Potential Replacements for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb

Packers Draft

Draft Options for Wide Receiver:

This offseason writers and fans alike have been debating about which players the Packers should cut and which players that the Packers should hold onto. One of these intense debates revolves around what should be done with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. The truth of the matter is that the only reason that we are even discussing both players status with the Packers is that their production fell off dramatically without Aaron Rodgers and, because of the holes that the Packers have to fill in on defense.

Logic would dictate that because of Davante Adams’s new contract and because of free agent needs in other areas of the roster either Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb could be a cap casualty this offseason. This wide receiver draft primer will shed some light on what life will be like after Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

For the purposes of this article, I highlighted four of my top wide receiver options in conjunction with where these prospects may slot in the draft in relation to where the Packers are picking in that particular round.

Potential Replacements for Jordy Nelson:

The first two wide receiver prospects would be a nice replacement for Jordy Nelson and would play mainly as outside targets down the field in a variety of different patterns. Both prospects possess the ability to win one on one coverage matchups against their opponents top corners and can find open seams in the opposing defense in a scramble drill.

Calvin Ridley: Alabama

Position: Wide Receiver

Height: 6’1

Weight: 190 lbs

Class: Junior

Hometown: Coconut Creek, Florida

Experience: 3 Year Starter

Calvin Ridley possesses an explosive first step that allows him to beat his man right off the line and provide his quarterback with the opportunity to connect with him for big plays down the field. Ridley also possesses the ability to make a move downfield to make a would-be tackler miss and possesses the ability to catch the ball in traffic. Ridley has also shown his ability to freelance in a
scramble drill situation.

Ridley came bursting on the scene as a freshman, totaling 89 receptions 1045 yards and 7 touchdowns. His final two seasons have not been quite as productive but that could be attributed to the inconsistent play of quarterback Jalen Hurts. This season Ridley posted a career high in yards per catch at 15.3 which shows that although his receptions have gone down from his freshman season, his productivity has remained stable and he is still able to find the end zone with regularity.

Courtland Sutton: SMU

Position: Wide Receiver

Height: 6’4

Weight: 215 lbs

Class: Junior

Hometown: Brenham, Texas

Experience: 3 Year Starter

Courtland Sutton may be the best receiving prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. Sutton has a complete arsenal of skills from his size, speed, hands, and toughness. He can work both the deep sideline patterns as well as the crossing patterns over the middle of the field. Sutton is a ball hawk who will go up into traffic to catch a ball.

Sutton started at SMU as a defensive back and played just three games before he was redshirted. He came back the following season as a Red Shirt Freshman receiver who made a big impact on offense as he caught 49 passes for 862 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. Sutton’s numbers became more impressive as his career moved forward as he caught 76 passes for 1246 yards and 10 touchdowns his sophomore year and caught another 68 passes for 1085 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. In Sutton’s three years as a receiver at SMU, he totaled 31 touchdowns in just 37 games played and averaged 16.66 yards per catch.

Potential Replacements for Cobb:

The next two wide receiver prospects will develop into an adequate replacement for Randall Cobb should the Packers decide to release him. These two prospects are hard-nosed team players who possess the versatility to move around the field but concentrating on the middle of the field and the sidelines at their initial implementation into the offense. Both possess strong hands and the ability to catch the ball in traffic while under tight coverage.

James Washington: Oklahoma St.

Position: Wide Receiver

Height: 5’11

Weight: 210 lbs

Class: Senior

Hometown: Abilene, Texas

Experience: 4 year starter

2018 Draft Projection: Mid 2nd Round

James Washington was inserted into the playbook upon his arrival to Stillwater starting 5 of 12 games as a freshman. He continued to develop throughout his freshman season and became a full-time starter to begin his sophomore season at Oklahoma St, a position that he would not relinquish throughout his collegiate career. Washington made the jump in his sophomore year by catching 53 passes for 1087 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Washington continued to post impressive numbers throughout his junior and senior seasons which put him on the radar of many draft experts big boards. In his senior season, Washington posted career highs in receptions (74), yards (1549), and touchdowns (13) which earned him an invitation to the 2018 Reese’s senior bowl.

Washington does not possess elite size but has the ability to quickly become a productive NFL receiver. He possesses many intangible attributes to be a valuable receiver inside of an organization with a winning culture. Washington is a team first player who blocks for his running backs and fellow wide receivers
down the field. He possesses strong hands which give him the ability to catch the ball in traffic and an innate ability to high point the football at any angle.

Washington’s versatility to play snaps at both outside and inside receiving, positions will increase his value to organizations who like to show many different formations and personnel groupings on offense. I see Washington getting his initial action as a slot receiver who can run multiple patterns in an offense.

Anthony Miller: Memphis

Position: Wide Receiver

Height: 5’11

Weight: 190 lbs

Class: Redshirt Junior

Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee

Experience: 3-year starter

2018 Draft projection: Mid 2nd round

Anthony Miller’s career at Memphis got off to a rough start when he missed all of the 2014 season due to a torn rotator cuff. This injury was just another road bump in Miller’s journey to the top. Miller is a player that you cannot set a traditional value on through cone times and 40 yard dash times. Anthony Miller has spent his entire career proving evaluators wrong. Miller was not a nationally ranked recruit and made the Memphis football
team as a walk-on.

After suffering a season ending rotator cuff injury as a freshman, Miller used this to become a better player and was able to start 4 out of 12 games during his first season with the team where he caught 47 passes for 694 yards and 5 touchdowns. Miller used his success during his redshirt freshman season as a springboard for his final two seasons at Memphis. Miller’s junior and senior seasons showed his ability to become the primary receiver of Memphis’s offense.

Miller posted nearly identical numbers during his 2016 and 2017 campaigns. During his redshirt sophomore and junior campaigns he averaged 95.5 receptions, 1,448 yards, and 16 touchdowns which gained him national notoriety and caused him to be noticed as
a top wide receiver prospect in the upcoming draft.

Anthony Miller possesses acrobatic big play ability down the field and inside the red zone. He possesses an innate ability to get past the secondary early in his routes and has the ability to make would be tacklers, miss. Miller has the ability to catch every ball that is thrown his way. He is able to secure passes that are thrown into tight coverage and high traffic areas. Miller possesses the speed to play both the slot and outside receiving positions and is sure to bring a lot of value to the team that drafts him.

The decision to draft anyone of these four wide receiver prospects depends on what the fates of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson end up being. If neither player is cut then it is highly unlikely that the Packers will spend an early round pick on a wide receiver. However, if the Packers decide to part with Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson they must decide on whether to target a middle to late first round receivers like Ridley or Sutton, or wait to address the wide receiver position in the second round with Washington or Miller.

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David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave

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