The Green Bay Packers opened up a bit of a hole on the boundary this spring when they released veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Admittedly, Nelson’s athleticism is not nearly what it was prior to his torn ACL in 2015, but he remained a productive boundary wideout and red zone option — at least when Aaron Rodgers was throwing the football.
The addition of Jimmy Graham should replace Nelson’s red zone production, but the boundary deep threat that Nelson represented in 2014 and earlier has simply not been present since then. Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis, and company have not developed into reliable receivers, leaving the Packers with questions opposite starter and unquestioned WR1 Davante Adams.
Thankfully, this year’s NFL Draft class features several tall, athletic wideouts who project as good boundary receivers, even into the middle rounds of the draft. Even better news for the Packers is that a large number of them meet the team’s preferred athletic testing numbers for receivers, trends that include 40 times of 4.56 seconds or less and 3-cone times of 7.08 or under.
Here’s a look at a few players that the Packers might consider between rounds three and six of the draft. (All testing numbers from the 2018 NFL Combine unless otherwise specified.)
Deon Cain, Clemson
6-foot-1 7/8; 202 pounds; 4.43-second 40, 6.71-second 3-cone
Cain was a big-play receiver when DeShaun Watson was at Clemson, averaging 17.1 and 19.1 yards per catch in 2015 and 2016. His YPC dropped to 12.7 last year, but that was due in part to being used as more of a possession receiver. That cone time is excellent, one of the best posted by a receiver at this year’s Combine, he profiles physically as a faster and slightly lighter-built Davante Adams with similar leaping ability (39.5” vertical).
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
6-foot-0 3/4; 205 pounds; 4.46-second 40 (Pro Day), 6.95-second 3-cone
Gallup had absurd production in two years in Fort Collins, with 2,690 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. He does everything well and runs a complete route tree and seems to be the kind of player that the Packers would love in round three or four.
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
6-foot-0 5/8; 203 pounds; 4.47-second 40 (Pro Day), 6.95-second 3-cone
Hamilton’s senior season saw him set career highs in yards per reception (16.2) and touchdowns (9), though his high in receptions and receiving yards actually came as a freshman in 2014 (82 for 899 and two scores). With good-not-great testing numbers all across the board, Hamilton and Gallup look like similar players athletically with different levels of production in different conferences (Big Ten vs. Mountain West) being a primary difference.
Tre’Quan Smith, Central Florida
6-foot-2; 210 pounds; 4.49-second 40, 6.97-second 3-cone
The leading receiver for the self-appointed 2017 National Champions, Smith averaged just a tick under 20 yards per catch in 2017 with 59 catches for 1,171 yards and 13 scores. It was a big breakout for Smith as a deep threat, as his receptions were relatively steady through three years but his YPC leapt by almost five. His short shuttle may be cause for concern (4.50), and he’s more explosive than quick as his 10-foot-10 broad jump illustrates.
Allen Lazard, Iowa State
6-foot-5; 225 pounds; 4.55-second 40; no 3-cone time
Lazard is a question mark, given his lack of agility testing numbers from the Combine. A big player who was once thought of as someone who could bulk up and play tight end, he impressed with his 40 time, running much faster than expected. He could be a great jump ball specialist, and his yards per catch stayed consistent between 13 and 15 each year in his career.
Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
6-foot-1; 210 pounds; 4.46-second 40 (Pro Day), no 3-cone time
A Madison native, Fountain showed excellent speed and ridiculous explosiveness at his Pro Day after being snubbed by the Combine. He posted insane jumps of 42.5” (vertical) and 11-foot-2 (broad) and dominated the competition at the FCS level. He’d make a great pick in late round four or anywhere afterwards.
Javon Wims, Georgia
6-foot-2 7/8; 215 pounds; 4.53-second 40, 7.00-second 3-cone
A bigger receiver, Wims was a junior college transfer who broke out as a senior in Athens. He has the frame and tools to be an intriguing late-round prospect, however.