Cory's Corner: I'm Not Counting Out Allen Lazard

Allen Lazard is poised to be the Packers' No. 2 wide receiver this year. 

I was disappointed when the Packers didn't take a wideout in the 2020 NFL Draft.

As soon as the draft was over, many were upset because this was one of the deepest receiver draft pools ever and the Packers opted against it. 

I've been thinking about that and the X-factor is clearly Allen Lazard. He has the athletic ability of Jordy Nelson, but he has only played in 17 career games and has started just three.

Can he be the potent No. 2 that the Packers and Aaron Rodgers are desperately pining for? 

I think he can for be two reasons. First, he has the trust of Rodgers. Remember, it was Rodgers that has campained for the young receiver. 

"I may have put in a good word there in the fourth quarter to get him some opportunities," Rodgers said after the Packers narrowly beat the Lions 23-22 in Week 6. 

Lazard had four grabs for 65 yards, including a 35-yard score, in that game. 

"We finally get Allen into the game," Rodgers said during a postgame TV interview. "That's what Allen does. He's been doing it in practice a bunch. It's good to see him finally get an opportunity to make some good plays."

Secondly, he has the frame. He's 6-foot-5 and has excellent speed. Opposing teams have to use their top corner on Davante Adams, whom he usually beats consistently, which puts Lazard against a much shorter and slower matchup. Even if Lazard has trouble getting out of his breaks, Rodgers can still throw it high and know that he's going to come down with it. 

That lanky frame gave Allen offers from as far away as Notre Dame and Stanford, but he chose to play only 37 miles from home, alongside his brother Anthony. 

"What I really loved about Allen was what happened after his career here," said Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell. "Everybody built Allen up to this great stature, and then tough times came. That happens in every athlete's career at some point, but for Allen, it happened really after he left Iowa State."

And that is what is stoking Allen's motivational fires now. He wasn't listed as Pro Football Focus' top 30 wideouts entering the 2017 draft and went undrafted. He was signed to the Jaguars' practice squad, but was later cut. The Packers then came calling and now he is on the brink of breaking out as a pro. 

Obviously, the path wasn't ideal for him, but now Lazard and the Packers know that he has seen the other side of professional sports and he knows how dangerously close one can be to not even being on a roster. 

And it's those embers that the Packers are counting on to lift an offense that has been searching for another dynamic weapon. A guy that can make the toe-tap sideline grab, or complete a double-move and zip past his defender like he was standing still. 

This a step-up year for Lazard. He has been counted out before, and I'm not going to be the guy that counts him out now. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (29)

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Savage57's picture

June 09, 2020 at 06:49 am

I share a lot of your sentiments regarding Lazard. The Packers have a lot of raw talent in the WR corps with him, St. Brown, MVS, Kumerow. I know little about Funchess, but I'm a fan of a WR corps where the smallest guy may be 6'4".

Just put the ball in a place where only they can go get it.

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ragemk1's picture

June 09, 2020 at 09:00 am

Adams is 6'1. I had to get google to fact check me lol. You are right though, if they the young WRs can come into their own like Adams did in year three. Might see a pass attack of the MM era except it won't be first option, which would make this team even more dangerous.

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Guam's picture

June 09, 2020 at 07:14 am

I like Lazard's story and wish him all the success in the world with the Packers, but Funchess will likely be the #2 receiver.

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dobber's picture

June 09, 2020 at 09:38 am

With Graham's routes needing to be divvied up and Sternberger being a better and more willing blocker, I think there will be enough routes for Funchess, Sternberger, and Lazard.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 09, 2020 at 01:04 pm

I think Guam and Dobber are both right, but not completely right.

It’s a long season, but I’m going to go out on a short limb and predict.

Adams will be the #1 focus in the passing game. Jones was our second leading receiver with 49 receptions....Williams was #3 with 39. That’s half our passing production. And Dillon is a capable receiver, so I think the RBs will be the #2 focus in the passing game.

At the other WR spot, Lazard and Funchess will mostly split about 66 snaps and about 8 targets per game. Th is is the third focus. Whoever survives from among MSV, ESB, Kumerow will have to earn crumbs. Begelton will start on the practice squad.

At TE last year, we only targeted that position about 80 times all season....about 5/game. That’s targets, not completions. I am abundantly confident that our current group can handle 5 targets per game. They are the last focus in the passing game.

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dobber's picture

June 09, 2020 at 03:42 pm

Targets are fine. I'm talking about routes run. Even if the Packers increase their run pct to about 44% (about 3-4 more runs per game), those players willl still be running essentially the same number of routes. The targets will take care of themselves after that. I would argue that the Packers would like to reduce Adams' target/game number from over 10 (3rd in the league in 2019) and spread the ball around a little more...which requires that pass-catchers (WR, RB, TE) are getting open.

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CheesyTex's picture

June 09, 2020 at 04:07 pm

I am excited to see what this group can do with the snaps that were wasted on Jimmy Graham. Hope it is enough to take the load off Adams, but maybe management wants to get maximum mileage out of his prime years.

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CoachDino's picture

June 09, 2020 at 05:11 pm

More debate than statement.

Why reduce throws to your best receiver?
Is it not working?
Are too many throws being made that aren't advisable?
I don't know the answer.
If he's your best guy and throwing to him offers better results than others than load him up -- force the Defense to make an adjustment then hit the less desirable but wide open targets.

Red Zone to me has always been imo where u need more options due to the density of players to space. Hence less risk sliding coverage / safeties playing up.

Enter Lazard, EQS and Funchess - All big body jump ball red zone threats.

I'm going strictly off memory but back in the day when 2 wr sets were common place I wouldn't be surprised if it was a 3 to 1 ratio of targets to #1 rec vs #2.
It was often the TE that had the 2nd most receptions.
Once again just from memory - Rice, Irvin, Sharpe. Key is having an Elite #1 not just a good #1.

Aikman destroyed us using Irvin and that tall TE.. Drove me nuts.

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dobber's picture

June 11, 2020 at 09:13 pm

"force the Defense to make an adjustment then hit the less desirable but wide open targets."

Until the Packers show that someone else can help him out, defenses are already going to slide coverages his way...so if you've got credible second and third options, those opportunities should be there to take advantage of.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 09, 2020 at 06:57 pm

I think Lazard takes control of the # two spot and doesn't look back.

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nostradanus's picture

June 09, 2020 at 07:15 am

Lazard was clutch late last season, he came up huge in both Lions games and was terrific on third downs and as a blocker in other games including the Seahawks playoff win.

Lazard is extremely confident in his abilities, plays with a chip on his shoulder and has the confidence of #12.

Lazard is 6’5 with excellent hands and is a willing blocker. He is everything MVS is not except he doesn’t run a 4.37, but he also isn’t slow.

I am expecting big things from Lazard and Funchess this season.

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Coldworld's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:29 am

MVS may not pan out, but the amount of negativity here about him given where he was picked and what he has done seems ridiculous. There are reasons that he was available with that size speed combination: he was in need of development.

There is never any certainty with development, but the rush to denigrate on the lack of it is both cheap and tiresome. Think Adams. Conversely, while Lazard is a keeper, he failed to light up the team last year with opportunities galore. Lazard will play this year, but if he is our true number 2 we should be worried and we are being unfair to him.

I see receivers not named Adams being used rather differently than the cliche of one, two and who. I have little doubt that Funchess and Lazard will be asked to block and take the middle that MVS will be asked to go deep.

When MVS proves he can be more than a deep threat, then we will know he has made a huge stride. When Lazard can consistently get open and up his volume of catches we will know the same for him. I hope both come to pass. In the meantime, the second receiver on the field is likely to be Funchess.

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dobber's picture

June 09, 2020 at 09:44 am

If any of J'mon Moore, MVS, and ESB turned into a quality NFL starter, they would've been beating the odds. In drafting those three, the Packers were taking the shotgun approach to WR based mostly on workout numbers and measurables. Maybe one of MVS and ESB develops, yet. We'll have to wait to find out.

The key measurable that Lazard had going for him was 4 highly productive college seasons on a lousy team in a power conference.

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/allen-lazard-1.html

Yes, Stroh, the Big 12 ain't the SEC...or even the Big Te-fourtee-n. But bottom line is that it isn't the Sun Belt, either, and good players can come from crappy teams and conferences. He's not going to wow you with his agility or straight-line speed, but he's mature and knows how to get open. He had some lousy combine workouts, but how he went undrafted is still a mystery. That said, I think he's more likely a solid possession #3 than a #2 who can draw coverage away from Adams.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 09, 2020 at 07:00 pm

The tape doesn't lie.

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dobber's picture

June 12, 2020 at 05:20 am

Neither do my hips...and the quarantine 15 is killing me.

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Handsback's picture

June 09, 2020 at 07:36 am

...Secondly, he has the frame 6 feet 5 and has excellent speed.... I would say good to fair speed. I'm pretty sure Funchess will be their #2 and Lazard the #3 WR. You can say maybe 2A and 2B if you like, but the point is valid in that Lazard is going to get more opportunities and a difficult man to cover by a #3 CB.
I don't think there's going to be a WR problem in Green Bay because Gutsey didn't draft one. As a set they are young, good blockers and reliable hands. I see them only keeping 4 so it will be tough to make this squad.

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gkarl's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:01 am

I don't think anyone is counting out Lazard, but I'm not counting him in either. It's going to be a fight for WR2 and the rest of the WR spots as well. Competition is a wonderful thing.

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murf7777's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:12 am

Lazard is far from a speed demon as he ran a 4.55 forty and/or a lock for the wr2. I agree it’s a crap shoot who ends up number 2. I could see it by committee based on who they are playing. Might see 3-4 wr’s getting similar reps throughout the whole year. Every D has their strengths and weaknesses so exploit their weaknesses with the wr who’s skill set fits best.

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Dzehren's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:07 am

Reminds me of a taller Marty Booker.

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dobber's picture

June 09, 2020 at 10:17 am

I see Joe Jurevicius. Tall, not notably fast, good hands, gets open.

Even if Lazard doesn't play the bulk of his career in GB, I think he plays quite a while in the league.

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ricky's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:09 am

Geronimo Allison. Jarrett Boykin. Two guys who were UDFA's, had some good games, then faded away. Now Lazard gets his shot. Hopefully he is the exception. Because it's not where you're drafted, but making a team and making an impact. Hopefully, he'll be the next Adam Thielen. We'll see once the games count, and the stakes are real, and the pressure ramps up.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:17 am

I expect that there will be possibly one less WR on the team this year. It’s going to be a battle for the fifth spot. Lazard looks like he will be the number three behind Funchess. After that, it’s probably MVS, ESB and maybe one more player. I like Lazard and see him as better than Funchess but, as we all know, it’s a matter of who Rodgers “trusts”.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 09, 2020 at 08:35 am

I wouldn’t assume Funchess plays ahead of Lazard. Last year, Lazard beat out Allison, Davis, ESB, MSV, and Kumerow To become our #2 and he’ll probably be better this year. And since he’s a very good blocker....and half the plays are runs.......I think he’s our opening day starter.

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dobber's picture

June 09, 2020 at 09:57 am

If you buy into analytics, Funchess was most effective in Carolina as a big slot. If anything, I'd argue that puts him mostly in competition with Sternberger for routes (assuming Lewis plays a similar number and type of snaps in 2020).

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wildbill's picture

June 09, 2020 at 11:01 am

Liked a lot of Lazard’s game last year but now defenses have had an off season to break down his game. He will have to adjust to how they play him but think his strengths should enable him to be an effective #3 for us. I think his blocking will be the key to him getting snaps.

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TheVOR's picture

June 09, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Lizard has major possibilities, he was very stud like towards the end of the season, and Rodgers obviously liked and trusted him by the end of the year. Again, another rookie in that Jordy Nelson / MVS / Devante Adams rookie wheel house of catching 35 of 52 targets for an impressive 13.6 YPC last season. Will he make the jump?

I personally think the dude deserves as big of a shot as MVS or St. Brown, as neither of them produced last season. Again, I get that injuries happen, but availability is king in the NFL, But MVS and St. Brown were injured last season, with MVS playing through some stuff, but not producing well either.

Lizard has earned a huge shot here. JMO..

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Lphill's picture

June 09, 2020 at 01:33 pm

Kumerow will not make the cut. Begelton will make the roster and play.

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Mike Rossmeier's picture

June 09, 2020 at 06:13 pm

Hoping Lazard can excel to the best of his ability, but can't agree he has "excellent speed", He was just as productive in college as Jordy, but speed was the reason Jordy was a 2nd Rd. choice vs. Lazard going undrafted.

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Bear's picture

June 10, 2020 at 08:10 pm

Lazard’s 4.55 speed isn’t considered excellent. But, Adams is a 4.56. Separation is what will be important.

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