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At receiver, Packers feel strength in numbers

Complementary skill sets make Green Bay’s wideouts a tough matchup

WR Davante Adams and teammates
WR Davante Adams and teammates

GREEN BAY – In most NFL cities, there tends to be a numerical value attached to every member of a receiving corps, a convenient way of categorizing No. 1 through 5, 6 or 7.

In Green Bay, however, the depth chart reads more like a menu than a ranking of available personnel.

Undoubtedly, the Packers' receivers room begins with four-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams and understandably so. Since 2016, no NFL pass-catcher has more touchdown receptions (58) than Adams, with 11 more than any other player over that span.

However, the other five receivers on the Packers' 53-man roster all bring something quite different to the party. They have different skill sets and backgrounds. One was drafted as high as the second round, while two were undrafted free agents. They range from 5-foot-9 to 6-5, 195 pounds to 227.

"We have some pretty good versatility there," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said this week. "We have a legitimate No. 1 receiver, and I know for a fact that not everybody can say that in the league. We've got a guy that can really dictate coverage because you've got to pick your poison.

"But also, I think, the group as a whole has just something different that they can bring to this team."

Adams is the master technician and arguably the NFL's most dangerous receiver off the line of scrimmage. At 6-1, 215, Adams is big enough to hold his own on the perimeter but also quick enough to wreak havoc inside, when necessary.

Wherever he lines up, Adams is tough for cornerbacks to handle. Explosive out of his breaks, Adams also has a sixth sense for knowing where quarterback Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball. Still only 28, Adams needs just 50 catches in 2021 to surpass Sterling Sharpe for second all-time in franchise receptions.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, now in his fourth NFL season, is the home-run hitter. The former fifth-round pick is in the conversation for fastest player on the team, which has contributed to his NFL-leading average of 17.8 yards per catch since 2018.

No longer just an over-the-top weapon, the 6-foot-4, 206-pound receiver has refined his route-running and pass-catching ability over the past two seasons.

"It's just continuing to grow as a person," said Valdes-Scantling on his development. "You learn different things. You get taught things from older vets who have been in the room, who have been in your position, and you just kind of adapt it and keep rolling."

Over the past two years, Allen Lazard has gone from a feelgood undrafted story to one of the most well-rounded players on the Packers' roster. He's had some big-time performances during his short time with the Packers, including a six-catch, 146-yard performance last September against New Orleans.

In addition to his 69 catches for 935 yards and six TDs as a receiver, Lazard also has shown an ability to move defenders in the run game. At 6-5, 227, Lazard's size and versatility have been a perfect fit for LaFleur's hybrid-heavy offense.

"I like to call him our goon," LaFleur said. "He's an enforcer, and in the run game you can really feel his presence. But that also helps create some big-time plays in the passing game when he's going in and he's digging out safeties."

The Packers have two developmental prospects in 21-year-old rookie Amari Rodgers and second-year receiver Malik Taylor. The 5-foot-9 Rodgers is a prototype for the jet motions LaFleur likes to run, while Taylor led the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason. Both are expected to contribute on special teams.

While Adams, Valdes-Scantling, Lazard and Taylor all contributed to the Packers' top-ranked scoring offense a year ago, the missing piece tying everything together could be 10-year veteran Randall Cobb.

Green Bay reunited with its seventh all-time leading receiver following a trade with the Houston Texans prior to training camp.

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound wideout was a core member of the Packers' offensive explosive throughout the 2010s and served as a mentor to Adams, Valdes-Scantling and even the rookie Rodgers, whom Cobb has known since he was a kid.

The Packers played it safe with Adams, Valdes-Scantling, Lazard and Cobb in order to bring a full stable of healthy receivers into their season-opener against the Saints.

"We've got a really good room because everyone does something different," Valdes-Scantling said. "Literally every single one in our room has a unique skill set that can't be matched.

"Obviously Randall being a 10-year vet can do anything in the slot, then Allen just being a physical specimen who can do whatever he wants to any defender, me being able to run by anybody, and then obviously Davante is just Davante. So just having a room like that, it's tough to defend."

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