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Packers Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers Return In Strength

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With seven returning wide receivers on this team, there is not a lot of room for new faces. Still, a few rookies look to make some noise.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster prior to training camp, we examine the quarterback position and reveal our pre-camp predictions for the team’s 2017 53-man roster. Ten APC contributors submitted full roster predictions, and we will present the consensus predictions drawn from those individual guesses over the next two weeks.

It has to be said that the Green Bay Packers have been one of the finest judges in wide receiver talent in recent years. The corps is not built out of first round talent, but second-rounders at best. Still, year after year they find someone to step up as there is always another player ready to push the starters and eventually seize the reins. Greg Jennings pushed past Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson pushed past Jennings, and so on — it has been a story of continued growth and replenishment. The Packers have never waited for a need at the wide receiver position.

This strategy has brought great success and it has bolstered the talent at quarterback. while helping the team through injury woes. When primed, the Packers receivers have been among the highest producing group in the NFL.

In 2016, the Packers receiver group had three players with 60 or more catches. Only New Orleans could match that feat (Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead). Jordy Nelson finished fifth in total receptions (97) and Davante Adams ended up 22nd (72). There were just two teams that had a second receiver with more catches than Adams (New Orleans and Denver). Furthermore, there were 11 NFL teams that did not have a single wide receiver out-produce Adams in receptions.

In yards, we see much the same story as Nelson finished sixth with 1,257 yards. There were only four teams that had a second wide receiver with more yards than Adams (New Orleans, Denver, Oakland and Washington). Of course, mathematically, this means twelve teams did not have a wide receiver with as many yards as Davante Adams.

As a team, the Packers finished fifth in total receptions. Obviously some of these receptions belong to tight ends and running backs, but the same is true for the five teams ahead of Green Bay too. Overall, this is a clear position of strength, and the team looked to the draft to continue replenishing that strength.

Returning Players

Jordy Nelson

Year: 10th
Age: 32
Acquired: 2nd-round draft pick (36th overall), 2008

2016 was a great comeback year for Jordy. After missing the entire 2015 season with an ACL tear, Nelson roared back to finish first in receiving touchdowns, fifth in receptions and sixth in yards. He started slowly and this possibly ruined his chance for a Pro Bowl as he had just one 100+ yard game in his first half. Then he finished strong with four 100+ yard games in his final eight. Now that he has all the confidence back in his legs, he could be set for another big season. There will be plenty of young faces to push him.

Davante Adams

Year: 4th
Age: 24
Acquired: 2nd-round draft pick (53rd overall), 2014

Another comeback story, Adams had to deal with ankle injuries in 2015. All the promise of his rookie campaign seemed dashed but Adams responded by becoming one of the best second options in football. He finished 22nd in receptions, 24th in yards and second in touchdowns. He may not have silenced the critics, but they will have to gauge their words differently. Adams made strides last year and if he can improve some of his concentration issues he could prove a great threat.

Randall Cobb

Year: 7th
Age: 26
Acquired: 2nd-round draft pick (64th overall), 2011

Randall Cobb ended up being the leading receiver in Green Bay during the 2015 season with Nelson out. Cobb, like all Packers receivers seemingly, faced injuries in 2015, but only missed one start. Playing through injuries, he managed 79 catches for 829 yards and six touchdowns. 2016 saw another year of decline since his career best 2014 campaign.

Geronimo Allison

Year: 2nd
Age: 23
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2016

Allison had some flashes of talent in his rookie year. He had to start his season on the practice squad and was promoted to the active roster before Week 7. Allison saved his best for last with four catches each against both the Vikings and Lions. He had 13 of his 22 targets in these final two games as well as one of his two touchdowns. In the playoffs he caught five of eight targets for 65 yards. Allison showed that he has enough to stick around the NFL and signed his exclusive rights tender to play the 2017 season. The 6'3" showed he had the ability to make tough, physical catches in clutch situations and that will serve him well.

Trevor Davis

Year: 2nd
Age: 24
Acquired: 5th-round draft pick (163rd overall), 2016

Davis was the more vaunted rookie wide out entering the 2016 season but he saw only seven targets all year. Davis made his largest impact on special teams as he returned nine punts and three kickoffs. Davis was the speedster and will continue to have value. His 4.42 combine time makes him one of the faster receivers on the team. His special teams ability gives him an additional value on this team.

Jeff Janis

Year: 4th
Age: 26
Acquired: 7th-round draft pick (236th overall), 2014

Perhaps the most exciting talent, a 6'3" receiver with 4.4 speed is something that gets people standing. His Hail Mary catches against Arizona in the 2015 playoffs accelerated the hype train. There were some publications that were listing Janis as the WR3 on this team entering 2016, never mind that he caught just two of his 12 targets in 2015. Then Janis caught 11 of 19 targets in 2016 for just 93 yards. The yards per catch dropped as he ran far more slant routes. Janis still has been used as a slant route runner or a fly route master, just a couple of ways to use his athleticism. Once the ball is in his hands, there is flash, but his route tree work needs to improve this year or he could be outside looking in.

Max McCaffrey

Year: 2nd
Age: 23
Acquired: Free Agent (After release from the Raiders), 2016

Interesting as the lesser known McCaffrey brother is another tall (6'2") and fast (4.36 unofficially) receiver. McCaffrey spent the entire season on the practice squad and was only activated for the NFC Championship game. He is an interesting player and maybe someone to see on special teams. He will need to show this sort of prowess if he wants to crack this deep field.

New Additions

DeAngelo Yancey

Year: Rookie
Age: 22
Acquired: 5th-round draft pick (175th overall), 2017

Yancey played all 12 games in each of the last two years at Purdue. He improved in his catches and yards per catch over this time. Also, Yancey put up ten touchdowns last season. His speed is not incredible, but it is solid. Yancey is a player who made an impact in all four seasons at Purdue and is a solid route runner. It was the increase in big plays that makes him more interesting and more valuable this season. He must gain the confidence of the quarterbacks when he gets the chance if he intends to stick around this roster.

Malachi Dupre

Year: Rookie
Age: 21
Acquired: 7th-round draft pick (247th overall), 2017

Dupre is a tall, athletic player. The problem is that he has not shown the polish or downfield push that many might hope. With such a late pick the thought is likely that he might be depth on a practice squad. There has been plenty of early talk that Dupre is making heads turn at practices. Still, such talk is common in NFL press conferences and the hype might be real or just something to push competition. He has the ability, but the Packers have a precision offense and need receivers who will fit the plan.

Michael Clark

Year: Rookie
Age: 21
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2017

Clark is a 6'6" receiver with 4.5 speed. He is an absolute project player. While at Marshall he caught just 42% of his targets. On such a deep team, Clark is trying to get his snaps so he can make a highlight reel. He will need to get better at route running and improve his hands to have a chance at all.

Montay Crockett

Year: Rookie
Age: 23
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2017

Crockett had just 28 catches in three years at Georgia Southern. Those are not exactly strong numbers against the Sun Belt. He has 4.4 speed and that is enough to get him a chance in camp to make his case. At 6'0" and 184 pounds, he has enough size and speed, but did not get enough play in college to really make a great argument to play.

Colby Pearson

Year: Rookie
Age: 22
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2017

Pearson showed solid growth while at BYU, but never showed enough to garner draft talk. Also, he did not handle return duties. He is another 6'0" receiver with 4.5 speed. There is very little to commend him over the other receivers on this roster.