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Packers’ Randall Cobb ranked among NFL’s best slot players for 2016

Though he had a down year last season, the Packers’ inside receiver is still one of the best at his job in the entire league.

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We at Acme Packing Company are admittedly biased in favor of the Green Bay Packers. When another website site criticizes a player, it’s natural for us to poke holes in that criticism - as we did when Pro Football Focus ranked Julius Peppers’ contract as one of the worst at his position. On the other hand, we are happy to see tangible statistics used to justify ranking a Packer as one of the best at his job, as you will see here.

With that bias acknowledged, we are pleased that one of the Packers’ players shows up on a Pro Football Focus “best” list instead of a “worst” ranking. That player is wide receiver Randall Cobb, and the category is best “slot weapons.” This piece looks at both offensive and defensive players who play in the slot, and therefore accounts for corners, safeties, receivers, and tight ends. Cobb ranks 8th overall on this list and is third among receivers behind Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and Miami’s Jarvis Landry, both of whom had more impressive seasons than Cobb in 2015.

Here’s what PFF had to say about #18:

The entire Green Bay offense was in a funk last season when Jordy Nelson went down and Aaron Rodgers lost confidence in everything, but go back just a year and you see Cobb at his best – one of the league’s most destructive slot weapons. In 2014, Cobb scored four more touchdowns from the slot than any other receiver and gained significantly more yards per route run from the slot than any other wide out. He remains a real matchup problem for defenses and if Aaron Rodgers is back to his best in 2016 we should see that.

It’s certainly true that a banged-up Cobb had a rough season in 2015 without a healthy veteran presence on the boundary, and it explains why he is not ranked higher, Still, he did record nearly 80 receptions and over 800 yards, and it is encouraging to see that his exemplary 2014 season is recognized and praised. What illustrates best how impressive that campaign was is that yards per route run stat. Furthermore, Cobb did play the vast majority of his snaps inside, and that 91-1,287-12 line (with a 14.1 yards-per-reception average is impressive for any receiver, let alone one who occupies the slot almost exclusively. It’s also a better overall stat line than either Baldwin or Landry put up in 2015 (78-1,069-14 with 13.7 YPR for Baldwin and 110-1,157-4 with 10.5 YPR for Landry).

Here’s hoping that Cobb’s performance this season justifies this ranking; if it does, it will mean that the Packers’ offense as a whole is back to form.