Packers Position Preview: Wide Receivers: Someone Needs to Step Up This Year

Packers Position Preview: Wide Receivers: Someone Needs to Step Up This Year

NFL

Packers Position Preview: Wide Receivers: Someone Needs to Step Up This Year

By

This is the final in a series of position previews as the Green Bay Packers prepare to open training camp to prepare for the 2020 NFL season.

The Green Bay Packers have a lot of question marks at this position behind Davante Adams who is the undisputed WR1. There are plenty of players with potential and talent in training camp, but few with a proven track record of success at the NFL level.

The Packers did not draft a wide receiver this year, so they will need some of the returning players plus free agent addition Devin Funchess to step up and improve their level of play for this position to be an asset for the Green Bay offense in 2020.

Here is a look at the Packers wide receiver depth chart as the team prepares to open training camp:

Likely Starters: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard

Adams is in his prime and is regarded as one of the top receivers in the game today. While he is not a burner, Adams runs precise routes, has great hands and is one of the best in the game at releasing off the line of scrimmage to keep defensive backs off balance.

Adams led the team last year with 83 catches for 997 yards despite missing four games with a turf toe injury. He also tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with five. He also earned a Pro Bowl berth for the third consecutive season.

Because of his size and precision route-running ability, he can play effectively in the slot as well as on the perimeter. Aaron Rodgers knows he can rely on Adams whenever he needs a clutch reception in a big spot.

Lazard earned the second receiver spot by the end of the year despite being cut after the preseason last September. He finished second on the team among wide receivers with 35 receptions for 477 yards and three touchdowns despite not seeing the field on offense until the fourth quarter of Week 6.

Lazard is 6’5” and has great body control and runs good routes. He also has an outstanding work ethic. If he can improve his consistency holding onto the ball a bit and gain a little more understanding of defenses, he can establish himself as the unquestioned second receiver in this offense.

Likely Backups: Devin Funchess, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown

The Packers signed Funchess as a free agent this offseason. He only played one game for the Colts last year before a broken collarbone ended his season. Funchess played tight end in college and has the size to be a threat in the red zone and across the middle of the field.

He needs to be more consistent with his hands to take his game to the next level. The former Michigan star enjoyed his best season in 2017 when he caught 63 passes for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. He is on a one-year, prove-it contract so Funchess has a lot of incentive to have a big year.

Valdes-Scantling is the Packers fastest receiver. He got off to a good start last season, catching 16 passes in the first four games before injuries slowed him down. He made only 10 catches in the final 12 games of the season and was barely on the field in the Packers two postseason games. MVS must be more consistent and show he can catch shorter passes as well as being a deep threat who can stretch defenses.

St. Brown missed all of 2019 with an ankle injury suffered in preseason. The former Notre Dame star showed a promise late in his rookie campaign and was starting to gain Rodgers’ trust. He has good size and runs reliable routes and will be looking for consistent role in the offense this season which will be his first in Matt LaFleur’s system.

The Packers need at least one of these three players to step up if they hope to get what they need from their receiving corps this season.

Fighting for a Roster Spot: Reggie Begelton, Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd, Darrell Stewart, Malik Taylor

Begelton is an intriguing prospect who exceled in Canada last season and now hopes to make the adjustment to the NFL game. He is smaller and quicker than most of the other receivers on the roster and may give the Pack a different skill set if he makes the team. The lack of preseason games and reduced training camp will make it tougher for him to impress the coaching staff although his study habits clearly did during the virtual offseason program.

Kumerow is a fan favorite with great size. He excels every August in preseason but has yet to be consistently productive during the regular season. He runs precise patterns but struggles to get separation from better defensive backs. Last year, the former Wisconsin-Whitewater star caught 12 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.

Shepherd won a job in camp last season after a strong preseason but fizzled once the regular season started. He made one catch for one yard on offense and struggled as a return specialist. He stuck around on the practice squad after being released midseason and is looking for another chance to show what he can do.

The Packers signed Stewart as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. He was productive in college, finishing as the Spartans’ third all-time leader in receptions with 150. Stewart also had at least one reception in his final 33 college games. The 24-year-old is smaller than other Packers receivers at 6’0” and runs very precise routes. His different skill set may give him a chance to make the team and see some snaps in the slot.

Taylor joined the Packers last July after the Bucs let him go. He spent the 2019 season on Green Bay’s practice squad. Taylor’s senior season at Ferris State was cut short by injuries although he did have 61 catches during a successful junior season. His ability as a return specialist may also help him earn a roster spot.

Outlook:

The Packers have a lot of unanswered questions here behind Adams who remains one of the league’s best at his position. Can Lazard continue to improve and establish himself as a legit WR2? Can Funchess cut down on his drops and make good on his prove-it contract? Are either MVS or EQ ready to make a third-year jump that can propel them to regular playing time? Can Begelton make the transition from the CFL to the NFL and be productive?

Since the Packers didn’t draft anybody at the position this season, they will need at least two or three of these players to take that next step forward for their receiving corps not to be a liability like it was at times in 2019.  The potential is there, but unless it’s realized this season, there could be problems again at wide receiver for the Pack.

Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

Click here for more great Packers coverage

Visit my Web site for all things Gil Martin

 

 

More Sports

More NFL
Home