Packers Are Set At Wide Receiver

With every passing event related to the NFL that passes, the closer we are to the 2016 version of the Green Bay Packers.  And with the new season comes some new elements and the return of some familiar ones.  The return of receiver Jordy Nelson is one example of a familiar, and very much needed return.  General manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy both spoke about Nelson at the start of this year's NFL Combine in Indianapolis and both echoed each other's comments about the eight-year veteran:  he'll be back.
 
Just what does "back" mean, though?  We've speculated on it here a few times and as always, there are those who feel that Nelson will come back very close to the version we previously remember and there are those who feel that he will either take some time to return to form or he won't at all.  That question has some wondering how the Packers wide receiver corps will look next season.  Might they target a young receiver in this upcoming draft?  Earlier this week, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted out an idea after having listened to some of Thompson's comments at the Combine.  As he did two years ago just prior to the Packers' signing of Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion, Rapoport implies that the Packers could, once again, be players in free agency this offseason.  Here's the tweet:
 

A receiver?!  We all know that Thompson is a reluctant player in true free agency when it makes a ton of sense.  What about when it's a head-scratcher?  If Nelson is returning (and looks as good as they're saying he does) and the Packers will also have the services of Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis, why would they look to an outsider to come in and add depth?  Even those who are growing tired of Thompson's draft & develop philosophy and lack of activity in free agency would likely agree receiver is not an area where a veteran is needed.  Perhaps Rapoport was including tight ends in his use of the term "WR"?  For now, let's assume he means pure receivers.  

 
The Packers surely remember the 98 catches, 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns Nelson put up in 2014 and will look to try and get that production back somehow.  They surely could draft a receiver or multiple receivers (after all, this is Thompson we're talking about) but where the Packers currently sit in the draft order, no first-year guy is coming in and putting up anywhere near those types of numbers.  It's not likely that even Nelson himself can walk in and bring that to the table after a year away from football.  Janis and Abbrederis would be hard-pressed to combine for those numbers as the fifth and sixth guys on the depth chart.  I'm not sure if Rapoport has more knowledge than he's letting onto but here are a few receivers that are currently on the free agent market: James Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Travis Benjamin, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Anquan Boldin, Rishard Matthews, Jermaine Kearse and Percy Harvin.  
 
Jones is the most likely of them all if the Packers want to add a veteran to the mix.  The question is whether Thompson values him more than Janis or Abbrederis.  Jeffery isn't going anywhere.  The Bears have the cap space to outbid anyone for him and they like Jeffery as their number one.  If they can't get a deal done right away, they'll franchise tag him.  The Browns like Benjamin and will likely do what they can to keep him.  The others are likely going to want to come into a role where they're at least the third or fourth guy.  In Green Bay, they'd be fifth to start out.  As much as Adams struggled last season, the Packers aren't about to give up on him unless his attitude goes completely south.  He may end up on the bench and headed for problems but coming into training camp, the Packers will be giving him every chance to take hold of the third spot on the depth chart.  Cobb should benefit from having Nelson back out there, Montgomery will be back and fully healthy and both Janis and Abbrederis will be in camp this summer.  
 
Thompson also said that he's comfortable with the team's current stable of receivers and the speed that they possess.  It seems as though he'll stand pat when it comes to wide receiver this offseason, at least as far as free agency is concerned.  As credible as Rapoport is, I don't expect this projection to come to fruition.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (41)

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Razer's picture

February 26, 2016 at 06:59 am

Of all positions, WR is the last one that TT might consider during free agency. About all we will see happen is James Jones allowed to leave.

As for being set at WR, we are at least one good player away from being ready for the next season. You need to factor in injury if you want to have a complete picture. Consider the scenario where we lose a guy for much of the season. It will be groundhog day all over again. Let's face it, we only have two solid WRs (Nelson and Cobb). The rest are either unproven or inconsistent. I like Janis but he is nowhere near Nelson reliable on any front.

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croatpackfan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 08:35 am

I upvoted your post, but still I think that there is 3rd solid , if not excellent WR - Ty Montgomery. I will say that others are unproven, but not all of the rest are inconsistent...

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:34 am

I was caught off guard with that statement TT might go for a receiver, say what no way Jose.

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Evan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:44 am

"Let's face it, we only have two solid WRs (Nelson and Cobb). The rest are either unproven or inconsistent."

Perhaps...but the rest are certainly more proven and consistent than any rookie, yea?

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barutanseijin's picture

February 26, 2016 at 07:00 pm

Dropvante is worse than a rookie.

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Evan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 07:03 pm

Clever.

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4thand1's picture

February 27, 2016 at 10:10 am

The team and AR are high on Adams and have been from the start. He obviously is a great practice player. Here we go again, "practice"? "did you say practice"? Some players good practice habits don't translate to good play when it counts. Adams needs to have a breakout year or else.

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dobber's picture

February 26, 2016 at 07:14 am

If 2015 showed us anything, it's that the Packers need to add a player that creates mismatches with speed in the passing game. Is that player Jordy Nelson? Maybe. But we saw that good defenses with good DB could take away Nelson and Cobb already in 2014. if Nelson's not the answer, we may be in for a repeat of 2015 on the offensive side of the ball. Can't take that chance. Must find a player who can contribute in the passing game immediately and threaten defenses downfield either at WR, TE or RB. Doesn't matter which position and you're going to get that contribution sooner in FA than with a drafted player. Make it happen, TT.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 26, 2016 at 09:28 am

Couldn't agree more. As you said teams were holding Nelson and Cobb back in 2014. The need for another type of receiving threat was apparent then. Going into this year with questions now about Montgomery's health, on top of Adam's play and the lack of experience with Janis and Abby combined and with no guaranty that Jordy will immediately be back at his normal level, it is playing with fire to think everything will fall into place. It rarely does. Even if it does we still need a TE threat. As for a bigger faster WR, that is a need but I must admit a dilemma. A draft pick would be great but would have to start on practice squad. A veteran FA of the type we seek may not be out there and then there is how and where they fit in at the start. So it looks like TE and RB are the way to go in FA, and draft a WR for the future. I also think we missed the immediate impact WR the year we picked Adams but we had other needs then.

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dobber's picture

February 26, 2016 at 09:57 am

Assuming both Montgomery and Nelson are back and healthy, I think Abbrederis is the odd man out if a new WR comes in. Despite his 2015, Adams isn't going anywhere (yet) and Janis has turned into a special teams demon. Abbrederis only brings additional value as a punt returner, and he's not #1 on the depth chart there. He would have to take a monumental jump this offseason to stick.

The coaches like J.J. and how he contributed this season, but I don't think he improves this team in 2016...maybe if Nelson is 100% Jones looks better, but you can get that out of players already on the roster, too.

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Bearmeat's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

Jones is gone unless an injury strikes. He can't run anymore and offers nothing other than a security blankey for ARod. Sucks, but age happens to us all.

I actually think the WR core also looks very good on paper. Counting on 1 or 2 of 4 young guys (Adams, Monty, Abby, Janis) to step up is classic TT, and I think it's smart.

You'd expect Cobb to have a better season than he had this year. He's been very very good since 2012. So that tells me that 2015 was an aberration. He's not a true #1, but he's an EXCELLENT (albeit overpaid) #2.

I think Jordy will be back to an 80/1000/10 at least.

That leaves TE. TT HAS to do something about TE. RRod just isn't going to scare anyone. I really think Bennett is going to be the answer here. No comp pick. Still can run. Can block. And has never played with a QB the caliber of ARod. Yeah, he's weird. But so was Finhead, and MM/AR kept him in line mostly. A 4 year 25/mil deal would be awesome and make the passing offense (I think) close to 2011 levels.

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Evan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:34 am

"...and offers nothing other than a security blankey for ARod."

That's a lot, though.

I can see JJ re-signing for a 1 year deal but not making the final cut.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 07:14 am

Yeah, I honestly don't see them going after a FA WR. I can see them going after a WR in the draft, but in FA I don't see it happening.
Not when Jordy is returning, Cobb will be healthy again, Adams started coming on at the end of the season, Janis and Abbrederis both showed they can play and Montgomery will be coming back. Although with the reports yesterday he may not be ready until training camp is concerning.

I think they would be more apt to look at the TE's then WR's in Free agency.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:56 am

As with last year injuries were the pits. If it happens again we do not want to have to end up going to number 6 but having them at the end was good to have, it was so close even when we needed to go that deep.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 26, 2016 at 08:52 am

Sanu is very unlikely. He led the league in drops in 2014, though he didn't have a drop last year. He is a slot WR only, and isn't very fast or much of a deep threat. We have slot guys up the gazoo. Has excellent size. Jones fits, but can't see TT springing for $8 million per year AAV or more. Plus both play for the Bengals, who are sitting on $37 million in cap space and they don't have WRs in the wings waiting to take over. Chance of TT signing either: you'd need a tunneling electron microscope to see the chance (paraphrased from Frasier).

Rishard Matthews is more interesting. Miami has a weird cap situation, being over the cap but also having the ability to create quite a bit of space, and they are pretty deep at WR. Said to have lived in Philbin's doghouse for his first 3 years, but I don't know why.
Kearse is a younger JJ, physical. I can only imagine TT standing next to Percy Harvin introducing him to packer fans. See electron microscope analogy.

That said, GB needed a 3rd option in 2014 with Nelson and Cobb each having a great seasons and attracting plenty of attention. Adams as a rookie really wasn't able to provide it except against teams short on DBs. We have candidates for that 3rd receiving option, but no one proven. Thin year for WRs in FA and the draft. Best guess is that TT eschews FA, and takes a flyer on a split WR late.

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dobber's picture

February 26, 2016 at 09:24 am

Agree on the WR draft class: it doesn't have the star power of recent years. I suppose we were due for a down year. I'll be curious to see how the players shift once combine numbers are taken into account and pro days start happening.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 26, 2016 at 09:32 am

Harvin comment was a classic! Snowball's chance in hell on that one.

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lou's picture

February 26, 2016 at 10:09 am

Harvin's probably doing pushups in his driveway in Ashwabenon while Drew Rosenhaus is saying "next question", "next question".

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Paul Ott Carruth's picture

February 26, 2016 at 10:31 am

Nelson is coming off reconstruction. Cobb is coming off an injury to his shoulder. Adams didn't produce. Montgomery was in a walking boot as of 2 weeks ago. Couple these factors with the notion that Janis and Abbrederis just aren't ready for prime time and the Packers are anything but set at receiver.

Now back to reality. Janis and Abbrederis are ready to see their roles increase. Should have happened much sooner last year. Even with this belief, the Packers might, and I would argue, should take a receiver. Not just any receiver. A big receiver. If he falls, and there is a good chance he might, Josh Doctson from TCU would be perfect. 6'4" 215, 4.4-4.5 speed, and can catch. He's a very productive player. Nelson is 30 and coming off a major injury.

Should the Packers draft offense in round 1, most are clamoring for a TE. There isn't a TE in this draft worth a 1st round grade in my opinion. None of the TEs in this draft tilt the field. In fact, TEs typically don't tilt the field for an offense, especially a 1st year TE at that. The Packers should acquire a TE simply for depth. Rodgers is fine. He was as, and slightly more, productive than Owen Daniels, the savior TE for many. When used correctly (i.e. Detroit in 2015, NFCC 2015) Rodgers can be effective between the hashes and seams. He's a big target. You have to run bench routes to stress the outside from time to time but that became his primary route in the McCarthy offense. When McCarthy realizes Rodgers doesn't possess Finley's skill set, he'll be better.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:13 am

Couldn't agree more. Especially about the TE's.

Rodgers is fine as a starting TE. Is he dynamic, no. Does he have to be, no. What they really need is a complimentary TE to be used with Rodgers. Not take Rodgers spot.

I have said for a while now that the way Rodgers was used in that Detroit game is exactly how he should be used. Over the middle, in the more traditional TE role. They were trying to use him like they used Finley way to much. They are completely different players.

I would like to see them draft a TE fairly early. 2nd-4th round area. Right now the guy who I do like that I think would really compliment Rodgers nicely is Jerell Adams. He reminds me of Finley. I think he would be a really good fit in our offense.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 26, 2016 at 01:54 pm

I'll wait for the combine on Doctson. I've seen him listed at 6'2" or 6'3" and at as little as 190 lbs. Also I've read that he is expected to run in the 4.5's for the forty. Also, he dropped out of the Senior bowl due to his wrist that he broke last November and which required pins.

If the guy runs a 4.42 forty and his wrist checks out, he might not be there at #27. I've read that he didn't run the full route tree in college.

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Paul Ott Carruth's picture

February 26, 2016 at 03:07 pm

Correct on the weight. Meant to say 205lbs. He's played at 205 before. Probably closer to 6'3" He'll need to bulk up a little but he competes for the ball and is the best receiver at adjusting to the ball downfield. 4.5 is plenty fast

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2016 at 04:24 pm

POC --- Nice to see that some are looking at all aspects of the situation. --- Abby & Janis are the biggest question marks (neither are proven NFL WRs) & Jordy's return. --- He's 30 years old. He's had the 1st major injury in his career. --- No one knows what the future holds. --- Not all players return to pre-injury performances.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 28, 2016 at 12:17 am

Yes a big receiver. Have needed one for awhile. Another complimentary TE and using RRodgers as was done in the Detroit game would be a vast improvement. Give Jordy some help this year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2016 at 03:21 am

Doctson's combine results have come in. 6'2" even (still a good-sized WR but just a tad disappointing), 202 lbs., 4.50 forty, 1.60 ten yard dash, excellent 41" vertical and 131" broad, 31 7/8th arm length, 14 on the bench. 4.50 is fast enough, and he obviously will be deemed an explosive athlete. It makes him intriguing at #27, but he won't drop to #57.

Doctson would look good in the green and gold, but at this point, I'd guess that I will like someone else better than Doctson at #27 when GB is on the clock. Lot of disappointing performances at the combine from WRs.

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WKUPackFan's picture

February 28, 2016 at 06:48 am

Thanks for that first paragraph POC. None of us were aware of that information.

Now that your usual snarkiness has been covered, Hunter Henry's less than stellar Combine performance means you are probably right about this TE class. Several highly rated TEs did not participate in the drills, however, including Austin Hooper and Tyler Higbee.

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Paul Ott Carruth's picture

February 28, 2016 at 08:54 pm

Tyler Higbee? Should be an UDFA. Probably goes round 5..maybe late 4 only because of a weak crop and his length. Not very productive in his 4 years. Hooper is an enigma. Not a burner but runs really good routes on the interior. 3rd..maybe 2nd. Most productive TE outside of the Henry hype train is McGee. Best hands if the class. Big and productive (100+ catches) in his career. Busted leg a year ago is a concern but had a good year in '15. Vannett is intriguing. Big but wasn't used much at OSU. Big hands but those hands are iffy. Good blocker. Project. Maybe take a flier on him in round 6.

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EdsLaces's picture

February 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

I like the guys we got first and foremost. I think if this group was healthy and maybe throw in a new TE and watch out. That said Benjamin would make this team lethal. If we went 5 wide and had Jordy Cobb Adams Monty and Benjamin I mean ..who do ya cover? Benjamin is also pretty young. JJ was good at the beginning of last year but fell off big time. I'd say Benjamin makes the most sense IF he wouldn't completely break the bank.

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Bearmeat's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:17 am

The other part of this:

It's obvious that a big reason GBs offense struggled last year was the lack of quality depth at OL and Phat Ed being, well, fat.

I think it's safe to assume Eddie gets his diet in order. He's got a big payday waiting for him if he does. That's a lot of motivation. Remember, Jerome Bettis was cut by the Rams after the 97 season. He said he was 270+ after his 3rd year before he figured out that being an NFL player is a 24/7/365 job.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:28 am

Honestly the offense kind of had a season that basically everything that could go wrong did.

RB out of shape, then they had fumbling problems.
OL got hurt, and really affected the team.
WR's were hurt.
QB was hurt and played his worst football of his career.
Offensive play caller gets pulled. Coaches just couldn't get on the same page as the players.

I don't expect to see that many problems again.

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FrozenTundra's picture

February 27, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I agree RC. You need to consider that in 2014 the Packers lead the league in scoring. They have everyone of those people back as last year. All of them couldn't have lost it at the same time. The Packers will have 7 picks in the first five rounds of the draft. Probably 3 fourths. With Sitton. Bak, and Lindsly you can get starting OL in the fourth and fifth rounds. I'd like to see a kick ass defense. Go DL, ILB, if there's a decent TE take him or trade for one. I'd also like to get a RB and a WR just because you can't have too many skill players.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 01, 2016 at 01:14 pm

I appreciate the responses above! I would add, what does Cobb have to do, to gain fan respect? The guy plays hurt all year, essentially with 1 1/2 arms, punctures a lung on a spectacular play, and fans are down on him for not being a #1 type?... I too would like to see a fast/big receiver, but how many are out there? I see a TE FA signing, if the price is right (Green?), where we may be able to accomplish something similar. The unfortunate injury situation to the WRs last year could be a blessing this year, if Janis and Abby grow WITH Rodgers. He needs to work diligently with them (including exhibition games!!). Outside of a can't miss pick at WR, in my opinion, the Packers need to pay attention to the O-line, D-line, and LB positions where they will have 9-10 players (who regularly see playing time) over the next two years become free-agents. Last, though I respect Edgar Bennett, he was the new offensive coordinator last year. He needs to take some of the blame for the lack of creativity on the offense. Other teams have slower, less adapted offenses that get WRs open.

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Evan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:33 am

Jordy's injury doesn't worry me - his age does a little. He's 30 and he only has 2 years left on his contract. Is TT going to extend a would-be 33-year-old WR? I dunno.

A FA receiver would shock me. But a mid-round draft pick would not at all.

That said (and of course it'll all be determined by how the board falls), I feel like restocking the WR can wait till next draft. By then we'll have a much better sense of Adams, Monty, Janis and Abby.

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Lphill's picture

February 27, 2016 at 09:06 am

I don't think TT would pass up a decent receiver in any round of the draft I'm sure he has a few on his list if available . I think the first round pick will shock everyone because I feel he will take the best player available regardless of position .

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D Ernesto's picture

February 27, 2016 at 09:41 pm

Your correct ted picks the best player available -in his mind. He thought lacy was better than bell? He got ridmof a tall fast charles johson and broght in a davante adams who was not rated highly at all. If you have a deep team and need little taking the best player available is smart. With all the needs the packers have you got to fill holes and mend fences.

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WKUPackFan's picture

February 28, 2016 at 06:39 am

What would you know about minds?

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2016 at 04:28 pm

J. Jones will be resigned. --- He was at least the 2nd best WR in 2015. --- He'll be close to that in 2016.

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D Ernesto's picture

February 27, 2016 at 09:29 pm

Seems like adams and rogers lacked speed leaving cobb covered one on one. Teams decided to defend man coverage due to the lack of speed. Yet we had speed in Janis and he sat on the bench. Why? I still think mac plays favorites andvalues hiher draft picks for playing time. Adams palys others dont. The team need a fast mobile tight end. R rogers is a bum. He will never amount to a go to guy. He is a crutch a rogers doesnt need.

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holmesmd's picture

February 28, 2016 at 03:02 pm

R Rodgers is not a bum. He's got great hands and is a nice red zone weapon. He's not a freak of nature when it comes to combine metrics but he was actually quite productive last season! The problem is that they don't use him properly! Those passes to the flat are the equivalent of running 250 lb Lacy laterally! Lol. Just not the guy's skill set. I do think he needs to get quite a bit stronger and work on his balance so he can run more effectively after a catch. That's hopefully something the new TE coach can help him develop? I would like to see a very big & fast WR to the mix to stretch the field more. There aren't any scary fast TE or receivers in this draft however. 4.5 -4.6 is fast enough if you can run routes and catch. Perhaps Janis becomes that guy this year? He finished last season on a high note for sure. He's got outstanding size & speed. If he can get the technical aspects of the offense down, he could be an outstanding player for GB.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 01, 2016 at 01:07 am

Only one TE prospect (maybe two) fits your prescription (pun intended). Fastest TE (Jurell Adams) ran a 4.64 forty, 1.65 ten yd. and 7.05 3 cone, with a 117" broad, at 6'5" and 247 and 34" arms. He did not lift, but is okay as a blocker. Hunter Henry did not run at the combine, so he could #2. Bunch of guys who ran in the lower 4.7s, which actually can be fast enough.

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TommyG's picture

February 27, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Yup. We're set... so long as everyone stays healthy and has career record setting years. Good to go.

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