Under Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers loved drafting wide receivers on day two of the NFL Draft. Thompson hit on these players with regularity, too; Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams were all second- or third-round draft picks who went on to have long, productive careers with the Packers. Adams is now unquestionably one of the NFL’s ten best wide receivers, with a legitimate argument to be made for him as a top-five player at the position.
In 2018, Brian Gutekunst preferred to wait until the later rounds of his first draft to address the position, drafting three players between rounds four and six. However, all were size-speed players who present matchup problems for defenses.
This spring, however, the Packers may go back to the day-two well, with numerous intriguing players projecting to go in the second or third rounds. Interestingly, two players who lined up together in Columbus should be under consideration for Gutekunst and company, as both project as good fits in Green Bay.
Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin will be connected throughout this draft process. The two players arrived at Ohio State one year apart, but a redshirt for Campbell resulted in both earning their first significant playing time as sophomores in 2016. By the 2018 season, each was a key cog in the Buckeyes’ offensive attack, which saw quarterback Dwayne Haskins set conference records with his arm.
Last fall, Campbell was the offense’s Swiss Army Knife. Lining up in the slot, the backfield, and practically everywhere else, the goal was simple: get the ball in his hands and let him make something happen. Campbell’s elite speed (4.31 seconds in the 40 at the Combine) and change-of-direction ability (position-best 4.03 in the short shuttle) led to a highly productive season. Campbell’s 90 receptions went for over 1,000 yards, as he averaged 11.8 yards per catch despite a high number of those “receptions” essentially coming on jet sweeps. Campbell also brings return ability to the NFL, having served as Ohio State’s primary kickoff returner in 2016 and pitching in occasionally in 2017.
McLaurin, on the other hand, rotated heavily with a host of talented receivers, many of whom will be future NFL Draft picks. However, his 35 receptions displayed big-play ability, as he averaged 20 yards per catch on those plays. Like Campbell, McLaurin contributed on special teams as well, but more so on coverage teams rather than with the ball in his hands.
Check out this compilation of McLaurin’s plays as a punt gunner:
Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin... Helping wherever he can @TheTerry_25— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 20, 2019
No ones wants to talk about special teams & punt gunning around draft time. But when it comes August and roster spots filling up - everyone suddenly interested!
McLaurin will do the dirty work too! pic.twitter.com/8J1Qoqr9lT
For the Packers, who very much have an athletic “type” for their receivers since Thompson took over as GM, both players check all the boxes. They’re both just over six feet tall, each weighs between 205 and 210 pounds, and their speed and agility times are far better than the team’s typical requirements. Take a look:
- Parris Campbell: 5-foot-11 7/8, 205 pounds, 4.31 forty, 4.03 short shuttle (no 3-cone)
- Terry McLaurin: 6-foot-0 1/8, 208 pounds, 4.35 forty, 4.15 short shuttle, 7.01 3-cone
The differences between the two will make one or the other more appealing targets to different teams, based on what said teams are looking for. Campbell is ultimately the more dynamic athlete, but he probably needs his offensive scheme to help him be productive. McLaurin is a more effective route-runner and can create space on his own. In short, Campbell is the better player after the catch, while McLaurin is better before it.
Still, either one looks to be a solid fit for the Packers, who appear to be looking for a slot receiver this spring after Randall Cobb’s departure. Although Equanimeous St. Brown provided some nice reps on the inside and Jimmy Graham projects to get significant snaps split out in the slot as well, the team could use one of these smaller (but not too small) receivers to help attack the middle of the field. Don’t be surprised if one or the other trades in his scarlet and gray for green and gold on April 26th.