Packers’ Wide Receivers: Not Necessarily Headed For Mediocrity

May 21, 2022
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From: Scott Engel, https://thegameday.com/

The consistent national narrative is that the Packers are heading into the 2022 season “without any” quality wide receivers after losing Davante Adams. But let’s consider that is the party line from outside the organization. How the team brain trust views the situation inside the team offices may be different. 

How we may evaluate the outlook from a media or fan perspective can be different from how the front office sees it. What the receiving corps looks like on paper may not be how the group performs when it counts the most later this year during the 2022 season. There may be some NFL futures value here for bettors interested in the Packers as sportsbooks have them consistently over +1000 to win the Super Bowl.

Paths To Success For The Packers’ WRs

Allen Lazard Could Be A Surprise Standout

So let’s consider another way to view the Green Bay wide receiver situation after the NFL Draft. The Packers made no “major” moves to replace Adams, and their most proven wide receivers right now are Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. The media and fans wanted more in terms of replacing Adams in the offseason. But what if the team brass believes that what they have now is good enough to win?

Brian Gutekunst has received enough criticism in recent years, but he has been a key talent evaluator for the franchise since the late 1990s. So, suppose he and his colleagues believe that the Packers have what it takes to consistently challenge defenses at the wide receiver position. In that case, we have to think about deferring to the experience of those who make a living on player evaluation and team building. 

The best quarterbacks in the game elevate the performances of those around them. Aaron Rodgers is still playing at a high level, and he returned to the Packers, reportedly knowing Adams could be leaving. Rodgers is very capable of raising the games of those who will be his top pass-catchers in 2022. 

Lazard has been most frequently mentioned as the new potential number one wide receiver. Many analysts and observers don’t seem to believe Lazard will take advantage of the opportunity in any significant way. His career-high in receiving yards is 513, and his career-best in receptions is 60, both set in 2021. 

But Lazard did catch eight TD passes and had three seasons of experience working with Rodgers. Now maybe the time for him to deserve and take advantage of an expanded role. The Packers made no notable moves to keep Lazard from ascending to prominence in the passing game this year. Maybe that is because they believe he is ready to rise in 2022. 

If Lazard shows early on that Rodgers can trust him, he will get the ball a lot. Let’s not fully doubt the potential of Lazard to emerge as a regular playmaker this season. The team has set Lazard up for potential success. 

Strength In Numbers For The Packers’ WRs

There may be no singular solution to replace Adams, but as a group, possibly with Lazard leading the way, Green Bay’s “makeshift” bunch of pass-catchers can get the job done effectively. The Packers have a franchise QB, an advantage that many other teams do not. He may not need a star-studded receiver or decorated group to take the team on another deep playoff run. 

In addition to Lazard, the Packers did bring in Sammy Watkins. He has failed to meet expectations over the past six seasons, but he will still command much defensive respect, as we indicated in our last submission for Cheesehead Checkdown. Watkins’ true contributions in terms of playmaking may be occasional, but he will help the rest of the passing game with his presence and ability to draw defensive attention. 

In August, Randall Cobb will turn 32 years old and maybe past his prime, but he can still be a trusted presence for Rodgers on key passing downs. Then, the rookies will benefit from working with veterans such as Lazard, Cobb, and Watkins. Second-round pick Christian Watson will be an instant playmaking threat, and fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs can challenge defenses downfield. 

Instead of leaning on one guy like Adams to dominate secondaries as in the past, Rodgers can spread the ball around effectively to various targets. The team may lack a true number one WR right now, but Rodgers is surely savvy enough to take advantage of the skill sets of his varied targets. Plus, the rookies can be true wild cards. 

We have seen first-year wideouts become instant standouts at the NFL level in recent seasons. Watson and Doubs, especially Watson, can at least become significant offensive contributors if they don’t leap to the forefront right away. 

So, let’s not assume this Packers pass-catching group is destined to disappoint. The quarterback is too good, and we cannot fully doubt Lazard’s potential to break through in 2022. There can be quality depth in the revamped WR crew. It isn’t the popular line of thinking to display some optimism when forecasting the outlook for the Green Bay wide receivers in 2022. But we must look at the potential positives as well. Surely, the decision-makers for the team have done that already.