The first reason that Jared Abbrederis has to be good is obvious. There is a decent chance that if he fails in Green Bay the entire state of Wisconsin just might start slowly falling in to Lake Michigan. “Abby” is nothing short of a state legend. He was born and raised in Wautoma. He was a walk on at Wisconsin who was very popular and very productive. As hard as it may be to believe, his importance goes beyond that for his NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. Jared Abbrederis is both insurance for the preservation of Randall Cobb and insurance against his absence.
From what I can tell in training camp, the top 3 receivers on the Packers appear to be pretty entrenched. Jarrett Boykin has shown nothing that would lead me to believe he is going to give up his spot as the starting outside receiver. Some would even argue that the top 4 spots are spoken for considering that the Packers used the 53rd overall pick to select Davante Adams. Jared Abbrederis is going to have to make his initial mark on special teams. It would appear that this impact will come as a punt returner specifically.
Abbrederis’ development as a returner is going to keep the wear and tear off of starting S (?) Micah Hyde and more importantly slot machine Randall Cobb. Cobb has been a very effective returner over the course of his career, but he’s also an elite receiver in the league. When the Packers lost him to an injury in Baltimore it hurt the offense. When he was unavailable for the team to use when the QB went down it was devastating. While Cobb’s injury didn’t come on a return, it’s no secret that elite receivers are not used as returners in this league.
If the Wisconsin native can be effective on returns, it will improve or at least maintain the level that the special teams was at while protecting Micah Hyde and Randall Cobb. Abbrederis was an effective returner at Wisconsin. He averaged 10.7 yards per return over the course of his career and scored on a 60 yard scamper in 2011 against Indiana. The sure handed Abbrederis would also provide ball security to the punt return unit.
His development as a receiver can have the same positive effect if Cobb isn’t available. The question is whether or not that would be because of injury or because of being unable to agree to a contract extension with the team. I, for one, have a very low level of concern about Cobb being a part of the team long term. I think the staff and the QB view him as part of the core of the team. Abbrederis, though standing over 6 feet tall, projects to the same inside slot position as Cobb. If Cobb were to leave and Abbrederis was a productive NFL wide receiver it would soften the blow and allow the Packers to sign other players with expiring contracts, like Bryan Bulaga or Tramon Wililams (unlikely).
If Cobb is extended, next season will be the best 5 WR group in the history of the team, I have no doubt. If you believe that Davante Adams will eventually be a receiver of Cobb, Nelson and Greg Jennings’ quality (and I do) those returns should start to be realized next season. If you have a 4 WR sets with Adams and Nelson outside and Cobb and Abbrederis in the slot the other team is shaking in their boots. It’s impossible to cover all of those players. Not only that but it leaves a productive receiver (Bokyin) on the bench. If Abbrederis fails as a returner and Cobb gets hurt, or Cobb leaves as a free agent and Abbrederis can’t replace him in the offense, the team will suffer.