The Green Bay Packers are going to have competition at a number of different positions this summer and in training camp. But one spot, where there might be as much depth as any on the roster, is at wide receiver.
The group, which struggled some last season, will get a big boost from the healthy return of Pro-Bowler Jordy Nelson. However, the return of Ty Montgomery to full strength, as long as the continued development of young pro’s Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis and Davante Adams, will also be key.
When it comes to the hierarchy on the Packers’ depth chart, there is still much to be determined. Of course, the top two spots are going to Nelson and Randall Cobb, another former Pro-Bowler, who struggled as the go-to guy in Nelson’s absence.
Yet, with Nelson back in the fold, it should make everyone’s life easier, including Cobb’s. And if Cobb can raise his production, in particular his yards per reception average, which fell from 14.1 in 2014 to 10.6 in 2015, the Packers offense should be back to its explosive self.
Many act like Cobb was terrible last season and while he certainly wasn’t great, he still caught 79 passes for 829 yards and six touchdowns. Thus, he’s more than capable of getting back to the level he was at in previous seasons.
That means the real question about the Packers’ receiving core going into this season, is where will the rest of the guys fall in on the depth chart?
With his spectacular showing in the playoff game against Arizona, Janis has already won the hearts of the majority of fans and with his size and speed, it makes perfect sense. However, Janis is raw and the team is not quite sure he has the skills to handle a role that’s essentially full-time.
Then there’s Adams, who was a massive disappointment last season. Some of it may have been health related, but for the most part, in his two NFL seasons, he has proven to be nothing more than a possession receiver. He’s a better route runner than Janis, but much less explosive.
Montgomery thrust himself into the mix after Nelson’s injury and with his blazing speed and run after the catch skills, he showed plenty of promise before an injury of his own limited him to 15 receptions for 136 yards.
Abbrederis also flashed promise and looked very solid in the playoffs, catching four passes for 55 yards against the Cardinals, once Cobb and Adams were out of the game.
These four players all have different skill sets and that’s why the case can be made that they should all get chances on the field as the third receiver. After Cobb and Nelson, it’s my opinion that Green Bay should use each receiver in an effort to exploit mismatches.
Janis is the second-best deep threat on the team outside of Nelson, so he needs a chance to get on the field. But, Adams, Montgomery and Abbrederis offer more reliability on the rest of the route tree and also have more ability to excel in the screen and short passing game, Mike McCarthy loves.
No matter what, the receiver battle in training camp is going to be fun to watch, but at the end of the day, it’s a good problem to have. And as long as all these players keep pushing each other and are put in a position to succeed by the coaching staff, this competition for playing time, should be a boon to the receiver group and a passing game as a whole.