We knew that coming into Training Camp the battle at the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart would be an intense one. However, I’m not sure that many of us predicted that as many as six or so players would be battling for a final spot or two.
From the standpoint of the Green Bay Packers and the fans, this is a very good problem to have. It means competition is high and a number of receivers are making noise in practice.
With that said, once GM Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur have to trim the roster down to just 53 players, it won’t be an easy decision when it comes to the receiver’s room.
Last season the Green Bay Packers began the season with seven active receivers on the roster but under LaFleur, that number could very easily drop to just six.
For one, the running backs should see more attempts this season and will be more active in the passing game. As offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans in 2018, LaFleur ran the ball more than he threw it.
Now of course, part of that is due to the personnel he was working with and we won’t see the Packers with Aaron Rodgers running the ball that much, but it will play a much bigger role.
In addition to the running back’s usage increasing, so should the tight end position. And last season, LaFleur used three or more wide receivers sets just 58 percent of the time, which ranked 28th in the NFL.
To put it simply, the Packers likely won’t need seven receivers and that extra roster spot can be better served elsewhere.
So under the assumption of six receivers, we know that Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are all safe. That leaves two spots available.
Right now the two players that would likely get those final two spots are Trevor Davis and Jake Kumerow who have each created a divide between them and the rest of the receivers behind them. Both have had very solid starts to Training Camp and each put on a show at Family Night.
Kumerow has been one of the more reliable receivers of the bunch and is just about always in the right place. He has also gained the trust of Rodgers, which as we’ve seen in the past isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
Meanwhile, Davis has had a slow start to his NFL career and has been seen primarily as a special teams player but offensively, he began to catch the eye of the coaching staff back in OTAs.
He has since carried that momentum over to Training Camp where he continues to be a weapon in a variety of ways in the passing game and hauled in a 70-yard touchdown catch from Manny Wilkins on Family Night.
At this point, it is difficult to imagine either off of the roster but there are players behind them pushing for those final spots.
Perhaps the most polarizing of the group is J’Mon Moore, who had a rough rookie season, to say the least, but overall he has put together a nice Camp so far.
Moore has become a favorite target of Tim Boyle and has made some nice plays, however, the drops – which kept him off the field in 2018 – have still shown up occasionally.
At only 24-years-old and as a former fourth-round pick, by no means do the Packers want to give up on Moore prior to his sophomore season but the divide between him and the aforementioned Kumerow and Davis is growing.
Even the lesser-known players such as Darrius Shepherd, Allen Lazard, and Teo Redding have all had their moments and have caught the attention of Rodgers and the coaching staff.
Shepherd has matched up one-on-one against Jaire Alexander and beat him in the red zone for a touchdown. It was only one play, but Rodgers and the coaches take notice.
His skill set could make him a valuable player in the slot – which plays an important role in the LaFleur offense – and as a return man.
As far as Lazard and Redding, each has been noticed by Rodgers in film review and have received some praise for their work on the field.
As I mentioned above, this is a good place for the Packers to be when it comes to the overall skill of the receiver group. Competition breeds excellence as they say.
However, there are still four preseason games on the schedule and a number of practices remaining, positions will be won and lost over the next month before we get to the final 53. But I don’t see this being an easy decision for Gutekunst or LaFleur.