Jordy Nelson hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since the Green Bay Packers made him their first selection (second round) in the 2008 draft.
He’s shown flashes of potential. He’s shown his blazing speed. He hasn’t developed into a top-of-the-line NFL receiver.
That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, considering Nelson is sitting behind two proven NFL receivers, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, on the Packers’ depth chart. James Jones is in a similar position to Nelson — he’s a talented receiver who has shown flashes, but hasn’t gotten many opportunities.
However, when healthy, Jones has outplayed Nelson.
With the emergence of tight end Jermichael Finley, the question is whether there are enough balls to go around in Green Bay, this season.
There are two positives for Nelson, though.
Driver’s receptions have dropped each of the past three seasons and at 35, he could be nearing the end of his run as a featured weapon, opening up opportunities for someone like Nelson.
Meanwhile, Nelson is in his third season in the Packers system and is having what coaches have described as his best offseason.
“Jordy has had, by far, his best offseason,” receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. “He’s feeling so comfortable out there, that he’s making a ton of plays.”
Of course, if you listen to the Packers coaching staff, particularly head coach Mike McCarthy, everyone on the Packers roster is having a great offseason, with perhaps the exception of defensive end Johnny Jolly.
Whether Nelson can translate it to the field in November and December remains to be seen.
“Hopefully, he’s in a position where he’s ready to kind of emerge and really take off,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said of Nelson. “The time is now as they say.”
The opportunities may be there for Nelson, if Driver continues to decline. He’ll have to outplay Jones, though, and thus far, Jones has shown he’s up for the challenge.
Nelson’s 2009 stats:
Jones’ 2009 stats:
I think it would be an understatement to say this could be a make or break season for Jordy Nelson if he has designs on becoming a starting receiver in the NFL.