5 WRs is All the Green Bay Packers Need

Given the underwhelming performances from the Green Bay Packers' wide receiver unit in 2019, rostering fewer receivers seems counterintuitive. But they will be just fine with five this season.

Of course, one of the big topics of conversation this offseason surrounding the Green Bay Packers was the wide receiver position. Initially, those discussions were in regards to who Green Bay was going to draft, but they quickly turned into many scratching their heads at the fact that the Packers went all nine draft picks without selecting a single receiver.
 
By now, we are all more than familiar with the overall play from this wide receiver corps in 2019. Excluding Davante Adams and the emergence of Allen Lazard, it was fairly underwhelming. So with Geronimo Allison in Detroit and Devin Funchess now in Green Bay, it's essentially the same group as last year, which has many concerned. 
 
However, unlike many out there, I don't share the same sentiments. While teams will typically carry six or seven receivers on the roster, if the Packers only carried five this season, they would be just fine. In fact, that's what they should do, and instead, use that roster spot elsewhere.
 
Although we have to wait and see how training camp plays out and if there are any surprises, the five receivers that I have in mind are Adams, Lazard, Funchess, Marquez Valdes- Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Yes, this would mean no Jake Kumerow or Reggie Begelton. 
 
Kumerow is the oldest receiver on the roster, and despite the inconsistent production from the unit last season, he still struggled to see the field with any regularity. In Begelton's case, it's been an unusual offseason. With limited time at the facility and no preseason games, making the roster for a new and unestablished player is even more difficult in 2020. 
 
For a Packers team that lacked reliability and playmaking ability from their receivers - excluding Adams and Lazard's second half of the season - carrying fewer receivers seems counterintuitive. But while they only have five true receivers on the roster, in Matt LaFleur's offense, they have plenty of pass-catchers available. 
 
Last season's offense was a mashup of what LaFleur wanted to run, but there was still plenty of what Mike McCarthy had established over the years as well. One offseason just isn't enough time to fully implement an entirely new offense. However, we already saw some significant personnel changes.
 
According to Sharp Football, in 2018 under McCarthy, the Packers ran 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, 3 WRs) on 77 percent of their plays. In 2019 under LaFleur, that percentage dropped to 60. We saw less three and four wide receiver sets and many more plays with just two receivers on the field.
 
Green Bay was in 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs, two WRs) on 20 percent of their plays compared to 16 percent in 2018. And their most significant increase came in their usage of 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE, two WRs), which jumped from just 10 total plays in 2018 to 132 last season. 22 personnel (two RBs, two TEs, one WR) was also used more in 2019 as well. 
 
If you couldn't tell from the early additions that the Packers made in the draft, the offense in 2020 is going to shift much closer to what LaFleur envisions it to be. Which is what should happen, he is the head coach and play-caller, after all. 
 
This means we will likely be seeing more 12, 21, and 22 personnel this season. That, of course, results in fewer receivers on the field. 
 
However, just because there are fewer receivers, it doesn't mean that there are fewer pass-catchers. As we saw last season, tight ends and running backs play important roles within the passing game, and GM Brian Gutekunst has given LaFleur plenty of versatile weapons.
 
In addition to the five receivers mentioned above, LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers also have Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon - they didn't draft him in Round 2 if couldn't be a part of the passing game - Tyler Ervin, Jace Sternberger, Josiah Deguara, Robert Tonyan, and even Marcedes Lewis if needed. So yes, the Packers only have five receivers in this scenario, but they have 13 pass-catchers at their disposal. 
 
The LaFleur offense is all about creating that unpredictability. One way that he achieves that is by lining up the same players in different spots on the field and in various formations. The days of Rodgers in shotgun with four or five receivers are gone. 
 
If you're a team that uses four or five receivers often, well, then rostering six or seven makes sense. But for what this Green Bay Packers team is trying to accomplish offensively, and the personnel that they have at running back and tight end, five receivers will get the job done. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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Comments (42)

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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

July 27, 2020 at 01:53 pm

Excellent analysis, Paul! That makes sense. I’m not as sold on ESB as some of you are, but if he does emerge as a reliable pass catcher, that’s great. But I like using the backs and tight ends more in the receiving game.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 27, 2020 at 02:01 pm

Spot on! And with the increased size of the practice squad, it’s easier to dip into it for a player in case of injury to a starting WR.

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nostradanus's picture

July 27, 2020 at 02:03 pm

Wholeheartedly agree Paul and if they did keep a sixth he would have to be one helluva special teams player to justify his spot. Keeping 4 tight ends makes more sense due to bigger body type for run blocking and special teams. Also four RB as Ervin is their return guy and gadget weapon.

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Rudedawg67's picture

July 27, 2020 at 02:52 pm

The article is sound in theory and goes along with LaFleur’s Offensive philosophy but would caution comparing the offensive sets between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Green Bay was in control of more games the 2019 season and obviously tried to run more clock in the fourth quarter whereas the 2018 season speaks for itself. But after Adams why keep five are the same type of receiver.
Besides MVS all the receivers run about a 4.5 forty. Adams isn’t a burner but he knows how to get open.

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Bure9620's picture

July 27, 2020 at 08:24 pm

What does their forty time have to do with anything???

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Stroh's picture

July 27, 2020 at 11:11 pm

He was just pointing out that all the WR are the same. Big WR who don't run particularly well. What's youf point?!

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Rudedawg67's picture

July 28, 2020 at 08:46 am

Well if you are not quick and you’re not faster than the guy covering you playing man-to-man how fast you run makes a difference. No separation makes it hard for the quarterback to get the ball to you. A 4.5 forty is really good for a TE but if you’re a receiver that’s as low as you wanna go. If you’re a WR and you’re running a. 4.6 you’re not getting drafted, hence speed matters.

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Stroh's picture

July 28, 2020 at 09:57 am

While speed matters. Getting separation is far more about how you run routes. Adams isn't very fast running mid 4.5 but he gets open easily. Also look at MVS he's very fast, but he doesn't know how to use his speed and can't get open consistently. As important as speed is, its if you know how and when to use it!

The UW WR Cephus got drafted and he ran a 4.6 40 and IIRC Johnson the WR from Minn ran a 4.6 as well.

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Rudedawg67's picture

July 28, 2020 at 11:19 am

Hey Stroh,

You got exactly what I was getting at. Basically for most of the receivers you could change the numbers on the uniform and you couldn’t tell who is in them when it comes to the WR. Adams is the only one with the shiftiness to get separation. Haven’t see enough of St.Brown. I agree that speed doesn’t always equate to separation for sure but it can’t hurt. Never heard of anyone complaining about a guy being too fast.

Cepheus ran a 4.56 on his pro day. He must not like Indy.
Don’t know anything about the kid out of Minnesota.

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Stroh's picture

July 28, 2020 at 11:12 pm

Cephus official 40 time is north of 4.6. Pro days can be deceptive and not always a good barometer

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Handsback's picture

July 27, 2020 at 03:55 pm

Agree with others have said. 5 WRs will be enough. I have doubts about MVS making the team after the past two seasons. Begelton is a much more polished receiver that will turn those slants into long gains. Maybe not as long as MVS, but he'll get the ball more.

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murf7777's picture

July 28, 2020 at 08:19 am

I think that depends on how much the Packers think MvS injuries affected his play. Before the injuries he was playing good and keep in mind Arod missed some TD’s passes when he blew by people. Lastly, the WR position takes awhile to master.

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Duneslick's picture

July 27, 2020 at 03:59 pm

Who can they put on the PS. You know someone will get injured

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cheesehead1's picture

July 27, 2020 at 04:57 pm

I hope Begelton gets a real hard look, I’m sure he will. Gute signed him in January for a reason.

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stockholder's picture

July 27, 2020 at 05:18 pm

I'd still go 6 wrs. 1. Adams 13mil. isn't value. 2. Lazard isn't ever going to be Adams or.Cobb, 3. Funchess is gone after this year. 4. MVS is the man that must come forward. Doubts exists! 5. St. Brown missed Time like Kumerow. Yet= Rodgers moved the chains when Adams was out. Meaning somebody will likely go down. Refusal to draft a Wr made a monkey out of everybody. But the monkey is on Guteys back for that. If 5 is your number, it just may show our GM is full of faults. Look; I want speed and separation. If to many apples go in 1 basket, the team suffers for years. Yet a good passing attack can put fear in any opponent. IT kept us on top for years. Remember that? It takes the right combination of wrs. Not just RBs.

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Bear's picture

July 27, 2020 at 07:41 pm

Remember when LaFleur was offensive coordinator at Tennessee he ran the ball 456 times compared to passing 437 times. I know the personnel are different but, he wants to run the ball just like his buddies in San Francisco.

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Since'61's picture

July 27, 2020 at 09:08 pm

That would be a good plan if we had the 49ers OL. Our OL is good but not dominant in the run game like the 49ers is.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:17 am

I think you hit the nail on the head in that the personnel were significantly different in Tennessee. Namely, their QB situation sucked rocks.

When given the chance in 2019, the Packers--who won 13 games--ran the ball 40% of the time. Winning team...40%. The Packers personnel usage dipped to 60% for 11 personnel (that was league average, BTW), and 20% for 21 personnel (also league average). The only grouping where the Packers were above league average was 12 personnel (12% vs. 8%). Why do we expect things to be much different in 2020? If there's regression with this team, which many here have talked about, the Packers will likely be playing from behind more, won't they?

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Bure9620's picture

July 27, 2020 at 08:25 pm

I predict they only carry 5 WR....12 personnel is base......would not rule out 4 backs....

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:33 am

It depends on what you call base, and how they divvy up Jimmy Graham's routes. At this stage, I think more of his routes will go to Devin Funchess and Allen Lazard than to Jace Sternberger or Bob Tonyan.

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Since'61's picture

July 27, 2020 at 09:11 pm

5 WRs can work but that leaves little depth for injuries or for this season WRs who are infected with COVID-19 or who decide to opt out.

What happens to our WR corps if Davante Adams opts out?
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Stroh's picture

July 27, 2020 at 11:07 pm

I've been saying for months on this site, the Packers should carry 5 WR ( no one else on this site has mentioned it until now). I guess the author must have read my comments and decided to use my ideas for his own benefit.

Lafleur's offense is RB and TE centric. They will carry 4 of each. This isn't an offense that uses more than 2 or at most 3 WR on the field at a time. And given the lack of WR talent it fits perfectly.

I differ on the 5 WR that I think they should keep. Adams, Funchess, Lazard and EQ are pretty much a given. MVS hasn't shown any development in 2 years so I don't see the need to waste a 3rd yr on him. Give Begelton the chance and he could become the slot WR we currently lack (other than Adams).

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:36 am

I think they're going to need to go OL heavy to protect a prospect or two, given the potential turnover in the line this off-season. They can push a prospect or two to the PS and protect them week-to-week, but they'll have to get those players to the PS, first. Going light at WR might be a necessity for that. It could very well be that minimal exposure in camp/preseason means that everyone is working that way, though.

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Oppy's picture

July 29, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Good gravy.

While you're patting yourself on the back for the being the genius who was the only one repeatedly commenting about how the Packers will probably keep fewer WRs than in years past, what you've completely failed to assess is that for most CHTV readers, it was a foregone conclusion not worth discussing- like having a debate about which horizon the sun will rise tomorrow. Get over yourself, stewie. You're not that far ahead of the curve around here.

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Stroh's picture

July 30, 2020 at 06:17 pm

Thats crap. Evety article and comment always gave them 6 WR. Poor effort JA!!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

July 27, 2020 at 11:05 pm

Good article and I think you are correct in predicting 5 wide receivers this year. I expect that the team will carry three quarterbacks as opposed to the standard two and with the mediocrity of our wide receivers, other than Adams, that group is a likely candidate choice to compensate for the the 3rd quarterback.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 28, 2020 at 04:31 am

I think the 5th wide receiver might not be on the roster at present. Cut-downs will be an interesting time league-wide.

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Stroh's picture

July 28, 2020 at 11:16 pm

That's entirely possible.

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Guam's picture

July 28, 2020 at 07:45 am

I think Adams and Funchess are the only locks with Lazard having a leg up on the other competitors for a roster spot. The remaining roster spots are wide open and TGR's point is well taken - other WRs may not be on the Packer roster right now. I am rooting for ESB, but he will need to impress in camp.

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murf7777's picture

July 28, 2020 at 08:23 am

I think Lazard proved himself last year, he is a lock. After those three it’s anybody’s guess.

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:38 am

2018 MVS stats: 38 catches, 581 yards, 15 ypc, 2 TDs
2019 Lazard stats: 35 catches, 477 yards, 13.6 ypc, 3 TDs

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Leatherhead's picture

July 29, 2020 at 09:17 am

Lazard played 92% of the offensive snaps in the Championship game. If you compare him to last year’s rookie WRs, he had a very good season. He’s the starter unless something big happens.

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EricinGB's picture

July 28, 2020 at 08:57 am

I suspect we may see Love on the field for a few plays...running the bll himself in an RPO...just like T. Hill in N.O...it would give opponents more to prepare against...and give Rodgers a play or two off every now and then when he might need one...if we look and the 2020 draft, selections #1, #2, #3 all support this.

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:01 am

I don't think the Taysom Hill game is what Love does. Hill is a superior athlete--faster and stronger than Love. If you go back and watch Love's college tape, he's not a running QB--or, at least, wasn't utilized as one. Love doesn't see the field except in case of injury or blowout.

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Stroh's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:03 am

Love is no Taysom Hill. He won't be put on the field so he can run the ball. Love has good athleticism, like Rodgers had good athleticism. He can use it to escape the pocket and scramble for an occasional 1st down. But both Rodgers and Love are passing QB's. They are not like Hill or Jackson for that matter.

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Jackwagon's picture

July 28, 2020 at 10:09 am

Think Begelton to the practice squad makes sense.

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dobber's picture

July 28, 2020 at 04:33 pm

He has to want to accept a move to the PS, though, and if he's cut he might not need to.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 29, 2020 at 08:08 am

Yeah. He’s eligible, and most of the others aren’t.

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PF4L's picture

July 29, 2020 at 06:53 am

It seems the premise of only keeping 5 receivers is born from the concept of the Packers relying more on the running game.
Out of our receivers and tight end group, we have 1 proven player and that is Adams.
Otherwise after that we have a lot of "IF's".
IF Lazard can keep it going.
IF EQ show's he can stay healthy and be a reliable target.
IF MVS can stay healthy, run better routes and be more sure handed.

As far as tight ends, our #1 tight end had 15 catches last season, and is used more as a blocker. The other 5 tight ends on the roster have a grand total of 5 catches in the NFL.

I have been a Packer fan longer than i want to admit. Never, have i seen a pass catching group this poor.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 29, 2020 at 08:15 am

This poor group caught quite a few passes that helped us win 14 games.

What did you think of the 1972 group? We won the division. Do you remember when Billy Schroeder was our leading receiver.?

I’m fine with the triple towers at WR, I think it’s totally possible Sternberger and Deguara are going to help, and our #2 receiver will probably be Jones.

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stockholder's picture

July 30, 2020 at 07:56 am

They Had Brockington and Lane. Not to mention a defense. Defense wins!

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PF4L's picture

July 31, 2020 at 04:11 pm

Leatherhead....1972?.....Really?

Our #2 receiver last season was a rb, when that changes, i'll acknowledge it.

Let me repeat, we have one proven player at receiver and tight end. After Adams you have a bunch of pass catchers who all share the same name.....IF.

I didn't say none of them will grow, i didn't say none of them can't be a #2. I'm saying.....it is what it is.....right now.

BTW....Adams had 5 TD catches last season.....Schroeder had 9 TD's with a 17.3 yard average and 918 yards his last Packer season. I'll take Schroeder any day over the receivers we have now after Adams.

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