Wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey has never shied away from a challenge.
Yancey came into an ugly situation when he arrived in West Lafayette, Indiana as a three-star recruit out of Atlanta. He led the Purdue Boilermakers in receiving yards that season, but the program had a brutal season, finishing 1-11. After missing some time as a sophomore, Yancey came back to lead Purdue in receiving yards once again during both his junior and senior years, as he became the downfield focal point of the team’s high-volume passing game in his final season.
Yancey scored ten times and averaged over 19 yards per reception as a senior, posting a 16.6 average for his career. That got him on the radar of NFL teams, and although he was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in March, he had several visits with NFL teams. Yancey spoke to Acme Packing Company and Bucky’s 5th Quarter about his pre-draft experience earlier this offseason, and about his pre-draft visits in particular:
I took a couple of visits because I wasn’t a Combine guy. Teams wanted to see me in person and mainly it was to get my medical information. You go on, you meet all the coaches, they feed you real good (laughs), they see what you know as far as Xs and Os, concept-wise. Just trying to see what type of guy you are and feeling you out.
The Packers, presumably impressed by Yancey during his visit, made him a fifth-round draft choice, selecting him with the 175th overall pick. Yancey now has another challenge facing him: fighting through a crowded depth chart to find a way onto the Packers’ 53-man roster by the time training camp ends. Although top draft picks usually have roster spots assured, DeAngelo expects to have to fight to make the team: “I’m just ready to get in where I fit in,” he told APC. “Special teams...if I can help on offense it will be on offense. But I’m just trying to make the team, any way I can.”
One area where he might be helpful is in the deep passing game. His 4.50 speed is good, but not exceptional; his height (6’2”) is as well. So how did he make such a great living at Purdue on the deep ball? “There’s definitely a secret,” he said, “but I can’t tell you ‘cause everybody would do it!” Still, Yancey credits his work in the film room, his relationship with quarterback David Blough, and his confidence as a senior as being some of the critical aspects of his big season. The Packers could use a big-play element, too; last year’s leader in yards per reception was Davante Adams, who finished 43rd in the NFL among qualifying receivers with 13.3.
Throughout Organized Team Activities and minicamp, Yancey had an opportunity to work on building a relationship with his new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. When asked about playing with the two-time MVP, he glowed with excitement: “It’s a blessing. Guys wish they had a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers under center. All I can do is treat it as a blessing, take full advantage, and try to pick his brain while I’m there.”
While Yancey’s physical tools bring to mind a former Packers wideout — James Jones — his most likely route onto the roster this season is what he mentioned: playing special teams. The Packers’ starting receivers are all but locked in, with Jordy Nelson, Adams, and Randall Cobb occupying the top three spots. Furthermore, the team has a trio of players with NFL experience on the roster in Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, and Geronimo Allison, and Janis in particular has become a special teams stalwart. Add in the competition from fellow rookie and seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre, plus a host of undrafted players, and you have a recipe for some serious competition.
Yancey isn’t worried about his long-term job prospects just yet, though, as he plans to work hard in camp to keep improving: “Of course there’s things in my game that right now I know I need to get better at,” he said. “That’s what the offseason’s for, to go in and grind and perfect my craft.”
If he can do that, number 16 in Green and Gold should be fun to watch this season.