Handicapping Packers’ WR3 Competition

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Geronimo Allison

No one, including general manager Brian Gutekunst, expected three wide receivers to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers. The GM has said it was unexpected that such talented players would drop to the lower rounds, but once they did he couldn’t pass them up.

Unlike during the Ted Thompson era, training camp and preseason performance, and not draft order, will determine which receivers make the roster and in what order. We hope so anyway.

Of the three newcomers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the least likely to get significant playing time in 2018. He’s considered very much the rawest of the prospects. In two years at N.C. State, his receiving yardage was under 300 each time.

He then red-shirted for a year after transferring to South Florida. In two years there he was used almost exclusively as a deep threat. Though he had just 22 catches in his initial year, they went for 415 yards (18.9 average) and five touchdowns. His final year was more impressive: 53 catches, 879 yards and six TDs.

In addition to being 6’ 4”, Valdes-Scantling has speed. When is the last time the Packers had a receiver with 4.37 dash speed? Javon Walker was timed at 4.38 in 2002. He’s almost certain to make the roster on that basis alone, but he’s too undeveloped to rapidly gain Aaron Rodgers’ trust. One scout’s assessment: a stash-and-coach prospect, lacking ball skills.

Almost everyone feels the Packers got a steal in the sixth round, when it was a shock that Equanimeous St. Brown had yet to be taken. At 6’ 5” and 214 pounds, St. Brown is imposing and his 4.48 dash speed is impressive for such a tall man.

Though he suffered in his senior year by Notre Dame having an inferior passing quarterback, in 2016 with DeShone Kizer at quarterback, ESB had a fabulous year. With his gigantic catch radius and height, he hauled in 56 throws for 961 yards and nine TDs. Some scouts see him as an occasional threat, but not as a high-volume receiver and his competitiveness has come into question. In preseason games, Kizer will probably be looking his way with regularity.

J’Mon Moore is easily the best all-around athlete of the three. His NFL Combine dash time of 4.60 caused concern, but he turned in a 4.49 time on March 22 at a pro day event. Based on his highlight tapes, I’m confident that the 4.49 time is the more indicative of his speed. His agility scores are outstanding (88th and 96th percentiles).

It’s his collegiate career, however, that distances him from his two new teammates. As a junior, he had 62 catches 1,012 yards (tops in the SEC) and eight scores. He followed that up with 65 catches, 1,082 yards and 10 TDs. Despite these stats, some scouts say he has lapses in his concentration and needs more work on his route-running. On paper, Moore has a substantial lead over the other two players. He’ll be 23 in two weeks – mature for a draftee.

Final Roster Early Handicapping

Preseason performance, not college reputations, will dictate the pecking order of the team’s receiving corps. I’m very confident that all three will make the roster. The odd man out among Packers’ receivers could well be Trevor Davis. It’s my guess that Geronimo Allison, with two years of continuity with the team, makes the cut and might start on opening day, but that one or even two of the rookies will soon receive more playing time.

Though Davis seemed to have some job security due to his punt return ability, one look at the highlight tapes of Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson reveals open field skills more electrifying than Trevor is capable of. Finally, given the abilities of the three rookies, there is little reason for Green Bay to spend additional years developing 6’6” Michael Clark.

Because Aaron Rodgers requires a lot of time to feel comfortable with new receivers, I suspect that the third starting receiver will be determined rapidly – even before the exhibition games occur. Doing so will allow the two to have as much time as possible to get in synch with each other. More than anyone else in the organization, it’s Rodgers who will be most challenged to adjust to all of the changes that 2018 has heralded.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

10 Comments on "Handicapping Packers’ WR3 Competition"

  1. Andy Peth

    Keep 7: Adams, Cobb, Clark, Davis, plus all 3 rookies.

    Davis is by far our best return man, and the thought of risking our top pick on returns is somewhere south of insane.

    Clark has far more upside than Allison, and should be improving his chemistry with Rodgers in Year 2.

    Keep the best; discard the rest.

  2. Deepsky

    I’m bucking the trend here and saying the Packers should put Ty Montgomery back in the receiver role. For a couple years he had a 5 yard carry average, but teams figured out he’s not a running back and know how to play him, and last year his average dropped to 3.8 yards a carry. In games where he had over 10 carries, it was under 3 yards a carry.

    He showed a lot of potential in the passing game, but they moved him over before he started to excel.

    • tupac

      Bad YPA when the online was constantly changing. I’m hopeful to see a 3rd year jump as a RB from Ty. Who knows…

  3. Kato

    I think St Brown has the highest ceiling out of all of them. He has elite body control, Jordy Nelsonesque. Wouldn’t be surprised seeing him and Rodgers becoming a back shoulder throw combo.

  4. tupac

    Not wasting any more time developing Clark? This will be his 2nd year! Guy seems to have drive, let’s see how honed his craft is with a year under his belt.

    • PF4L

      Clark is intriguing, but he needs to be developed. With the Packers drafting 3 receivers, it might be tough going for Clark in Green Bay.

      It’s a shame Nelson isn’t around to be a an example and show the new guys how it’s done the right way in this league. Equanimeous could learn a lot from him, on and off the field if the reports i’ve read are even half true about him.

  5. cz

    When it comes time to send more players to cleveland, i say get rid of the non-performing receivers un favor of those with high probability of stretching the field AND making the catch. Trevor Davis is good but not great…he is not All Pro, so give the new tall young speedsters a chance, or draft other positions.
    The 2nd yr players will have no advantage over the rookies, as Philbin and Pettine will implement systems not from last yr, and the new players, the rookies, will be fresh and not have to be untaught last years.

  6. Savage57

    Rob hit on a key point in all of this: Rodgers needs to get over his ‘not in The Circle of Trust’ crap with all the WR raw material he’s been given to work with.

    Great QB’s make WR’s better, they don’t shun them if they miss an assignment, incorrectly run a route or drop a ball. He needs to have an open mind that these guys will only improve if given opportunities to. And in that process, they’ll make some mistakes which might lead to an interception or two,

    • Hinder

      Damn straight! I once heard Brady say he throws to whoever is open, regardless of who they are, and doesn’t try to forge feed it to his favs. He said that if they drop it, that’ a problem for the coaches. AR, on the other hand, has to “trust”a receiver before he will throw it to him and spends a lot of time waiting for his pals to get open. If somebody drops it, he sometimes gets pissy and freezes them out. That’s about his only flaw as a QB.

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