If the Packers are going to push for the playoffs for the ninth straight year, their hopes will fall squarely on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers and his receiving core—Green Bay led the league in touchdown receptions last season with 40. While much of the credit is given to Rodgers, the Packers’ receivers rose to the occasion last year. Jordy Nelson came back from a torn ACL and wound up leading the league in touchdowns, earning him Comeback Player of the Year. Davante Adams finally had his breakout season, scoring 12 touchdowns and nearly eclipsing 1,000 yards. Randall Cobb and Jared Cook struggled with injuries throughout the season, but came up big in postseason play. Here’s a breakdown of the current receivers in the Packers’ organization, and predictions as to who will end up on the team of 53:
Though he’s supposedly past his prime at age 32, Nelson has been the go-to receiver for Aaron Rodgers the past five years. Jordy is as consistent as they come, and the connection between him and Rodgers has been a sweet sight to watch in his time in Green Bay. He looks poised for another stellar season, and is a lock for the 53-man roster.
If Cobb can avoid injury this season, the Packers can surely match, if not improve on, the offensive success they had last year. Unfortunately, the injury bug has plagued the Packers’ slot receiver throughout his career. Cobb has been injured in five of his first six seasons, and though not all serious, have certainly affected his level of play. In the one season that Cobb was injury-free (2014), he accumulated 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, the only time in his career he eclipsed 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. He is only 26, so there are plenty of seasons left for the fans to see vintage Cobb, who will surely be on the team again this season.
This is a contract year for Adams—he becomes an unrestricted free agent next season, but the Packers will surely look to re-sign him for the back end of Rodger’s career. Adams has struggled with drops early in his career, but has shown flashes of brilliance in his first three seasons. Only 24 years-old, he is an athletic receiver who has the potential to soon overtake Nelson as Rodger’s number one target.
Davis largely contributed to the team in the return game, but receivers coach Luke Getsy believes that he will bring much more to the table in 2017, stating to packerswire.com that, “He’s made big improvements this offseason, both his approach, and how fast he’s picked up on things…I’m excited for Trevor.” Only time will tell if Davis is ready to contribute in multiple facets of the game. But if his summer pans out the way Getsy believes it will, paired with his role in the return game, he should find his way onto the team once again.
I like Geronimo Allison—a lot. He doesn’t have elite speed, but his build and athletic ability provide an element that Rodgers normally only finds in tight ends. The Packers cut him at the beginning of last season and signed him to the practice squad, only to be promoted to the team mid-season and make a big impact in the NFC North-clinching game in Detroit Week 17. He won’t be a starter this season, but will make a suitable backup.
Jeff Janis will always have a special place in the hearts of Packer fans for his epic performance in the Divisional Round game against the Cardinals—he made an incredible 61-yard catch on fourth-and-20 that saved the Packers’ season, only to top that with one of the most improbable catches this league has ever seen on the Hail Mary from Rodgers. While Packer Nation will be forever grateful for those plays, I just don’t think it will be enough to propel Janis onto the roster this season. With Trevor Davis taking more of the return reps, and Janis’s lack of production in the receiving game, he will find himself on the outside looking in this season.
Yancey played all four years at Purdue, but his potential was overshadowed by the dumpster fire that was Boilermaker football, who only won nine games in his four years at the University. The Packers drafted Yancey in the fifth round of this year’s draft, excited about the size and speed he brings to the receiver position. He will likely spend this season on the practice squad in order to bring down his drop rate and develop further into an NFL receiver.
Talk about a steal in the seventh round—despite being a five-star recruit out of high school, Dupre did not live up to his potential in college. The lack of production can be attributed to a mixture of stout SEC defenses and the quarterback carousel that has plagued LSU in recent years. Standing at 6-foot-3, Dupre is a tall, athletic receiver that may not have elite speed but can certainly be a deep threat, especially for a quarterback like Rodgers. This is my bold prediction for the receiver position, but I think Dupre has what it takes to grab the last receiver spot if he performs well in training camp.
The lesser known McCaffrey brother, Max spent his first NFL season on the Raiders’ practice squad before joining the Packers’ practice squad last season and being activated for the NFC Championship. He didn’t get into the game, but to have your first sideline experience be in the NFC title game is not half bad. He has the speed to beat NFL cornerbacks, running a 4.36 at the combine, but will benefit from another year on the practice squad.
Crockett only managed three touchdowns in his four-year career at Georgia Southern, and as an undrafted free agent is a long-shot to make the team. He presents good speed, running a 4.39 on his pro day, and could make for a good return man, but as for now, practice squad is his ceiling.
Goodley came out of Baylor in the 2015 draft as an undrafted free agent, but has yet to make an active NFL roster. Not only a star receiver, Goodley also showed off his speed by running track in high school, still holding records for the school. His speed and size are elements that will bode well for him as a slot receiver as he continues on his NFL path, but he won’t be on an NFL team this season.