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Which WRs in the 2021 NFL Draft meet the Packers’ testing benchmarks?

Practically every draftable receiver in the 2021 class hits the numbers the Packers look for in the 40 and the 3-cone. Instead, size is the biggest difference among the top wideouts this year.

SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the 2021 NFL Draft just over two weeks away, we at Acme Packing Company are crunching through athletic testing numbers to try to project which players may be on the Green Bay Packers’ draft board based on measurements and workout results. We continue to learn more information about the Packers’ preferences under Brian Gutekunst with every draft, but the team has not made any draft selections since 2018 at the first position on the docket, wide receiver.

Still, the Packers’ cutoffs are consistent dating back to Ted Thompson’s early days. As Justis Mosqueda documented back in 2018, the the Packers have never drafted a wide receiver with a documented 3-cone time slower than 7.08 seconds since 2008. Likewise, the team has only ever drafted one wideout in that time who was shorter than 5-foot-11-7/8 (that being Randall Cobb at 5-foot-10-1/4). He is an outlier, but primarily played a slot role in Green Bay and was under-drafted. For boundary receivers, we are still realistically looking at 6 feet as a practical minimum, but for the sake of argument and to catch some potential borderline players, we will look at anyone over 5-foot-11 flat. We’ll also put in a weight filter of 185 pounds, which would catch players like Trevor Davis (188).

Admittedly, Matt LaFleur seems to very much prefer bigger wide receivers, even in the slot where Allen Lazard has been particularly successful. As a result, players around this borderline height may also be unlikely to become Packers unless the team is interested in them for a more specialized role. Keep an eye out here at APC for a more thorough discussion of the gadget receiver role later this afternoon.

Finally, the Packers generally prefer their wideouts to run no slower than 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Davante Adams and J’Mon Moore are the only recent draft picks slower than that mark, with Adams running 4.56 and Moore clocking in at 4.60 at the 2018 Combine (though he reportedly ran in the mid-4.4s at his Pro Day).

Indeed, between Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown, the three receivers in the Packers’ 2018 class remained consistent with these numbers, with the Moore blip on the 40 being the only outlier. Additionally, the players the Packers were reportedly interested in last year — names like Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Chase Claypool, and Denzel Mims — all met these thresholds aside from the 3-cone, which a slew of players elected not to run at the 2020 Combine.

Indeed, in 2020, we ended up with incomplete information on many of the receivers who came off the board in the first two days of the draft precisely because of the lack of 3-cone times. In past years, Pro Day times might have supplemented the Combine results, but the COVID-19 pandemic did away with all but the earliest few Pro Day workouts.

Thus, using those filters gives us a much larger list of possible fits for the Packers at the wide receiver position, since we have published Pro Day testing numbers for nearly every receiver in this year’s class. Get ready, because this list will have almost 30 names on it, though about half of those generally have a draftable grade after consulting multiple media rankings.

2021 Packers WR Targets

Name College Proj. Round Height Weight 40 Time 3-cone
Name College Proj. Round Height Weight 40 Time 3-cone
Ja'Marr Chase LSU 1st - early 6003 201 4.34 6.96
Kadarius Toney Florida Borderline 1st 5115 193 4.37 6.88
Rashod Bateman Minnesota Borderline 1st 6003 190 4.41 6.95
Dyami Brown North Carolina Day 2 6005 189 4.44 6.85
Terrace Marshall Jr. LSU Day 2 6024 205 4.40
Tylan Wallace OK State Day 2 5113 194 4.49 6.97
Nico Collins Michigan Day 2 6041 215 4.45 6.79
Simi Fehoko Stanford Borderline Day 2 6037 222 4.43 6.78
Josh Palmer Tennessee Borderline Day 2 6012 210 4.51 6.98
Cornell Powell Clemson Day 3 6002 201 4.52 7.03
Trevon Grimes Florida Day 3 6040 220 4.49 7.00
Jacob Harris UCF Day 3 6050 219 4.40 6.51
Jonathan Adams Arkansas State Day 3 6020 210 4.54 7.04
Dax Milne BYU Day 3 6005 193 4.56 6.85
Dez Fitzpatrick Louisville Day 3 6016 208 4.47 7.06
Mike Strachan Charleston Day 3 6053 226 4.50 6.96
Ihmir Smith-Marsette Iowa Day 3 6006 181 4.47 7.06
Brennan Eagles Texas UDFA 6035 225 4.53 6.93
Jalen Camp Georgia Tech UDFA 6017 226 4.45 7.00
Tre Nixon UCF UDFA 6001 187 4.44 6.81
Tim Jones Southern Miss UDFA 6006 203 4.45 7.02
Blake Proehl East Carolina UDFA 6017 186 4.46 7.00
Tarik Black Texas UDFA 6026 213 4.53 6.91
Connor Wedington Stanford UDFA 6004 196 4.44 6.66
Riley Lees Northwestern UDFA 5115 192 4.47 6.78
Bailey Gaither San Jose State UDFA 6000 188 4.45 7.07
Tristen Wallace Prairie View A&M UDFA 6024 232 4.55 7.07

There are a few notes to point out on this list. First, LSU’s Terrace Marshall, Jr. did not perform a 3-cone drill at his Pro Day, one of the few 2021 prospects to skip the drill. However, he meets the other numbers and likely would hit the 7.08 mark in the 3-cone as well. Secondly, Tylan Wallace is the only player who falls in our “borderline” category for height while also meeting the 40 and 3-cone cutoffs, so he is also included here.

Where are the Alabama receivers?

So what can we learn from this list? First, do not look at this as an end-all, be-all of the Packers’ draft board. If Jaylen Waddle (too short, too light) or DeVonta Smith (too light) were to be available for the Packers at 29, the team would probably jump at the chance to draft them. Likewise, if small, shifty players like like Elijah or Rondale Moore, both borderline first-rounders, were available at 62, the Packers might be primed to pounce as they did on Randall Cobb in 2011.

However, size is one common trait among many receivers projected to go off the board on day 2 or early day 3 of the draft: several of those mid-tier receivers fall under 5-foot-11. In fact, almost every player projected to go before the middle of day 3 met the Packers’ athletic cutoffs, but the height filter was the reason that most of the players excluded from the list above were left off.

One potential reason for successful testing nearly across the board may be that all workout numbers are coming from college Pro Days, which have historically been less consistent than the precise timing at the NFL Combine. Although the NFL did try to work with colleges this year to help standardize testing and even the playing field, it’s possible that these players were helped out a bit in some of their numbers by working out in friendly confines.

Additionally, the Packers’ 7.08-second 3-cone filter is not a particularly stringent filter. According to Mockdraftable.com, a 7.08-second mark is only around the 26th percentile for wide receivers. Basically, the Packers don’t want a receiver who is particularly bad at that agility drill — as long as you perform okay, that’s good enough. Likewise, the 40-yard dash number of 4.56 is about the 30th percentile. Again, you need to have enough speed, but burning up the track is not a necessity for the Packers to keep you on their board.

With most of the top receiver prospects showing enough athleticism to clear the Packers’ athletic testing goals, the question of whether the team will indeed consider shorter wideouts may truly be put to the test in 2021.