Packers Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers
Davante Adams has been the ace of the Packers WR core since 2016. During that four-year span Adams has caught 343 passes for 4,265 yards and 40 TDs.
Adams leans on his impeccable route-running to get WIDE open.
A turf-toe injury caused Adams to miss four games last year. The missed games and the lingering effects of the injury skewed his regular season totals; but, the playoff stats (2 games, 17 receptions, 298 yards, 2 TDs) show how dangerous a healthy Adams can be in year two of Matt Lafluer’s offense.
Although Adams plays a majority of the time from the slot, he is the Packers true #1 wideout.
Mr. Do It All
Allen Lazard does whatever it takes to get the job done.
He blocks well for his running backs.
He makes plays for his quarterback on 3rd down.
Lazard’s future success can all be traced back to Aaron Rodgers’ vote of confidence in week 6 against the Lions.
Allen Lazard’s willingness to block, coupled with his clutch play making on 3rd down, continues to vault him up the depth chart. He will be on the field more than every other WR not named Davante Adams, making him the Packers WR2.
The Talented Magician
MVS is a speedster who has shown flashes of greatness with the Packers. However, I dubbed him the magician not only for his incredible talent but also for his mystifying disappearing acts.
If you extrapolate the good stretches of Valdez-Scantling’s career, in 2019-2020 he averaged 75.8 yards per game through his five best games, he would project to a 1,212 yards through a 16-game season. In 2018-2019, he averaged 68.4 yards through his seven best games, which would project to 1,095 yards through a 16-game season.
On the negative side, Valdez-Scantling has played in all 32 games of his young career and has seven games without a catch, nine games with one catch and six games with two catches. Another problematic stat is Valdez-Scantling’s eight drops in two seasons. For a guy who averages 16 yards per catch, eight drops translates to a lot of missed opportunities.
Valdez-Scantling’s ceiling will continue to grant him opportunities, but until he becomes a consistent contributor, his time on the field will be limited. He will compete for WR 3, but without signs of growth, he could slip further down the depth chart.
The Bounce Back Kid
Equanimeous St. Brown
EQ is another dynamic play-maker who has not fulfilled his potential. Injuries have surely delayed St. Brown’s progress, but more worrisome than the lack of production is how the injuries have affected his elite explosiveness.
St. Brown has had plenty of time to rehab and get healthy, but ankle injures, particularly ones as serious as St. Brown’s, can linger.
St. Brown will certainly be given an chance to sky-rocket up the depth chart to WR3 or even WR2, but expectations should be tempered, particularly earlier in the season when he is still adjusting to live speed.
The Packers claimed Tyler Ervin off waivers during the 2019-2020 season and he provided an immediate spark as a returner and gadget player on offense. He played in the final four regular season games and both postseason games, averaging 9.6 yards per punt return and 26.7 yards per kick return. These are not gaudy numbers, but it was certainly an upgrade from the negative eight punt return yards the Packers had before his arrival in week 13.
Upon signing Ervin, he was listed as a RB/KR/PR, but early in training camp it looks as though Ervin may officially be making the switch to WR. However, the official positional designation does not matter with Ervin because he will mainly be used as a gadget player on offense.
Ervin will be limited to end arounds and miss-direction plays but his size and stature will bring a versatile look to the Packers WR group that is full of big-bodied receivers.
Ervin will make the 53-man roster because of his return ability, but will not be a threat to steal routes away from any of the previous names.
Jake Kumerow, and his hair, are very popular amongst Packer fans, but as a 27-year-old, he is the odd man out in terms of potential.
Kumerow’s greatest strength is his blocking ability, Kumerow received a 88.1 run blocking grade from PFF which was first among WRs.
I expect Kumerow to make the 53-man roster as a WR5 or WR6 because of his experienced demeanor and the confidence Lafluer and Rodgers have expressed in him.
Reggie Begelton is a PRO-fessional pass-catcher that attacks the middle of the field and is not afraid of contact or contested catches. Begelton always turns up field after making a catch and fights for every extra yard he can. He has the attitude of a junk-yard dog and will scratch and claw his way onto the roster.
Begelton burst onto the Canadian Football League last year with over 100 catches, 1400 yards and 10 TDs. The guy knows what it takes to be a professional, time will tell if he has the skill to be a professional in the NFL.
Begelton projects to be on the outside looking in come week 1. But, things are sure to shift and Begelton will keep his name in the conversation.
Free-Agent Practice Squad
Malik Turner had 17 career catches (16.3 yards per catch) in 21 career games for the Seahawks.
Travis Fulgham spent his first and only year in the NFL with Detroit. He failed to record a catch.
Returning Practice Squad
Darrius Shepherd is a young return specialist who lost his duties to Ervin last year. The Packers still clearly have faith in Shepherd, but prefer the experience of Ervin.
Malik Taylor spent all 2019-2020 season on the Packers practice squad and was signed a 1-year deal this offseason.
Don’t fall for the narrative that the Packers don’t have talent at the WR position outside of Davante Adams. Hopefully the cream rises to the top in a year where development will be a huge factor.