Whether it’s fair or not (and it’s probably not) Davante Adams is going to be constantly compared to other Packers wide receivers selected in the top 100 picks. Ted Thompson has made a pretty solid career out of cultivating wide receivers in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Because of this ability, he has never had to spend a 1st round selection on a weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and now Davante Adams were all drafted in the second round or later.
If you’ve been reading my work for long enough you know that there are certain positions where a lot should be expected of a player in his first year, and there are certain positions where that is not the case. You can expect a lot from linebackers, running backs and interior offensive lineman. Pass rushers, defensive linemen and specifically in the case I’m referring to wide receivers should not have much expected of them in year one.
While this exercise might be futile and is certainly of a small sample size I’d like to take a look at the first 6 games of the careers of the other highly drafted wide receivers during Ted Thompson’s tenure:
Greg Jennings- drafted 52nd overall- 2006
21 REC 364 YDs 3 TDs
James Jones- drafted 78th overall- 2007
26 REC 400 YDs 2 TDs
Jordy Nelson- drafted 36th overall- 2008
16 REC 177 YDs 1 TD
Randall Cobb- drafted 64th overall- 2011
10 REC 180 YDs 1 TD
Davante Adams- drafted 53rd overall- 2014
16 REC 167 YDs 1 TD
Statistics really say whatever you want them to say. You could look at those numbers and say that Davante Adams is starting the slowest of any of the highly drafted receivers of the Thompson era. I would caution you by saying that Adams only played 9 snaps against the Seahawks and was not targeted. His season didn’t really start until Jarrett Boykin went out.
The reality is that those numbers represent opportunity. When Jennings and Jones were added to the team Donald Driver was the only reliable pass catcher on the roster. Those players were necessary additions to the offense right away. By the time that Nelson, Cobb and Adams were added Favre/Rodgers already had guys to throw to. That’s the beauty of the deep and diverse weaponry of Ted Thompson’s program.
I would also say that his numbers most closely resemble those of Jordy Nelson. If you remember back to our draft coverage I most closely identified Davante Adams’ game with Michael Crabtree. I have very high expectations for Adams and I thought those people who christened him James Jones 2.0 were selling his potential short. James Jones is a great football player and once led the NFL in touchdown catches but he is not really a go-to receiver and honestly in Green Bay was never really the #2 option either.
Davante Adams has the opportunity and talent level I believe that very strongly. In fact if I were to rank the 4 receivers above not named Davante Adams I would probably say Jordy Nelson, then Greg Jennings, then Randall Cobb and James Jones last. That’s not an insult to James Jones that list is a very impressive one. I also understand everything that Greg Jennings meant to this team, but even at the peak of his powers he wasn’t capable of doing what Jordy Nelson is doing right now.
I believe that when all is said and done Adams has the athletic ability, size and talent to slide into those rankings right between Nelson and Jennings. The funny thing is if you look at my (admittedly subjective) rankings, they actually coincide with draft position. If Davante Adams does become the 2nd best receiver Ted Thompson ever drafted, so will he. That damn Theodore.