The obvious question is: what must Aaron Rodgers be thinking following the Pack’s 2019 draft actions? I’m pondering a less obvious one: what must Davante Adams be thinking?
Davante had a heckuva fifth year: 169 targets, 111 catches, 1,386 yards, 12.5 average, 13 TDs, 64 first downs, and turnover-free. He’s such a pleasure to watch, it seems remarkable that this was his first 1,000-yard season.
I can’t readily think of a receiver, or any other player for that matter, who gets more production out of his physical abilities. He does it by determination, attention to detail, and pure effort.
The recent draft confirms that Davante is again going to have to carry a heavy weight in 2019. The team has no proven or even experienced wideouts to share the load. It got me to wondering about the supporting casts of the other great wide receivers around the league.
Looking at 2018, I’ve listed the top 10 receivers below, based on their passing yardage, and below their names the second- and third- best wide receivers – and for good measure I’ve include RBs and TEs if they are among the top three pass catchers.
WR Julio Jones, Falcons – 1,677 yards
- WR Mohamed Sanu – 831
- WR Calvin Ridley – 821
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – 1,572 yards
- RB Will Fuller – 503
- TE Ryan Griffin – 305
- WR Keke Coutee – 287
- WR Demaryius Thomas – 275
WR Mike Evans, Bucs – 1,524 yards
- WR Chris Godwin – 842
- WR Adam Humphries – 816
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs – 1,479 yards
- TE Travis Kelce – 1,336 yards
- WR Sammy Watkins – 519
- WR Chris Conley – 234
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers – 1,426 yards
- WR Antonio Brown – 1,297 yards
- TE Vance McDonald – 610
- WR Ryan Switzer – 253
WR Michael Thomas, Saints – 1,405 yards
- RB Alvin Kamara – 709
- WR Tre’Quan Smith – 427
- WR Keith Kirkwood – 209
- WR Ted Ginn – 209
WR Davante Adams, Packers – 1,386 yards
- TE Jimmy Graham – 636
- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 581
- WR Randall Cobb – 383
TE George Kittle, 49ers – 1,377 yards
- WR Kendrick Bourne – 487
- WR Dante Pettis – 467
- WR Marquise Goodwin – 395
Adam Thielen, Vikes – 1,373 yards
- WR Stefon Diggs, 1,021
- TE Kyle Rudolph – 634
- WR Laquon Treadwell – 302
TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs – 1,336 yards
- WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs – 1,479
- WR Sammy Watkins – 519
Julio Jones, the league’s top receiver, has plenty of quality support from his other WRs, though I’m sure he still gets lots of double coverage.
The Bucs’ Mike Evans also has lots of help: two WR teammates who each had over 800 yards of receptions.
The Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill has the most productive tight end in the league out there with him.
The Steelers had a dynamic twosome in JuJu and Antonio, who accounted for 2,723 yards between them.
The Saints’ Michael Thomas doesn’t get much help from the other wideouts, though RB Alvin Kamara is the league’s most productive pass-catching RB.
The 49ers must have the league’s weakest receiving corps, and their 4-12 record reflects it.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is a phenomenon – he eclipsed Antonio Brown in his second year, and he was just 21 for most of the season. Plus, he came out of Cal Poly – yeah, San Luis Obispo. Maybe this is what put Antonio Brown and his big ego in such a funk. Will a second-round WR pick in 2019, among all those the Packers passed on, be the next JuJu?
Davante Adams does not get the lowest support from his other wideouts, but he’s close to it. Because Valdes-Scantling lost playing time to Equanimeous St. Brown the stats are a bit deceiving. Had either started the entire year, either might have finished with between 700 and 800 yards – perfectly fine for a rookie.
Gute’s Vote of Confidence
Brian Gutekunst invested heavily in receivers, at least in terms of quantity, in his first year as Packers’ GM, by drafting three WRs in the middle to late rounds. He must be pleased with their development, because he just bypassed several opportunities to draft much more acclaimed college receivers in the draft just concluded in Nashville.
There’s also the “Geronimo” factor. Though he went undrafted, he was off to a great start in his third year with the team: 19 catches for 289 yards, for a 15.2 yards per catch average and for two touchdowns – in just the first four games. If he had kept up at that rate, he would have finished with 1,156 yards on the year. Unfortunately, injuries struck him down.
For the Packers to have a strong passing game in 2019, one or several things need to happen:
- Geronimo needs to pick up where he left off prior to injury last year
- St. Brown or Valdes-Scantling needs to keep getting better in his second year – I’d be hoping for an 800-yard season from one or the other
- Jimmy Graham needs to up his production from 636 yards last year to around 900 yards in his second season with Aaron Rodgers. I have more confidence than most in this future NFL Hall of Famer.
- Davante Adams needs to have another stellar year despite the added pressure and double-teaming he’ll receive after his breakout season in 2018.
I’m inclined to think that 2 and 3 are achievable. I’m guessing that Adams will have another fine year – the guy is fundamentally flawless. However, I don’t see him topping 1,200 yards this time around – due to how intensely he’ll be targeted by defenses.
That will be enough, however, if 2 or 3 comes to pass. I’d be pleased if Geronimo can accumulate 800 yards on the year – his surprising ability to have lots of long catch-and-run completions makes that a reasonable forecast. Geronimo has almost made me a believer.
The team’s pass attack has been erratic of late: 8th best in 2014, 25th in 2015, 7th in 2016, 25 in 2017, and 9th in 2018. A lot of things will have to fall in place for Green Bay’s pass game to remain in the top ten.
There are some other scenarios out there by which Green Bay can have a fine year. I’ll get into them in my next post.
Featured Image Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports