What Can the Packers Expect From Their Young Receivers in Year Two?

The Packers shouldn't count on a big leap from their young receivers. 

Unless they find the right guy in free agency, or say, via a trade, the Packers should spend somewhat of a high draft pick on a wide receiver in this year’s draft. Two of the three 2018 draft picks they spent on receivers appear to have promising careers ahead but it’s still too early to tell how good they might be. Some people were ready to cut Davante Adams after his second season when his yards total only increased slightly. Now, those people are either eating those words or trying desperately to forget how wrong they were about the former second-round pick.  

In almost every case it takes time for a receiver to develop and it will usually take longer the lower they were drafted. Green Bay actually got lucky with what they got from fifth and sixth rounders Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. Two large targets with good speed and the ability to succeed from multiple alignments combined for 59 receptions, 909 yards, and two touchdowns in 2018. 

However, rarely do receivers, especially late rounders, have much of a jump in their second seasons. The last Packers receiver to see a considerable amount of progression in year two was Randall Cobb but even he was a second-round pick. Late rounders are projects and this still very much applies to Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown despite uplifting numbers last season.  

As we revisit last year, the few receivers to have what you might call “impressive” second years were Pittsburg Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay of the Detroit Lions, and Corey Davis from the Tennessee Titans. All of whom were second, third, and first-round picks respectively. 

The fact that Green Bay will be installing a new offense under Matt LaFleur isn’t going to help their young guys. It will probably feel a lot like their rookie seasons in terms of getting up to speed. This isn’t a shot at Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown, or even J’mon Moore. Even similar numbers to what they produced in 2018 would help the Packers next year, but expecting some type of “leap” is too much. 

Valdes-Scantling and St.Brown need to continue to learn from Adams and examine the way he approaches his craft. They both have bright futures but they have a lot of work to do to become Rodgers’ number two option. Meanwhile, Moore should focus on making the most of every rep he gets because his roster spot is far from a gimme after catching all of two passes as a rookie.

Green Bay should take some uncertainty out of the question by adding talent to the receivers group this offseason but if they don’t it will be asking a lot of their young trio in 2019. 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (54)

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Bert's picture

February 24, 2019 at 12:22 pm

I agree Brandon. Hoping for a big leap is not a plan. If the opportunity to sign a young vet FA WR or slot at a reasonable price arises then I'm all for improving the position. And if a 1-3 RD draft pick for a high ceiling WR presents itself then I won't complain either. I'm all for upgrading the roster regardless of position or other needs. Sometimes you just have to upgrade where you can, not always where you want.

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dobber's picture

February 24, 2019 at 12:44 pm

"I'm all for upgrading the roster regardless of position or other needs. Sometimes you just have to upgrade where you can..."

There's a lot of wisdom here.

I think a good GM will recognize opportunities wherever they present themselves and find ways to take advantage of them. Forcing the issue leads to overpaying or gambling on players who can't get it done.

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carlos's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:08 pm

I would like the Packers to sign Golden Tate for the slot. If he falls to the right spot I’d draft Marquise Brown. Neither of these will probably happen, but it’d be nice. Young receivers and a new system will be hard so they have their work cut out. Moore needs to work on catching the ball. I think he has talent, but not sure he’ll be on the 53. I do like our receivers to this point.

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porupack's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:28 pm

If GB;
1) invests at least mid or 2nd round pick plus 1 FA vet in Oline, and gets another second or two of protection by Oline.

2) invests a mid round, or FA vet at RB position and improves rushing percentages and yardage /game.
3) Installs better offensive schemes through MLF than McCarthy

That is more than just hoping for second year leaps by rookie WRs, it is planning for second year leaps.

Those WRs have speed and size, decent hands, and reasonably smart. Add the competition of drafting 3 to compete for precious time..... that is all good reason to not just hope, but to expect high leap.

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psptrooper's picture

February 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

I believe that we need to upgrade now, via trade or free agency. We have a world class quarterback and having him play in only one Super Bowl is NOT acceptable. Get him the players we need now. Not rebuilding for the future

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Bring Tate onboard.

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CheesyTex's picture

February 24, 2019 at 01:26 pm

Julian Edelman showed the importance of a quality slot receiver.

While Tate does not have the quicks of an Edelman, he does really well with YAC and could be just what the WR corps needs.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2019 at 02:11 pm

He makes plays.

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fthisJack's picture

February 25, 2019 at 06:37 am

i'm a big fan of Tate. he would be a great addition. there will be competition for his services in FA especially from his former team...the Lions.

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stockholder's picture

February 24, 2019 at 01:26 pm

The cheap shot is bringing a new Wr on Board! Their not going to progress any different then Drop Vante. And lets get that straight right now. Adams dropped to many Balls over the middle. His YAC got him his new contract. Not his Hands. And he still has trouble beyond 10 yards over the middle. They moved him outside just so he could use his left hand. Adams improved his speed. And thats what we need to see from the rookies running routes. Do they have that cutting ability to separate. Allison doesn't! Davis doesn't! And Adams showed it with confidence. I hear so much crap about getting Brown. He doesn't have it now either. Were seeing the same things that brought Hadl to GB. Lies and Fantasy. No Rookie WR is going to start because of Rodgers. He has his favorites. It's time to see who can develop next!

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carlos's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:11 pm

It took Driver time to develop and the patience paid off. Even Jordy took time.

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jeepingmakooi's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:52 pm

Brown can't make separation? Did you watch any of him last year?

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SportsBot_5000's picture

February 24, 2019 at 01:47 pm

Hopefully our new WR coach can get these dudes ready to step up. All three have the size and speed to be good it will come down to how they are developed. If we traded for Duke Johnson we would have the slot WR and RB we need to be successful. Dude is one of the best pass catching RB in the NFL and can carry the rock when needed. The connection between us and the Browns is there, and he is the odd man out with Chubb and Hunt. Get the deal done Gut!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 24, 2019 at 02:11 pm

I'd rather have Coleman for that role personally. Loved what MLF did with Dion Lewis for the Titans last year.

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carlos's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:14 pm

I’d like to sign the “Dukes” Sports. Our new receivers coach , I think, is a huge, huge upgrade over last year.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

February 24, 2019 at 02:33 pm

I don't think we need to draft a receiver high. Gute drafted three receivers last year. If he takes one high this year it says to me he has no confidence in his three receivers he drafted last year and he has no confidence in himself with his picks. I think MVS will be a clear no. 2 receiver this year. He is highly intelligent and the last receiver to progress as fast as MVS did was Greg Jennings. I don't know what Jennings' numbers were his 2nd season but I am looking for something similar from MVS. I am assuming they are good.

Dash

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jeepingmakooi's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:01 pm

St. Brown had mvs spot by end of the season. He really started to come into his own. I look for him to stay ahead of mvs

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Skip greenBayless's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:13 pm

The fact you see St. Brown ahead of MVS and I see MVS as the clear no. 2 is a good thing. Pretty sure both will make a jump. Hell even J'Mon Moore is going to make a jump in his second year. I actually think Moore is the most talented of them all but he just needs more time on the fundamentals. Not giving up on him by any means. Throw in Kumerow and they have enough talent in this group. Should be fun watching these guys grow up together.

Dash

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:15 pm

Jeeping,
I agree about ESB at end of year. ESB supposedly has a very IQ. Believe both ESB and MVS will remain very close in talent and playing time this year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 25, 2019 at 01:11 am

The NFL is a passing league. I do not think GB has reached the point of diminishing returns regarding WRs. We can bank on MVS/ESB/Moore and/or Allison/Kumerow, but you need to be right about them. It is critical that one of them becomes a bona fide #2, but it is hugely important that yet another player is a real #3.

Get a vet FA WR or spend a draft pick on day two.

[Yes, I know I wasn't able to find enough cap space to buy one and I can find multiple ways to use our first four picks that don't involve drafting a WR. Gute has to earn his pay.]

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croatpackfan's picture

February 25, 2019 at 07:37 am

Reynoldo, Packers brought Jimmy last season. And we all knows he do not consider himself as TE. He consider himself as huge WR. And how that pan out?

I'm not for bringing any FA WR to Aaron Rodgers. He will not throw the ball to him as he need to establish that trust issue! First season you can throw away. So, I am for drafting shifty speed WR like Isabella. He can take over KR/PR job and he can be slot and deep threat... But not this season. Trust issue! Once again!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:01 pm

So because it takes so long to develop a reciever, and we can't wait for the two that have a whole NFL season in to further develop, then we have to draft another reciever high...

But wouldn't the rookie be a whole year behind MVS and ESB? I just can't follow this logic.

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Coldworld's picture

February 24, 2019 at 07:13 pm

It’s the thinnest time of year. I sympathize with writers trying to keep us supplied with materials, but let’s face it, this is, as you have just pointed out, nonsensical.

First year round one receivers seldom do much as rookies. Second round players tend to start coming on in year two, but really many don’t until year 3. So if the argument is we need help now, no draft pick helps.

I for one will be pretty annoyed if we draft a WR in rounds one or two based on the holes we have. Moreover, the argument that the new system will set them back so don’t play them is questionable. At least MVS and EQ have shown they can catch and they have the physical measurables. Adams is a given.

Perhaps a new system will make it a lot easier. Goodness knows we have bemoaned complexity and failure to design for strengths for long enough. So if you accept potential in MVS and EQ alone, the argument in the piece holds that it is too early to write Moore off too. Nor do I think Allison or Kumerow have zero value in roles or as depth.

Therefore it seems to me that unless you are bringing in a bona fide game breaker slot player (I know of none) all you do is retard the growth of what we have. Current over future thinking. Sorry, this team has several areas that both FA and the draft offer much greater upgrade potential than WR and in which starters may be available where we have none and depth is also a need.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 25, 2019 at 01:46 am

You're assuming that GB thinks it can contend in 2019. I think we might, but a fair number of things have to go well. If I had to guess right now, I'd predict that Gute signs 3 guys to essentially start in GB, all of them get 4 years or more, and none of them are older than 27.

The player taken at #12 should contribute pretty well year one, but DL and pass rushers often take a year. We have tons of experience with guys drafted around #30. At #44, sometimes you get a Clifton (44) or a Colledge (47) and sometimes you get Spriggs (48).

As for ESB, MVS, Kumerow, Allison, none of these guys look like slot receivers to me. Cobb doesn't anymore either. Moore fits the profile. LaFleur can line Graham up in the slot, but it doesn't make him a prototypical slot receiver.

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:03 pm

It puzzles me a bit to say that the guys aren't going to make a second year leap, so we must draft a receiver high. A rookie receiver will not be much better off than what the Packers already have, no matter how high you draft him. If the Packers really need to shore things up then FA is the way to go. Personally, I'd like to see a medium-sized contract for a slot receiver (sub-$9M/yr seems to be "medium" these days). Otherwise, I'd stand pat and spend the money elsewhere.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 24, 2019 at 08:04 pm

We are going to play a double TE offense quite a bit this year, and there are going to be more touches for the RBs. Net effect is going to be fewer passes in 2019.

When you have two WRs on the field...and one of them is Davante Adams....then all you need out of the 3 draft picks from last year to give you one good season...COMBINED...at the other WR.

And that guy is going to be waaayyyy down the order of battle behind the TEs, the RBs, and Davante Adams.

So IMO, all this talk about needing to get another guy at a position that's going to be de-emphasized in the offense doesn't make sense to me.

No to spending money on a FA WR. Get offensive linemen and safeties.

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scullyitsme's picture

February 24, 2019 at 08:38 pm

The idea that we will be running 2 te sets contstantly and big formations is a bit overrated. Yes Lafleur used that with the titans last year but he had Mariota and 1 good wide out. My guess is it’ll be a lot different with Rodgers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a spread short pass offense. It’s just as likely.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 24, 2019 at 09:43 pm

Yes, and totally doable with some body like Fant and Graham.

Adams and MSV out wide.
Fant and Graham off the line in the slot. Sometimes on the same side. Sometimes there's some motion.

Aaron Jones at the RB.

Just using Fant as an example here. Any of the top TEs would work.

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Coldworld's picture

February 25, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Interesting piece on PackersWire on the use of fullbacks in the Shanahan/LaFleur coaching line asserting that Vitale is exactly the sort of player they would look for (significant receiving use in college) as FB who also played as a HB TE and even slot. Interesting. Blocking and other options become available if you have a Henderson type and a scheme that uses him. Could Vitale be in the TE role (as used last few seasons in GB) mix? Not that Vitale showed me much, but maybe usage is part of the key there too.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 24, 2019 at 08:44 pm

Why do people assume they know how the MLF offense will look in GB? MLF had an injured Mariota at QB with the Titans. Walker got injured early on in the season. In GB we have an aging Graham and we don't know what will happen with Lewis or Hendericks. Behind them we have Tonyan who's an unknown commodity at this point.

The Titans didn't have the WR core that GB has. Coaches work with the players they have available to them. MLF hasn't had the opportunity to work with a QB with Rodger's talent. Matt Ryan comes the closest. I think it's premature to assume that WRs will be de-emphasised.

Edit: I must have been typing this at the same time Scully lol

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PeteK's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:23 pm

Even a mediocre leap would make MVS good. Also, we're under valuing Allison who was on his way to a productive season. A good all around TE & G would help the offense more than a receiver. I would take a running back before a receiver because we don't know what we have in Jones yet

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:17 pm

Correct on all points!

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 24, 2019 at 09:39 pm

I don't think Allison is under contract right now.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 24, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Allison is a RFA.

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Coldworld's picture

February 25, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I will say it again, if a WR can handle get separation and catch he has what it takes to be a decent player. The question then becomes can he handle the route running. Within that are two other issues that the Packers have tripped up on in recent years: what route sets to teach receivers based upon incoming skill sets initially and also designing in sets to exploit individual talent sets. Both MVS and EQ slowed they have the catching and physical prowess, so now it is on the coaches to teach them refined route running and appropriate route trees.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:28 pm

There are more holes to fill on the Packers roster than a WR. The OL and DL and TE are areas that need help. Plus Safety. And a decent RB for depth would be an asset that could prove to be invaluable as the season progress and injuries start to develop. It will all depend of FA and what the Packers do to shore up areas of need. But signing a WR should not be a top priority. Signing a top rookie WR in the draft would be no help as they would be a year behind the talented receivers the Packers already have. It will be interesting to see how the new management will address the immediate needs the Packers have on their roster.

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porupack's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:20 pm

Very true PAPacker-B
Was going to say similar as you. Best way to ensure a second year leap for the 3 WRs and Kumer+Alli is to give Rodgers another 1.5 seconds in the pocket. Get that Oline stout, and the "problems" with Rodgers are over. With confidence in protection, he can read the field, see the 2nd and 3rd options, the chains move and most issues are solved. Secondly, with a HC change, it better bring some scheme change. Thus; investing heavily in the Oline plus new schemes, its not just hoping for 2nd year leap, it is the best way to PLAN for a second year WR leap.

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Swisch's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:37 pm

That -- plus mixing in some shorter pass routes that would be easier for our young receivers to learn, and would be easier on our offensive linemen.
We may have some guys who can make short receptions into long gains with some speed and some moves.

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NickPerry's picture

February 25, 2019 at 05:18 am

"Get that Oline stout, and the "problems" with Rodgers are over."

I don't know if the problems with Rodgers would be over BUT it would go a long, long ways in helping Rodgers be more like Aaron Rodgers. I think the Packers need to sign at least one O-Linemen in FA and draft another before the end of the 3rd round.

I've also been against moving back in the draft BUT if the Packers were able to get say a 2nd rounder from Washington for example to move back 3 spots, I might go for that. I'm not really in favor of moving back to far but 3 spots might be okay for the right compensation. Again this ALL depends on what the Packers do in FA.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

February 25, 2019 at 07:48 pm

Not big on moving back in the draft either.

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fastmoving's picture

February 24, 2019 at 03:30 pm

The young WRs have already been good last year. Way better than expected. If it were not for AR (trust issues???? overall down year for him) they would have posted even better numbers.

so there is no need for a jump, it should be enough if they improve steady. If one of the 3 makes a jump, we have a really deep and dangerous group.

Absolutely no need for another WR, not even a slot guy. If you draft a WR, you have to draft every other position on the team before. Including kicker, longsnaper...whatever….

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jeepingmakooi's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:03 pm

If we bring in another I'd say bring in Patterson. He is tough. Can play in all the same roles Cobb did and be an upgrade at this ooint

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CoachJV's picture

February 24, 2019 at 05:14 pm

Plus he's a good return man...

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dobber's picture

February 25, 2019 at 08:10 am

Cordarrelle Patterson has never lived up to his potential in the passing game. A good returner, but a perennial tease otherwise. Yes, he carried the ball effectively against the Packers (when Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead were hurt) but the Pats only gave him a smattering of carries aside from that.

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Chris Vachio's picture

February 24, 2019 at 04:56 pm

It's interesting to note that Corey Davis made his second year leap under a new OC...who just happens to be our new head coach. Could it be that his offense will make it easier for the young WRs to shine?

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Swisch's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:22 pm

It does seem good to consider how much a coaching staff can make a difference in developing young wide receivers.
Let's hope our new coaches go at least somewhat out of their way to design plays around the strengths and weaknesses of the young guys, so as to bring out their best.
Let's hope Aaron Rodgers is right in there helping the receivers to gain his trust.
It may be very good to bring in a vet for the slot -- but then again, it could be exciting, and a lot of fun, to go with our current group of receivers and enjoy them developing together over the next couple of years.
A good goal for 2019 is to make the playoffs, and to be ready for a run at the Super Bowl in 2020.

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carlos's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:39 pm

Would hope Chris

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jww061356's picture

February 24, 2019 at 05:23 pm

I think MVS can be a player, and I want to see what Kumerow can do as well. I would love to see a young veteran FA slot as well. As long as we're on FA, Zadarius Smith for Edge.

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Swisch's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:30 pm

Does anyone think Kumerow -- or any of the other receivers currently with the Packers -- has the quickness and cunning to potentially be a top slot receiver?

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 25, 2019 at 11:26 am

No!

Could play the position but not be that the dynamic and unstoppable slot.

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arthurl's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:33 pm

I was impressed with the young guys, but getting someone like Tate would be good move. I am hoping Pack gets another RB in those 1st four rounds. Jones isn’t durable and Williams is a backup guy. I also am hoping they spend some early picks on at least two OL players. Draft edge and TE early and look FA for another edge and safety. They need to resign Breeland, bring back Wilkerson and Tramon, don’t cut Perry. I really like the Oliver kid, take him over an edge at #12

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LambeauPlain's picture

February 24, 2019 at 06:35 pm

Another RB is a greater need than adding another WR to an already talented and crowed WR group...especially since it seems a given the run game will get more snaps next season.

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Minniman's picture

February 24, 2019 at 09:27 pm

So. If MLF is bringing in a new playbook doesn't that mean that every receiver (irrespective of experience) is going to have to learn the new system - or am I missing something?

I think that the only person that would benefit from this would be someone already familiar with his style.

"Green Bay should take some uncertainty out of the question by adding talent to the receivers group this offseason but if they don’t it will be asking a lot of their young trio in 2019. "

What if they change and run more 2 TE sets and/or legit play-action with WR's in motion and a heavy dose of RB (more than a half-assed pretend hand-off that fools no-one). That's going to be new and innovative to even a seasoned vet - what's to say that they will pick this up faster?

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sixto lezcano's picture

February 24, 2019 at 10:17 pm

sign oline... then u can throw the ball to whom-ever.
bf u sign oline sign a qb sack machine...free agent or best in draft.
then repeat.. oline.. dline. oline dline.
the world is filled with hungry wanabee receivers. new england picks at bottom of every draft. pats seem to catch the ball just fine.
econ my dear friends.
scaricty.. oline and dline.

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