If there is one notable feature of the Ted Thompson era, it has been a lack of appreciation for speed at specific positions, whether receivers, defensive backs, running backs or even linebackers. Starting in 2013, that mindset began to shift.
Looking just at Green Bay Packers receivers from 2006 to 2014, the regular starters have been a small group: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb.
Only Jennings (4.42) and Cobb (4.46) ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash. Driver, a seventh-round pick, wasn’t invited to the combine.
Things changed in 2013, when the Packers used a seventh-round pick on a big, 4.39 speedster, Charles Johnson. He was quickly poached off the practice squad and is now with the Minnesota Vikings. Thompson went back to the same well in 2014, selecting another Division II Michigan college star — Jeff Janis, with 4.42 speed.
The other Packers’ receivers heading into the 2015 season were notably sluggish — Jared Abbrederis (4.50), Jordy Nelson (4.51 in 2008), James Jones (4.54 in 2007), Ty Montgomery (4.55), and Davante Adams (4.56). In 2016, Thompson invested in a speedy receiver in the fifth round, selecting Cal’s Trevor Davis (4.42).
Thompson and Co. hit their low point in 2014, when they picked tight end Richard Rodgers, a 4.87 plodder. In recognition of this error, the Packers grabbed free agent tight end Jared Cook, this offseason. Cook ran a phenomenal 4.49 dash in 2009 — probably the fastest combine 40 time among all current NFL tight ends.
The correlation between speed and on-field effectiveness seems striking, with Janis, Abbrederis and new-guy Davis most often finding separation in the Packers’ offseason drills. Plus, Jordy is a proven deep threat, despite an average 40 time.
Adams and Rodgers, meanwhile, have clearly struggled to get open.
Now that the personnel department is finally supplying the team with some speedy receivers, isn’t it time the coaching staff started putting them to use?