Should Packers fans buy into Kumerow hype?

With the Packers’ minicamp at an end, there is once again a drought of tangible football to discuss until training camp begins in late July. For the Green Bay Packers fandom, there truly isn’t a ton to speculate on, though of course, the national media will take this dark time to go on yet another anti-Aaron Rodgers crusade. The Packers took care of business this offseason, signing players at positions of need and doing the same during the draft.

As such, Green Bay doesn’t have many position battles – which is never a bad thing. The most intriguing battle royale will be among the wide receivers. Behind Davante Adams, there isn’t a hierarchy. Snaps are available in this new offense for those who earn them in the gauntlet of battle. With this in mind, can Jake Kumerow emerge triumphant and carve a significant role in this offense?

When I looked at the wide receiver group earlier this offseason, I called Kumerow a fringe player. This is a crowded group and most of the competition has either draft pedigree or fills a niche role. The young receivers on this team are extremely athletic, while the Wisconsin-Whitewater player is older and posted an average RAS. Making the roster would be a daunting quest for Kumerow.

Yet Rodgers has consistently praised the wideout, and the results support this. Rodgers and Kumerow have connected for multiple touchdowns this offseason, and they are developing chemistry Walter White could appreciate. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate.

On multiple occasions, Rodgers commended Kumerow’s intelligence and work ethic. Neither of these traits are teachable and showcase the value Kumerow can bring to the team. After Rodgers discussed how to earn his trust, he explained how Kumerow earned it.

“He is an extremely intelligent guy who is in the right place at the right time. He makes contested catches, he makes the plays that are there and he does the little things,” Rodgers said at the end of minicamp.

While Kumerow missed most of the 2018 season, their ascending connection was on display against the Jets in Week 16. Rodgers connected with Kumerow for a vital 49-yard touchdown. Kumerow’s best traits were on display: his crisp route running, his steady hands, and his surprising RAC ability.

So far, offseason reports have the core squad as Adams and Valdes-Scantling on the outside and Allison in the slot in 11 personnel. Beyond these three, the field is wide open. Kumerow has been an offseason star, and, regardless of draft pedigree, if he performs well in pads there is zero reason for him to not play.

Yet teams do value their handpicked players. J’Mon Moore had a tumultuous rookie season, but he was a 4th round pick. Green Bay will provide every opportunity for him to succeed. EQ possesses tremendous upside and performed well last season. Trevor Davis makes the roster as a returner until proven otherwise, taking another valuable roster spot. The Packers have kept seven wide receivers on the roster in previous years, but whether they do so or not depends on how they feel about depth at other positions.

It’s also important to remember that as fun as offseason hype is, it doesn’t always translate on the field. This isn’t the first fringe player Rodgers has praised, and his comments mirror those said about Jared Abbrederis, another Wisconsinite.

“He’s a guy that has phenomenal preparation. He’s always in the right spot, he has incredible body movements when it comes to not telegraphing routes, and he just finds a way to get open all the time,” Rodgers said on “Wilde & Tausch” in 2016.

All that said, after rewatching his film and the new revelations from these interviews, I do think Kumerow has a role on this team if he stays on trajectory. Kumerow’s intelligence, work ethic, proven connection with Rodgers, consistently clean route running, and wide catch radius make up for his age and less athletic profile (compared to his peers on the team) and separate him from other offseason hype engines of the past. If fans can keep expectations tempered, Kumerow hype is worth catching.

But while this couch GM would keep him, will the Packers’ real GM keep Whitewater Jesus come September? From the team’s perspective, Kumerow is on the fringe and still has an uphill battle to make this roster, but if he keeps this momentum going, it will be hard to not place him on the 53-man roster.

Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.
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