Today, Acme Packing Company continues the examination of the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 roster. Each day over the next two weeks, we will break down a different position on the roster with examinations of the players on the 53-man roster in 2016, the contributions of new additions and players who signed new contracts, and players who have contracts expiring this offseason.
Though the Packers did not invest a high draft pick or a free-agent contract into their receiving corps, but they did make some meaningful additions. While the new faces didn't make their presence known until later in the season, they each held a significant role on the team, at least for a time. Either or both could also command larger responsibilities in future seasons, though that remains to be seen.
No. 11 Trevor Davis
College: University of California
How acquired: Drafted in fifth round (No. 163 overall)
2016 statistics: Three receptions, 24 yards, one touchdown
Though Trevor Davis had somewhat middling college tape and production, his blazing speed -- reportedly timed by the Packers as sub-4.4 seconds on his 40-yard dash -- and decent size made him a draftable prospect on Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft. That speed made him one of the most-watched players during the team's training camp and preseason.
For the most part, Davis played little on offense. His most extended action came during the Packers' 33-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8, and that came mostly as the result of injuries elsewhere in the receiving corps.
Still, Davis carved out a meaningful role on special teams early in the season. The Packers used him as their primary punt returner through mid-November, and Davis made his share of highlights and mistakes. In two contests, he averaged 25 or more yards per return, nearly breaking one for a score. However, he averaged just 5 yards over the course of his other games. When he fumbled against the Tennessee Titans, Mike McCarthy all but removed him from both special teams and the offense.
Davis didn't have a strong finish to his rookie campaign, but he should have plenty of opportunities to see the field more often his second time around. Other than a few select cases, Packers wideouts usually see heavily limited action until they get a few offseasons under their belts.
No. 81 Geronimo Allison
College: University of Illinois
How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent on April 30
2016 statistics: 12 receptions, 202 yards, two touchdowns
When the Packers signed Geronimo Allison as an undrafted free agent, the former University of Illinois standout seemed unlikely to secure a roster spot. The team had just spent a draft pick on Davis, and with Jordy Nelson returning from a torn ACL, the roster spots appeared in short supply.
However, Allison outperformed his rookie peers in training camp and the preseason, showing rare poise and consistency for a player his age. While the Packers ultimately waived him during the final cut down, Allison landed on their practice squad. Allison remained there for the next seven weeks.
While a logjam of talent initially kept Allison off the 53, injuries cleared a path around midseason. In Week 8, Green Bay promoted Allison to the active roster to boost the offensive effort against the Falcons. In his first regular-season action, he caught two passes for 21 yards and a scramble-drill touchdown. Allison went on to deliver better performances later in the season, but his debut ranks among the most memorable by a Packers rookie wideout since Randall Cobb's in 2011.
Allison's biggest moments came near the end of the season. In Week 17, he caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown to help Green Bay secure the NFC North title. Two weeks later, he started in place of an injured Nelson and made several crucial catches during the team's upset of the No. 1 seeded Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for the rookie, a hamstring pull limited his playing time during the conference championship.
Allison's near 6-foor-4 frame and long arms make him an anomaly among the Packers' current wide receivers. Even Nelson lacks such length. However, Allison doesn't possess great speed or burst, which limit his upside. Still, for an undrafted player forced into a starting role, he delivered well beyond expectation. With Nelson turning 32 later this offseason and Cobb's status with the team at least somewhat in question given his cap number, Allison might well find himself in a starter's role again next season.