Packers Annual Checkup: Jordy Nelson
FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Jordy Nelson, wide receiver
Season stats: 17 games (1,165 snaps; 96.7 percent of total offensive snaps); 92 catches, 134 targets, 1,376 yards, nine touchdowns, six dropped passes, forced 14 missed tackles, zero fumbles
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 24.7 (ranked No. 2 out of 23 Packers offensive players; ranked No. 2 out of all NFL wide receivers)
Best game: Week 8 win at Minnesota (played 69 of 77 snaps; seven catches (eight targets), 123 yards, two touchdowns, zero dropped passes, one forced missed tackle; 3.9 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 13 loss at Detroit (played all 43 snaps; two catches (four targets), 14 yards, zero touchdowns, zero dropped pass, forced zero missed tackles; 0.5 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: High
Expectations were … Exceeded
Looking live: Jordy Nelson entered 2013 coming off of a disappointing 2012 season, one in which injuries forced him to miss four full games (and portions of several others). After posting 1,263 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011, Nelson’s numbers fell off substantially (745 yards, seven touchdowns). But even with that, there was no denying Nelson’s talent or his value to the Packers’ offense. Nelson was ranked No. 14 on FOX Sports Wisconsin’s "Most Important Packers in 2013" pre-training camp series, a spot lower than he would have been had it not been for the injuries in 2012 that surrounded him with a few question marks. After the first week of training camp practices, Nelson was sidelined by a knee injury. On Aug. 5, Nelson decided to undergo knee surgery, with coach Mike McCarthy stating at the time, "he will not be available for the rest of training camp. Our hope is for Jordy to be ready for the season opener at San Francisco." Surprisingly, on Aug. 25, more than two weeks before the first regular-season game, Nelson was back after missing only 12 practices. A day later, Nelson didn’t look slowed at all by his knee. He was recognized in the "Movin’ On Up" category of FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Training Camp Report series on that day for hauling in a 85-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers in his first practice back with the team. "He’s a fast healer and we’re glad that he’s feeling good," Rodgers said then.
Upon further review: This was the best season of Nelson’s career. While he wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl and wasn’t recognized as an All-Pro, Nelson was one of the NFL’s best wide receivers in 2013. That lack of recognition certainly has something to do with the Packers’ 8-7-1 record, but Green Bay couldn’t have asked for more from Nelson. He was putting up monster numbers in the first half of the season with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, but when the trio of backup quarterbacks came in, he still performed well — albeit with only one touchdown during Rodgers’ eight-game absence. The knee surgery Nelson underwent in training camp didn’t bother him at all after that. He stayed completely healthy all season, which was critical during a year in which Randall Cobb missed 10 games, Jermichael Finley was out after Week 7 and James Jones was frequently dealing with injuries. Also important is that Nelson gave Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn a consistent target to throw to as each of them got acclimated to a difficult situation of taking over for Rodgers. Nelson remains sure-handed, ranking 13th in the NFL among qualified wide receivers with a 6.59-percent drop rate, and he has not fumbled once in the past three seasons. Nelson has also mastered the art of catching a back-shoulder throw. "It’s not a play, it’s not like, ‘I’ll go back shoulder,’" Nelson explained on Dec. 18, 2013. "It’s ‘I’ll go and quarterback throws the ball where he wants to throw the ball and we adjust and make the play.’"
Overall 2013 grade: A
Status for 2014: One-hundred percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In October 2011, Nelson agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $13.35 million. This deal was reached just as Nelson was beginning his breakout season, and it was quickly obvious just how below-market it was. Nelson never complained at all about not making more, but with his contract expiring at the end of the 2014 season, he’ll probably be looking to get paid a bit more this time around. Nelson turns 29 years old in late May 2014, so he’s getting close to that age where his best years could be behind him. However, Nelson doesn’t have the type of game that is going to completely deteriorate when he reaches his 30th birthday. Green Bay is going to need another big season from Nelson in 2014. If he gets to work with Rodgers for 16 games instead of just eight games, Nelson should surpass his impressive totals from this past season.
Next: Offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse
Follow Paul Imig on Twitter