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We’re Watching a Superstar at the Top of His Game

Davante Adams has stealthily crept his way up to become the dominant player that we just marveled at against the 49ers. It really wasn’t until about the middle of last year that it came to be known league-wide that Davante is one of the best, if not the best, wide outs in the NFL. Packer fans have been truly blessed to watch this hard-working professional attain excellence over the past seven-plus years in Green Bay.

Most of the great NFL receivers come out of college predestined to be future stars. For examples, Tim Brown went 6th overall in 1988, Marvin Harrison went 16th overall in 1996, Larry Fitzgerald was 3rd overall in 2004, Calvin Johnson was 2nd overall in 2007, Julio Jones was 6th overall in 2011, and Mike Evans was chosen 7th overall in 2014.

Adams will never achieve those career heights, if only because it took him five years to achieve his first 1,000-yard reception season, whereas most of these other all-stars were dominating the league by their second or third years. Adams has made himself what he is through sheer determination and dedication.

Davante, out of Freson State and drafted in the middle of Round 2 in 2014, began his rapid ascent in 2018, when he busted out with 111 receptions for 1,386 yards in 15 games. In 2019, he went for 83 and 997 – but in only 12 games. In 2020, he had 115 and 1,374 in fourteen games. He’s been named to the Pro Bowl four consecutive years, but he wasn’t designated an All-Pro until last season.

If he were to continue his pace this season, he’d wind up with 133 catches for 1,648 yards (if it were a 16-game season). Of course, it would take an almost injury-free year, and he’s only had one such season in the last five.

Comparators

Once upon a time I attributed Davante’s success to his amazing feet, which produce lightning quick acceleration, stopping, and changes of direction. The only comparisons I could come up with were Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham – unlike Davante, both are self-absorbed bad boys, which perhaps is due in part to striving to outduel numerous and bigger defenders. Since I don’t keenly follow the rest of the NFL, I could be missing some others with characteristics similar to Adams.

Antonio Brown, now back in the league and in his twelfth year, is doing well with Tom Brady and the Bucs, He rode his talented feet to completions and pass yardages of 136 and 1,834 (2015), and also to yardages of 1,499 or greater in 2013, 2014, and 2017. Due to personal misconduct problems and suspensions, Antonio only appeared in nine games in 2019 and 2020 combined.

Brown is 5’10” and weighs only 185 pounds. He’s been thrown to in Pittsburgh by Ben Roethlisberger for nine years, and by Tom Brady with the Bucs last year and currently. Brown is now 33 years old. A highlight reel from 2020 reveals a less dynamic player, who had changed his game mostly to being a possession receiver.

Beckham peaked in 2015 and 2016, his second and third seasons, with 96 catches for 1,450 yards and 101 catches for 1,367 yards. He’s now 28 and in his third year in Cleveland, and he’s coming off a season in which he only played in seven games. Beckham is listed as 5’11” and 198 pounds. He’s the king of the one-handed catch. He’s had the good fortune to play with Eli Manning with the Giants and Baker Mayfield with the Browns.

Welker, who played at 30 pounds lighter than Adams, had a marvelous 12-year career, from 2004 to 2015, in which he accumulated receiving yardage of just under 10,000 (Adams is at 6,877). Welker’s best years were from 2007 to 2012, when he was being thrown to by Tom Brady. In that time, he had over 100 catches five out of six years, and gained over 1,300 yards three times, maxing out with 1,569 yards in 2011. Though he hooked up in Denver with Peyton Manning in 2013 and 2014, he was not as productive there as he was in New England.

As for McCaffrey, though he’s listed as a running back, he’s most valuable as a pass receiver. In 2018 he caught 107 passes for 860 yards, and the next year he upped it to 116 catches for 1,005 yards. Christian missed most of last season with ankle and shoulder injuries. In three games this season, he’s typically hauled in 16 passes for 163 yards. At 5’11” and 205 pounds, McCaffrey is smaller than Adams and not as electrifying quick, but he’s still similarly elusive and dedicated to his craft.

I mention these other players in order to speculate what the future might hold for Davante. I think he’ll have a long career, maybe 12 years or more, and he’ll be almost as productive in his early- to mid-30s as he is now at nearly age 29. Much depends on injuries, as all four of these comparators have missed many games on account of them. As we saw on Sunday, game-changing receivers are constant targets for mayhem by defensive backs and linebackers. Of the five, Davante is the biggest, at 6’1” and 215 pounds, and he seems to get a bit more ripped each year.

Much will depend on who will be throwing to him. Wes Welker and Tom Brady had fabulous chemistry in New England, similar to what Aaron and Davante have built up over eight years. After Welker left the Patriots (in a disagreement over money), he was never the same when playing for Denver and Saint Louis.

I can well understand why there is speculation that Adams will follow Rodgers if he goes to another team next season – you can’t achieve the chemistry they have in just a year or so. As Antonio Brown has done, as Adams passes his physical peak, he should be savvy enough to adjust his game slightly in order to remain productive.

Whether Adams’ body can hold up to the pounding he’s taken since he’s emerged as a star, and drawn double-team coverage, is uncertain. Davante gave us a real scare when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit against the 49ers, and I believe he has a previous history of concussion inuries.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) runs after a catch during the 4th quarter of the Green Bay Packers 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Summary

Green Bay fans have had the excitement, and privilege, of watching Adams develop into a virtuoso receiver for going on eight years now. Based on early results this season, he might not yet be at the peak of his powers. He’s extraordinarily disciplined and conscientious about his health and training. He could remain one of the NFL’s premier receivers for another four or five years.

I’ve yet to mention his value as a red zone and third down weapon. He’s been a double-digit touchdown receiver four times, topping out with 18 TDs last season. I believe the only two times that number has been exceeded by an NFL receiver has been in 2007 when the Vikings’ Randy Moss went for 23 (surprisingly none came against GB), and in 1987, when Jerry Rice went for 22.

Let’s credit Brian Gutekunst with snuffing out any thoughts of trading his discontented quarterback in mid-contract earlier this year. And let’s sit back and root for the fastest feet in the NFL, a self-made star, a terrific team leader, and the finest receiver to wear the green and gold since the days of the guy considered to be “the first modern receiver,” the great Don Hutson.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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17 Comments

  1. Tom M October 1, 2021

    Every great WR to win a SB had a great QB throwing him the ball. Randy Moss never won anything until he had Brady. And poor Calvin Johnson never sniffed the payoffs in Detroit. Fitzgerald came close with Kurt Warner but that was well over a decade ago. Which begs the question, do you pay 100 million to a star WR or a star QB? WR’s decline rather quickly. By 33,34 most are a shadow of their former selves. While QB’s usually last until their late 30’s playing at a high level. Would you bet 100 million that Davante Adams continues to play at this level for another decade? Because that’s what it’s going to take to keep him. Personally, I don’t see it. I think he’ll be like Jordy and be done by the time he’s 33-34 tops. The question Brian Gutekunst has to ask, do I keep Adams or do I keep Rodgers? You can’t afford to keep both. And he may decide to keep neither. You could make an argument either way. It’ll be an interesting offseason.

    Reply
    1. Dean October 1, 2021

      Moss did not win a Super Bowl. He lost with NE and SF…

      Reply
      1. rebelgb October 2, 2021

        Tom never said he won a Super Bowl. He just said he didnt “win” until Tom Brady. Which for the most part is true. Most the Minnesota teams Moss was on were mediocre and never really a contender.

        Reply
        1. PF4L October 2, 2021

          Good try Rebel……

          Tommi mentioned every great receiver that won a SB had a great QB throwing him the ball.
          Then…he immediately says….
          .
          ” Randy Moss never won anything until he had Brady.”
          ******************
          Leave the “spin” to your Highness Tommi. He’s almost good at it.

          i get your Tammy Wynette standing by your man…but on this one……NO
          ****************************
          Where were you defending him, when he said the Packers were down by 5 at the end of the NFCCG and all they needed was 7 points to win the game?.
          .
          It took me a week and a freaking half convincing him they were down by 8, not 5, and needed more than 7 points.
          It took 10 excruciating days convincing him…then BOOM, day 10…. he finally got it!!
          .
          To be fair….that may have occurred before you gave him his first reach around.

          Reply
  2. PF4L October 2, 2021

    If Tommi says that Moss won a Super Bowl with Brady, than Moss won a Super Bowl with Brady.
    Even if he didn’t.

    Of course, he sniffed the payoffs.

    Reply
  3. Tom M October 2, 2021

    Alright then, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. Anyone consider them elite? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t they win a SB with Brady? Even Jerry Rice needed Joe Montana and Steve Young. While James Lofton made David Whitehurst look like an NFL QB, it was Lynn Dickey who made the offense elite. The point being, where do you put your money? QB or WR? Let’s play GM and not fanboy. If your GM where do put your money? I go QB. Rodgers is on the books for 46 million next year. Adams wants 30 million. That 75 million for 2 players on 208 million dollar salary cap. Or roughly 40% of your cap for two players. The only way those numbers are justified is if you win a SB. Lofty stats and MVP awards won’t cut it. I don’t see Rodgers coming back without his buddy Adams. In order for Rodgers to get offered a contract extension, he has to win a SB. And he’ll have to take less money so the Packers can sign Adams. That’s a lot of variables. As good as Adams is, you can win a SB without an elite WR. Without an elite QB, not so much.

    Reply
  4. PF4L October 2, 2021

    “I think he’ll ​be like Jordy and be done by the time he’s 33-34 tops.” Tommi
    ******************************************
    YES SIR…Jordy was deemed done at 32. During game 6 of the 2017 season he officially lost a step, his skills, and was deemed too old.
    .
    Coincidently….the exact same time Hundley replaced Rodgers and walked on the field.
    .
    Jordy must have gotten lucky leading the league in TD’s in 2016.
    .
    Then he somehow caught 6 TD’s from Rodgers in games 1-5 in 2017.
    .
    But that 6th game!….is when he got old and…..lost it!

    Just ask the expert….Gute..what say you?
    .
    Gute is a man with vision!!
    .
    Speaking of which…when is that #2 receiver getting here, we’ve had 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 to find one.
    .
    Maybe he’s on the roster right now!!…. and i’m just too stupid to know it…lol

    Reply
    1. Stickman October 2, 2021

      NICE

      Reply
  5. Tom M October 2, 2021

    You’re too easy PF4L. Nothing gets your panties wet faster than someone questioning omnipotent Aaron Rodgers or saying Jordy Nelson was done at 34. I can tell you 31 other NFL GM’s did share your enthusiasm for Jordy Nelson after he was cut by the Raiders. Being a Kanas boy, he was willing to play one more year for the Chiefs but Andy Reid never called. Jennings and Jones were also done about the same age as Jordy. Donald Drive stuck around a year too long because he won that “dancing with the stars” bullshit and Ted felt compelled to keep him. Davante Adams, if he can stay healthy, will be no different.

    Reply
    1. Ferris October 2, 2021

      Correct use of you’re!!! Yay!

      Reply
      1. PF4L October 2, 2021

        Tommi…telling anyone….that they’re easy…lol
        .
        YAY! :)
        ******************
        Tommi logic……
        Jordy was done because he went to the Raiders under a new offense and new QB.
        .
        Because…..if Jordy stayed, and played with Rodgers in 2018, he wouldn’t have been productive with Rodgers because of 31 other GM’s…..or whatever Tommi was saying in broken english.
        *******************
        Note to the uninformed and foolish: Jordy had interest from other teams after the Raiders but he didn’t want to keep moving around, so he retired.
        .
        Jordy had 21 TD passes from Rodgers in his last 23 games…i guess to some people…that was a sure sign his career was coming to an end…..smfh, fucking morons….lol
        .
        Looking back at the bright side…we may have lost Jordy, but we gained Jimmy Graham for only 10 mill/year.
        .
        Jimmy G had 5 TD’s with the Packers in 2 years.
        In the 1st 5 games of 2017 with Rodgers, Jordy had 6 TD passes
        .
        Nothing gets by the genius and vision of Gute and Tommi.
        .
        Tell us again how the 2020 draft helped improve the Packers to Championship caliber.
        .
        Hell….tell us how the 2020 draft improved us, at all.

        Reply
  6. PF4L October 2, 2021

    “Donald Drive stuck around a year too long because he won that “dancing with the stars” -Tommi
    .
    Yea….that’s why….lol
    .
    Donald Drive(r) stuck around at least 3 years too long as his production dropped by 50% minimum compared to his production the 6 years previous.
    .
    The mantra back then was that it was better to get rid of a player a year too early, that obviously wasn’t etched in stone as the Packers didn’t release Driver until he was like 37,or 38..

    Reply
  7. Tom M October 3, 2021

    If I’m GM, and assuming Rodgers is gone, I offer Adams a three year deal for 60 million. That’s 20 million per season and it puts him at 33. He won’t take it, but that’s where I draw my line in the sand. It’d be nice to have a WR like Adams next year for Jordan Love but it isn’t necessary. You can always use the pick you get for Rodgers on a WR. If Rodgers refuses a trade and returns for next season then they’ll be no money for Adams unless Rodgers is willing to take less. Something Brady has been receptive to do. Rodgers has not. And your right about Driver. He should have been released at least two years before he retired. And if you commit to Adams you’ll be in the same boat. The big difference is money. Driver never crippled the cap. Adams will.

    Reply
    1. PF4L October 3, 2021

      If you were GM…the days of you cleaning bed pans at the assisted living facility would be over.

      Reply
  8. Killer October 3, 2021

    You guys have a cinched up easy game today. Enjoy your stat padding. Especially Aaron Cryababy Rodgers! He has Lefleur under his whim and control now and you can tell because Rodgers now, unlike 2019, sucks up ALL the short TDs. Most teams run it in from the 1 or 2 yard line. Rodgers insists on passing in the TDs to pad his stats and Lefleur cooperates and feeds his ego.

    Did you see that Lions game? Easy game, no reason to do crazy stuff. 1st and goal from the 4? Let’s pass it in! But let’s make sure it is a super easy pass for poor Aaron. So, they put him in the shotgun and have him shovel the ball forward to the RB in motion as a WR. It’s a hand-off! It’s a run in every way except in the stats. Bam, another “passing” TD for Aaron and a soothed ego.

    Any other team would not have done that play on first and goal from the 4 or, at least, would have saved a surprise for a good opponent. Also, they would have their QB take the direct snap and then hand it behind him. A lot less risk than shotgun and shovel forward to the crossing RB. So, why did the Packers make it more risky? So it would count as a pass TD and thus soothe Aaron’s ego.

    Then, later, on 1st and goal from the 1/2 yard line… they pass! Twice!!!! The first pass an awful one from Aaron, the second a simple one. No other team does this because it is foolish. The only reason to do it is to feed Aaron’s ego.

    For years and years, Aaron has had more 1 and 2 and 3 yard passes for TDs than any other QB. It is half his TD passes!

    He’s a good QB but not a great one. Take away the TD stat padding and he is Eli Manning or Brees. Very good, not great.

    But watch how often. 1st and goal from the 2? Look for the pass.

    Reply
    1. Ed October 3, 2021

      Yeah. He’s certainly no Cousins.

      SKOL dipshit.

      Reply
  9. PF4L October 3, 2021

    Gee willikers Lonely Boy, we miss you…(under the “killer” moniker)
    .
    “For years and years, Aaron has had more 1 and 2 and 3 yard passes for TDs than any other QB. It is half his TD passes!” – L B
    .
    Half his TD passes?
    .
    That’s about as believable as saying the Vikings have a Lombardi Trophy.
    ***************************************
    “You guys have an easy game today” WAAAAA!
    .
    “Did you see that Lions game? Easy game,” WAAAA!
    .
    “It’s a hand-off! It’s a run in every way except in the stats. Bam, another “passing” TD for Aaron” WAAAA!
    .
    “Any other team would not have done that play” WAAAA!
    .
    “Then, later, on 1st and goal from the 1/2 yard line… they pass!” WAAAA!
    .
    “Rodgers already won the MVP twice, then he does it again!!” WAAAA!
    .
    “Rodgers himself, has one more SB ring, than the vikings have in franchise history” WAAA!
    .
    “I hate winners, Rodgers isn’t great, he’s Trent Dilfer in a different uniform”
    .
    SKOL
    .
    I won’t watch Rodgers being inducted into the HOF, because i don’t think he gets in after i start a petition”
    .
    SKOL

    Reply

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