Predicting the Packers Draft: Wide Receiver

The Packers have plenty of wide receivers. The Packers need more wide receivers.

These ideas are not mutually exclusive due to the very nature of the position.

Teams need a lot of wide receivers to make their offenses run, and the Packers are no exception. While Aaron Rodgers nearly willed the Packers to the 2015 NFC Championship game with James Jones, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis catching passes, a steady supply of reliable pass catchers is never a bad thing.

But as we’ve learned, the Packers want something very specific from their wide receivers.

What do the Packers look for in the draft at wide receiver?

The Packers, like the rest of the NFL, tend to like wide receivers who are around 6-1, weigh just over 200 pounds, and can run the 40-yard dash between about 4.45 and 4.55.

In fact, out of the fifteen wide receivers selected by the Packers since 2005, only two have run worse than a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash: Davante Adams in 2014 (4.56) and Cory Rodgers in 2006 (4.58).

What’s the best round to select a wide receiver?

Receivers align well with what we’ve seen from the Packers in the past: top tier performers can be had with a second round pick.  The Packers have embraced this idea fully: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams were all second round picks.

While there’s a steep drop-off in the later rounds, wide receiver remains a safe place to spend a sixth or seventh round pick. The data suggests the position is one of the most valuable in the late rounds of the draft.

2016 Pro Football Focus grades by round selected - WR

What rounds have the Packers drafted wide receivers?

Highest pick: Jordy Nelson, 2008
Ted Thompson traded down into the top of the second round in 2008 and plucked Jordy Nelson with the 36th overall pick.

Biggest disappointment: Terrance Murphy, 2005
Murphy could have been the first of Thompson’s many great second round wide receiver selections, but a neck injury ended his career after part of just one season.

Best value: Jordy Nelson, 2008
Nelson has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL since he joined the Packers, and it’s a huge credit to the Packers that they were able to get him in the second round.

Who might the Packers draft at wide receiver?

Wide receiver could be a sneaky position of need in this year’s draft, and if the Packers want to go that route, Chris Godwin of Penn State would be a near perfect fit with their preferred physical attributes.

Middle round prospects Kenny Golladay and Mack Hollins are both taller and a bit less quick than the Packers like, but could end up getting a look.

Late in the draft Robert Davis of Georgia State could be the second coming of Jeff Janis, as his physical attributes could overcome a lack of big time experience.

High-end wide receivers

  • Chris Godwin - Penn State
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster - USC

Mid-round wide receivers

  • Kenny Golladay - Northern Illinois
  • Mack Hollins - North Carolina

Late-round or undrafted wide receivers

  • Amba Etta-Tawo - Syracuse
  • Robert Davis - Georgia State
  • Zac Pascal - Old Dominion