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Packers Draft Special: WR Position in Flux, Deep Draft Full of Options

Packers Draft Special: WR Position in Flux, Deep Draft Full of Options

Much has been made this offseason about the Packers wide receiver position.  Green Bay is spending quite a bit on wide receivers.  They've got $38 million on the books, which is tops in the league by a wide margin.  This figure, though has been exaggerated as a big deal because most of that money comes off the books.  It's a one time expenditure.  Green Bay has just $11.3M on the books for 2019.  Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, the source of everyone's angst, will both be extended at a lower price or will be playing for other teams.

Whether it's going to be those two back on reduced salaries or other options, decisions have to be made regarding the receiver position.  There are a number of options: 

Internal: 

  • Trevor Davis- Davis is  a speed merchant that struggles with a lot of the common sense parts of football.  Lowlights like alligator arming good throws, strange punt return decisions and costly drops plagued Davis' second season.  With that said receivers used to take three years to develop.  Many of them still do.  The quick development of the WR class of 2014 messed with everyone's understanding of how long it takes for these guys to really contribute.  
  • Michael Clark- Clark is a big target that likely needs time to develop.  He's a basketball convert, and while many of those players end up at tight end, Clark's thinner frame lends him to the receiver position.  If the light ever turns on for Clark he could be a red zone threat and a piece to use in a receiving corps in the same way that Ruvell Martin was for the 2000s Packers.  A #1 option? No. But a piece of a successful pie.
  • DeAngelo Yancey- the Packers were able to stash Yancey in 2017 and signed him to a deal for 2018 and beyond.  Yancey is a mid round pick by Ted Thompson and in my opinion profiles as a James Jones-style piece in the Packers offense.  2018 might not be his year, but 2019 could be.  That's when he'd likely be needed, anyway.

Free Agent: 

  • Donte Moncrief- Much has been written about Moncrief as a possible Packers target.  His market should be depressed and he provides the speed that the Packers lack in a prime time target (though Davis could certainly provide that).
  • Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson- the Packers were linked to Lee in the pre-draft process and I still love what he can bring to the table.  I was obsessed with Allen Robinson in the pre draft process and think he'd be an excellent Jordy Nelson replacement on the outside as Nelson and Cobb move into full time roles in the slot.

Draft:

  • Deon Cain- Cain is a solid prospect with excellent size.  Like Gallup, Cain could be a starting receiver in the NFL by year two.  That's worthy of a top 100 selection.
  • Christian Kirk- Kirk is another potential slot weapon at 5'11".  Kirk could slide right into an offense as a Randall Cobb replacement.
  • Marcell Ateman- Ateman is a big guy, and is basically another shot at taking Courtalnd Sutton, just a little later in the draft.  The question certainly stands whether Ateman and the aforementioned Washington were responsible for Oklahoma State's success or if it was QB Mason Rudolph.
  • Anthony Miller- Miller is a slot machine.  At 5'11" he's a bit undersized but he would be lethal as an inside weapon.
  • Dante Pettis- Pettis is another underrated prospect.  He has elite speed and body control.  He played with marginal QBs and played across from top 15 pick John Ross.  I'd take Pettis in round 2 and be ecstatic.
  • James Washington- Washington was very productive at Oklahoma State and has the body to compete inside and out.  He goofs people up because he wears #28, but his production speaks for itself.
  • Michael Gallup- Gallup is so underrated.  He's a rock solid receiver who has the upside of a full time NFL starter in a a successful offense.
  • Courtland Sutton- Sutton is a physical freak.  He's a completely different weapon than the rest of Green Bay's corps  Sutton is a Mike Evans type of talent.
  • Calvin Ridley- Ridley is a true WR1.  At 6'1" he has the ability to play outside and in the slot.  Ridley reminds me quite a bit of Greg Jennings.
  • DJ Chark - Speed specific role
  • DJ Moore - More speed
  • Auden Tate - Size specific role

As you can see, there are plenty of options to remake the receiver position on the fly.  What would I do? Keep em' all.  I'd extend Nelson and Cobb at low cap numbers and have them play the inside for the next three years.  After that I'd take a 6'1" or taller receiver in the first 100 selections of the draft (the Packers have more picks).  Here's what my receiver depth chart would look like in 2019:

X= Davante Adams, Michael Clark

Slot= Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb

Z= Michael Gallup, DeAngelo Yancey, Geronimo Allison

remove Clark or Yancey if Green Bay is able to come to terms with a free agent receiver option.  

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (16) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

stockholder's picture

Ross your in Love with him. Everyone has him listed between the 2-3rd round. (4.55 ) Look what happened to mega- Tron and others who have retired. Keep in mind why we want a WR. Speed my Friend. SPEED!

Turophile's picture

Speed kills and you cannot coach it up, you have it or you don't.

D.J.Chark is 6'3" tall with 4.34 speed. He is not a polished receiver, but he has elite tools. He could be a second Torrey Smith for the Packers.

Still, speed is just one way to get open. You have the craftiness of Miller, the running back build of Washington, the smoothness of D.J.Moore, the burst of Cain, the length of St.Brown, all can win.

While Ridley is the most polished receiver, he is a first round pick. Any of the others might be there with their second rounder (though some would probably need a trade up of a half dozen spots). While some of the listed receivers will be gone by the time the Packers second pick comes at #45, some will still be on the board, this is the 'sweet spot' for getting a good WR. There will be bargains available in round three as well, it's a good draft year, in terms of depth, for WR.

Community Guy's picture

the topic of WR is becoming one of my favorite off-season topics.. i think, because of the possibilities, as you mention above Ross. as far as Nelson/Cobb, i am going with the assumption that Nelson gets restructured and stays.. because he has offered that to the team. restructures are uncommon, so, i wouldn't expect the same with Cobb.

i like a draft replacement in lieu of free agency because of cost.. i heard something about a player, i think he wears a #12 sometimes, needing to get paid.. so, i think about Russ Ball and the need to keep the team in financial health.

in the mocks, i always get Auden Tate in like the 4th or 5th round.. this guy has a huge ceiling.. based on film study, i honestly don't see Cortland Sutton having more upside than Tate. the point is that this draft is going to have a lot of solid WR talent available in rounds 3, 4 and possibly even in early 5. i see this draft for WRs similar to last year's RB class when talent like, ahem, Aaron Jones, fell into round 5.

with AR at QB, maybe one addition this offseason, and reasonably good coaching, i see the Packers having a very dangerous receiving core.

John Kirk's picture

If Tate runs well he won't come close to Rounds 4-5. He'll be a 1st rounder if he runs anywhere close to 4.50. Kelvin Benjamin ran 4.61 and went 28. KB said he was trying to run slow so he'd fall to Carolina. Always wondered about those kinds of things.

I'd like a high pick Round 1-2 on a WR and a later one on a size speed project from a smaller school along with Moncrief.

12 loves 18 and 87. Will be interesting to see if they give both the AVP treatment much to Aaron's chagrin. 3 straight seasons of poor production makes Cobb the most likely to be cut. I'd cut both but that's dependent on FA and draft.

Colin_C's picture

Great overview Ross! I'd argue though that Anthony Miller can play outside almost as effectively as he can in the slot. I've watch his tape from every game game this year, and he's a legit deep threat. He's my absolute favorite prospect this year, no doubt. The only thing I can knock him on is size (which isn't really that bad even), and some concentration drops (which he makes up for with insanely great catches at critical times. Here's a link to his highlights from this past season. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, be sure to at least see the plays at 4:19 and 7:12. He's been making plays like that for the past two years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMtH31KQhws

Madfan's picture

Good summary!

For 2018 I'd not only like to see Nelson used in the slot, but as a split out TE. He has more size and speed than a number of TEs GB has used. I don't see Nelson in the picture for 2019.

Despite the potential of a number of WR draftees that can play outside, I don't see any of them -- other than Ridley -- contributing much in 2018. All seem to need a year or two to develop. A lot of smaller slot WRs in the draft. But, I'd sure like to see one drafted the second day.

For an immediate improvement, I'd like to see GB adding Moncrief. I doubt that Robinson will be available, but it may be worth looking at Lee.

So in addition to Adams keep Nelson and Cobb; add a capable outside WR, such as Moncrief; draft an outside WR; return Montgomery part-time to WR and have him work the slot on occasion; likely cut Davis; do not re-sign Janis. Allison and Clark may need to compete for a last position. Yancey cannot be counted on for 2018.

OrganLeroy's picture

Montgomery doesn't need to return to WR part time, he isn't exclusively a RB now, that would be wasting the match ups he creates by playing both positions and that's how he'll be used going forward, he's not gonna get that many carries.

EdsLaces's picture

D.....J.....Moore please. Love that dude.

Colin_C's picture

Yep, he's a beast with YAC. His play style actually reminds me of Monty. Moore is shiftier, and a bit faster, but their build and play style seems somewhat similar.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

Yep, 3rd best WR in this draft, behind Ridley & Kirk.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

Yep. My personal list has Moore as the TOP WR in this draft. I worry about Ridley's frail build and Sutton's route running. I think Moore will be an All-Pro if he gets on the right team (or should I say, with the right QB). I've read that Moore isn't a great route runner, but if that's true, he clearly has the physical ability to BECOME a great route runner. He's fantastic with the ball in his hands.

Handsback's picture

Ross I like your reviews but disagree with the content. Living in Dallas, you watch the games with Courtland Sutton and you see a guy still trying to figure out how to play Wide Receiver. He's tall-yes, he's fairly fast-yes, good body control-average, route running-average. The same can be said for many of the recevers you have listed. The 2 guys who will test good to great at the combine and have had great seasons are Kirk and Ridley. Washington isn't as fast as he is quick. and doesn't lose any speed in his cuts. He also catches the ball where ever it's placed. He'll do well in the pros but his route running is also limited. Both Kirk and Washington remind me of Sterling Sharpe. Not that tall but quick and hard to defend.

For UFA, Albert Wilson, Kendall Wright, and Cody Latimer were rated over Moncrief. Lots of possible WRs that the Packers can look at to add youth and depth.

John Kirk's picture

Latimer is one intriguing guy. I liked Moncrief and Latimer in the draft we got Adams. Broncos took Latimer right after we plucked Adams if memory serves.

Latimer did nothing his entire career until late last year. I'd swap him for Janis. Latimer is also a ST guy. He would be a bargain basement type signing with upside. Ran 4.39 and 4.43 coming off a broken foot in January at his pro day. Had 23 reps on bench which was best for WRs and better than some linemen. Jumps like Adams. Too stiff and not sudden are his knocks. He makes contested catches which is what we seem to like. Looked great against the Colts late last year where Philbin and Hostler had a front row seat.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

Ross, go watch more tape of DJ Moore. He is so much better than Gallup. Gallup isn't that impressive to be honest. Washington, Cain, & Chark are all better talents than Gallup as well. Sutton is no Mike Evans - are you only making the comparison because they're both tall? Sutton cannot separate (why he declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl), is not a great route runner, & is a poor blocker in the run game. Ridley (WR #1) will go Rd 1, & Kirk (WR #2) might as well. Packers need to land a stud LB (Edmunds, Smith, Evans) or CB/S (Ward, JJ, or James) in Rd1. I would be eladed if the Packers landed Moore in Rd 2 (WR #3).

PackEyedOptimist's picture

Agree on Moore, but Gallup looks pretty good to me too.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

I'm hoping Clark and Yancey take big steps. If they do, with their talent, the Packers will already be set. The addition of Graham completely changes the passing attack.

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