This is the third in a series of stories that’s examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the 2017 draft. The series continues with the wide receivers.
GREEN BAY – As they currently stand, the Packers don’t necessarily need a receiver for 2017.
That doesn’t mean they won’t draft one, though.
Only once in the last six drafts has General Manager Ted Thompson not selected at least one wide receiver, and in that time he has drafted eight in all.
The question, really, is whether Thompson will find another Randall Cobb or Davante Adams in the early rounds that he can’t pass up, or if it’ll be another Jeff Janis or Trevor Davis on the draft’s third day. It all depends on how Thompson’s board looks when it’s his turn to pick.
Either way, the Packers at some point are likely to add to a stable of wide receivers that’s already an effective mix of proven veterans and rising talent.
Jordy Nelson and Cobb are the old guard, with Nelson coming off a superb post-ACL season in which he caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns, numbers very similar to his career-best 2014 pre-injury season. Broken ribs took away most of his postseason, but he gutted it out with extra padding in the NFC title game to catch six passes for 67 yards and a score.
Cobb has yet to replicate his career-best 2014, as injuries robbed him of three games and limited him in other instances last season (60-610-4). He showed what he can do healthy, though – and in Nelson’s absence – with 18 catches for 260 yards in three postseason games, including a league- and franchise-record three-TD game in the wild-card round vs. the Giants.
Adams was the breakout star of 2016, coming just three yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season while catching 75 passes, including 12 TDs. He had four 100-yard games in the regular season, added another in the playoffs, and proved his disappointing 2015 was health-related.
Adams is now entering the final year of his rookie contract, as is Janis, whose primary role remained on special teams, with the occasional flash on offense (two TDs on 13 total touches – 11 receptions, two end-around runs).
Davis is a speedster Head Coach Mike McCarthy declared “ready” late last season, though his playing time was sporadic. The 2016 fifth-round pick could play a big role in the return game in his second year while getting more acclimated to Aaron Rodgers and the offense.
Geronimo Allison proved a quick study in that regard, stepping in late last season for an injured Cobb and delivering as an undrafted rookie. Allison had eight receptions for 157 yards and a TD in the final two regular-season games before adding three catches – all picking up first downs – for 46 yards in the divisional playoff win at Dallas.
Developmental prospects Max McCaffrey (older brother of highly touted Stanford running back Christian) and Antwan Goodley will be competing for roster spots, but they won’t be the only ones.
The Packers routinely bring 10 or more receivers to training camp, so a draft pick and/or rookie free agents will soon be on their way to Green Bay as well.
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