Film Review: Davante Adams

As you’ve probably heard by now, Davante Adams was listed on NFL Network’s top 100 players as the 45th rated player in the league for 2018. This of course has led to a variety of discussions including where to rank Davante Adams in the current pantheon of NFL wide receivers, whether or not Davante Adams will be the best receiver of Aaron Rodgers’ career, and discussions on just how good Davante Adams can really be going forward.

Today I’ll take a look at some of the rankings for Adams, as well as a film review to see just how good Adam’s has been, specifically over the past two seasons.

In addition to the NFL listing Adams as the 45th best player in the league, Adams has shown up on a few other lists that are worth mentioned as well. In 2017, Adams was Pro Football Focus’s 12th rated wide receiver. He was also Bleacher Report’s 11th rated wide receiver on their NFL 1000 list. Both lists seem to place Adams in about the same spot.

Interestingly enough, they only agreed on six receivers who were as good as or better than Adams: Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, and AJ Green.

Overall, I think that’s a really strong place to start with Adams. I think you can make a solid argument that Diggs, Thomas, Jones, Hopkins, Brown and Green are the upper echelon of players at the wide receiver position. Most would certainly make a case for Odell Beckham as well.

You then get into a cluster of players that includes Keenan Allen, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Pierre Garcon, Demaryius Thomas, and Alshon Jeffery. To me Adams is at, or near, the top of this tier of players.

Acme Packing Company’s Peter Bukowski (@peter_bukowski) recently posted a great article on Adams as well: https://www.acmepackingcompany.com/2018/5/30/17408556/davante-adams-has-a-chance-to-prove-he-belongs-among-leagues-elite-receivers

Peter mentioned that he’d place Brown, Jones, Beckham, Hopkins, Green, and Evans definitively ahead of Adams and would then put Adams up against anyone else not in that list. What stood out to me most from Peter’s article was this:

“In fact, the only receivers to be ahead of Adams in DYAR each of the last two seasons are Thomas, Thielen, Brown, and Jones. In other words, over the last two seasons combined Adams has been a top-5 WR in terms of consistency.”

For those unfamiliar with DYAR, it stands for defense-adjusted yards above replacement. Adams ranked 15th in DYAR in 2017 and 14th in 2016.

From a purely statistical standpoint, Adams ranked 14th amongst receivers in catches, 21st in yards, 18th in yards/game, 2nd in touchdowns, and 13th in 1st down conversions in 2017.

In 2016 he was 22nd in catches, 24th in yards, 30th in yards/game, 2nd in touchdowns, 10th in 20+ yard plays, 11th in 40+ yard plays, and 27th in 1st down conversions.

When all is said and done it’s incredibly tough to argue that Adams isn’t a top 15 wide receiver in the game currently and you can certainly start making an argument for top 10 and maybe even top 8.

From a purely Packers’ perspective, Adams was my 2nd rated overall player for the team last year, and he was fourth overall in impact per play. What I loved about Adams is that he was the same consistent player even when Rodgers went out. The same can’t be said for a lot of his teammates.

But enough about all of the statistics, rankings and analytics, let’s take a look at the film of Davante Adams and get a glimpse at just how good he really is.

The best place to start with Adams when breaking down film is with his two elite attributes; Adams’ release off the line of scrimmage, and his ability to win contested catches.

Release

Contested Catches

As you can see in the above videos, Adams can win against anyone with these two traits. In some of the scenarios above the corners have near perfect coverage and Adams is still able to make the catch. His release off the line of scrimmage consistently puts him at an advantage and makes him incredibly difficult to contain. As more and more teams have played press man-to-man against Green Bay, Adam’s ability to get clean releases has increasingly been a huge weapon for the offense.

His ability to win those contested catches are what really set him apart as a red zone threat and the reason he’s been able to score 22 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

While those two traits are certainly what sets Adams apart, they certainly aren’t his only above average attributes. Adams is also an incredibly skilled route runner, he’s physical when he needs to be, he’s elusive after the catch, and he’s a clutch receiver.

Route Running

Physicality

Elusive After the Catch

Clutch

Once again, you can see just how skilled Adams has become as a route runner. He can run a full route tree and he’s able to beat you from all areas of the field. Adams will line up on both sides of the field and in the slot, and he will run screens, go’s, slants, fades, double moves, etc… all to near perfection. It’s incredibly difficult for corners to get a read on exactly where he’s going to go on the field because he can get just about anywhere he wants.

His physicality, added to his explosiveness off the line, is what also makes him tough to matchup with. There are some corners who have the shiftiness to match Adams at the line of scrimmage and can stick with him step for step. Those corners are often on the slighter side and Adams then uses his physicality to gain separation.

On the flip side when teams try to cover Adams with a more physical corner, most have a very difficult time sticking with Adams and his initial move off the line of scrimmage.

So with all of these highlight level plays and accolades, why isn’t Adams in the top tier of wide receivers? The main answer is explosive plays. We’ve obviously seen that Adams is capable of making big plays in the receiving game and with a full year of Aaron Rodgers in 2016 he was 10th in the league in 20+ yard plays. But over the past two seasons combined, Adams ranks only 51st out of 99 eligible receivers who’ve caught over 50 passes with 12.63 yards per catch. That’s in the Corey Coleman, Chris Conley, Davante Parker, Donte Moncrief & Jermaine Kearse range. Julio Jones is at 16.68 yards/catch over that same time period as a comparison. If Adams wants to become a top 5 wide receiver he’s going to have to show he can consistently make those explosive plays week in and week out.

The upcoming season is going to be an interesting one for Davante. Yes he will (hopefully) get a full year of Aaron Rodgers and will be the unquestioned number one wide receiver, but he’s also going to be the unquestioned target of opposing defenses. Defenses almost certainly will use their best cover corner on Adams and/or roll a safety over the top.

Adams is going to need to evolve as a receiver to this type of treatment to take his next step as a top tier receiver, but if he’s able to evolve and can increase his explosive plays with Rodgers at the helm, he may just sneak into that top 5 conversation within the next couple of years.

The best part is that even if Adams can produce at the same level as he has over the past two seasons, he will be well worth the money that Green Bay invested in him this past offseason. Adams is already a big-time wide receiver at age 25 and it’s scary to think that he could still be getting better.

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Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and appears weekly on 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to breakdown film. This past season he was an analyst on Green Bay Nation on WFRV TV in Green Bay. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder; follow him on Twitter at @sconniesports.

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Comments (25)

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Bert's picture

May 31, 2018 at 05:05 pm

Having AR at QB definitely helps any WR but let's not forget that Adams (along with Jennings and Jordy) was a highly rated second round draft pick coming out of college. Even Finley was a #3 pick. These guys weren't chopped liver who were only made great because of AR. They were all darn good receivers in the their own right.

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Lare's picture

May 31, 2018 at 06:24 pm

Adams is a really good WR, and will only get better with all the other offensive threats the Packers have. May not be this year, but once the rookie WR's get acclimated Adams is really going to shine.

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Oppy's picture

May 31, 2018 at 08:11 pm

1) Aaron Nagler "Good Luck" clip: Watch very closely, it happens so fast- Davante's first movement off the line- he squares his shoulders and head off to the CB, entirely square, and splits out his feet wider than shoulder width apart. The DB has zero tip off as to what direction Davante is about to take off in, and then it's almost like Adams teleports to take the inside leverage from that stance. That is why DBs don't get hands on Adams at the LOS very often. This isn't just rare ability, he might be unique.

2) That Melvin clip? Davante is working that leverage again, hips open to the inside, at full stride. Sticks his foot in the dirt and turns it outside over 90 degrees on a dime. No round off. Whhaat?

I am very glad CHTV has finally done a film break down on Davante. Watching him in TC practices and keeping an eye on him in isolation during games, I have never understood why there's a contingent of Packers fans who thought he was "just a guy".

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Barazinho's picture

May 31, 2018 at 09:34 pm

The Melvin move is even better than that - he sells the inside move with a lean and lunge, which causes the corner to lunge inside, then the stop step, the glide step, and he's going 90 degrees the other way. It's not just the quickness, it's the elusiveness.

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Oppy's picture

June 01, 2018 at 12:16 am

During the 2016 training camp, both LeRoy Butler and Gary Ellerson talked on air about what stuck out the most to them about Davante Adams' skill set, and they both said it was Adams' degree of body control. LeRoy in particular raved about it and said he's never seen anything like it. That stuck with me and it's what we're seeing in these clips.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2018 at 12:30 pm

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Rak47's picture

June 02, 2018 at 04:07 am

I noticed his feet and how he squared off as well Oppy but on the play against Kendricks and the Viqueens. His heels also never hit the ground as he springs off his toes. Watch when he spreads his feet to plant and cut after squaring he is always on his toes, never flat footed.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 31, 2018 at 11:35 pm

He has arrived. That's all that matters. Now we need a fast big tall guy that can run routes and we are set.

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Bearmeat's picture

June 01, 2018 at 12:15 pm

I don't even think Height and Weight are "musts." We just need speed outside - and to be fair, that's probably not coming this year. Next year, one of those rooks will be ready though. :)

Keep in mind that Jimmy keeping the safeties and ILBs or 43 OLBs occupied will help Davante too. As long as Davante doesn't get hurt (or 12 obviously), this is going to be a potent offense.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:00 pm

I would've loved to see a Tyreek Hill (without the off-field issues) lightning bolt kind of addition to this offense. He's a little guy, but he's absolute dynamite.

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Bearmeat's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:42 pm

A young Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson or even Torrey Smith - one of those types. You don't even have to have an all pro. Just someone who is fast enough and good enough to scare defenses and make them back up off in the open field.

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Rak47's picture

June 02, 2018 at 04:12 am

I wouldn't count out J'Mon Moore. He is a very good route runner with excellent speed coming out of his breaks and the ability to also make contested catches. I for one am hoping they bring him along gradually and turn him loose my mid season. He is going to surprise a lot of people.

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David Aures's picture

May 31, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Tae is an elite wr. Cant wait to see him a full season with Aaron again. Specialy if at least one of our tall, fast WR. rookies works out, with Cobb, Graham and Lewis. Packers passing attack will be back this season. Go pack Go

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Nick Perry's picture

June 01, 2018 at 05:38 am

Adams was 21 years old when he was drafted..! He came to a team LOADED at the WR position at the time so he wasn't going to be a #1 or #2 option on most routes for most of the season. I don't know about you guys but I wasn't the level headed man you see before you today at 21 years old...I was an idiot who knew every goddamn thing!

His 2nd season he had the high ankle sprain in week one IIRC. He came back WAAAY to fast and ended up injuring it even worse which effected him the rest of the season. The number of people calling for him to be cut was mind boggling after year 2.

Year 3 he's healthy, works his ass off and he starts playing like the clips above. I might add he was ONLY 23 in year 3. My ankles hurt after watching those clips!

Year 4 he shows it wasn't a fluke and is even better. The fact that he was able to continue to ball out with Hundley might just be the most impressive thing he's been able to accomplish yet.

2018...Sky's the limit for Adams, especially with a healthy Rodgers for 16 games. BTW... Adams is better than Diggs. WAY better!! Diggs ass is getting grounded this year against the Packers new D!!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 01, 2018 at 12:47 pm

IDK that I'd call GB loaded with receiving options in 2014. Nelson and Cobb, granted, but the next best WR was Boykin (and his miserable 3 receptions). Boykin was out of football completely after 2014. The TEs were terrible. Adams was the clear cut 3rd option all year, which isn't too bad of a situation for a rookie.

This isn't comparable to Nelson being behind a still good Driver, a second #1 type WR in Jennings, James Jones, and then in 2009, Finley and Finley's 72 targets as well.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2018 at 02:58 pm

I think they're scarily fragile in the receiver department. If there's any amount of attrition here, the whole season could hinge on three rookies and a WR they currently call RB who can't stay on the field.

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Bearmeat's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:47 pm

Agreed. But with the 3 rookie WRs and a couple of high-ceiling younger players from last year I don't think it's wise to have someone take snaps away from them in training camp. Until they drafted the 3 WRs, I was thinking they had to bring in an accomplished vet. Now thought? Not so much.

Yes, we are thin after Davante outside. We actually have no proven options, but a move-the-chains vet can be found at cutdowns or early in the season if needed.

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Spock's picture

June 01, 2018 at 06:37 am

Andrew, Thank you yet again for these carefully compiled film clips; they are (hands down) my favorite articles to view on CHTV. Adams feet aren't just quick they're almost superhuman. Heck, his change of direction might be even faster than Barry Sanders and I didn't think that was possible! The poor defenders stumbling around when he out jukes them is almost comical to watch.

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stockholder's picture

June 01, 2018 at 07:04 am

Moving! But the descriptions are just a little over the Top. No other Wr has gotten the press Adams has. Trying to convenience others with cherry picked tape, is all about changing his past failures. His Past nickname; Drop Vante is the true question mark. Your objective is to trust him. He's worth the Money. But Adams is not money in the Bank. His Left Hand is used to catch balls more than any other NFL WR. He's gotten the playing time to improve. His PFF rating is really Fantasy, and not down to earth. When will he catch a bomb? Something beyond 10-15 yards. The good ones can. Adams Hasn't! Adams was moved to the outside for his own protection. Not WR Vision. (His ability to bring it in with his left hand. ) His YAC will go down. I'm terrified he's considered our best Wr now. I hope we will be rewarded. But past reputations have a way of never leaving. I still see his deep deep trouble. Is he a WR that can be counted on game after game? (A #1 Threat! ) Thats what I want to see!

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CJ Bauckham's picture

June 01, 2018 at 11:54 am

His Left Hand is used to catch balls more than any other NFL WR.

...could he possibly be left handed? Nvm. It's irrelevant

Something beyond 10-15 yards. The good ones can.

...isn't there literally a clip with him doing that in the article? It's not the only time, either

But past reputations have a way of never leaving

...because you keep bringing it up 2 years past it's relevancy? Did you pound on James Jones like this?

Is he a WR that can be counted on game after game? (A #1 Threat! ) Thats what I want to see!

...did last season not count? When he showed up every game even despite it being Hundley throwing him the rock?

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stockholder's picture

June 01, 2018 at 01:24 pm

Left Hand. I wrote a comment that when A-rod led him on the right hand, "he dropped it." I wrote A-Rod should throw at his left hand and A-rod did. Adams secures and catches the ball with his left hand. Even 1 hands it. But if he tries to reach with his right, he drops it. The new WR coach last year had to have worked on it. Until last year he didn't catch a ball over the middle, -- down field over 20 yds. "Cherry picked here".= Adams is not Javon Walker or Jefferey. And how many of packer draft gurus wanted a deep threat?? Biggest change in Adams is he wants the Ball ! And thats what you saw in a CONTRACT YEAR! When I was a child I would make believe I had the ball and made moves on friends. I laughed at the moves Adams is using in short yards. Their the same. Maybe they should try him at RB instead of Monty/ Cobb. MMs next man up? Still Lets judge Adams, game by game, this year. Not his highlight reel. James Jones gave him a vote of confidence if that means anything.

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Oppy's picture

June 01, 2018 at 08:13 pm

CJ, I literally went through this exact. same. stuff. with stockholder about a year ago, and responded in much the same way. You have to just enjoy the absurdity.

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stockholder's picture

June 02, 2018 at 08:47 am

We draft three new WRs. And drafted 2 WRs last year. Signed 2 TEs last year. Signed 2 new TEs. Even looked to FAs for Help. Absurdity? = Is making Adams out to be something he's not. He's not a #1 WR! I believe Adams will choke, and the packers will Choke on his contract. Piece by piece. Especially after they sign Arron Rodgers. How do you value a #1 WR? We double team WRs. You put a safety on a #1 to help. I'm not the only one who questions Adams ability. The Question marks show up on every blog. Can Adams be more than a Contract Year WR? Can Adams keep getting better or regress. He's arrived? After how many years, Reps, articles, and failures in the ranks. Adams doesn't have the stuff it takes to be great. It took him to long to arrive!

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Oppy's picture

June 02, 2018 at 10:37 am

Can he be more than a contract year player:
He's done it the last two years. Was he signed to two contracts I'm not familiar with?

It took him too long to arrive:
He's outpaced Jordy Nelson's, James Jones, and Donald Driver's career trajectories so far.. and 2015 (the single year most of the doubters look to when doubting Davante) he spent the entire season playing with significant injury.

As to can he handle playing as the defenses across the league account for him as the #1 WR? He has already been doing that since the last 4 games of 2016. Fact.

Clear your head, watch the guy play football, and judge his game on what you see, not what you think you know. He's a good WR.

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paxbak's picture

June 01, 2018 at 01:28 pm

Hoping people go to sleep on this guy during next year's fantasy drafts - easily has 1st round PPR and a 2nd round non PPR potential. If I can get him in the 2nd PPR / 3rd non PPR I'll be happy

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