Competition. That is what top personnel executive Brian Gutekunst was looking to add to the Packers roster in this year’s NFL draft. That is just what he did with the Packers wide receiver group in this year’s draft. Just like former Packers general manager Ted Thompson did in last season’s draft when he added three running backs, Gutekunst did the same with the wide receivers this year. Gutekunst and the Packers drafted a wide receiver in the fourth round, one in the fifth round, and one in the sixth round. The Packers three wide receiver draft picks add speed and height.
It was pretty apparent what body type Gutekunst was looking for when he added J’Mon Moore (133rd overall), Marquez Valdez-Scantling (174th overall), and Equanimeous St. Brown (207th overall) to the Packers roster. All three of the wide receiver picks look more like basketball players than football players. Moore, who is the shortest of the group, is listed at 6’3”, while Valdez-Scantling is 6’4” and St. Brown is 6’5”. As head coach Mike McCarthy discussed recently, they were looking for bigger targets to create a bigger target radius for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The trio will join another big target for Rodgers, with 6’6” Michael Clark entering his second season with the Packers. If football doesn’t work out for these four, they might head down the road and suit up for the Wisconsin Herd.
The Packers did add height, but that isn’t the only attribute that this group of receivers bring to the table. Valdes-Scantling is the fastest of the bunch, even with being 6’4”. He clocked a blistering 4.37 in the forty yard dash. The Packers have been looking for a deep threat. Although Trevor Davis has exceptional speed, he has struggled to adapt to the pro passing game. If Valdes-Scantling can adapt quickly to the pro game, and develop a rapport with Rodgers, he just might be what the Packers have been looking for.
St. Brown, the tallest of the group, isn’t slow by any means either. He was clocked at 4.48 in the forty yard dash this spring. Moore is the slowest of the group, with being timed with a 4.6 in the forty yard dash. But Moore has proven that his in game speed is a lot faster than his 4.6 forty yard dash and possesses exceptional after the catch ability. Former Packer James Jones had comparable numbers when he came out of San Jose State to Moore and was a solid receiver for the Packers.
All three have a chance to make a mark in their rookie seasons. There are some questions behind starting wide receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Along with Clark and Davis, the Packers also have Geronimo Allison. Allison is the favorite to win the number three job behind Adams and Cobb, because of his experience, height (6’3”) and that Rodgers has shown some trust in Allison. Also, you need to figure in tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham, who was signed this off-season, is listed as a tight end, but in reality, he is more of a receiver. He will factor in quite a bit to the Packers three receiver sets.
Besides having to beat out Allison, Clark, Davis, and even Graham, for time lining up wide for the Packers, there will be another major factor, maybe the most important factor, for these three to get playing time this season for the Packers. Rodgers is very meticulous in regards to how receivers practice. If you don’t practice the same as you play in a game, Rodgers has shown that he won’t look your way. Rodgers demands that his receivers practice at a high level and that they minimize the mental mistakes. That is what did in ultra-athletic Jeff Janis. Janis had the size and athletic ability to be a contributing NFL wide receiver. But Rodgers never got comfortable with him due to his mental lapses and not practicing the way that Rodgers demands. That is why Janis is no longer with the Packers.
Rodgers no longer has his “Linus blanket” with the Packers releasing veteran receiver Jordy Nelson this off-season. These three rookie receivers will have an opportunity to make their mark this coming season, but it will be up to them to step up to the challenge. All three have special qualities, but they will need to show Rodgers not only that they have the skill, but also the intelligence to do so.