Immediately after the 2020 NFL Draft, the Packers fan base was in shambles. The Packers selected Aaron Rodgers’ expected replacement in Jordan Love, a running back in the second round, an H-back in the third round, and three offensive linemen in a row on Day Three. To put a cherry on top, they also did not select a wide receiver in one of the deepest classes at that position in recent memory. But, is that latter point as bad as we initially thought? The Packers’ decision-makers simply are content with the talent on the roster right now, and after a second look, I am too. Not only does the team return a 3-time Pro Bowler in Davante Adams, but there are also some serious breakout candidates behind him.
Green Bay has a lot of third-year experience wide receiver talent: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and the less-complex named Allen Lazard. To touch more on Lazard personally, I am a huge fan of his game and have been for quite some time. Dating back to 2016 when he was at Iowa State, he’s been on my radar for an insane catch radius, reliable hands, and most importantly, the clutch factor. All three of Lazard’s touchdown receptions in 2019 came when the Packers were tied or trailing. Another Lazard statistic was brought to my attention recently. In Kenny Golladay’s first season, he compiled 477 yards and three touchdowns. Golladay has since put together two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and is quickly becoming one of the top young wideouts in the league. In Davante Adams’ first season, he had 446 receiving yards and three touchdowns. In Allen Lazard’s first full campaign on a 53-man roster, he also compiled 477 yards and three touchdowns, the exact same numbers. Can we see that same type of production from Lazard in 2020 and beyond?
The Packers’ free agency is definitely overlooked in my opinion. Their main losses were an inside linebacker, an offensive tackle, and a wide receiver. They also gained an inside linebacker, an offensive tackle, and a wide receiver. That wide receiver was Devin Funchess. Funchess has already had experience being the number one target in an offense, coming in 2017 with the Carolina Panthers. In that season, he led the Panthers in receiving yards at 840, while also hauling in eight touchdowns. Overall in four years in Carolina, he compiled 2,233 receiving yards and twenty-one touchdowns. After his rookie contract with the Panthers, Funchess moved to Indianapolis, where he suffered an unfortunate week one collarbone injury. The Packers got a great value here in getting a veteran wide receiver for only $2.5 million. I think Funchess has a lot of production left in him and for the contract he was signed to, he will be an absolute steal if he can stay healthy in 2020.
I am a huge proponent of signing players from developmental leagues. More often than not, these guys will have an unmatched work ethic and an intense desire to get to the next level. Reggie Begelton’s story is no different. After going undrafted in 2016 out of FCS-level Lamar, Begelton played three seasons for the Calgary Stampeders from the Canadian Football League. In three seasons, he compiled 2,236 receiving yards and twelve receiving touchdowns. In 2019, he finished third in the CFL in receiving yards and was the unanimous selection for Calgary’s Most Outstanding Player. The search for the wide receiver that Packers fans have been searching for gets vastly more interesting with the addition of the 26-year-old Begelton. At 6’0”, 200 lbs., he reminds me a lot of Brandon Aiyuk. The Packers will end up getting him for about 5 times less money as the 49ers will end up paying for Aiyuk. This move was the definition of the phrase “chess, not checkers.” Begelton fits the type of receiver a “Shanahan” offense is looking for, which is exactly what head coach Matt LaFleur will want to start to move towards going into 2020. I think he will find great success in the Packers’ system and possibly make a huge difference in the slot position.
Looking through the potential wide receivers the Packers could have on their 53-man roster in 2020, I am satisfied with the group that’s been put together for training camp. A solid blend of youth and experience and Aaron Rodgers throwing them the football will always result in a good amount of success. But, will this group be enough to help get Green Bay over the NFC Championship hump and into the Super Bowl for the first time in ten years? I say, why not?