The wide receiver corps for the Green Bay Packers heading into training camp 2017 appears to be flush with talent. As the Packers strap the pads on for the first time in training camp, the men will be separated from the boys and the real playmakers come to play. Here’s a breakdown of the receiving core with the headliner names who figure to be one of the better cores in all of football aided by the golden arm of Aaron Rodgers.
1- #87 Jordy Nelson (2016 stats: 97 rec. 1,247 yds., 14 tds, 10th season) The 2016 Comeback Player of the Year is the consummate professional and is expected to flourish once again, especially with the playmaking abilities of Devante Adams, Randall Cobb, Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks also running routes in the Packers’ offense to help take some of the attention away from Nelson. Nelson looked like his old self in the second half of the season after recovering from an ACL Tear and should be predicted to have around 90 receptions, 1,000+ yards and double digit touchdowns yet again.
2- #17 Davante Adams (75 rec. 997 yds., 12 tds., 4th) On deck to have a breakout season and chase Jordy as a number 1 target. After a solid rookie showing, Adams fell off in year two, mostly due to his being hobbled by an ankle injury, but he came back with a vengeance last season. He won’t turn 25 until Christmas Eve and has become a favorite target of Rodgers. Plus there’s the added fact that this is a contract year for Adams. As the great American philosopher Michael Jordan would say, “the ceiling is the roof”
3- #18 Randall Cobb (60 rec. 610 yds. 4 tds. ,7th) the 3rd highest paid player on the roster was recently inducted to the Kentucky Wildcats Athletic Hall of Fame and will need to step up to justify his $12million salary. In his defense, he has been banged up (shoulder in 2015, ankle, hamstring in 2016) but has found a nice role as a slot receiver while also leading the depth chart at punt returner going into 2017, just ahead of Trevor Davis, who had a crucial muff at Tennessee last season, which was the spark to the game getting out of hand for the Packers
4- #81 Geranimo Allison (12 rec., 202 2 tds., 2nd Yr.) suspended one game by the NFL for possession of marijuana sets back what was a very productive season for the undrafted rookie who wasn’t on the active roster until week 8. He posted a breakout 4 rec. 91 yds. And 1 touchdown performance in week 17 at Detroit, to help win the NFC North crown. He has leaped over Janis on the depth chart as the 4th receiver option and will get every chance to make his mark in the rotation as the Packers employed 3-receivers on 84% of their offensive formations last season.
Up for spots 5-7:
#83 Jeff Janis (11 rec. 93 yds. 1 td, 4th) special teams ace and speedster has to show more production in the offense if he wants to keep his job with young talent breathing down his neck. Janis has had some big moments for the Packers in his first three seasons but was not consistent when called upon. In 2015 Janis made a case for best special teams gunner in the league, but in 2016 Janis seemed more like “just a guy”. Janis also has had trouble grasping the playbook and running crisp routes, much to the chagrin of #12. Ironically enough, Janis’ most memorable moment, the Hail Mary reception in the playoffs at Arizona, was off a broken play. Janis will need to turn it up a notch on special teams and in the offense to keep his job in Green Bay.
#11 Trevor Davis (3 rec. 24 yds. 1 td, 2nd) underwhelming rookie year puts Davis in position to make a big sophomore strides. The Packers are a team not afraid to keep undrafted free agents, but Davis’ speed and return skill help his case, not to mention Thompson is very unlikely to part with a 5th round talent like Davis after one season. In the offseason Davis packed on 10lbs of muscle in the offseason. Coach McCarthy noted the “matured” body Davis is bringing into his second season, as well as a better understanding of the playbook. He’ll get a chance to form a Cal Bears connection with Rodgers, the question is whether he’ll make the most of it.
# 16 DeAngelo Yancy (Rookie- 5th Rd. pick out of Purdue) was a bright spot on a relatively bleak Purdue team over the course of his four seasons in West Lafayette. Has drawn comparisons to former Packer James Jones with similar build and athletic measurables. Considering he was a 5th round pick he is going to have a leg up on all the undrafted wideouts and Dupre. Led the Boilermakers in receiving yards in his junior and senior campaigns even becoming a downfield threat as Purdue finished 1-11 and played behind most every game.
#19 Malachi Dupre (Rookie-7th Rd pick- LSU) talented, yet underutilized receiver out of LSU due to inconsistent and poor quarterback play. Dupre, who was predicted to go as early as round 1 in super pre-season mock drafts comes in at 6’2” with a 4.52 40 yard time at the combine. He’s been impressive from the get go and ran with the 1st team in OTAs (minus Nelson and Cobb). Expect him to be in the lead for the final roster spot, if he can contribute on offense in the preseason and stand out on special teams.
#13 Max McCaffrey (Practice Squad, 2nd) Son of Denver Broncos legend Ed and brother of 1st Round Pick Christian McCaffrey. Was signed to the Packers’ practice squad last December and called up to the 53-man roster for the NFC Championship as insurance to an injured Jordy Nelson, but was ultimately inactive on game day. Ran a 4.36 at the Duke pro-day in 2016 and could supplant Janis as the up and coming special teams gunner/situational deep route runner. He’s a longshot to make the 53-man roster, but the Packers’ will definitely try their best to sneak him on the Practice Squad.
#9 Montay Crockett (Rookie- UDFA- Georgia Southern) coveted by many teams (Jets, Cardinals, Giants, Bears, Panthers) immediately after the draft based mainly off his 40 time (4.28), vertical (38in.) and spring like step. Crockett latched onto the Packers hoping to catch on as a special teams ace. Lacked any impressive receiving numbers at Georgia Southern (career: 32 rec. 535 yds. 3 tds), but was a reliable punt and kick returner with some NFL types measurables. Will be in the running for the Packers’ practice squad.
#89 Michael Clark (Rookie-UDFA-Marshall) former basketball player at St. Francis (PA) before transferring and playing one season with the Thundering Herd. Listed at 6’7” 212 lbs., Clark’s only season at Marshall (and first playing organized football since his freshman year in high school) was an impressive one. Clark led Marshall in receptions (37), receiving yards (632) and tied for touchdowns (5). Nonetheless, the Packers’ won’t have the roster space for such a raw, but albeit talented receiver.
#1 Colby Pearson (Rookie UFDA- BYU) Ray Nitschke field resembles a Brigham Young University party as the Packers also have Pearson’s collegiate offensive teammates in free agent rookie QB Taysom Hill and 4th Rd. selection RB Jamaal Williams. Pearson posted a solid career for the Cougars (76 rec. 864 yds. 8 tds.). Will likely be in the first round of cuts, but if Pearson and Hill can reconnect like the college days they might be able to turn some heads and end up in another NFL organization or possibly on the Packers’ practice squad.
Up until a few years ago, the cut off for receiver spots on the final roster was pretty stern at five. However, last year saw seven wideouts make the opening day 53-man roster. As training camp gets underway, it’s likely this group is going to force the Packers brass to make some tough decisions, leaving Green Bay wishing they could hold onto even more than seven. Instead, barring injuries, they’ll have to try and hide some talent on the practice squad.
Here’s how the week 1 roster is predicted to shape, once Allison is active the Packers’ would be likely to hold onto 7 wideouts, as they did last season.
ROSTER: Nelson, Adams, Cobb, Davis, Dupre, Yancy
Suspended: Allison (1 game)
Practice Squad: McCaffrey
Cut: Janis, Crockett, Clark, Pearson