I’ll address the current status in a bit, but first let’s review recent history: the Packers’ receiver problem has been three years in the making.
In 2017, signs of trouble were clear: Jordy was in his ninth season. James Jones had been let go the year before. Randall Cobb was coming off two years of underperforming, and Ty Montgomery had been switched over to being a running back. How did the Packers respond? They drafted DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre in Rounds 5 and 7.
In 2018, Green Bay inexplicably jettisoned Jordy Nelson, who proved he still had skills, even though Derek Carr rather than Aaron Rodgers, was throwing to him. Then, instead of drafting a first or second round talent, they chose three draft-and-develop prospects: a fourth-, fifth-, and sixth rounder. They also stuck with an increasingly injury-prone eighth year man, Randall Cobb, who unsurprisingly failed to produce even four hundred yards of receptions.
I guess the front office was counting on Geronimo Allison, who did not have a long or great career at Illinois, and whose 40-yard dash time was 4.67 seconds. Many currently consider Allison the team’s second-best wideout, though he’s in his fourth pro year without surpassing 303 yards in a season.
Despite the above history, in 2019 the Packers drafted no wide receivers.
Current Receiving Corps
Drafting three receivers in 2018 was as much a curse as a blessing. The team had little choice but to keep all three players on its roster. Development was hindered, as there was not enough playing time for them all. Also, using seven roster spots for one position left the team without proper depth at other positions last year.
Health has also been a factor. Allison, Kumerow, and Davis – all are on the spindly side – have proven to be susceptible to injuries in their brief pro careers.
What the Packers desperately need is for more than one of its inexperienced receivers to step up, bust out, and become solid and reliable targets – this season – for our marvelous, but aging, quarterback.
Here’s the list, from oldest to youngest, who are lined up behind Davante Adams: Jake Kumerow (27), Trevor Davis (26), Geronimo Allison (25), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (25 in October), J’Mon Moore (24), Allen Lazard (23), and Equanimeous St. Brown (22).
There are others, including two undrafted rookies, Darrius Sheppard (North Dakota State) and Kabion Ento (Colorado), and 181-pound Teo Redding – but these guys aren’t ready to play for a team with post-season goals.
A bunch of receivers who have some promise will have to be let go by the final cut this year. It’s likely that Moore and St. Brown will compete for the roster’s sixth and final receiver slot come September, with the other being picked off the practice squad.
My belief is that the team’s prospects this season are highly dependent upon the improvement of Valdes-Scantling and Kumerow – both of whom Rodgers seems to have confidence in.
MVS has an enormous ceiling: he’s 6’5”, a great leaper, and the fastest receiver the Packers have had for what, ever? (Help me out, has the team ever had a receiver with a dash time under 3.7?) He can play above a defense, and he can get behind a defense. He should become a star in time, but this team doesn’t have time on its side – 2019 needs to be the year for him, and he’s off to a fine start so far at training camp.
As for Kumerow, he’s done everything right for two years now – it’s time to roll the dice and designate “Whitewater Jesus” as a starter for the opener against Chicago. This guy has profited from four years of development as a pro.
As I see it, the WR pecking order looks to be: Adams, Valdes-Scantling, Kumerow, Allison, Davis, and Moore or St. Brown. Going into training camp, I thought Davis was a sure goner, but his stock has risen.
Should this lineup be insufficient, the team might need to increasingly resort to other available targets. I believe Jimmy Graham, playing without a fractured thumb, will be better utilized in 2019. Robert Tonyan could be in store for a breakout year, especially if a two-tight-ends formation becomes a feature of the Packers offense.
Finally, I’m looking for a 64-catch season for Aaron Jones. Last year, playcaller LaFleur called often on number 33, mediocre Dion Lewis, who rushed 155 times and caught 59 passes for the Titans. LaFleur has got to be drooling at the prospect of a game changer such as Jones catching around four passes every game this season.