As we have been doing all week, we are looking at an offensive position and analyzing a few players who could be targets for the Green Bay Packers to improve their personnel. Today we're discussing the wide receivers, a position which could use some more depth with the impending free agent status of starter James Jones. Obviously, he is the most likely free agent to sign with Green Bay, but we also give you some names to watch in each of the early, middle, and late rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
More on Jones:
More on Jones:
We know what Jones means to the Packers and the kind of production he has put up over the past few years. It's tough to imagine the Packers being willing to pay top dollar for a player who hasn't caught more than 65 passes in any one season, though, but other teams probably won't either. Based on his last contract, I have a tough time imagining Ted Thompson offering Jones more than $5 million per year on average, but it's possible another team could be willing to give him $6M a season.
It's tough trying to project which kinds of free agents Ted Thompson would be remotely interested in, but another J. Jones seems like a slightly interesting fit. He can return kicks, which would let Micah Hyde focus on playing cornerback (or safety), and he would not be asked to start like he did in Baltimore last season. Instead, he could play a deep threat role when the Packers roll into three- or four-wide formations.
I'll be up-front about this: I think the chances of the Packers signing Boldin are about equivalent to Kate Upton asking me out on a date (which is to say zero). It's a name that sounds intriguing right off the bat - replace Jones with another physical, veteran receiver, and one who has six 1,000-yard seasons to his credit. The thing is, Boldin's production is going to get him a far bigger contract from some other team than Ted Thompson will be willing to spend. Would a receiving group of Nelson, Cobb, Boldin, and Boykin be awesome? Hell yeah. But it's not going to happen.
Early rounds: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Benjamin, who stands 6'5" and was listed around 234 pounds, caught his 15th touchdown of the 2013 season for the game-winner in the BCS National Championship game. That catch showed exactly why he's appealing to NFL teams - his ability to use his size and present a big target for his quarterback is invaluable. He's a deep threat, too, averaging almost 19 yards per catch in his final collegiate season. It's highly unlikely that the Packers would draft a wideout in the first round or two, but this is a name to watch.
Middle rounds: Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
The Badger has shown a great tendency to beat one-on-one coverage against Big Ten corners in his college career, frequently making big plays as a result of the play-action pass. That said, he's continuing to impress at the Senior Bowl. Abbrederis also torched Bradley Roby, one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft, for 10 catches and 207 yards when Wisconsin played Ohio State in 2013. Occasionally his hands can be a question mark, but the Packers helped James Jones overcome drop issues of his own a few years back. Abbrederis also has extensive experience as a punt returner.
Middle rounds: Robert Herron, Wyoming
Herron is here because of his pure speed. He's not big (5'9", 193) but he's got blazing speed and is projected by many to run the 40-yard dash in the low-4.3s or faster. He caught 72 balls for 932 yards and nine scores in 2013, but averaged 21.2 yards per catch in his junior year. He's also impressing at the Senior Bowl Abbrederis' teammate on the North squad, and could also help out in the return game.
Late rounds: Cody Hoffman, BYU
A big body at 6'4" and 218, Hoffman could step in as a tall possession receiver and red zone target for Aaron Rodgers. He was ridiculously productive for the Cougars, even recording 100 catches for 1,248 yards in his Junior season. The knock on him, though, is that he isn't overly physical, a trait which distinguished Jones in Green Bay over the past few years. That could certainly be developed over time with an NFL weight-training program, however.