Packer fans have spent time, angst and plenty of words lamenting the Packers’ choice not to draft a wide receiver in the 2020 NFL receiver rich draft. The Packers are 4-0 and lead the league in scoring. The wins and points have lessened the sting, but the loss of the team’s top two receivers keeps the conversation simmering on the back burner. Much of the conversation is hypothetical. To really know what the Packers gave up at receiver for Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon we need to review the 5 game sample of every receiver Packers passed on in the first three rounds.
Thirty Five receivers were selected in the 2020 draft. An NFL record 13 wide receivers were drafted in the first two rounds alone. The Las Vegas Raiders picked 3 in the first two rounds, which could have influenced why the Packers failed to draft a pass catcher; a failure to predict how many teams ahead of them would invest multiple draft picks at the position.
The Packers traded up to pick Love at 26. The first WR was taken at 12 by the Raiders (Henry Riggs III). By the time the Packers picked in round one, 5 wideouts were off the board. Lamenting about the Packers not drafting the first 5 receivers drafted is wasted effort, the 13-3 Packers had no shot at these players. The truth is, all the first round WR picks were gone by the time the Packers came to the podium with the 26th pick. No team after the Packers picked a WR in the first round.
The first pick of round two began another run on receivers. Seven receivers went prior to AJ Dillon to the Packers with the 28th pick. Four more wideouts went between Dillon and Josiah Deguara in the third. No WR was picked in round three after the Packers selection. So who did the Packers pass on and are those players producing and contributing more on Sunday (or in this crazy season Tuesday, Monday or Thursday) for their teams?
Round 2 WR picks:
(2:1) Tee Higgins: Higgins has had highs and lows in his first 5 games. In the Bengals first win in game 3, he caught 4 passes on 7 targets. His long was 30 yards, He also had one run for 13 yards. He has established himself as the Bengals #2 receiver behind Tyler Boyd.
Higgins totals are 12 catches (101st in league) for 152 yards (76th) and 2 TD’s. The biggest complaint is that it has taken 22 targets to get those 12 catches. While that stat can also be a product of bad QB play, Burrow has been very accurate.Boyd has 28 receptions on 34 targets.
While Higgins has displayed the same size/speed combination that intrigued scouts, there are still questions on his route running and catching contested catches that will require him to develops his skill set.
(2:2) Michael Pittman Jr. has played 3 games and is the 5th leading receiver for the Colts with 9 catches on 12 targets. He has not caught a touchdown. His longest catch is 16 yards. Pittman Jr. was billed as one of the most NFL ready receivers in the class, coming from a pro-style offense at USC. He is currently dealing with an injury diagnosed as “compartment leg syndrome” which is bleeding inside a muscle, often from a fracture that can cause nerve damage. He has not played since September 27th.
(2:10) Laviska Shenault Jr. has played in all 5 games for the Jaguars and has become their top receiver with 23 catches on 28 targets. He has 1 TD catch and 270 total yards. In his last game Shenault Jr. caught 7 passes for 79 yards on 8 targets. His longest pass was a 25 yard catch. Showing the versatility to play multiple positions as he did in college, he has also totaled 53 yards on 9 running plays.
(2:14) K.J. Hamler started the season for the Broncos with a hamstring injury. He has caught 6 total passes on 12 targets in just two games. Hamler returned one kickoff for 18 yards. He did not catch a pass in their last game and there are rumors he will be placed on injured reserve.
(2:17) Chase Claypool is starting to put up numbers for the Steelers. In his last game against the Eagles, Claypool caught 7 passes on 11 targets for 110 yards and 3 TD’s. Claypool has totaled 13 catches on 20 targets for 261 yards. That’s correct mathematicians, over 20 yards a catch. He also has a rushing TD as part of his 5 touchdowns.
(2:25) Van Jefferson started strong but is beginning to fade for the Rams. His 5 total catches came in the first two games and he has been shut out in their last three games with only 2 targets. Jefferson had foot sit before the draft but seems fully recovered.
(2:27) Denzel Mims has not made a catch and has been placed on IR due to multiple hamstring injuries.
Four receivers were picked in the third round after the Packer picked A.J. Dillon. Antonio Gibson (Memphis), Lynn Bowden (Kentucky), Bryan Edwards (S. Carolina), and Devin Duvernay (Texas)
Gibson played both RB and some wide receiver in college but now is listed as a RB by Washington. He has 55 carries for 213 yards and 15 receptions on 17 targets.
Bowden has only one catch for -1 yards. He also has 9 rushing yards in 4 carries. He has played in three games. Bowden was drafted by the Raiders after playing QB at Kentucky but was traded after having a “rough camp” according to Raider insiders.
Bryan Edwards had a good camp for the Raiders and in 3 games has 5 catches on 6 targets for 99 yards and a long pass catch of 34. Edwards is nursing an ankle injury that has kept him out the past two games.
Duverney has 7 receptions on 9 targets but has filled up the stat sheet with his legs. He has 237 kick return yards, taking one back for a touchdown. He also has a 42 yard run. That totals 339 all purpose yards.
While the Packers hoped to cover their missed opportunities in the draft by signing Devin Funchess and Reggie Begelton, that plan has produced absolutely nothing for the Packers to date. Packer fans have to hope that Davante Adams and Allen Lazard mend quickly and that MVS continues to improve. At this point there are no other draft options until 2021.