2019 Recap: Wide Receivers

Moving onto the third part of this recap series, the 2019 Green Bay Packers’ group of wide receivers received the most criticism of any position, due mostly to their lack of depth and development. Led by Pro Bowl and top-5 talent Davante Adams, the pass catchers for Aaron Rodgers were lacking, outside of Adams.

Helped by the maturation of undrafted pass-catcher Allen Lazard, as well as the steady but not super impactful contributions from Jake Kumerow, Geronimo Allison, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Rodgers had a plethora of receivers at his disposal. What he did not have were good-enough pass catchers for him to throw to, putting the focal approach of the defense on Adams and forcing Rodgers to do a lot of the offense himself.

Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Adams were integral parts of the passing game too, as they were another wrinkle thrown into the gameplan by head coach Matt LaFleur. While the backs have already been talked about, they helped spread the offensive attack out a bit.

Davante Adams

2019 stats – 12 games, 997 yards, 5 TDs, 83 catches on 127 targets, 12 yards/catch

His second-most catches, tied with the second-most yards in a season, but only five touchdowns all represent the ups and downs that Adams put together in 2019. Hampered by a turf toe injury suffered at the end of the team’s Week 4 defeat at Lambeau to the Eagles (after putting up 10 catches for 180 yards), Adams regained the strength in toe & foot and was able to make that injury a one-time thing this past season.

Having been the no. 1 pass catcher in this offense for a few seasons already, Adams’ ‘19 stat line pales in comparison to what he did the year prior, which is good and bad. 42 fewer targets (which led to 28 fewer receptions), 389 fewer receiving yards, and 8 less TD’s shows that the offense ran strictly through Adams, which is important because the team played through their strengths, but having a more efficient stat line in ‘19 with less usage helps paint an efficient picture of how the team was better able to distribute the ball across multiple weapons.

As the most important part of the team’s offense, Adams is the guy that defenses can key in on and scheme to shut down – Adams is just that much better that trying to shut him down usually does not happen. If he can remain healthy and the front office can add a few weapons to take some pressure off of him, then an even more efficient Adams should be in store for 2020.

Rest of the receivers

Combined stats of Allison, Kumerow, Lazard, & Valdes-Scantling – 12/219/1, 26/452/2 107 catches, 1,435 yards, 8 TDs

Of the other four main receivers for Green Bay, Lazard had the most catches (35) and most yards (477) and most scores (3), and he was not really a focal no. 2 receiver in this offense until around halfway through the season. The Iowa State product has a ton of height and physicality to offer up in an offense, and he helps differ from that of Adams because he is a skilled leaper and high points a lot of passes to try and shield the defense away from his body, helping him reel in the pass and secure it.

Allison was the most disappointing receiver of the bunch this year, as the Illinois product still has struggled to put all of his tools together. With a similar frame to that of Lazard, Allison’s development has become stalled, although he was only one catch behind Lazard for the team lead. 

Kumerow and Valdes-Scantling failed to move the needle one way or the other in ‘19, and their ancillary roles for this team helps fill out the back-end of their receiver rotations. Kumerow has a decently-large following, being a hometown kid and a success story after attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (NCAA Division III) for school, and MVS’s role as a speedster has shown up just enough times to make us salivate at what he truly could be if he could unlock all of his skills.

Drafted in the same year as released J’Mon Moore (Missouri) and Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame), MVS has had the most time on the field to showcase his talent, yet he still has not put together enough ‘A-ha’ moments to show the staff that he has earned regular playing time. ESB went down with an injury in the preseason and was never able to suit up for the team this past season, and his contributions were very much needed as a sticky-hands slot guy that can use his elusiveness to break away from the secondary.

Looking Ahead

As one of the best drafts in recent memory in terms of receiver talent, the Packers would be very smart to address the gaping holes at receiver by picking up two-plus prospects. Guys like Jalen Reagor (TCU), Brandon Aiyuk (ASU), Justin Jefferson (LSU), Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), K.J. Hamler (PSU), Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado), Tee Higgins (Clemson), and CeeDee Lamb (OU) lead the ranks of receivers, and by the time the draft reaches pick 30 for GB, the likes of Jeudy, Ruggs III, Lamb, and Jefferson will most likely all be off the board, limiting the team’s options.

Later in the draft, a guy like Tyler Johnson of Minnesota or Quintez Cephus of Wisconsin would be solid mid-draft prospects to select. Others, like Gabriel Davis (UCF), K.J. Hill (OSU), Chase Claypool (ND), Michael Pittman Jr. (USC), and Donovan Peoples-Jones (UM) all project to be available in rounds 3-6 and would be nice depth additions.

Free agency wise, the Packers could have their sights set on the offseason’s biggest receiving target, Amari Cooper. A.J. Green, Emmanuel Sanders, Breshad Perriman, Robby Anderson, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne highlight the rest of the pool of external free agents.

Of that bunch, Cooper would be the pipe dream, but Anderson would probably be a great fit alongside Adams, as he had enough playmaking capabilities to take the pressure off Adams and make the defense respect two WRs on the field. Internally, Allison, Ryan Grant, Kumerow, and Lazard are all free agents (Kumerow & Lazard are ERFAs), and of that bunch, Kumerow and Lazard seem the most likely to come back.

One of the most talked-about groups of 2019 is also one the groups in need of improvements going into 2020 – the receivers are at the forefront of what can help immediately improve this team, and this year’s draft is a great place to start.

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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