May 11, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers rookie wide receivers Tori Gurley (86) and Diondre Borel (19) during the Green Bay Packers mini-camp at the Don Hutson Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE
Those who read my "Notes, Thoughts, and Observations" from practices know that this is a question I have been kicking around for a bit of time. It's a question that would of been blasphemy a couple months ago, and may not be completely popular now, but it is a question that highlights the importance of the preseason. Coming into the year it was widely assumed that the Packers had seven NFL quality WR's on the roster. The reason for this assumption was the positive offseason buzz surrounding Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel. The rise of these two undrafted free agents from last year gave some reason to think that Donald Driver might be moving on or that the the Packers would keep seven WR's this year at the expense of some other positions on the team. At the very least it was reasonable to assume the Packers would at least keep six WR's going into the year.
Flash forward to this weekend. We have now had three preseason games and Gurley and Borel have not accomplished much. Borel has 5 receptions for 21 yards. Gurley has 1 reception for 6 yards. The stats don't lie here, they haven't been lightening it up as many would hope. To give you an idea of guys with similar to better numbers: Jarrett Boykin has 8 receptions for 84 yards, Dale Moss has 4 receptions for 36 yards, Curenski Gilleyllen has 1 reception for 17 yards, and offensive phenom Marc Tyler has five receptions 24 yards (that's right Tyler has been more productive than Borel - wrap your mind around that for a moment).
The question used to be which of these two should the Packers keep. The question now should be whether either of these receivers is worth a roster spot at all.
Right now my belief is no, the Packers shouldn't keep either of them on the final 53 man roster. As much as there was some early buzz about the Packers keeping seven, the reality is that even keeping six is a bit overkill. Even if the Pack keeps only five receivers they will still have the deepest and most talented group of receivers in the league today. Period, point blank. Gurley and Borel would have to show that they are truly something special in order to warrant time on the field with the amount of targets presently in the offense. Neither has come close to showing they are that something special in the passing game. If you doubt me I'll just remind you that Marc Tyler has more receiving yards than either of these guys and Jarrett Boykin has more receptions and yards than the two put together.
You could make a case for them making the team based on their contribution to special teams. This is the area of the team where bubble players make or break their case for the roster. The problem is that neither has shown themselves especially adept at special teams either. Borel has worked near exclusively at returner so far this offseason and he hasn't shown much talent there. Gurley has flashed a bit of talent in practice as a special teams performer. He even has one highlight doing a good job blocking on a long return in the game against the Browns, but really that is his only highlight of the entire offseason. He also hasn't shown any of the ability of blocking kicks and punts that he showed last year.
The real problem facing the two of them though is the talent at other positions. The Packers have many ways they can go with finding balance on their roster. Linebacker and defensive back look particularly deep this year. This is especially the case after Jamari Lattimore and Anthony Levine turned in very good games on Thursday night. Defensive line is another area of the team where extra depth could be kept. Daniel Muir has been pretty stout against the run (something sorely needed) and Phillip Merling has not been a complete disappointment. Mix that with the amount of specialization that the D-line seems to need this year with pass rushing specialists and run stopping specialist having an extra guy in that rotation could be more beneficial than a WR who wouldn't even see the field.
The play of Borel and Gurley has to improve this coming week against the Chiefs if either of them is going to make the team. If these two promising receivers can't step up than the Packers need to seriously look at keeping only five WR's and stacking up depth at other positions on the team. I know they will probably get job offers elsewhere, but in the end that's not the point. The point is whether they have enough talent in order to help this team this year. Based on the three preseason games in 2012 the answer to this question has to be no, they just aren't there yet.
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