2017 Packers Previews: WRs Both Deep and Versatile
One of Ron Wolf’s great regrets as an NFL executive was failing to surround Brett Favre with quality pass catchers. Whenever Aaron Rodgers decides to ride off into the sunset, Ted Thompson should have no such regrets.
Time and time again, Thompson has invested high and low draft picks into his receiving corps, stocking it with both great athletes and skilled receivers, giving his franchise quarterback plenty of options in the passing game.
This year’s roster is no different. The Packers return one of the NFL’s most productive receivers, an up-and-comer in a contract year, and a host of young players either bursting with great speed, prodigious athleticism, or both. If there are any weak spots in the Packers’ offense, receiver shouldn’t be one of them.
Veteran to watch: Davante Adams
It’s almost hard to think of Davante Adams as a veteran. Entering his fourth season, the 24-year old is set to cash in big time next spring, assuming he builds off his very solid 2016. There’s no reason to assume he won’t, either. After a disastrous 2015, Adams shrugged off the drops that had consistently been a feature of his game for his first two NFL seasons. Though he ended up three yards shy of 1000, Adams proved to be dangerous off the line of scrimmage last year and enters this year ready for even more opportunities.
Notable newcomer: DeAngelo Yancey
Though seventh round pick Malachi Dupre has gotten the bulk of the preseason hype, DeAngelo Yancey is probably in a better position to contribute right away. At a yoked 220 pounds, the 6-2 Yancey offers something sorely missing from the Packers’ 2016 passing attack: a deep threat.
Though he ran just a 4.5 40-yard dash, Yancey showcased regular deep abilities down the stretch in his college career. With Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams soaking up attention from defenses, perhaps Yancey will have a chance to make life difficult for opposing defensive backs.
Biggest question: What does Jordy Nelson do for an encore?
His final numbers belie one inescapable truth: 2016 started very badly for Jordy Nelson. Through the first eight games, Nelson only caught about 52% of the balls thrown his way, averaging under seven yards per target.
In the back half of the season, though, Nelson exploded. His catch rate jumped to 74% and his yards per target climbed to 9.47. Now two years removed from his ACL injury, Nelson has a chance to prove his stretch run was more than a nice story.
Key number: 60
In 2016, Randall Cobb was targeted with just 60 passes, the fewest opportunities he’s seen in a full season since his rookie year.