Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2017 season. Today, we examine the wide receivers.
While the Green Bay Packers didn’t enter the 2017 season with the same wide receiver depth they possessed during their 2010-14 period, they still appeared to have a solid group at the top. Jordy Nelson had just come off a Comeback Player of the Year-winning campaign that saw him catch nearly 100 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns while Davante Adams nearly matched him with 12 scores. Randall Cobb hadn’t produced monster numbers since 2014, but he remained a reliable target. For those reasons, the Packers didn’t pursue many players at the position last offseason.
However, after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6, most of those wideouts saw their production plummet. Nelson, who led the NFL in touchdowns before Rodgers’ injury, didn’t reach the end zone again the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Cobb disappeared for stretches due to his diminished athleticism. Only Adams put together a solid season, catching 74 passes for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing essentially three games.
Still, even with the overall disappointing play from the veteran wideouts, the rookie class didn’t make much of an impact.
How acquired: Drafted in fifth round (No. 175 overall)
Stats: None (spent entire season on practice squad)
At nearly 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with impressive workout numbers, DeAngelo Yancey fit the profile of a Packers wide receiver. However, the Purdue product flashed only occasionally during training camp and the preseason. Despite his draft status, the team decided to waive him during final cuts in September.
After Yancey went unclaimed, the Packers brought him back as a member of the practice squad. The rookie wideout remained there for the rest of the season, even when injuries depleted the Green Bay’s receiving corps. He’ll get another chance to crack the 53-man roster this summer.
How acquired: Signed from practice squad (initially undrafted free agent)
Stats: Four catches for 41 yards
Size and speed made Michael Clark intriguing enough for the Packers to keep around on the practice despite his limited production during the preseason. Those same traits earned him a promotion to the 53-man roster in December. Still, he did little in his brief playing time during the regular season to make any definitive proclamations about his abilities.
Clark requires considerable refinement before his future can come into focus. He caught just four of his 14 targets (a woeful 28.6 catch percentage), and he continues to round off his routes rather than making clean cuts. If he can improve in those areas, he has a chance to become part of the regular receiver rotation. Alternatively, he could find himself without a job should he continue to make the same mistakes.