Packers Position Battle Breakdown And Analysis: Wide Receiver

July 7, 2022
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To be successful in the NFL, you need to have a good quarterback. Thanks to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers haven’t had to worry about that in over 20 years.

A good quarterback alone isn’t enough, however, as you need a talented wide receiver to pair with the quarterback. Green Bay had that with Davante Adams before trading him to the Las Vegas Raiders in the offseason.

Even though the Packers moved their No. 1 receiver (and a top-5 wideout in the NFL), Rodgers has something that not many quarterbacks have. He has the ability to make his receivers better than they actually are, just like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Rodgers’ return to the Packers sends forth hope to all fans and makes futures odds far more interesting for bettors. 

Outside of a few players on Green Bay’s roster, Rodgers will be working with a lot of inexperience at the wider receiver position. The three most experienced players in the room are Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Sammy Watkins

Lazard has the most upside but was third on the team in targets behind Adams and Aaron Jones last year. Cobb and Rodgers have spent nine seasons together and Cobb was traded back to the team before last season at the request of Rodgers, but he isn’t the same receiver he once was. This is already Watkins’ fifth team since coming to the league in 2014 and he’s only eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards once – all the way back in 2015.

The Packers will look to continue their high-octane passing attack in 2022, and Rodgers will have to work with what he’s got to do so.

Packers Position Showdown

Wide Receiver Battle 

Green Bay currently has 11 wide receivers on the roster; Lazard, Cobb, Watkins, Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Danny Davis III, and Anthony Turner

Five of those 11 players were on the roster last year, with just Lazard and Cobb seeing significant reps on offense. Watkins is the free-agent addition, and the rest are rookies.

The Veterans

Let’s start with Lazard, who will likely replace Adams as the team’s top wideout. Lazard started as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and worked his way to becoming a full-time starter last season when he tallied 40 catches for 513 receiving yards and eight touchdowns with just one drop. He used his 6-foot-5 frame as an advantage with seven of his eight touchdowns coming in the red zone. 

Cobb has spent most of his career with the Packers, aside from 2019 and 2020 when he played for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, respectively. While he only started three games last year, he was still a reliable target for Rodgers with 28 catches for 375 receiving yards and five touchdowns – his most since 2015. 

Watkins is one of the newcomers on the roster after signing a one-year deal during the offseason. Last year with the Baltimore Ravens, he had 27 catches for 394 receiving yards and a touchdown in nine starts but also had six drops. Watkins showed promise in his first two campaigns with Buffalo but has struggled since, exceeding 600 receiving yards just once over the past six seasons. 

Rodgers, Winfree, and Taylor were also with the team last year but combined for just 278 snaps on offense with only 14 catches for 117 receiving yards. Rodgers in particular spent most of his time on special teams, returning 11 kickoffs and 20 punts for 365 yards. 

The Rookies

Five rookies will report for Green Bay in 2022, three of whom were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.

A standout at North Dakota State, Watson was a two-time FCS All-American. In 2021, he finished with 43 catches for 801 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns, 114 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown. For his collegiate career, he had 105 catches for 2,140 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air while adding 49 carries for 392 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Fans were upset that the Packers didn’t take a wide receiver with either of their first-round picks. Instead, they waited until the second round to take Watson. He’s listed at the same height as Lazard, so he’ll be a threat in the red zone as well. Watson is also a deep-ball threat, registering 57 plays of 20+ yards during his four-year career in college.

The second wide receiver taken by Green Bay was Doubs, a fourth-round selection. Doubs had a terrific four-year career at Nevada, pulling in 225 catches for 3,322 yards and 26 touchdowns. His junior and senior years were particularly impressive, as he topped 1,000 receiving yards both seasons while netting 20 receiving touchdowns.

The final receiver drafted by Green Bay was Toure, who went in the seventh round. Toure started at Montana before transferring to Nebraska for his senior year. For the Cornhuskers last year, he had 46 catches for 898 receiving yards and five touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown. Toure is a deep-ball threat, hauling in 11 catches of 50+ yards in 2021. 

Davis and Turner are the two undrafted rookies for the Packers. Davis spent five years at Wisconsin and led the team in 2021 with 478 receiving yards on 32 catches with two touchdowns. Turner hails from Grand View, an NAIA school. He snagged 40 receptions for 562 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021. 

The Final Verdict

The Game Day’s Position Battle Prediction: Lazard was the second receiver on the team behind Adams last year, so he’ll take over the No. 1 spot with Adams gone. Watson is too talented and too much of a mismatch not to be the No. 2 receiver, with Watkins sliding into that third spot. Cobb will retain his role in the rotation as the fourth receiver in the slot. Doubs had an excellent collegiate career and will carry that over to the NFL, starting out as the fifth receiver on the depth chart.

Rodgers will keep his spot on the team but will mainly be used on special teams as a returner with the potential to fill in elsewhere as an injury replacement. Winfree will become the true sixth receiver with Rodgers on special teams. Toure and/or Davis will find themselves on the practice squad, giving the Packers depth options. That will leave Taylor and Turner looking for a new opportunity.