The 2017 Green Bay Packers should have one of the deepest offseason rosters in recent history. The Wide Receiver position contains a particular embarrassment of riches, which will make final cuts especially difficult.
Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb will be the core of the WR position. Jordy should be able to build on a strong 2017 campaign as he continues to get healthier two years removed from his ACL surgery. Cobb excelled once the Packers returned to a passing game concentrating on slants and quick throws. Hopefully, McCarthy and Rodgers have learned from the second half of the season and will continue to utilize their offenses strengths. Adams seems to be on the cusp of breaking out as a superstar receiver. He has an elite combination of speed, strength, catching ability, and route running. Consistency has always been the issue, but Davante seemed to be putting it together at the end of last season.
Geronimo Allison has the best chance to be the number 4 WR. His size/speed combination allowed him to make contributions as an undrafted rookie. With an offseason to solidify his knowledge of the playbook, and improve his strength, Allison should have an upper leg on the competition.
Competing for a Roster Spot
Jeff Janis has turned into a crucial Special Teams player, but has yet to live up to any of the potential as a pass catcher. He probably has this preseason to show if he can be a legitimate option on offense. Even if he doesn’t have a role in the offense, he has a chance to make the roster as a Special Teams ace who can line up at WR in a pinch. Trevor Davis will have this offseason to recover from his injury, gain strength, and demonstrate he can be a NFL route runner. Janis and Davis both have much needed straight line speed, but neither has proven then can be enough of a threat underneath to gain Aaron Rodger’s trust.
DeAngelo Yancey wasn’t a highly regarded draft prospect out of Purdue, but the Packers absolutely love his skillset. He has incredibly strong hands, is already a good route runner, and is much more explosive than his 40 yard dash would indicate. Yancey would be my current pick to be the 5th WR. Malachi Dupre was once one of the most highly regarded WRs in all of college football. He has an outstanding catching radius, and ability to bring in poorly thrown passes (a skill that was necessary at LSU). Dupre has all the skills you would look for in a great receiving threat, but is marred by inconsistency. He could break out and be the steal of the 2017 draft, but could also have a very frustrating career where he shows flashes of talent, followed by frustrating drops and inability to get open. Both Yancey and Dupri are hard to evaluate because of bad QB play on their college teams, but we will find out very quickly how good they are in preseason.
Outside Shot/Practice Squad
The Packers signed former Duke WR Max McCaffrey to the Practice Squad during the 2016 season. McCaffrey has outstanding speed and great lineage (he’s the son of longtime pro Ed McCaffrey and his brother Christian was just drafted in the 1st round by Carolina). If he was able to pick up the Packers playbook, he could push to compete for a spot. If he performs well, he may be able to make another team’s roster or spend another year on the Practice Squad. Michael Clark is an undrafted rookie from Marshall. He’s 6’6 and could develop into a possession receiver and red zone threat. His ceiling is probably as a Practice Squad player for this season. Montay Crockett is an undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern. He’s a good athlete who would need a year to adjust to the higher level of play. Clark and Crockett will probably battle it out for a spot on the Practice Squad.
Summary: We will see if the Packers decide to keep 5 or 6 WRs on the active roster, but there should be excellent competition for the final 2-3 spots. The Packers may even have a chance to trade a player who won’t make the roster into a later 2018 draft pick because of the depth they possess. It will also be a significant advantage to the development of Brett Hundley and Joe Callahan to have NFL talent on the outside.
Active Roster – Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, DeAngelo Yancey, Jeff Janis
Practice Squad – Malachi Dupri, Max McCaffreyAndrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig