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What should the Packers expect from WR Geronimo Allison?

A look at the third-year receiver’s film shows skills that should make him a useful option in the Packers’ passing game this year.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason has been one of the loudest in recent Green Bay Packer history, especially at the wide receiver position. Green Bay’s 5th all-time leading receiver Jordy Nelson left for greener dryer pastures in Oakland, and with the #133, #174, and #207 picks of the 2018 draft, Green Bay selected a trio of wide receivers to compete for reserve spots behind Adams and Cobb. The noise among the position has overshadowed a quiet natured player whom many have slotted in as WR3 on the depth chart; Geronimo Allison. Let’s watch some tape.

The first thing everyone notices about Allison is his frame. At 6’3” with spaghetti arms, he’s a big target that has a good catch radius. At full extension, he’s able to make some great catches that a smaller defender simply cannot defend.

The second thing you’ll notice when watching Allison is his lack of top level athleticism. He’s not an over-the-top burner and he isn’t a quick twitch slot receiver, as he ranks in the 2nd percentile in the 3-cone drill, 8th percentile in the 40-yard dash, and 34th percentile in the 20-yard shuttle. Realistically, the lack of top level athleticism caps his highest possible ceiling, but he’s still a prospect in the sense that he hasn’t been playing top level football for very long. Geronimo had only one year of high-school football, followed by two years at Iowa Western Community College and another two years at the University of Illinois; not exactly your typical elite wide receiver pedigree.

2016 in review

Geronimo’s first season as a pro was...odd. His first regular season game came in week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons, and his first regular season catch as a professional was a 4 yard TD where he smartly worked himself to open space as Rodgers was forced to evade pressure.

From weeks 9-15, Allison managed to amass a whopping two catches. He finished the season strong, though, with four catches for 66 yards in week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings and four more catches for 91 yards and a score in the final game of the regular season against the Detroit Lions. For some reason, the Vikings and Lions failed to keep their eyes on the tallest wide receiver on the field; repeatedly, in both games, Allison found himself wide open for big gains.

Consider the last two games an exercise in empty numbers; if not for these wide open catches, the overall totals would be considerably less. He finished the regular season with 202 yards on 12 catches and a pair of touchdowns, and added 65 yards on five catches over three postseason games.

2017 in review

His second professional season might have been even more strange than his first. After serving a one game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Allison had a pretty poor first game back in week two; an offensive pass interference negated a touchdown and he caused an interception as he stopped running on a route. Week three saw him come up huge in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Bengals, something I highlighted in an earlier article. After week three, though, Geronimo didn’t prove very effective and his production fell off a cliff, at times barely seeing the field. While he saw 18 targets in the final four weeks of the season, he only converted those targets into 12 catches for 86 yards, finishing the season with 253 yards on 23 catches and no touchdowns.

Going forward

Moving up the depth chart by default, Allison enters a pivotal season in his career. On the final year of his contract and with a slew of drafted receivers behind him, Allison needs to make big strides to stay in his presumed WR3 spot.

Where Allison excels is using his length to provide a large catch radius for his quarterback. He also uses those long arms to avoid jams at the line of scrimmage, and combined with good footwork and head fakes, can get open reasonably well.

(Bottom of clip)

(2nd receiver from top)

Alternate angles here and here. Those are simple one-step release moves, but Allison sells them so well the defenders are literally tripping over themselves to keep up.

Allison, when engaged, is also a decent run blocker. He uses his length well to latch on to cornerbacks and puts up a good fight, which is about all you can realistically expect from your receivers.

A few things limit Allison’s overall ability. The first is his lack of both short burst quickness and maximum speed; unless his defender falls down or forgets about him, its rare he will beat anyone with a go route. He also has had a problem with drops; his career catch rate is just 57% and while not abysmal, it is not great for a receiver with poor athleticism. Too frequently his drops seem to be on easy catch opportunities; fortunately, these types of drops can typically be coached out.

Allison’s usage has evolved as he has gotten more playing time. In 2016, Allison primarily ran deep routes and was used as a blocker on WR screens. In 2017, he was asked more frequently to be the one on the receiving end of the screens and ran more short routes as defenses played more conservative coverage, which is due in large part to the lackluster passing offense Green Bay was trotting out in the later two thirds of the year. There was a lot of this:

Overall, Geronimo has his work cut out for him. He is being given a golden opportunity to hold down the #3 WR spot, but so is just about every other receiver on the team, even fellow undrafted wide receiver Jake “The Great Whitewater Hope” Kumerow.

While he was specifically praised by Rodgers himself regarding his practices so far, he wasn’t the only one on Rodgers’ good side. If he manages to increase his catch rate and better utilize his long frame, he can be a viable target for the offense. If not, he may find himself quickly supplanted by superior athletic talents that management has spent valuable draft capital on.