This is the next in a series of articles providing an in-depth analysis of each position group on the Green Bay Packers. Today, we will examine the wide receivers.
Click here to see our analysis of the quarterback position. Click here for an in-depth look at the Packers running backs this season. The defensive line analysis can be found here, tight ends here and edge/outside linebackers here. Click here for a look at the inside linebackers, here for the offensive line and here for the defensive backs.
The grades will be for each unit as a whole, but we will provide analysis of each player, their strengths and weaknesses and a quick breakdown of where they stand heading into the offseason.
The wide receivers were led by All Pro Davante Adams who is one of the best in the league today. Behind him are role players who had varying degrees of impact depending on their health and their role on the team.
Here are the grades for the Packers wide receivers in 2021. The marks are based on a combination of expectations and performance.
Davante Adams had one of the greatest seasons of any Packers wideout in history in 2021. The former Fresno State star set franchise records for catches (123) and yards (1,553) despite missing one game due to Covid protocols.
Adams doesn’t have blinding speed, but he has outstanding body control and is an expert at disguising his pass patters off the snap of the ball. His hands are excellent and he has unique chemistry with Aaron Rodgers.
Tae is one of the best if not the best receiver in the NFL today and opposing defenses must account for him on every play.
Adams is a free agent and his return to the team in 2022 is uncertain. As of now, Adams wants to be the highest paid receiver in the league and is asking for $30 million per season. The Packers may use the franchise tag on their top receiver and may look to sign and trade him depending on whether Rodgers returns and they can afford to keep Adams under the cap. His loss would be immense.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the Packers speediest receiver. His ability to get open deep helps create space for other receivers underneath. Injuries and Covid limited MVS to 11 games this season and he caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns. He was targeted 55 times which gives him a low catch percentage of 47.3.
Valdes-Scantling is also a free agent this offseason but he has indicated both he and the Packers are interested in his return. The question is whether he fits under the salary cap and if another team offers him more money and a larger potential role.
Allen Lazard had a slow start but a strong finish to 2021. In 15 games, he caught a career-high 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. Lazard has great size at 6’5” and 227 pounds and is one of the better blocking wideouts in the game.
Lazard is a good route runner and a solid receiver. He is a restricted free agent this offseason and GM Brian Gutekunst must decide what kind of offer to make to the former Iowa State star. He will likely be back next season as one of the team’s top four receivers.
Randall Cobb was reacquired before the start of the season at the request of Rodgers. The team needed an upgrade at slot receiver and Cobb had been a reliable target at that position for the Packers in the past.
Cobb played in 12 games and made 28 catches for 375 yards and five scores. His experience and connection with Rodgers were his best assets and he stepped up and made plays when the receivers ahead of him on the depth chart were out of the lineup and he had to be more of a primary target.
The Kentucky alum has good hands and runs precise routes but has trouble staying healthy because of his lack of size and his age. He has a cap hit of roughly $9 million next season and won’t be back unless he is willing to play for a lot less money in 2022.
Equanimeous St. Brown started the season on the practice squad but was eventually placed on the active roster after being elevated for several games early in the season. EQ has good size but his hands and consistency have been issues. He continues to show flashes of ability.
The former Notre Dame star finished the season with nine catches for 98 yards and ran the ball three times for 14 yards in 13 games played. He also saw extensive action on special teams coverage units.
EQ is also an unrestricted free agent. His return will depend on whether he receives interest elsewhere and which Packers receivers on the current roster return for 2022.
Amari Rodgers had a disappointing rookie year. Once Cobb was added to the team, his opportunities to participate on offense were reduced, but he failed to take advantage of the chances he did get and also struggled as a return specialist for most of the season.
Rodgers caught just four passes for 45 yards and played just 103 offensive snaps. Most rookie receivers don’t make a big impact, but Rodgers must show more in 2022 and take a step forward in his development. If he is higher on the depth chart, he may just get that chance.
Juwann Winfree played in seven games and made eight catches for 48 yards. He had a strong preseason and training camp but struggles to get separation against quality NFL corners. Winfree will be back in camp in 2022 to fight for a roster spot. His size and his hands are his best assets.
Malik Taylor adds the dimension of returning kicks and punts although he is serviceable at best at the NFL level. He played 10 games for the Packers and caught two passes for 14 yards with both coming in the season opener against the Saints. Taylor ended the season on the IR and will be back to fight for a roster spot next season.
The Packers also signed Chris Blair and Rico Gafford to futures contracts. Blair spent the season on the practice squad but was not activated. Gafford played parts of three seasons with the Raiders and spent time with the Cardinals, Bills and Broncos this season without being activated for a game.
Behind Adams, the team has several useful role players but no standouts. In fact, if you look at the statistics, Adams caught 123 passes and the next three wide receivers combined caught 94 passes. If Adams isn’t back, they will need a serious upgrade at this position. If Tae does return there is less of an urgent need to get immediate help here, but either way, the Packers should fortify this position through the draft, trades or free agency during the offseason.
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