The Packers traded away the best receiver in the game.
They have Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb as their leading vets and brought in perennial retreat Sammy Watkins, who is now on his 3rd team in 3 years.
It doesn’t look like there’s a game-breaker in that bunch ready to take on Davante Adams’s role.
So the Packers drafted Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.
Can either of them fill Davante’s role as a rookie?
Of course not. Should we even expect them to have average rookie production?
Let’s take a look at the rookie year statistics of every receiver the Packers have drafted over the last decade:
- 2021 – Amari Rodgers: 4 catches – 45 yards – 0 touchdowns
- 2018 – J’Mon Moore: 2/15/0
- 2018 – MVS: 38/581/2
- 2018 – EQ: 21/328/0
- 2017 – DeAngelo Yancey: 0/0/0
- 2017 – Malachi Dupre: 0/0/0
- 2016 – Trevor Davis: 9/115/0
- 2015 – Ty Mongomery: 15/136/2
- 2014 – Davante Adams: 38/446/3
- 2014 – Jared Abbrederis: 9/111/0
- 2014 – Jeff Janis:2/16/0
- 2013 – Charles Johnson: 0/0/0
- 2013 – Kevin Dorsey: 0/0/0
Could it be more underwhelming?
MVS actually had the most productive rookie season of any rookie Packers receiver for the last 10 years and he started his career as a one-trick pony with dropsies. Davante Adams had the next best rookie campaign with what amounts to WR3 numbers. EQ was next, and his year only garnered the kind of stats that Adams would rack up in back-to-back games (except with fewer touchdowns). Even the people’s champion, Jeff Janis, only had a couple catches as a rookie!
The Packers haven’t had a rookie receiver to get excited about in over a decade.
I know what you’re thinking.
A bunch of guys like DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre and Kevin Dorsey aren’t gonna give very good comps.
It’s too low of a bar, right?
Ok, let’s look at some bona fide studs.
Let’s break down that 2011 Sports Illustrated cover and see what those guys did their rookie years:
- 2011 – Randall Cobb:25/375/1
- 2008 – Jordy Nelson: 33/366/2
- 2007 – James Jones: 47/676/1
- 2006 – Greg Jennings: 45/632/3
- 1999 – Donald Driver: 3/31/1
James Jones and Greg Jennings had solid rookie years, but neither would have ranked in the top 50 in NFL receiving yards last year.
Heck, if you count the playoffs, Cooper Kupp had more yards last year than all of these guys’s rookie years combined!
So are the Packers just doomed if they have to rely on rookie receivers this year?
After all, rookie receivers usually don’t produce big numbers and the Packers – even with a ton of studs – have not historically gotten big seasons out of their rookie receivers (despite incredible quarterback play throughout).
I am firmly of the mindset that rookie receivers are over-valued… but I am still quite confident that Packers rookie receivers are going to buck the historical trends.
Randall Cobb is a nice veteran role player.
Sammy Watkins is a fun prove-it signing.
I’m even an Allen Lazard believer.
But, the Packers – despite the best tandem of running backs in the league – are gonna pass the ball a lot.
And the most physically talented players in this group are the rookies.
Matt LaFleur is the coach.
Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.
Christian Watson is one of the greatest athletes ever drafted at receiver and Romeo Doubs is a route technician with great hands and a natural catching motion.
These guys will fit in the system just fine.
They will exceed the average rookie production we’ve seen from the Packers over the last decade.
Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan’s Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.
Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.