Three Packers Receivers Who Need to Step Up
Trevor Davis played exactly one offensive play in the Packers’ Week 17 win over the Detroit Lions.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Davis lined up wide to the right of the Packers’ offensive formation and took off on a fly pattern at the snap of the ball. Utilizing every bit of his 4.42 second 40-yard dash speed, Davis all but escaped behind the Lions’ defense in just a few steps.
At the top of his dropback, quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared to notice Davis, and started to step into a deep throw. However, he was interrupted by a Detroit pass rusher and instead of cutting loose on a throw, Rodgers stepped up and through the line and scrambled for a twelve yard gain.
Assuming that the pass had been on target and Davis had reeled it in, the potential 81-yard touchdown strike could have changed the complexion of Davis’s rookie year. Instead, we’re just left wondering what could have been, which is actually a fairly neat summary of what actually happened during the rookie’s first year as a pro.
Davis is one of three Packers receivers who shouldn’t be resting on their laurels this offseason. Despite his prodigious speed, Davis produced precious little during his first season in Green Bay. Though he was the darling of training camp, the rookie speedster only managed three catches for 24 yards and a score in 2016. Though he’s a recent draft pick, the Packers won’t hesitate to pull the trigger if another draft pick or undrafted free agent manages to produce when given an opportunity.
Allison a threat, but also in danger
Geronimo Allison is the perfect example of the kind of player who could prove to be trouble for Davis. Though undrafted out of Illinois, Allison showed up big in training camp and earned himself a spot on the practice squad to start the season. He eventually made his way to the active roster, catching 12 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns over ten games.
But even though he has signed an exclusive-rights deal with the Packers just this week, Allison’s roster spot is anything but guaranteed. Though he’s a big target who obviously earned Aaron Rodgers’ trust, the same facts that kept Allison off of draft boards still apply. He’s never going to be a burner, and it’s worth wondering if he can consistently create separation when playing against top flight defenses.
Despite excellent performances against Minnesota and Detroit to close out the season, Allison was all but invisible in the postseason, notching just a single catch in two of the three playoff games. It’s true that he did catch three passes against Dallas, but that’s hardly the kind of consistency the Packers need from Allison, especially with Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams either ailing or absent entirely for much of the postseason run.
A crucial offseason for Jeff Janis
Finally, we must turn our attention to Jeff Janis. The Packers’ coaching staff finally seemed to give up on the idea of Janis as a receiver in 2016. After playing 58 offensive snaps against Atlanta near midseason, Janis slowly disappeared from the gameplan. He was on the field on offense for seven or fewer plays in six of the last seven regular season games.
We know that Janis is a valuable special teams contributor, but the Packers can ill afford to keep five or six receivers active on game days just to keep Janis available for special teams duties. If he’s going to be part of the Packers’ plans moving forward, he needs to make himself into a legitimate wide receiver. It’s now or never.