Vacant spots to fill
Imagine being a rookie Wide Receiver entering the league, and you’re drafted by a team with a Hall of Fame Quarterback. Now factor in that you could become that Quarterback’s number one target right out of camp. This is reality, as opportunity knocks for the Green Bay Packers young receivers.
In recent years, rookie Wide Receivers drafted, or signed by the Packers were lucky to even land a roster spot. It wasn’t a knock on their talent, there were just many Receivers already locked to make the final roster. This is hardly the case this year. With only two real proven targets for Aaron Rodgers in the room, there are spots to fill. So, every young receiver in the room should take advantage.
Who are the locks?
I believe there are three receivers that are locks to make the final 53; provided Allen Lazard and the Packers can reach an agreement or he signs his RFA tender and makes the roster. He’s already proven himself reliable to Rodgers and will be a part of this offense. Next is Randall Cobb. Cobb’s veteran leadership will prove vital to the development of these young receivers. As I also mentioned in a previous article, Cobb could receive more looks this season as well. My last lock is rookie 2nd round pick, Christian Watson. Let’s just be honest here, the Packers didn’t trade up in the second round for a guy they might part ways with. Watson’s raw talent alone will land him a roster spot regardless of his camp production.
Who is likely in?
There are a few receivers that I believe a roster spot is theirs to lose. The first is Amari Rodgers. Rodgers might still fall under a locked spot given his third-round investment last year. I would imagine the Packers still view him as a project player with promise. But his struggles last year could put him in a bad spot if newcomers eclipse his performance. Fourth rounder Romeo Doubs could be a future deep threat and a contributor to Special Teams. A post-camp release doesn’t seem very likely for him his rookie year. My last, most likely to be in, is Sammy Watkins. Watkins, being a veteran, might have a good chance to crack the roster if he shows his worth.
Who is maybe in?
Returning receivers, Malik Taylor and Juwann Winfree have impressed coaches in the past, but they will likely have to do it even more so this year to insure their place in Green Bay. I could maybe see Taylor making it if he has a great camp given his experience with the offense. Winfree, however, could have a lower chance of cracking the roster if outperformed. Seventh rounder Samori Toure will likely need to show Special Teams talent to crack the final 53. Given the new value being placed on revamping the ST unit, it could be a possibility.
Who are the long shots?
There are two young receivers with some NFL experience, though not a lot, on the roster. Chris Blair and Rico Gafford may have been brought in just in case other receivers weren’t found. Given the number of rookie receivers brought in, Blair and Gafford could be long shots even to last through camp. Lastly, we have the Undrafted Free Agents. The Packers brought in Danny Davis, Anthony Turner, and Keke Chism to round out their receiver’s room. While much of Wisconsin is familiar with Davis being a former Badger, he, along with Turner and Chism, will really have to WOW the coaching staff to crack the final roster. For the UDFA guys, unless they really turn heads, their main goal might be a Practice Squad spot.
There isn’t a solid go-to receiver on this roster. While Cobb and Watkins could step up, they won’t be around forever. Lazard could fill the role temporarily, but not long-term. For Christian Watson, Amari Rodgers, or Romeo Doubs, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. If they get on Aaron Rodgers’ good side, he’s going to get them the ball. With eyes on the Packers running backs being the top threats on offense, many aren’t going to expect a lot from the young receivers. This is their chance to show them they should get attention. If Watson or Doubs develop a chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, they could become top contenders for Rookie of the Year.
They won’t have to wait long; Rodgers will get them the ball. When they do get the ball, look out, we could be seeing the career start of the next Packers Hall of Fame receivers.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.