One list on the internet doesn’t prove anything. But Pro Football Focus released their Top 50 Players in the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers are well-represented. The Packers have four players — Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers, Jaire Alexander, and David Bakhtiari — in the top 50, with Aaron Jones barely on the outside looking in.
There are several different ways to look at a list like this:
- The first is that it’s meaningless, and this is only five of the 53 men on the roster.
- The second would be to take it with a grain of salt, accepting that you’d rather have a few players on this list than have none at all.
- The third and perhaps most important way is to lean way into it and use it in an audacious attempt to reason with a Hall of Fame quarterback who seems to have very little interest in returning to your franchise.
No. 5: Davante Adams
Taking all biases out of the equation, I cannot imagine a better receiver to throw to than Davante Adams. The way he has developed over the course of his career has been incredible to watch, and while he’s certainly benefitted from catching balls from Aaron Rodgers, the inverse is true as well. Adams can do everything as a wide receiver, from the legendary separation he gets at the line of scrimmage to 50-50 balls in the end zone.
Rodgers isn’t at the level he’s at today without Adams, and he doesn’t win last season’s MVP without him. It’s why PFF has Davante as the No. 1 wide receiver in the game:
Adams caught 78.8% of the passes thrown his way with just one drop all season — the other incompletions were off-target throws, pass breakups, or other incompletions. Adams is one of the best route-runners in the game but showed last season that he could make the same claim about virtually all other aspects of the position.
No. 14: Jaire Alexander
One of the most frustrating factoids of Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay is just how bad the Packers’ defenses have been in the playoffs. The 35.8 points per game surrendered in the nine playoff losses in the Rodgers era may be what stands between the one Lombardi Trophy that he’s hoisted and the possibility of at least two more (give me 2015 over the Seattle Seahawks and 2021 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the most likely).
Enter Jaire Alexander. He’s rated as the best cornerback in the league and has been in that mix for a few seasons. That makes him the fifth-best defensive player in football behind Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Bobby Wagner, and T.J. Watt (and yes, it really hurts to see T.J. Watt be this good after seeing how Kevin King turned out).
This is a great thing for a quarterback. Having confidence in your defense allows you to take more chances, and Rodgers already takes the most calculated risks in football. There’s certainly potential for the rest of the Packers’ defense to be good to great if players like Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and Darnell Savage play at or near a Pro Bowl level alongside staples like Za’Darius Smith and Kenny Clark. But having an unabashed, bonafide CB1 on the roster in Alexander allows a defense to do many things, and it should be intriguing for any quarterback, no matter how big his ego is.
NO. 15: David Bakhtiari
The two most important factors in the Packers’ win-loss record in 2021-22 are pretty cut and dried. The first is whether or not Rodgers comes back. The second is how healthy David Bakhtiari is. At his peak — as this list assumes he will be — he’s the single best offensive tackle in the game.
The PFF list has Bakhtiari as the third-best offensive lineman overall, behind guard maulers Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin. If you’re a right-handed quarterback, it turns out that it’s beneficial to have incredible talent at left tackle. The fact that he is inked to a long-term extension and will be there for likely the rest of your career would hypothetically be something that a quarterback would be interested in, but apparently that remains to be seen.
No. 10: Aaron Rodgers
Four players (Rodgers included) within the top-20 players listed is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the most in the NFL. But, as it turns out, the Chiefs don’t need a quarterback. The New Orleans Saints have five players in the Top 50, the most of any team, but their highest-ranked player isn’t until Ryan Ramczyk at No. 28. The Saints could use a quarterback, but I wouldn’t wish their cap hell on my worst enemy.
The point here is that it’s not about the talent. Any argument that Rodgers might be looking elsewhere because he wants a better chance to win the Super Bowl is simply a farce. There might be a few teams that are “just a quarterback away” from winning the Super Bowl like the Bucs were last season; teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Washington come to mind. But if Rodgers were to end up in a situation like that, or with the Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders, none of those are better football situations than what’s in place in Green Bay.
The Packers have studs, and lots of them, at the exact positions that a quarterback would want for a late-career shot at a Super Bowl — especially an aging one. If he leaves, then remove the noise, and Jordan Love finds himself in pretty close to an ideal football situation. Green Bay is built to win now. If Rodgers isn’t under center this fall, these guys won’t be the reason why.