With OTAs set to begin in a little under two weeks, we should start to have a clearer picture as far as what the Packers have in talent. Multiple positions will feature intriguing battles for who will be a starter or earn more reps during the season. As expected since the departure of Jordy Nelson, receiver is somewhat of a question mark. Brian Gutekunst and his staff did draft three promising prospects, but will it be enough to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers as productive as he’s been for the past decade?
Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are locks to be starters on opening day barring injury. Beyond that though, the Packers are detrimentally inexperienced. Geronimo Allison is the next most experienced receiver and he brings with him only four career starts. Other players with comparable experience such as Trevor Davis have been wildly inconsistent. Davis has established himself as a return man but not a receiver.
This may be the year that Green Bay decides to keep seven receivers on the roster given the unpredictability of what they have. Michael Clark is a tremendous athlete at 6-6 and showed flashes in the latter part of the 2017 season. His most productive outing came in week 16 vs Minnesota when he made three catches for 36 yards.
Clark and Davis will be competing with second-year Deangelo Yancey for one of the Packers last remaining spots on the depth chart. Of course, this is assuming that all three of their rookies make the 53-man roster as well. However, as we know in the NFL, there are no guarantees.
If Adams or Cobb were to get hurt then Rodgers would have to create more offense than he is accustomed to. Similar to what we saw in 2015 after Nelson tore his ACL. That season, Green Bay’s passing offense ranked 25th in the NFL with virtually no run-game to lean on. The Packers likely have better run-support entering 2018, but the talent at receiver is difficult to consider as an improvement. Nelson was an All-Pro receiver at that time, and while Adams has seen improvement each year, he still hasn’t reached elite status.
There might be some expectations that incoming tight end Jimmy Graham can get back to producing the numbers he did in New Orleans. However, at 31-years old the likelihood of Graham being able to eclipse 1,000-yards receiving in a season is dwindling.
Cobb is Rodgers’ go-to target in the slot meaning his presence is vital in getting chunk yardage to move the ball. If Cobb is hurt, the Packers would have to maybe turn to ex-receiver Ty Montgomery or one of their rookies. Graham would start seeing more double teams forcing a younger body to step up. Gutekunst and the coaching staff appear to be comfortable with this possibility.
Green Bay has reportedly expressed no interest in Dez Bryant who is the best remaining player on the market. There could be cap casualties as we head into summer but it’s a long shot for a guy like that to be a premier player in the offense. Let’s hope the Packers know what they’re doing and are prepared when injuries strike.
___________________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.