Packers Face Choices on How to Best Upgrade Talent at Wide Receiver

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst knows he has to upgrade the team's wide receivers, but he faces some tough decisions regarding the best way to get the job done.

The Green Bay Packers are looking to upgrade their talent at wide receiver this offseason. Other than Davante Adams, the Pack had more questions at the position than answers in 2019. General Manager Brian Gutekunst admitted the team will address this area in the coming months, but the question remains what is the best way to do this? Should the Packers add a wide receiver in free agency or in the draft or both?

This year’s draft class is considered deep at the wide receiver position by most experts. In fact, during his press conference this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Gutekunst mentioned that he likes the wideouts available in this year’s draft.

“It is a deep group,” Gutekunst told reporters. “It’s pretty heavy at the top. More numbers than what we’ve seen in the past. It’s early. They’ve got to run, there’s a lot of things they’ve got to do still, but going through draft meetings early, I was impressed with the class as a whole. It’ll be interesting how it falls, but there were some good players out there.”

https://www.packers.com/video/gutekunst-sees-chance-for-immediate-impact-from-wr-prospects

Historically, wide receivers do not make a huge impact in their rookie year. Davante Adams caught 38 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie year in 2014. He too a step forward in his second season and then truly established himself as an impact player in year three. Jordy Nelson caught 33 passes in his first campaign in 2008 for 366 yards and a pair of scores.

Gutekunst feels like this year’s crop of receivers may be able to make a bigger impact sooner. “It’s really just the NFL offense that will take time,” Gutekunst added. “So, there’s some guys sitting here today that I think will have a chance to make a pretty immediate impact, and I’m excited about that.”

According to most scouts, there are plenty of impact wide receivers available in this year’s draft. In fact, it may be possible to pick up an instant starter in the second or even third round depending on the body type and skill set you are looking for.

While the Packers are still interviewing and scouting this year’s crop of wide receivers. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma and Laviska Shenault Jr. of Colorado are among the top prospects available. It is uncertain if any of them will still be available when the Packers make their first pick of the draft with the 30th overall selection.

The Packers may try to move up and take a player they have their eye on or trade down for extra picks if they feel they can still get the player they want early in the second round. Regardless of which strategy Gutekunst employs, expect the Pack to draft at least one receiver on the first two days of the draft.

The other option available to the team this offseason to improve the talent at wide receiver is free agency. Gutekunst already indicated the Packers will not be able to spend as much money in free agency as they did last year when the team added four instant starters in Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner. But that doesn’t mean the Pack won’t add a mid-priced talent who can step in and contribute at wide receiver in 2020.

Possible fits in free agency include Emmanuel Sanders, Robby Anderson, Breshad Perriman and possibly even former Packer Randall Cobb.

Historically, when Gutekunst is looking to improve a position, he adds multiple players during the offseason. Last year, the Packers needed to upgrade at edge rusher, and they signed both Smiths in free agency and then drafted Rashan Gary in the first round of the draft.

In 2018, Gutekunst wanted to upgrade the secondary and drafted Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in the first two rounds of the draft while signing veteran cornerback Tramon Williams as a free agent.

It would not be surprising to see Gutekunst add wide receivers in both the draft and free agency to add two or three new players at the position. While a first-round pick is possible in the draft, because of the depth at the position, Gutekunst may address the team’s needs at inside linebacker, offensive line or defensive line, areas that don’t have as many impact players available, before adding a wideout.

In free agency, expect the Packers to add a middle-tier player who won’t take up all the team’s remaining cap space but can provide the Packers with depth and talent at the position.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (55)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Qoojo's picture

February 27, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I don't see any drafted WR making an impact in year 1 because of the whole Rodgers trust thing.

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ckoski's picture

February 27, 2020 at 01:35 pm

I think that's overblown. He doesn't trust MVS because he's not trustworthy. He doesn't trust Allison because he's not trustworthy. Given where Lazard started from, I don't think anyone could have expected more out of him, and he does seem to have Aaron's trust. EQ was hurt, but seemed to be developing a bond as a rookie. Kumerow? Great story, but not a great receiver. He has hit his ceiling. A WR who is a route runner, like Adams, like Nelson, whether he has the greatest measureables or not, can be impactful. With minimal research, Van Jefferson from Florida intrigues me.

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

February 27, 2020 at 04:18 pm

you're right & it's not overblown. open your eyes people. it's been like this for 5 years.
not just rookies either.
he missed looking at Kumerow so many times last year when the guy was wide open behind the DB with no safety nearby.

this is why i want to sign Breshaud Perriman & then draft ONE guy & let him develop into a star in 2 or 3 years.
i wish we could get Ruggs.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2020 at 08:12 pm

"he missed looking at Kumerow so many times last year when the guy was wide open."
No way you can possibly know this... Coaches film? ---- One hellacious TV with fabulous replay capabilities?

Like it or not, Kumerow was part of the problem last season.... He's not a quality NFL WR... His time with GB will probably end before game 1, season 2020.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

February 27, 2020 at 01:37 pm

I get that the transition is huge for some of these WRs, but what I cannot understand is why our coaches don't just simplify things for the rookies while they learn our system and develop a "trust" with Rodgers. Maybe your rookie will not know the entire playbook, but if they can master 30 or 40% of it why not allow those players to get reps on where they can be best utilized? Deebo and Hollywood looked great this year as rookies. Their teams must have been doing something right and perhaps it was just simplifying their playbook as they grow and learn the system.

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Stroh's picture

February 27, 2020 at 01:59 pm

The issue isn't so much dumbing down, it keeping up with all the checks and audibles Rodgers makes and then mentally charging the route and concepts to the new route and the many nuances within it. Then being in exactly the right place at the right time for Rodgers.

It would have been better if Rodgers hadn't insisted on being able to change plays as much as he does. That way the receivers and Rodgers would be on the same learning curve. But Rodgers still flips back the the McCarthy playbook on a regular basis!

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:14 am

Both players mentioned were high draft picks. Talent wins in the world of professional football. A veteran CB can read one or two route receivers like a book.

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The_Justicar's picture

February 27, 2020 at 08:59 pm

To be fair....wasn’t a single rookie wr other than non drafted Shepard on the team this year which was this offensive systems first year. We don’t yet know if the offense is easy for rookies to pick up.

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The_Justicar's picture

February 27, 2020 at 09:09 pm

Most rookie WRs who make a big impact make a big leap halfway into the season. aJ brown of Tennessee was a ghost until late in the season when he busted out. Just because a rookie doesn’t come out guns a blazing doesn’t mean he can’t help you come playoff time.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:28 pm

"the whole Rodgers trust thing"...

Another myth perpetuated by the media... Similar to the myth that AR & MLF would never be able to co-exist concerning play calling, audibles, etc.

The social media doesn't exactly exude pure truth.

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Qoojo's picture

February 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Media has nothing to do with it. Just watch the games.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:32 pm

That's a factor no question. But Rodgers has to make adjustments as well or he's cutting off his nose to spit his face. I think he will make those adjustments for the right rookie receiver.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2020 at 07:34 pm

Too many X factors right now to make that call. How will MLF adjust his play book to what he might and might not have beginning of OTA and later training camp. Or, to quote my former boss: "too many known unknowns to make that case right now".

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Pikeman's picture

March 01, 2020 at 08:35 am

I agree. In the last two years, Rogers either didn’t throw the ball or was late getting the ball out many times because of the trust factor. That’s not to say there is some doubt about WR selections

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scullyitsme's picture

February 27, 2020 at 01:05 pm

Our receivers were so bad last year that I guarantee a 1st -3rd round rookie this year will start opposite Adams. Therefore they will have a high impact on this team. They can’t not.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:30 pm

No, the guys who lined up at the #2 spot for us last year....Lazard, Allison, and MSV,.... caught almost 100 balls for over 1000 yards and several TDs. Lazard especially made some key receptions in close wins.

How many teams do you think got more production out of the #2 spot?

As for impact next year, we ran 984 plays from scrimmage. 571 of them were passes. About 150 targets went to the #1 position, about another 150 to the #2 spot, another 150 to the TE and about 100 to the RBs. That's balance. It also means that even if we drafted Jerry Rice, on most plays he's either blocking or isn't the primary target. About 9 times a game we'll throw it at him, and he'll catch about 100 balls.....just like last year.

I think we won 14 games with the wideouts we have, and all we need to do is replace Allison with ESB. We're fine. Fix the TE situation, added to the RBs, get a tackle to replace Bulaga. All of those things would have more of an impact than a #2 WR.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2020 at 07:42 pm

Come on OS...All you did was add up the stats for 3 WRs & then declare them ALL the #2 spot... Who was the #2 if all three were on the field at the same time?

Please... you're resorting to your old habit of 'creating' misleading & very inaccurate stats.---You spend too much time at PFR creating your analytical farces.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 01, 2020 at 10:22 am

They weren’t all on the field at the same time. We line up two WRs most of the time. Adams is one.

You are resorting to your old tricks of mischaraterizing things you don’t want to understand.
wL
I understand you are uncomfortable with objective data.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:34 pm

They may be good enough to start compared to the Packers other WRs but the issue for rookie WRs is learning the playbook and establishing trust with teammates and sometimes blocking on running plays.

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albert999's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:08 pm

Round 2
Alex Highsmith......little bit of a sleeper

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:35 pm

Possible. We shall see.

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Stroh's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:08 pm

At a minimum the Packers need 3 new WR. I think an immediate threat to pair with Adams in FA and then a WR early (1st or 2nd rd) and mid (3rd or 4th). Hopefully EQ can offer something this year. Get rid of Allison who's a FA, let MVS play his way off the roster and relase Kumerow. Lazard is worth keeping around but should be no higher than 4th on the depth chart.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:49 pm

IMHO, 3 is definitely the magic number.
Would love to see Breshad Perriman the free agent opposite DA in season 2020... Plus, a 2nd rounder & another WR in the 4th or wheel and deal back into the 3rd for a WR.
Allison - gone... Kumerow - released.. Both EQ &MVS -- ???.. Lazard - a keeper.

Gute will be just as aggressive this off-season as last with emphasis on WR, ILB & DL.

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The_Justicar's picture

February 27, 2020 at 09:08 pm

I agree. I would also like to point out that even if a rookie WR doesn’t contribute a bunch year 1, Adams contract expired in 2 years. How often does GB sign WRs to another big contract. Didn’t happen with Jennings, Nelson, or Cobb. Maybe Adams is the exception. So not only would it be ideal to draft an impact WR that helps this year, it’s possible that a highly drafted WR takes Adams place as wr #1 in a few years so even more important to draft right.

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Stroh's picture

February 27, 2020 at 10:47 pm

I'd rather have AJ Green, but Perriman is a good alternative and he's probably the more likely due to age and salary demands. I would look for a speed and quickness WR for the slot (Reagor would be ideal IMO).

I personally don't see any WR skills in MVS except for speed. His ball skills and route running are inadequate to say the least and I don't think he has the ability to create seperation for himself unless he's simply running a deep 1/3 of the route tree.

I don't think Gutie can be as aggressive this offseason, he doesn't have nearly the cap space. Really only enough for one FA starter, so after that it'll have to come from the draft.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:41 am

I would rather put the cash somewhere else than 12-15M to a guy like Anderson and definitely not Perriman. The WR talent in the draft cannot be denied. The DT/DE depth can be secured from the FA pool with quite a few fair -priced guys.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:36 pm

I can see Lazard as a good WR3 if he takes the next step in his development. I see Adams and one addition then Lazard then another addition and whoever makes it from our returning crew. What do you think?

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Stroh's picture

February 27, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Other than Adams and Lazard, I don't see another WR that might be good enough. Maybe EQ can step up, he was ahead of MVS at the end of their rookie years and probably would have this year if not on IR. Allison, Kumerow and MVS aren't NFL WR and if they are they are at the very bottom of the depth chart, let that be on another team.

WR is in need of a total overhaul similar to OLB last year, except we don't have nearly the resources, hence one FA. I'm fine w/ Lazard as the 4th WR, but 3rd is a step too high IMO.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:23 am

If they move for Hooper, then two picks in the draft would be expected. I have more confidence in E quan than MVS or Allison. Kumerow may stick as a sp teams guy. Lazard is a valid # 3 WR.

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ricky's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:34 pm

Adams got better his second season? 50 catches, 483 yards (about a two yards LESS per pass caught from the previous year), and one TD. He was hurt most of the year, and there were a lot of people who saw him as a bust, and were screaming for the Packers to cut him. Fortunately, the professionals, not the fans, made the right call. Besides, Rodgers has always had "trust issues" with his WR's. By the time a rookie would have gained that trust, it would be time to be looking for Rodgers' successor.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:38 pm

I hope it wouldn't take that long to gain his trust. Part of it is talent and part is reliability and consistency. Clearly, Gute needs to bring in the right WR, not just any talented guy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:31 am

Adams was not the primary receiver in that offense. Nelson and Cobb still got more looks because they were in the system longer and earned ProBowl recognition.

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BoHunter's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:43 pm

Next year Lazard takes it to the next level, the guy is legit, book it.

BoHunter

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2020 at 04:08 pm

I’m with you, Bo.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:39 pm

I'd love to see it, I'm a big Lazard fan, but the Packers cannot rely solely on that. They still need at least two new WRs. If they all pan out, that's a good "problem."

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Lare's picture

February 27, 2020 at 02:47 pm

I think a big part of this discussion is if Gutekunst keeps Graham and his $11.7 million salary.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:40 pm

Every indication is that Graham won't be back.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:45 am

He would have to agree to a 2.5M deal to stick around. He may retire.

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Lphill's picture

February 27, 2020 at 03:54 pm

Jalen Reager I think would make an immediate impact at least on punt returns.

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 05:40 pm

Very possible. We'll see what Gute does. Will be an interesting offseason for sure.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:50 am

Probably have to move up to get him. Depends on the QB run in the upper half of this draft.

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optimisticfan's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:33 pm

I’d be surprised if the Packers spend money on a FA WR instead of other positions of need (DE/DT, TE, ILB)

Also they likely only need 1 quality WR added (1st or 2nd round draft pick). With MLF’s schemes not that many WRs play at any one time. They also will probably draft 1-2 late round picks to try them out or have some practice squad depth but those players are unlikely to make the squad

Let go = Allison, Grant

Possibles to make the team
1) Adams
2) 1st or 2nd round pick
3) Reggie Begelton
4) Lazard
5) MVS
6) EQ
? Kumerow if someone is injured or doesn’t pan out

Remember that MLF would like to mix it up and get RBs and TEs in routes often. So Jones, Williams, Ervin, Sternberger, Tonyan, Lewis etc will be involved a lot in the passing game too

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GilMartin's picture

February 27, 2020 at 09:14 pm

You're right about other positions being involved in the passing game, although this past year, I wonder how much of that was by design and how much was out of necessity. The passing game clearly needs more weapons. I don't see any FA wideouts worth breaking the bank for considering the limited cap room available. Thanks for commenting.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2020 at 09:45 pm

Would love to see Reggie Begelton come up big for the Pack - 2020... It'll likely depend on how many other new names are added to the 90 man roster via FAgency & the draft before preseason.... Begelton is 6'2" & 210 & ran a timed 40 at 4.53 in 2016... His CFL stats are his card into the dance.

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dobber's picture

February 28, 2020 at 09:34 am

Would love to see someone in addition to Jones and Adams have a big 2020. Don't care if it's a TE or a WR.

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Dzehren's picture

February 27, 2020 at 09:53 pm

Draft a WR that can create separation or a quick slot WR that can get open with a timing pass.

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stockholder's picture

February 28, 2020 at 12:30 am

Lots of WRS in Rd2. Mims just moved up. I told you guys Albert Okwuegbunam Te, would be the only TE I would draft. Awesome 40 just under 4.5. My late picks of Thomas- slot, Watkins can fly , HighTower , and Duvernay- slot, could easily beat out GB Wrs. BPA RD.1 for sure!

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wildbill's picture

February 28, 2020 at 02:17 am

Great points about any new WRs learning the playbook and gaining Rodgers trust. A big issue is can they block. Our offense demands blocking from our WRs which I doubt many college WRs had to do much of with all these spread offenses. So whoever we draft better learn to block or he won’t be seeing much of the field except for obvious passing downs.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 28, 2020 at 07:54 am

Sometimes you have to adjust scheme to your talent. Tyreek Hill does not block for Andy Reid.

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wildbill's picture

February 29, 2020 at 04:38 pm

Agreed but a very extreme case. You can always find exceptions but if you would rewatch our games you would see a heavy load of blocking required by our receivers.

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wildbill's picture

February 29, 2020 at 04:38 pm

Agreed but a very extreme case. You can always find exceptions but if you would rewatch our games you would see a heavy load of blocking required by our receivers.

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dobber's picture

March 01, 2020 at 09:42 am

That's because Andy Reid is big enough to be his own blocker...

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Handsback's picture

February 28, 2020 at 03:49 am

I don't see a WR in the first round. I see maybe Mims or Jefferson from FL in the second and or Duvernay in 4-5th round. I don't see two WRs and a TE taken this year unless one of the selections are in either 6th or 7th rounds.
See a DL guy in first round, WR in 2nd, ILB in third, and OT in fourth. Defense against the run was too poor not to get another wide-body lineman. I suspect Keke will make an impact and with a rookie that sees the field in his first year will improve the Packer run defense and make those ILBs look outstanding.

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WMA's picture

February 28, 2020 at 10:56 am

Believe that there are 2-3 QBs on Gutes list that if are there at 30 they will take a QB.

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CoachDino's picture

February 29, 2020 at 06:43 pm

From what I gather what they need for a rec is a skill set that failed them in 2019. Deep threat - That was MVS job but when he started dropping balls it was over. Can Lazard be a slot Rec? He doesn't have the speed to be a #2 wideout - Need to help our #1 rec and underneath guys buy making sure there's a deep safety at least somewhat worried about our #2 wideout just running deep. Maybe draft a WR with these strengths. limit his route tree in yr1? EQS was for real - can he be a # 2-speed guy? I see him more as a WO #3 or #4 replacing the rookie WO or kicking DA inside.
I'd like to see them get a CB, WR & OT is the first 3 rounds as that is where the strength of this draft is. That leaves a need for FA IDL and ILB. Go with IDL run first and ILB coverage 1st. Trade DOWN and try to get three picks in the top 75 instead of the top 105...
Of course, in the end, it comes down to what happens in FA, what the coaches think about the guys on the roster and how the board falls. Please - BPA - Do not reach (too much)...ps Don't give up on Oren Gurks - If healthy he may start to show something (hopefullY...lol)

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