After losing their top receiver via a trade (Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders) and two more members of the receiving corps departing via free agency, the Green Bay Packers will have a chance later this month in the NFL Draft to try to rebuild Aaron Rodgers’ weaponry in the passing game.
There is still the possibility that the Pack may add to the receiver room via trade or free agency, but a more likely scenario is the team using the draft to take multiple receivers. The Packers are loaded up, especially in the front end of the draft, with five picks in the Top 100 and four picks in the first 60 selections. Barring a pre-draft trade, the Pack will have picks #22, #28, #53, #59 and #92, all coming in the first three rounds.
Having these high draft picks is good news. The jury is still out on whether the team will use one or multiple picks on receivers and where they might select them. Based on past history, drafting receivers has been hit-and-miss for Green Bay. First, let’s look at the low point:
- Since Davante Adams was selected in the 2014 draft, the Packers have selected seven receivers (Trevor Davis, Malachi Dupree, DeAngelo Yancey, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, J’Mon Moore and Amari Rodgers). Of those seven, only Rodgers, chosen in the third round (85th pick) last year is still with the team. The jury is still out on Rodgers (Amari, that is) and whether or not he will be a major contributor, but of the others chosen since 2015, only Valdes-Scantling made a significant impact on the team since he arrived in Green Bay. Part of the reason may be that the team had a veteran-filled receivers’ room over the past 15 years with players like Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Adams, but the fact remains that the draft of receivers since 2015 has not been impressive.
Now the high points:
- Of the 11 receivers who have 360 or more career receptions with the Packers, nine were chosen by the Pack as a Top 100 draft selection. Ironically, the Packers career-leader in receptions is Donald Driver who was a seventh-round (213th pick). The other non-100 pick was Don Hutson, who played with the team prior to the beginning of the NFL Draft. The nine Top 100 draft receivers who had 360 or more career receptions with Green Bay: Davante Adams (second round, 53rd pick), Shannon Sharpe (first round, 7th pick), Jordy Nelson (second round (36th pick), James Lofton (first round, 6th pick), Randall Cobb (second round, 64th pick), Boyd Dowler (third round, 25th pick), Antonio Freeman (third round, 90th pick), Greg Jennings (second round, 52nd pick) and James Jones (third round, 78th pick). So… the best Packers receivers have been players chosen in the first 100 selections of a draft. Good news if the team uses one of its five picks in the first three rounds on a receiver.
- Another good sign is that when the Pack has drafted a receiver with a Top 100 selection, those players have had varying degrees of success with the team. Since 2001, Green Bay has taken a receiver with a Top 100 pick on nine occasions: 2001, Robert Ferguson (41st pick); 2002, Javon Walker (20th pick); Terrence Murphy (58th pick); Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Amari Rodgers. As stated above, the jury is still out on Rodgers. Murphy played only three games with the Pack before he suffered what amounted to a career-ending injury returning a kickoff. Again, good news (and success) when a receiver has been chosen by the Packers with a Top 100 pick.
The Packers have their work cut out trying to replace Davante Adams 123 receptions and 1,553 receiving yards from last season. Is it possible to replace those numbers with a first round or high draft choice? Last season, 10 receivers were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft with nine of them playing 10 or more games for their team. Those nine receivers combined for an average of 51 catches and 610 receiving yards. Certainly not Davante Adams numbers. In fact, the only two receivers drafted last year that even approached Adams numbers were rookies Ja’Marr Chase of Cincinnati (81 catches, 1,455 yards) and Miami’s Jaylen waddle (104 catches, 1,015 yards).
Will the Packers hit it big with a top receiver in the draft, or could they strike gold with another Donald Driver-type selection later in the draft?