Training camp is less than a week away for the Green Bay Packers and one position many thought they would address in the offseason would be the wide receivers. The Packers didn’t make a big splash for one or look into the stacked 2020 wide receiver draft class. Instead, the Packers looked to a cheap veteran coming off a broken collarbone, a player coming back from an ankle injury, undrafted free agents, and a Canadian Football player.
So the Packers made moves at wide receiver, just not the ones people were expecting. The Packers lose one player to the divisional rival Detroit Lions and that’s Geronimo Allison. The 26-year old signed with the Lions on a one-year deal for a million dollars after a 287-yard season with two touchdowns. The Packers receiver core doesn’t look attractive on paper, but they all have a chip on their shoulder and have something to prove.
Let’s take a look at the wide receivers heading into training camp.
Adams was off to an amazing start to the 2019 season but would suffer a turf toe injury that would force him to sit out for four games. Without Adams on the field, it was hard for the Packers to get the passing game at a consistent pace of play. Adams was three yards short of another 1,000-yard season but got to average 83.1 yards per game and had five touchdowns.
Arguably one of the best route runners in the game, Adams is looking to stay healthy and build another elite season. The three-time Pro Bowler is going to be a massive threat against any team this season and with the emergence of Allen Lazard and the newly signed Devin Funchess, Adams will look to stay busy.
Lazard gained the attention of a lot of Packers fans and the league after stepping up for Davante Adams after he went down with turf toe. Lazard was clutch in the Week 6 win over the Detroit Lions with his 35-yard touchdown grab, then had his breakout performance in Week 13 against the New York Giants with three catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, Lazard finished with 35 receptions on 477 yards, three touchdowns, and gained the trust of Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur. Lazard is entering his third year and is expected to be the WR2/WR3 as it all depends on the Packers do with Devin Funchess. Regardless of where Lazard falls on the depth chart, he has made himself a valuable weapon for Rodgers.
The Packers signed former Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. Funchess appeared in one game last year with the Colts where he caught three passes before breaking his collarbone. The 6’4, 225lb, former Michigan Wolverine was a big target for Cam Newton in Carolina where he totaled 2,233 yards on 161 receptions and 21 touchdowns.
People wanted the Packers to get a wide receiver in the offseason and they went with the low risk, high reward situation. If Funchess plays well, the Packers have a solid WR2 on a team-friendly deal. If Funchess plays poorly, the Packers didn’t have to risk a lot of money. This is a big year for Funchess as he might be looking for a long-term deal. The 26-year old needs to show he can produce like he did in Carolina and can stay healthy.
It was a bit of a disappointing sophomore season for Valdes-Scantling. After a promising rookie year, there were high expectations for MVS to be the number two wide receiver. It looked promising at the beginning of the season for Valdes-Scantling as in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos he caught six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Then in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders, he caught two passes for 133 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown.
Besides those two games, MVS was kept quiet as he finished the 2019 season with 26 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns. The 25-year old speedster did get 56 passes thrown his way, but it just seemed like Aaron Rodgers and Valdez-Scantling could never hit their stride together. The hope for 2020 is that Rodgers and MVS can connect on some deep passes, but Valdes-Scantling is going to have to fight for playing time.
After being waived by the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots in 2018, the Wisconsin-Whitewater legend has made things work with the Packers. Kumerow played well for the Packers towards the end of 2018 to persuade the team to keep him around. After a strong 2019 preseason, Kumerow earned the spot on the 53-man roster and posted 12 catches for 219 yards and one touchdown.
Last year Kumerow didn’t see a game where he had more than two catches, but he made the most of it. In Week 5 against the Oakland Raiders he scored his only touchdown on the season and gained 54 yards, in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs he totaled 48 yards, and in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears, the Bartlett, Illinois, native caught one pass for 49 yards. Kumerow is going to need another strong training camp to keep him on the roster for 2020.
Equanimeous St. Brown
Two seasons ago St. Brown showed some flashes in his rookie year but wasn’t consistent. The sixth-round draft pick in 2018 had big games against the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, and the New York Jets where he would totaled three or more catches and 53 yards or more. Unfortunately, St. Brown didn’t get to play in 2019 after a serious ankle injury against the Oakland Raiders in a preseason game.
This is almost like adding a new player for the Packers with St. Brown being healthy for the 2020 season. There are not many expectations on St. Brown, but perhaps this is a guy to keep an eye on during training camp. At 6’5, 214lbs, the Packers are trying to surround Aaron Rodgers with towering weapons, but St. Brown needs to have a strong training camp.
Coming out of the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders is Begelton. The 26-year old played 33 games and started 29 over three seasons in the CFL. Begelton is coming off a fantastic 2019 season where he started 17 games, recorded 102 receptions for 1,444 yards and ten touchdowns. His stats would rank him top five in the CFL in each category.
Begelton was also unanimously selected as the Stampeders Most Outstanding Player and helped his team win the 2018 Grey Cup. The Packers would sign Begelton in January to a reserve/future contract. There’s a lot of excitement with Begelton as he tore up the CFL, but now playing in the NFL, with no preseason games, he’s going to have to find a way to impress the coaching staff.
Another one of the Packers undrafted free agents from the past couple of years. Shepard was undrafted out of North Dakota State last year but didn’t see much time on the field. The only game Shepard appeared in last year was against the Detroit Lions in Week 6 and caught one pass for one yard. After that Shepard was placed on the practice squad. The three-time FCS champion doesn’t have the ideal resume and is going to need the training camp of a lifetime to make the roster.
Darrell Stewart Jr.
After not drafting any wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Packers instantly signed Stewart to an undrafted free agent deal. Stewart is an exciting player to watch as he was an athletic wide receiver at Michigan State but kept battling injuries. Stewart made eight starts last year but missed four games due to injury. In 2018 Stewart made eight starts and missed two games due to injury.
Stewart recorded 97 receptions with 1,110 yards and five touchdowns in his last two seasons as a Spartan, then earned the Biggie Munn Award for the most inspirational player on offense. Stewart is going to be at a disadvantage due to the zero preseason games but could make an impact in training camp.
Being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent last year, Taylor ended up on the Packers roster. The 6’3, 216lb wide receiver ended up playing on the practice squad for the whole 2019 season. Taylor missed out on his senior year at Ferris State due to injury, but he totaled 121 receptions, 2,091 yards, and 11 touchdowns in his career. Taylor looks to make the 53-man roster but has a lot of competition in front of him.