GREEN BAY—Packers GM Ted Thompson didn’t mince words when he described Saginaw Valley State receiver Jeff Janis, the player Thompson made his ninth and final pick in the 2014 draft.
“I see a remarkably gifted athlete who completely dominated his level of play,” Thompson said. “He’s a fairly gifted fellow.”
In a receiver-rich draft, the Packers had already added two players at the position but that didn’t stop them from taking Janis in the seventh round with the 236th overall pick on Saturday.
For a unit that has lost Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones over the last two years, it has quickly been re-stocked.
“The receiver position obviously has a lot more competition,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.
Thompson said that Janis ranked second of all the receivers on the Packers’ board in terms of his athletic testing numbers, which included a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and a 37 ½-inch vertical jump.
Add to that his otherworldly statistics at the Division II level – 189 catches for 3,207 yards and 31 touchdowns over the past two seasons, which earned him Little All-America honors both years – and it became too intriguing to pass up a player who will be making a big jump as far as the level of competition.
Projected as a mid-round pick by some analysts, Janis believes he showed he belonged at the Senior Bowl, which carried over to a solid showing at the scouting combine.
“Senior Bowl week I showed I can compete with some of the best guys in the nation,” he said. “I was a little nervous going into it, but I knew I was picked to go there for a reason. I picked up the speed of the game, and after I ran the first route, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.”
Interestingly, Janis was roommates at the Senior Bowl with Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis, whom the Packers also drafted in the fifth round. The two met while training for the pre-draft process in San Diego and have become good friends.
“We texted each other throughout the draft,” Janis said. “I have yet to talk to him. I’ll have to get a hold of him right after this.”
Like Abbrederis, Janis didn’t have any Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school, mostly because he broke a finger his senior year and played running back rather than receiver.
Janis took Saginaw Valley’s Division II offer and became a high-impact player as a sophomore, catching 14 TD passes. After setting school records with 106 catches and 1,635 yards as a junior in 2012, with his 17 TDs second in school annals, Janis started to see the NFL as a reality.
“Thankfully, it’s happening,” he said.
“I was hearing a lot of things, mid-round grade, fourth round, sixth round, something like that. It didn’t happen that way, but I feel lucky to be blessed and get picked. I’m ready to get to work and start playing football again.”
Complete coverage: Meet the Draft Class