One thing that’s been flying under the radar a bit in 2023 is how poorly Romeo Doubs has played for the Green Bay Packers. Doubs is lucky to have Christian Watson for a teammate as Watson’s struggles have helped overshadow just how bad Doubs has been. Additionally, gaudy touchdown numbers for Doubs are also helping to hide his overall lack of productivity.
Doubs’ six receiving TDs have him tied for 4th in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Jordan Addison, but I wouldn’t count on his touchdown-scoring acumen continuing in the future, at least not at this rate. While it is possible to excel specifically in catching touchdowns, as Davante Adams has over the course of his career, Doubs’ gaudy total is partly a result of every other Packer receiver being terrible around the end zone, while Doubs is merely bad. Those throws have to go somewhere.
If you watch Doubs long enough you start to realize that he’s barely ever open. When he is open, it’s much more likely to be due to some schematic advantage versus winning a one-on-one battle. Unlike the rest of the team, he’s not completely hopeless on contested catches, having pulled in 6 of his 14 contested targets entering Sunday’s game, for a 42.9% contested catch rate. That’s still well below league average, but it’s quite a bit better than Christian Watson’s one contested catch in ten attempts.
If any other Packer receivers start to play well (like the quickly improving Dontayvion Wicks and Jayden Reed) there’s a good chance those touchdown opportunities start to dry up. If the Packers’ offensive line could run block to save their lives, those touchdown opportunities would have already dried up.
If you ignore his touchdown total, it quickly becomes clear just how bad Doubs actually is. There are 59 players at all positions who have received at least 50 targets so far this season. Doubs ranks 47th in yards per catch with 10.4, and the only wide receivers below him are Michael Pittman, Adam Thielen, Tyler Boyd, and Elijah Moore. Most receivers who average such a low total will at least catch a high percentage of their targets, but again, with Doubs, this is not the case. He ranks 55th of those 59 players with a catch rate of 55.9%, ahead of only George Pickens (who averages a much better 17.2 yards per catch), Hollywood Brown (10.9, also terrible), Tee Higgins (12.1), and Nuk Hopkins (15.6). (Note that Christian Watson does not have 50 targets, so his 42.4% catch rate does not appear.) And in all, only Moore, Brown, and running back Alvin Kamara have a lower Yards per Target than Doubs.
The most disturbing stat for Doubs may very well be his success rate, which tracks how efficient a player is in contributing a positive gain towards picking up a first down or a touchdown. Despite having six scores, all of which are successful plays by definition, Doubs is the second-worst receiver in football in success percentage at 42.4%, besting only Elijah Moore, who is almost certainly the single worst receiver in the league. That’s also a worse success rate than Jayden Reed (51.1), Luke Musgrave (48.7), Dontayvion Wicks (59.3), and AJ Dillon (52.9).
And that’s the other thing. You might be tempted to blame Jordan Love, but even when stacked up against the other Packer receivers, Doubs is still awful. Doubs has 14 more targets than the next most targeted Packer (59, to Reed’s 45) and he has 4 more receptions than the next highest Packer (33 to Musgrave’s 29), but Reed has outgained Doubs by 74 yards! That’s a lot! Musgrave is just 30 yards behind him, and if the Packers continue to use him properly as they have the last 2 games, he’ll pass Doubs as well. Musgrave has seen his Y/R increase from 8.25 over the first 7 games all the way up to 10.8 on the season, surpassing Doubs’ 10.4.
Even Dontayvion Wicks, who has only recently seen his role increase to an average of four targets a game for the past three games, has a good chance to surpass Doubs’ yardage total by season’s end. Doubs is on pace for 647 yards on 53 catches, and he currently has 103 more yards than Wicks (343-240). If Wicks’ role remains what it has grown into over the last three weeks, he will easily push 600 yards. If it increases further, he’ll surpass Doubs easily.
The other problem for Doubs is that we’re starting to get some pretty good sample size on just what he is at this point. It’s not surprising that his numbers would take a dip in moving from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, but it’s not great that he’s never even managed to eclipse 10.5 Y/R with either quarterback. And while his catch% was better last year with Aaron, 62.7% is still poor for a player who shows absolutely no explosiveness. Doubs was a deep threat in college, but whatever deep speed he does have simply doesn’t translate in the NFL, and he’s not a burner. If he had any explosiveness, we should have seen it by now.
The longest play of rookie tight end Luke Musgrave’s career is 37 yards, earlier this season against the Bears. That one was a little fluky, but he also had a 36-yarder against Pittsburgh on Sunday. Christian Watson has been terrible this season, but he has 6 career receptions of over 35 yards. Jayden Reed is just a rookie, but he already has 7 receptions of over 30 yards including his career high, a 46-yarder on Sunday. Dontayvion Wicks’ career long is 32 yards, a number he hit on a touchdown catch against Atlanta and against the Steelers on Sunday on 3rd and 10. Across the league, among qualifying receivers, 50 of 59 have a long reception this year of 31 yards or more. Romeo Doubs’ career-long is just 30 yards, this season, against the Saints. (It was, to be fair, a great catch.)
While this is an evaluation season, Doubs is probably getting too much leeway, and the Packers should lean more heavily on their rookies to finish out the season. Reed, Wicks, and Musgrave have shown far more in recent weeks than Doubs ever has, and it’s not as if Doubs was some great prospect. He was taken with the 132nd pick in the draft, near the end of the fourth round. Most players taken in the spot wash out. Christian Watson has been a train wreck this season and the Packers should probably dial back his snaps as well, but at least he was drafted as an athletic, developmental prospect who has shown something. Doubs’s numbers after a season and a half are awful. He’s shown nothing.
On every receiving metric we have, Doubs is one of the worst receivers in football. He doesn’t catch enough targets for someone who completely lacks explosiveness. He isn’t a downfield threat at all. When he’s not catching a touchdown, he is almost always making the Packers’ situation worse. He has three drops, tying Reed and Jones for the team lead. He’s the fifth-worst receiver in the league in YAC/Reception (2.2). Despite his six touchdowns, he’s 74th in EPA per Play, just one spot ahead of Scotty Miller and just four ahead of Allen Lazard. Almost every other Packers pass catcher is either already better than he is, or in Watson’s case, has more potential.
I’ll leave you with this. Since the year 2000, there are 166 receivers who have received at least 125 targets over their first two seasons. As of right now, Doubs ranks 156th in Yards per Target (6.1).