Packers general manager Ted Thompson splurged on the wide receiver position in this year’s NFL Draft by selecting three of them. He took Davante Adams in round two, Jared Abbrederis in round five and Jeff Janis in round seven.
Green Bay’s top two receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are scheduled to become free agents next offseason. Some are speculating that the receivers being drafted means that either could be out the door following this season. I do not think that’s why they were drafted and would be surprised if that was the case.
The Packers had not drafted a wide receiver in the first three rounds since Cobb in 2011. They needed some new blood at the position. Cobb and Nelson have both had injuries in their careers, and they had little depth behind them before this draft. Jarrett Boykin had a solid season last year, but he can be upgraded on as the third receiver, and Adams should be an upgrade.
Thompson has never lost a player in his prime who he drafted and wanted to keep. He may not spend often on free agents from other teams, but he will pay his own players and sometimes even overpay to keep them. Cobb and Nelson both are elite players in the prime of their careers still. Thompson doesn’t let those kind of players go.
Nelson is 28 years old, but should still have another contract left of mostly elite production. He proved his worth last year when he was an elite wide receiver even when Aaron Rodgers wasn’t playing. Nelson caught 85 passes last season for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns.
Nelson and Rodgers have amazing chemistry on the back shoulder pass. Nelson can be a deep threat on the outside by winning jump balls with his amazing hands and leaping ability, but he also proved that he can play in the slot and catch the tough balls over the middle.
Cobb has been electric the last two seasons when he was on the field. He was spectacular in 2012 and was off to a terrific start in 2013 until he suffered a brutal leg injury in Baltimore. He came back to catch the dramatic division winning touchdown pass from Rodgers in Chicago.
The sky is still the limit for Cobb at only 23 years. He is such a tough cover in the slot and can be used in so many ways. Cobb can be one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL for years to come.
In today’s NFL you can never have enough wide receivers, and you want to have more than two reliable ones. That is what the drafting of the wide receivers had to do with. Adams and Abbrederis should be able to contribute right away and Janis has the athletic ability that you want to do it.
Thompson also drafted these three wide receivers because that is just the way the draft board fell. None of them were reaches and I think all three were very good values. This wide receiver class was a very deep and talented class with 12 being selected in the first two rounds. Thompson was very wise to take advantage of this.
Ron Wolf’s biggest regret as Packers GM was that he never got enough weapons for Brett Favre. It appears that Thompson will never do the same thing to Rodgers.
My guess is that either Nelson or Cobb gets signed before the end of this season and the other gets signed during next offseason. Thompson has budgeted enough cap space to keep them and he let James Jones and Greg Jennings walk for for a reason. Adams, Abbrederis and Janis were brought here to compliment Cobb and Nelson not to replace them.