A few weeks ago I listed wide receiver as one of the positions of need for the Green Bay Packers. Some disagreed with the selection, citing the laundry list of names already on the roster. Assuming that veteran James Jones will not be resigned, the Packers have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, and Jared Abbrederis, all of whom have contributed on the field in one way or another.
Nelson and Cobb are locked in as starters. Adams and Montgomery are young, high draft picks. Janis and Abbrederis showcased their talent in spurts throughout the season with Janis putting on a show in the divisional round playoff game as the receiver of two of the craziest plays in Packers history.
So why do the Packers need to be looking at receivers? Sure, the receiving corps seemed a little discombobulated last year, but there are a myriad number of reasons for that. And, yes, the team seemed to lack speed last season, but Ted Thompson reassured fans that he’s not worried about the speed of his receivers.
Well, I don’t really buy that. I am sure that Thompson feels some level of comfort with the receivers that he has, especially with Nelson coming back, but I also am convinced that the Packers are interested in bringing in at least one higher profile (meaning not an undrafted rookie) receiver to shake things up and push the receivers already mentioned above.
And so it is unsurprising that the Packers held a formal meeting with Texas Christian wide receiver and track star Kolby Listenbee at the NFL combine this weekend in Indianapolis, as reported by Tom Silverstein. Listenbee ran the second fastest 40 time among all wide receivers at the combine (4.39).
Of course, formal meetings don’t necessitate that the team is dead set on drafting a player, but they do show a serious level of interest. The Packers have reportedly only held 3 other formal meetings, and those were with a defensive lineman and two linebackers, key areas for improvement. Clearly the Packers have actual interest in adding some speed to the wide receiving corps and were not just occupying their time.
Thompson and company certainly should be interested in a young wide out. While it’s possible that the Packers’ offense could return to its normal dominance in 2016 given the depth of talent that the team currently has on the roster, there are a lot of variables that should make fans uncomfortable if the team stands pat, acquiring only a few camp bodies that are not likely to push the current squad.
Nelson is undoubtedly a superstar receiver, but let’s not forget that he will be 31 before the start of the upcoming season and coming off of a major ACL tear. While there ought to be no doubts that he will continue to contribute at a high level for this team, there are absolutely no guarantees that he will retain the same “deceptive quickness” that has made him the Packers’ go-to deep threat.
Randall Cobb looks good when Nelson is on the field, but he was a disappointment in 2015 when asked to be the no. 1. What happens if Nelson has to miss time in 2016?
If Cobb’s season was a disappointment then Adams’ was blunderous. Simply put, Adams has a long way to go to prove himself as a capable NFL wide out. Not only did we not see the crucial second year progression from such a high draft pick, but Adams actually seemed to regress. Nick Bornheimer went so far as to say that Adams has been a bust thus far and may not have a long future with the team.
Montgomery looked great early on, adding versatility as he was lined up in the backfield, but he was sidelined with what McCarthy referred to this weekend as a “significant injury.” Jared Abbrederis is in the same boat. While both receivers have looked good, they haven’t shown themselves to be reliable contributors yet.
Montgomery’s injury is likely to be a fluke, and he hasn’t had the same problem with persistent injury that Abbrederis has had. Montgomery may very well never miss another game in his career, but the NFL is full of rookies who suffered major injuries who could never quite stay healthy. Montgomery is not without his own need for the Packers to purchase an insurance policy, as it were.
Finally, Jeff Janis has been very erratic. He has all of the measurements of a fast, vertical receiver, but hasn’t shown much in the way of pulling them together into a polished product on the field.
This amounts to a lot of question marks for the Packers’ receiving corps. After 2015, there is certainly an urgency to right the ship, especially with Rodgers sitting atop what is likely the latter portion of his NFL peak.
There are bigger needs than wider receiver for the Packers like inside linebacker, tight end, and defensive line, just to name a few. That does not mean that the Packers should neglect wide receiver, however. The team needs to keep its eye on fast receivers that can be available in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th rounds, and my guess is that they’ll attempt to pull the trigger on one of them.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.