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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

Analysis

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.

Davante Adams

Nov 17, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) makes a leaping catch for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Jim Matthews-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisonsin

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:

  1. Geronimo needs to pick up where he left off prior to injury last year
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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13 Comments

  1. Larry April 29, 2019

    Another one of McCarthy’s mistakes was not identifying all through camp and pre-season the WR pecking order. I believe Allison is greatly under-rated. He has the trust of his QB, and Rogers has proven that is more important than talent alone. Kumerow will be the X factor as Rogers seems to trust him also. IF Kumerow takes the #3 spot, that leaves little playing time for the 3 second year WRs.

  2. Deepsky April 29, 2019

    Packer fans need to consider that this will not be a heavy passing offense. The offensive passing rank will drop but not because last year’s rookies didn’t step up, or Graham is a year older. LaFluer is going to want to run the ball more to open up the play action.

    I also think the new tight end might find some playing time and become a decent receiver in the mix. He had the second most receiving yards by a tight end in college and by far the most TDs and this was after transferring around to different schools. Supposedly he runs good routes and has good hands, so Rodgers may actually throw to him.

    1. Howard April 29, 2019

      I think the Packers will probably run the ball 100 to 150 more attempts this season, thus the Dexter Williams pick. Hopefully, Williams can stay away from the problems that he had at ND.
      I don’t think more rushing attempts will drop the offensive pass rating. The changes should help the completion percentage and the yards per passing attempt average.

  3. Howard April 29, 2019

    I think Gutekunst believes the young receivers have the potential, but the coaching staff MM put around them sucked. As I’ve said since early last year Raih was a huge mistake as a WR coach, and Hostler was a huge mistake as a passing game coordinator. Raih and Hostler did not get the best out of the young receivers.
    We just finished the draft so everyone has probably looked at multiple scouting reports. Those scouting reports are not only used by scouts, but should be used by coaches including position coaches to improve player weaknesses. When Davante was drafted look at his weaknesses as follows:
    “WEAKNESSES Lacks ideal functional playing strength to consistently beat the jam and can get hung up at the line. Long strider and is not sudden out of his breaks. Production was inflated from a quick-hitting, lateral passing game.”
    Adams can’t get off the line and is not sudden in his breaks is a now a joke. I’m sure Adams put in a lot of hard work, but he also had some good coaching. I think Edgar Bennett was his position coach when Adams was a rookie. So ability, potential, hard work and good coaching is key.
    The young receivers last year may have had some ability and potential, but they did not have good coaching, thus the coaching changes.
    The only receiver type I would have liked to see picked up is one that can come into a game in a pinch, but can return punts and work STs. Maybe that is still Davis, but can you trust him to stay healthy?

    1. MJ April 30, 2019

      As bad as it may sound, promoting Edgar Bennet to offensive coordinator was a mistake.
      I got the impression that he had great understanding of the nuances of the WR position, like body or hand positioning,
      how to run-block, ways of feinting cuts to fool CBs, beating jams. Our receivers under his tutelage were all round players.
      All those skills lie within the “physical” or “intuitive” level, which are not the same qualities needed to devise the overall passing strategy (a more “mental” skill). It’s like having a good corporal or sergeant, great at training and teaching his guys, but would you trust him to command a whole company?

      As much as he wanted to move up the coaching ladder, my impression is that his best job was out there with the guys, helping them become their best, well rounded and complete players.

  4. Stiggy April 29, 2019

    Rob I appreciate your articles but the receiver thing you keep mentioning is a bit off base.

    Rookie wideouts do not typically have a prolonged impact… they may in the case of say Calvin Ridley show some flashes here and there but wideouts usually dont progress until years 2-3 especially with a demanding qb like Rodgers who expects perfection if you want the ball thrown your way

    The packers 2nd year wideouts are the only way the teams wideout production outside of devante will improve. The only other reasonable way that would have surely happened is if the packers had traded for Antonio brown.

    Julio Jones and to a lesser extent juju smith are the best 2 examples of wideouts making an instant impact.

    If the premise of your need for a wideout was based on a long term prognosis I agree its an area worth improving. But it’s very unlikely a rookie wideout is going to have much offensive impact unless they are strictly a gadget player.

  5. Robster April 29, 2019

    I concur that for the most part rookie NFL receivers are still in the NFL developmental stage. That’s why for three years I’ve been begging for a high draft choice WR – he’d have been fully developed for this season. While 2019 was a down year for outstanding college draftee receivers, there was a logjam of high-potential receivers – they went at #’s 25, 32, 36, 51, 56, 57, 59, 62, and 64 – a tight bunching. Ridley was indeed the class of last year’s WR crop, and he showed that a high draft choice (# 26) should be able to start instantly (as did Davante): though he had but five starts, he had 64 catches, 821 yards, 12.8 average, and 10 TDs. He should be an All-Pro by his third year.

    1. Stiggy April 30, 2019

      True that but he also had Julio Jones getting double and triple covered. Devante is exceptional but he isnt Julio jones.

      I’ve also seen plenty of analysis showing Rodgers not throwing to mvs when he was wide open.

      But my breakout candidate is jmon. If that guy gets the mental part down in the new office hes very crisp in space and shows exceptional ability to cut.

      To your point hes also the highest of last years picks.

  6. Ferris April 29, 2019

    5 wide with Adams, Kumerow, Graham, Allison and some other guy…someone should be open. Maybe Aaron Jones will become everything everyone (not named Mike McCarthy) thinks he can be as a pass catching RB.

  7. Mitch Anthony April 29, 2019

    If Kumerow hadn’t had that dum bass roll into the end zone in pre-season and injured his shoulder, maybe just maybe we’d have been seeing some much better numbers from him through a whole season. Here’s hoping his production moves upward in 19 because like many others, I like the guy and want him to succeed with the Packers.

    G’Mo, MVS, EqStB should be okay with the latter two improving but I j’ust don’t know about J’mon.

    I’d also be happy to see the ball spread around to multiple targets much like it was a few years ago. Remember those days?

  8. Andy Peth April 30, 2019

    Rodgers feels great, and here’s why:

    1. Our young WR’s–MVS, ESB, Kumerow, Moore–are truly ascending talents. They’re much better than more impatient fans understand, and we need to remember it took Adams a couple years to develop. Chill out, folks, we’re loaded at receiver.

    2. We couldn’t take any of this year’s 2nd round receivers because we had a 1st round talent fall to us at center-guard. Jenkins was, in my view, the steal of our draft. And Rodgers is going to love him.

  9. Andy Peth April 30, 2019

    I believe in Geronimo. I believe he’ll be our 6th best receiver.

  10. Kato April 30, 2019

    I think Adams is at his ceiling. I don’t believe he can be much better than he already is. Really good player, but he lacks some of the physical tools that can give him a higher ceiling. Besides, if the offense is better next year, his numbers should go down some. Which I am perfectly fine with, and I am perfectly fine with how good Adams is now