History will show that drafting a receiver in the first round can be a costly mistake. In the last three drafts, there have been 13 receivers taken within the first 32 picks and only one of them has proven to be worthy of that selection. The Packers receiving corps lacks the speed needed for big plays making this position an area that requires attention. What would make this decision easier is sorting out the Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson contract dilemmas prior to the draft. Regardless, the Packers need to select an explosive receiver in the 2018 draft, but it should not be at number 14.
Receivers chosen in the first round over the last three years:
- 2015: Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett.
- 2016: Corey Coleman, Will Fuller IV, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell.
- 2017: Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross.
This is not to say that the players listed above aren’t talented. They are, but they were taken way too soon. The teams that selected them drafted based on need and not who was the best available. Amari Cooper is the only player on this list who has performed well in the spotlight that comes with being a first-round receiver. The rest, in layman’s terms, have underachieved.
Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the only receiver worthy of a first-round grade in 2018. However, even if he is still on the board at 14, the Packers should look defense where there are more distressing holes that need filling. Given recent trends, good receivers will start dropping to the Packers in the later rounds. The Packers have not had luck of late with draft picks such as Trevor Davis (5th round, 163 overall), Deangelo Yancey (5th round, 175 overall), and Malachi Dupre (7th round, 247 overall). Ted Thompson missing on so many picks over the last few years likely played a role in his decision to step down as GM.
Now that Brian Gutekunst will be the leader in the war room, the Packers may have better luck finding overlooked talent. And hopefully he will not wait to select a receiver later than the fourth round.
Thompson was able to find Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb no later than the third round. It would be wise for Gutekunst to take a hard look at guys like Christian Kirk, Jordan Lasley, and Dante Pettis to see if he can have similar success. These guys are all projected as second and third rounder’s given the uncertainty that comes with rating a receiver any higher. All of them produced at very high levels in college.
With the NFL combine starting this week, Packers coaches and staff are already in Indianapolis talking to players and adjusting their draft board.
Receivers will take the field on Saturday, March 3rd for individual workouts. NFL Network will start their live coverage at 9 a.m. EST so be sure to tune in to see who impresses or starts to fall down team’s draft boards.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.