GREEN BAY—Packers GM Ted Thompson’s track record with drafting receivers in the second round is pretty good.
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb all came to Green Bay via round two, and the task now falls on Fresno State’s Davante Adams to continue that run of success, after the Packers made him the 53rd overall pick in the draft on Friday night.
The ninth receiver taken in a receiver-rich draft, Adams comes to the Packers with a slew of school and Mountain West Conference records set in just two years on the field following a redshirt season.
“When you watch him on tape, you love how he’s a competitor,” Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett said. “He makes the tough catch, goes up and attacks the football. Extremely productive.”
That’s putting it mildly. Adams led the nation with 131 catches and 24 touchdowns last season, and in two years he caught 233 passes for 3,030 yards and 38 TDs as Fresno State QB Derek Carr’s favorite target.
Now he’ll be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, whom he called his favorite quarterback to watch.
“He’s proven to be best quarterback in the league,” Adams said. “Just like in college with having Derek Carr throwing me the ball, he makes my job easier and I can’t wait to get started working with him.”
Adams couldn’t wait to be selected, either. Seeing eight receivers taken ahead of him on Thursday and Friday was “pretty brutal,” he said, but he “couldn’t be happier” with landing in Green Bay.
Celebrating at home surrounded by multiple family members and friends, Adams – who is listed at 6-1, 215, and will wear No. 17 for Green Bay – said he’s looking forward to learning from Nelson, Cobb and the other Packers receivers, and he doesn’t doubt that entering the draft early was the right call for him.
“I’ve always been confident in my abilities, all throughout my life,” he said. “I know I could rise to the occasion, whatever it took. I’ve put together some pretty good film in the two years I played, and I came to the conclusion that I’ve done all I can do to prove to teams I’m ready for the next step, and here we are.”
Adams immediately fills the void left by veteran James Jones’ departure in free agency, and it’s conceivable he’ll compete with Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 receiver spot.
With superb jumping ability (39½-inch vertical jump) and long arms, Adams is the type of player who competes for every throw, Bennett said. There appear to be few concerns about his maturity level for a player who had two years of college eligibility remaining.
“His mindset is right as far as what’s necessary to go to the next level,” said Bennett, calling him a high-character individual. “When he gets here, we’ll have to continue to work, continue to improve. I don’t think anyone’s a finished product.”
Considering Adams’ college statistics, it’s intriguing to think where his ceiling might be. In 26 games at Fresno State, he topped 100 yards receiving 13 times. Three times he topped 200 yards.
Bennett rattled off a variety of skills he saw on tape from Adams – getting yards after catch, breaking tackles, blocking downfield. Perhaps what stood out most was his ability to come down with the ball in traffic.
Adams originally came to Fresno State to play both football and basketball before settling on football full-time. He said while he misses basketball, he puts those hard court skills to good use on the gridiron.
“Growing up it was always second nature for me to go up and catch a rebound, to high point the ball,” he said. “That helps me in red zone when it comes to jump balls, things like that.”
Timed speed was probably the only reason Adams lasted as long as he did in this draft, but he emphasized that track speed doesn’t help a receiver get off the jam at the line of scrimmage or make the play on the ball in the air.
“I have good speed. I’m not a 4.3 guy, but I definitely know how to use my speed, and I don’t get caught on the field from behind,” he said.
“I feel like I’m one of the best playmakers in this draft, being able to catch the ball deep or catch the short route and taking it the distance.”