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With Greg Jennings' recent departure to Minnesota fresh in everyone's minds, let's take a look at some of the potential candidates who could be drafted to replace him.
By now, you've had a chance to vent any frustration about former Packer Greg Jennings' signing with the Minnesota Vikings and hopefully you have let it all out. Now it's time to start speculating about what the Packers will do at the wide receiver position moving forward instead of worrying about Jennings and the receiving corps of the past.
There are still three very talented and productive wideouts on the roster, all of whom played in more games and had more catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns and put up higher yards per reception than Jennings did. Randall Cobb led the way with 80 catches, James Jones was a red zone beast and scored 14 touchdowns, and Jordy Nelson put up a team-high 15.2 yards per catch. Those three, combined with Jermichael Finley likely getting somewhere in the 60 catch range will certainly be a dangerous set of receiving options for Aaron Rodgers.
Of course, there are potential salary cap and contractual challenges with every player I just mentioned, and it's entirely possible that Jones may depart in free agency next year just as Jennings did this week. With that in mind, one must imagine that the wide receiver position will be firmly on Ted Thompson's radar during this year's draft in the first three rounds. Remember than Jennings, Nelson, and Cobb were all second-round picks while Jones was taken in the third, so if Ted is going to draft a wideout, expect it to be no later than the second day of the draft.
Potential First-Rounders (26 overall)
Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Austin's a very small guy, at 5'9" and 175 pounds, but he's the kind of player who can attack the two-deep defenses that opponents have been throwing at the Packer offense over the past year. When Austin has the ball quickly off the snap in space, his agility and 4.3 speed makes him a threat to rack up tons of broken tackles and could force defenses to cheat defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage, opening up deeper patterns for Nelson and the rest of the wideouts.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Patterson, a big, fast, physical receiver whose 6'2" frame and good leaping ability makes him an ideal deep threat. His presence would let the Packers instead use Cobb in the short-yardage routes while Patterson and Nelson stretch the defense deep on either side.
Second or Third-Round Prospects (#25, 55 overall and #26, 88 overall)
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Everybody talks about Patton being a Jennings clone, from his size to his small-school experience to his great hands and route-running. He's just slightly bigger than Greg (6'0" and 204 versus 5'11" and 197) and just a step slower, but he could very easily slide into Jennings' old role and help the Packers continue without missing a beat.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
Wheaton is another player very much in the Jennings mold, though his game appears to rely a little more on speed and quickness than Patton's.
Terrance Williams, Baylor
As a player who stood out at the Senior Bowl, Williams appeared to be a complete receiver, showing great speed, quickness, and ball skills at the game. He's definitely an outside threat but might be a bit of a project if he were to play out of the slot.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Hopkins only ran a 4.57 in the 40, but Gil Brandt of NFL.com says that "He’s going to be the most evaluated player in the draft because he plays faster than his speed indicates." He has James Jones-like size at 6'1", 214 (Jones is listed at 6'1", 208) and could be a good intermediate receiving threat.
Just remember, everyone: losing Jennings isn't the end of the world, and Ted Thompson has something up his sleeve. Personally, I fully expect one of these players to be a Green Bay Packer by the end of April, but that's just me. What do you think?