at the wide receiver position for many years was Randall Cobb. He made an impact right from his NFL debut in 2011, when he had both a receiving and return touchdown.
Cobb quickly became one of the league’s best slot receivers and has made some of the most memorable moments in recent Packers history, including his NFC North-clinching fourth-down touchdown to beat the Chicago Bears, or a 75-yarder to again beat the Bears in the dramatic comeback victory in the 2018 season opener.
In eight seasons, Cobb caught 470 passes for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns. He ranks 12th in receiving yards for the Packers all-time, and also 12th in receiving touchdowns.
We always talk about the need to build trust with Rodgers. James Jones is the proof of that. Rodgers knew that when he needed a play, he could fire the ball Jones’ way and he’d make the catch.
Jones’ initial run with the Packers lasted seven years. In that time, he caught 310 passes for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns, leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2012 and helping the Packers win a Super Bowl.
Following Nelson’s torn ACL in a preseason game back in 2015, the Packers needed some help at receiver. Jones became a free agent prior to Week 1 and he made a heroic return for one more season. He took no time to get going, catching four touchdowns in the opening three games, once again showing his incredible chemistry with Rodgers.
He would finish his comeback season with 50 catches for 890 yards and eight touchdowns.
Nowadays, Jones is busy successfully predicting the Packers’ future. In 2019, he was laughed at for predicting the team to go 13-3 in the first season under Matt LaFleur. He was spot on. A year ago, he predicted Aaron Rodgers would win his third NFL MVP award.
Is there anything he can’t do?
When Jones departed following the 2013 season, the Packers drafted Davante Adams in the second round to replace him. After a solid rookie year, Adams struggled in 2015 but that all changed the following year.
Since 2016, Adams has caught 458 passes for 5,639 yards and 58 touchdowns. They are simply incredible numbers. He’s also a four-time Pro Bowler and, in 2020, led the league in receiving touchdowns and was named a first-team All-Pro.
Adams already ranks eighth for receiving yards in Packers all-time history with plenty of time to add to that. He’s fourth in franchise history for receiving touchdowns but could be even higher before he’s done.
Adams also set a couple of single-season franchise records in 2020. With 115 receptions, he broke Sterling Sharpe’s record. He also tied Sharpe’s record for receiving touchdowns in a single season with 18.
Adams has done it all and his career is far from over.
So, who is the best?
When Jordy Nelson left Green Bay, I never thought a wide receiver would ever have a better connection with Aaron Rodgers. The Rodgers-Nelson duo was so dominant for so long.
But Adams has taken that spot. The four-time Pro Bowler is one of the best receivers in the game and has won so many one-on-one matchups against All-Pro cornerbacks. His 2020 season was one of the greatest ever by a Packer, with 115 catches for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defenses couldn’t stop him.
There have been some great receivers in the Rodgers era, but my vote for the best goes to Davante Adams. What about you?