Give Aaron Rodgers the Weapons He Needs!

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Aaron Rodgers vs Seattle

About three weeks ago I mentioned in passing that I’d take a game-changing wide receiver with the Green Bay Packers’ upcoming first-round pick. Despite all the catcalls, I’m not about to just slink away and quietly lick my wounds.

Isn’t it the prevailing opinion that Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been given a great supporting cast in the last several drafts? Think tight ends, think seventh-round, fifth-round and undrafted receivers, and a receiver who switched over to running back. Think five straight years of the team’s top pick being a defensive player.

Is it asking too much to once every so often expend a first-round pick on a game-changing wide receiver — on someone who should still be in his prime the day that Rodgers hangs up the cleats? If you aspire to have such a player, the odds are that he’ll be found in the first round.

Below is a list of arguably the top wide receiver on each NFL team, in the order of when they were selected in the draft (round/overall pick), along with their receiving yards in 2016 – especially if injured in 2016, their previous best receiving yardage and the year it was achieved are shown. It breaks down into 14 first-rounders, seven second-rounders, and 11 receivers chosen in the third round or later. Truly high-quality receivers rarely make it into the second round.

1/3 Larry Fitzgerald (AZ) – 1,023 yds.
1/4 Amari Cooper (OAK) – 1,153 yds.
1/4 Sammy Watkins (BUF) – 1,047 (2015)
1/4 A.J. Green (CIN) – 1,426 (2013)
1/6 Julio Jones (ATL) – 1,409 yds.
1/7 Mike Evans (TB) – 1,321 yds.
1/12 Odell Beckham, Jr. (NYG) – 1,367 yds.
1/19 Jeremy Maclin (KC) – 1,318 (2014)
1/20 Brandin Cooks (NO) – 1,173 yds.
1/22 Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – 1,083 yds. (1,619 in 2014)
1/24 Dez Bryant (DAL) – 1,382 yds. (2012)
1/27 DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – 954 yds. (1,521 in 2015)
1/28 Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) – 941 yds.
1/30 Kenny Britt (LAR) – 1,002 yds.

2/36 Jordy Nelson (GB) – 1,257 yds.
2/42 Jordan Matthews (PHI) – 804 yds.
2/45 Alshon Jeffery (CHI) – 821 yds.
2/49 DeSean Jackson (WAS) – 1,005 yds.
2/60 Golden Tate (DET) – 1,077 yds.
2/61 Allen Robinson (JAX) – 883 yds.
2/63 Jarvis Landry (MIA) – 1,136 yds.

3/84 Mike Wallace (BAL) – 1,017 yds.
3/92 T.Y. Hilton (IND) – 1,448 yds.
3/Sup. Terrelle Pryor (CLE) – 1,007 yds.
4/100 Travis Benjamin (LAC) – 677 yds.
4/119 Brandon Marshall (NYJ) – 788 yds.
5/146 Stefon Diggs (MIN) – 903 yds.
5/153 Jeremy Kerley (SF) – 667 yds.
6/195 Antonio Brown (PIT) – 1,284 yds.
7/227 Rishard Matthews (TEN) – 945 yds
7/232 Julian Edelman (NE) – 1,106 yds.
Undr. Doug Baldwin (SEA) – 1,128 yds.

Sure, there are exceptions, but in general if you want a dominant wide receiver, drafting in round 1 is the only reliable way to do it. Picking early in the first round, which means you’ve had a very bad prior season, is the surest way to do it. The first seven receivers at the top of the above list might well all end up in the NFL Hall of Fame. However, this isn’t an option the Packers ever have, unless they go crazy and trade up.

While it’s much harder to find a great receiver near the bottom of the round, the run of Brandin Cooks, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and DeAndre Hopkins shows it can be done. These players were all chosen from 20th to 27th overall – the Packers have the 29th pick this year.

If the Packers wait until the second round, when they choose 61st overall, the quality goes down a bunch. Even so, the Packers have done fairly well recently with a series of late second-round receivers: Davante Adams (2014), Randall Cobb (2011) and Greg Jennings (2006) – but it’s been the Packers’ rare early second-rounder, Jordy Nelson, who kept this team in 2016 from sinking back into its 2015 morass.

What about the first round? The Packers last used a first round pick on a receiver 15 years ago, when they made Javon Walker the 20th overall pick in 2002. Talent-wise, Walker had the goods, but he only stayed with the team for four years, and his career only lasted eight years. Before that the Packers used the 14th overall pick of 2000 for tight end Bubba Franks and in 1988 they selected Sterling Sharpe seventh overall.

Sharpe epitomized the “WR1” and he had seven great years prior to his career-ending injury. Though Brett Favre and Sharpe only had three years together, in that time each was twice named first-team All Pro and both went to the Pro Bowl each year. Here is what Sharpe averaged in those three seasons: 105 catches, 1,285 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Glory days!

There are other reasons for the Packers to pick a wide receiver in the first round this year, which I’ll probably get around to during the long offseason. But don’t forget that Green Bay is about to begin its 25th year as, first and foremost, a passing team.

It’s their bread and butter.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

12 Comments on "Give Aaron Rodgers the Weapons He Needs!"

  1. PF4L

    So…reading between the lines, what is it you’re actually trying to say in that painfully long novel?
    1) Ted needs to be replaced?

    2) The best way to improve this team’s post season chances are more weapons to outscore the opponent while the defense keeps digging us into a hole we can’t get out of?

    3) Defense doesn’t matter, because the offense is the bread and butter? ( btw…that was almost exactly what Capers said when asked about his last place ranking defense in 2011.) That was the same moment i was calling for the removal of Capers. 5 fucking years ago. Look back, It’s all still there.

    When is it finally going to be time…….for people to realize, how this team is being dismantled and showing regression each year?

    So in this non stop mental masterbation of metrics anylization, you’ve concluded we need more receiver talent from the 1st round. Despite the fact the offense is hardly the problem on this team sans 2015. Lets put these metrics under the analytical microscope……

    The Packers scoring offense since 2011 was ….

    (2011) #1 in the NFL… without a 1st round receiver. 3rd highest in NFL history.
    (2012) 4th highest scoring, without a 1st round receiver.
    (2013) 9th highest scoring, without a 1st round receiver.
    (2014) 1st in highest scoring, without a 1st round receiver, 20th highest points scored ever.
    (2105) 14th highest scoring, without 2nd rd pick Jordy Nelson.
    (2016) 5th highest scoring, without a 1st round receiver.

    All that, despite a weak rushing scoring offense where Rodgers himself rushed for 12 TD’s.

    You can scour through hundreds and hundreds of hours of analytical metrics…knock yourself out. But your analysis has been shown to be wrong time and time again. So much so that i’ll just do a fast scroll through your article at best these days. But maybe others enjoy it, idk.

    This team doesn’t need a 1st round wide receiver, not when you have Aaron fucking Rodgers. Has Belichick ever drafted a 1st round wide receiver for Tom Brady? I highly doubt it, he’s not stupid. He doesn’t have to because he’s got Tom Fucking Brady.

    This team has a LOT of problems, seemingly more each passing season. But not drafting a wide receiver in the 1st round would be problem #100, on a list of top 100 Packer problems.

    Now, with all that said….If i knew ahead of time 100%, that Ted was gonna fuck the pooch again with the #1 pick. Sure, take a wide receiver with skills if he’s there. But, even Ted, could fall ass backwards into a defensive blue chip 1st rounder….Like Lloyd Christmas once profoundly stated….”So your tellin me there’s a chance…..”

    • Robster

      My draft analysis isn’t based on 2016 or going back to 2011. You draft based on the future, not on last year or the distant past. How quickly we forget 2015, the only year since Rodgers became the starter that he had to cope without any top-notch receiver/WR1. Jordy has spoiled us most of the years Rodgers has been a starter, but most observers thought he lost a step last year, and injuries are starting to take their toll. We need someone to be up to speed to take over as WR1 probably in 2019. The Packers’ almost invariably bring their receivers (mostly second-rounders) along slowly – Jordy, Cobb, Adams, and Driver all took or will take four years or more to have a 1,000 yard season – only Jennings did it in three years, and James Jones never got there. Who on our current supporting cast behind Jordy offers promise of developing into a WR1? After the QB, a WR1 is the game’s biggest difference-maker. Our last six number 1 picks have been Kenny Clark, D. Randall, Clinton-Dix, D. Jones, Nick Perry, and Derek Sherrod – are those good returns on our first-round investment? My stats suggest that wide receivers are among the least risky of picks, as their college performance seems to closely mirror what they do as pros. With many other positions, you never know. We are also now painfully thin at WR, having moved on from four WR prospects last year alone: Janis, Abbrederis, Montgomery, and, it appears, Trevor Davis. Geronimo is limited athletically, and Cobb, too, might have hit his ceiling back in 2014. The notion that Rodgers and Brady can work miracles know matter who their receivers are is very brave, but I hope we don’t have to test it out again in the next few years.

      • PF4L

        Well, Maybe technically, what Rodgers and Brady do, can’t be described as actual “miracles….but i think, their both pretty G D good at what they have done without drafting a 1st round receiver….lol

        My point was, the defense needs serious upgrading and attention, FAR more than any offensive need….for any hope of getting to the Super Bowl. This isn’t rocket science, nor should we try to make it that. It’s simple, read below.

        The Packers offense was was 4th in scoring offense at 27 ppg
        The Patriots were 3rd at 27.6 ppg

        The Packers scoring defense was 21st allowing 24.2 ppg < ——– eliminated by Falcons giving up 44 pts.
        The Patriots defense was #1 allowing only 15.6 ppg <—– Super Bowl Champion

        Just extra food for thought…The 96 SB winning Packer defense gave up only 13.1 ppg. The 2010 SB winning Packers gave up only 15 ppg.

        See a pattern there?

        If that doesn't clear up my point, idk what to say my man.

  2. Packers fan

    Weapons? Offense has never been the problem with this team with the exceptions of 2015 and first 5 games of 2016. Our weapons are fine, but bolstering the run game would make it better.

    More importantly, Packers need to get Rodgers a defense. Rodgers should do what Lebron did, by begging for a defense.

    Finally, this could be TT’s last season in GB as his contract expires after this and he doesn’t deserve a new one after this.

  3. Kato

    I don’t trust TT at all. According to some people on this site, they do think the packers can win 10-12 games every year just because of AR with poor players that are also poorly coached. In the NFL that has the best players and coaching in the world. Very logical.

  4. Not sure about taking a WR in the first round. All I can say is the team needs to sign at least one outside free agent #1 corner, and a pass rusher. Then try to sign Perry, Lang, Cook and maybe Lacy if healthy. After you do that then you can take the BPA in the draft. If the wide receiver is clearly the best player fine, but if it is close you go defense, pass rusher and corner. IN a passing league the defense has to get better at pressuring the QB and pressing wide receivers.

    I know everyone thinks there is not enough cap room, but remember when a team signs free agents they can set up the contract to help in cap hits the first one or two years. This should allow the team to sign outside free agents and some key team free agents, and the cap appears to be raising approximately 10 mil. a year. Now is the time to go all in and fix portions of this defense by free agency and the overall team depth (defense included) by the draft.

    • PF4L

      Howard…the problem with that is, that’s not how Ted thinks or operates.

      Curious on your thoughts on Perry, should the Packers go all in on Perry?.

      • Not sure about all in. It is a concern that Perry has never been healthy for a full year. It is also a concern that Perry only put up a lot of sacks in a contract year. To me when healthy Perry is probably a top 20 to 25 OLB. Because sacks, hurries, and QB hits are a big deal I think every team needs someone like Perry and most teams will pay big bucks for those type of players. Perry in the last two years has produced sacks, and splash plays in playoff games. I think 4.5 in 4 games and probably should have had 1 more against Dallas if MM challenged the play. Against Atlanta nothing big but I don’t think you can get pressure when the pass defenders are not up, and pressing their coverage responsibility. Ryan gets rid of the ball to fast against soft coverage.

        One more positive about Perry is he can and will produce in the run game. Perry can hold the edge better than any of the other packer linebackers while still producing sacks. With all that said I think Perry should be worth about 8 to 8.5 mil. a year. I think he will probably get 10 or more because he plays the position on defense that gets paid big and the other very good pass rushers have been tagged. It does say something about Perry that the Pack did not tag him, maybe that is because they have a contract in the works, or the Packers are not concerned they could lose Perry. I think a contract is close. With Perry you have not heard a word from his camp trying to negotiate on twitter or in the media.

        • PF4L

          I don’t disagree with any of that. you could be right on the Packers and Perry working on a deal. But they are running out of time.

          Here’s my take…..Perry puts the Packers in a really bad position. As Perry was really our only standout player consistently. But he ironically, isn’t consistent. As i posted in another article, Perry had 1 standout season in 5 years. If we sign him to another 5 years, how many standout seasons do we get? It’s impossible to answer, but history clues you in. Then once he signs for big money, is he still hungry?

          He’s a huge risk…..with all the leverage. But by all accounts, he seems to be a standup guy with skills when he’s healthy and hungry. I don’t think the Packers have a choice but to sign him, knowing Ted…. possibly overpay him not to test the market and inking him the night before free agency.

  5. Gort

    There are so many holes on the roster that the correct draft choice really IS the BEST player available. I just don’t trust that TT will make the correct choice.

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