Monday, June 10, 2013

Positional Review: Filling BIG shoes in the WR Corp

By: Geoff Verges

743 receptions, 10,137 yards, 61 touchdowns.
425 receptions, 6537 yards, 53 touchdowns.
Those are the stats missing this year from the career production of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.

Pretty big shoes to fill.  Although it can be argued that there was very little of that production on the squad last year.  And that would be a correct statement.

But none the less, the 2013 WR squad will be without one of it’s’ most beloved and productive members in Donald Driver.  It will also be without one of the best pupils that Donald ever taught in Greg Jennings.

So, how does TT replace such talented and productive guys?  Only by trying to catch lightning in the seventh round of the draft with Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, and by trying to hit a home run with second year UDFA’s Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross.

Below is a breakdown of the returners and the newbies….

Jordy Nelson:  6’3’’ 215 pounds.  Entering into his sixth season as a Packer, Jordy has played in 16 games three times.  He had a breakout year in 2011 with 68 catches for 1263 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Injuries limited his production last year.  But this much is known.  Jordy is a very good player who has earned the trust of Aaron Rodgers.  He is in line for another very good season in 2013 if he can stay healthy.

Randall Cobb:  5’10’’ 192 pounds.  No one has Packer nation more abuzz than Cobb.  Why you might ask?  …Because few players develop so quickly in the Packers offense.   Cobb went from having 25 receptions as a rookie to arguably Rodgers best weapon last year while snagging 80 catches (out of 104 targets) for 954 yards and 8 TD’s, despite playing special teams and missing one game.  More quick than fast, Cobb is ideally suited to playing in the slot.  It is hard to think that he can get that much better, but with him, it is possible.

James Jones:  6’1’’ 208 pounds.  Can’t ask for much more out of your #3 receiver than what James gives you.  Consistently available for games and consistently catches 50 to 60 balls for 600 to 700 yards a year.   Last year was a breakout year of sorts for him as he tallied 14 touchdowns.  Sneak fast, James has a knack for getting open deep and hauled in everything his way last year, putting behind his dropsies issues from the past.   He is in the last year of his contract and that usually means big things for a player.

Jarrett Boykin:  6’2’’ 217 pounds.  Was considered a 5’Th round talent in the 2012 draft, but fell out of the draft entirely.  Has huge hands that haul in almost everything.  Prolific receiver with a good vertical, but who lacks speed as his 40 yard dash time was 4.74.  Came on strong in his first camp in Green Bay and turned heads in pre-season games.   Struggled to get open much in regular season games, but did have a few catches with some coming in key moments of games.  Will never take the top off of a defense, but is strong with great hands.  May never be more than a 4’Th WR and doesn’t offer anything to the return game.    

Jeremy Ross:  6’0’’ 209 pounds.  Wasn’t even listed as a WR when he hit the combine in 2012.  Was listed as a RB/KR/Athlete.  Got on the team because of an injury to Cobb and provided a spark to the return game.  Showed great north/south running and the ability to break arm tackles.  Was not a factor in the passing game.  Did not play WR in college.   He did clock a 4.4 40 yard dash at his pro day and did boast a 39 inch vertical leap.  There is no question about it, he is an athlete.  If the team can’t find another returner to replace Cobb, he could stick and be developed into a WR.

Charles Johnson:  He was not invited to the combine, but made his mark at his pro-day.  6’2’’ 215 pounds.  Ran a 4.38 and 4.39 40 yard dash.  4.31 short shuttle.  6.96 three cone.  39.5 inch vertical leap.  Those numbers would have ranked right up there with some of the best WR’s at the combine.  Caught 72 passes for 1,199 yards and 16 touchdowns.  That year put him fourth on the all-time category for Grand Valley State.  Here lies your wildcard in the WR corp.  Size?  Check.  Speed?  Check.  Catching ability?  Looks like a check.  Question is, can he be coached?  And if so, how quickly?  I see him making the team and challenging for playing time.

Kevin Dorsey:  6’2’’ 207 pounds.  Ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at his pro day.  Three cone was 7.08.  38 inch vertical leap.  Flew under the radar at Maryland because of 18 catches and 4 TD’s, but many scouts chalked that up to poor quarterback play.  This much I know, he is a very large kid who can move.  If he doesn’t make the 53 man roster, he is a PS candidate.

Other WR’s include Myles White, Ty Walker, Alex Gillett and Sederrick Cunningham.

Green Bay historically keeps 5 WR’s, but strayed from that last year as they kept 6 WR’s. 
I have to think that Nelson, Cobb and Jones are locks for the team.
Boykin has the next best chance to stick as the #4.
Ross fights it out for #5 with Johnson and Dorsey.  If GB can’t find another returner, I could see GB keeping Ross for that role and then also keeping Johnson while trying to stash Dorsey on the practice squad.

Sure there are some big shoes to be filled with the departures of Driver and Jennings.  But life and the WR corps must go on.  There were years in Green Bay when the WR corps was the envy of almost every team.  That may not be true this year, but those top three can compete without anyone else’s top 3.  The question remains whether or not a youngster will become “Next Man Up”!  

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