Davante Adams had a very up and down rookie season for the Green Bay Packers in 2014.
There were many games when he was invisible, there were games when he was visible for making mistakes and there were games when he stepped up as a focal part of the game plan when Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were facing double teams. This was evident when he caught 11 passes for 121 yards on Nov. 30 against New England and seven passes for 117 yards and one touchdown in the NFC Divisional round playoff game. Adams caught 38 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns total for the season.
This offseason Adams has been talked about more for his crazy basketball dunks than his football play, but those dunks did show off the amazing athletic ability Adams does possess. He kind of seems like a forgotten man headed into OTA’s and training camp. Nelson and Cobb are the two star receivers and Jared Abbrederis, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis will be having an intriguing battle for the spots behind Adams. Meanwhile, Adams just falls into the middle of those groups and should be able to go about his business without a ton of preseason attention.
Obviously, it’s going to be hard for Adams to put up big time stats with Nelson and Cobb getting the vast majority of the targets. However, we should still expect a nice leap from Adams from year one to year two. Those flashes of big-time ability he showed last year should become more consistent as he develops as a player, has better chemistry with Aaron Rodgers and is more familiar with the offense.
The most impressive part of Adams’ game to me is his ability to make contested catches. He has a big frame for a player who is only a little taller than 6 foot and knows how to use it. His 39.5 inch vertical jump he displayed in those basketball dunks comes into play here. Think of the catch against Dallas when Adams fought of Dallas cornerback Sterling Moore, who almost picked the ball off, and stiff-armed Moore to make a big gain after the catch. He may not have the best straight line speed to get downfield for deep passes, but all-around Adams is a terrific athlete.
This comes in handy on those kind of comeback and out routes, which Green Bay loves to run and Adams showed the ability to gain separation on those in his rookie season. Also, after he makes catches on those routes he was often able to turn it up field and break tackles to gain extra yards. Rodgers also loves to use his arm talent to throw contested balls, and as he gains more trust in Adams those attempts should go up for him. Especially, because I think Adams will continue to come down with more and more of those balls.
The biggest improvement could come from just consistency for Adams. He had a few too many drops, which weren’t an issue for him at Fresno St. and his hands were one of his best attributes there. Some of that could have just been confidence issues for a rookie. More familiarity with the offense should help Adams’ route running, which can be sloppy at times. He is a long strider and is not very quick in and out of his breaks, so having a better knowledge of what he should be doing should help him.
Adams is a big part of the offense because the Packers still lack a big impact tight end, so Adams has to be the third target behind Nelson and Cobb. As we saw at times last year, Green Bay can’ rely on on those two to do everything even as good as they are. It was no coincidence the Packers needed Adams to step up against the better teams like New England and Dallas. Look for Adams to make the quintessential year one to year two leap for Green Bay.