Countdown to Camp: Davante Adams taking his place among the NFL's elite

Matt LaFleur has big plans for Robert Tonyan after breakout season

WR Davante Adams

As training camp approaches, is examining Green Bay's roster, position by position. The series continues with the receivers and tight ends.

GREEN BAY – There was little debate among experts and pundits on where Davante Adams ranks in the NFL hierarchy after a statement-making 2020 campaign.

The Packers' four-time Pro Bowl receiver shattered the franchise's single-season record with 115 receptions on his way to receiving 49 of a possible 50 first-place votes in the AP All-Pro balloting and becoming the first Packers receiver to receive a spot on the AP All-Pro team since Antonio Freeman in 1998.

What's more, Adams' NFL-leading 18 touchdown receptions made him the first player in league history to register 100-plus receptions and 18-plus receiving TDs in a season.

And he accomplished it all while playing in just 14 regular-season games, after a hamstring tweak sidelined Adams against New Orleans and Atlanta in Weeks 3-4.

Adams, who is still just 28, is on the cusp of making even more history in 2021. He can climb all way to second in the franchise annals in both career receptions and touchdown grabs with 50 catches and eight TDs, respectively.

The competition for playing time behind Adams remains as fierce as ever in Green Bay with Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Malik Taylor all returning from last year's 53-man roster.

The Packers also drafted Clemson's Amari Rodgers in the third round in April and welcomed back seventh-year Devin Funchess, a 2020 free-agent signee who opted out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a challenging 2019 season, Valdes-Scantling reemerged as a big-play target a year ago. His 20.9-yards per catch led the NFL and was two-percentage points higher than the next eligible receiver (Las Vegas' Nelson Agholor, 18.7).

The 26-year-old receiver was even better in the postseason, catching four passes for a game-high 115 yards and a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay.

Lazard, meanwhile, was again his same versatile and consistent self after returning from the core-muscle injury he sustained in a breakout performance against New Orleans in Week 3. Like Valdes-Scantling, Lazard peaked during the team's postseason run (seven receptions for 158 yards and a TD).

In Funchess and Rodgers, the Packers have added two playmakers with differing body types and skill sets. Funchess, a former second-round pick, is an imposing on-field presence at 6-4, 225. While Funchess has played in just one regular-season in two years, the 27-year-old still believes his best football is in front of him.

Rodgers comes to Green Bay after a decorated career at Clemson, where he handled punt returns and led the Tigers in receiving in 2020. At 5-9, 212, Rodgers figures to be the dual-threat the Packers have lacked on offense and special teams since Randall Cobb's departure in free agency two years ago.

One other receiver to keep an eye on is Juwann Winfree, a 2019 sixth-round pick who spent most of last season on Green Bay's practice squad. He played 29 snaps (eight offense, 21 special teams) for the Packers in two regular-season appearances.

The decision of the Packers' veteran receivers to sit out of voluntary organized team activities afforded Winfree first-team snaps he otherwise might not have seen – and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver made each one of them count.

Winfree made one of the top plays of the offseason program when he hauled in a 50-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Kurt Benkert on third-and-5 to end a two-minute drill at mandatory minicamp.

In addition to signing Alcorn State's Chris Blair to a futures contract in January, the Packers added two more receivers, Bailey Gaither and DeAndre Thompkins, after the draft.

Gaither, a 6-foot, 188-pound receiver out of San Jose State, played six collegiate seasons after taking a medical redshirt in 2018 for an Achilles tear.

The following is the third installment in a series of photos examining the Packers' roster position by position. This installment examines the wide receivers/tight ends.

More for Tonyan?

It was a little more than three years ago that the Packers signed little-known Robert Tonyan to their practice squad and began the process of developing the former Indiana State receiver into an NFL tight end.

In 2020, the organization reaped the ultimate reward for its long-term commitment.

In his third full NFL season, Tonyan realized his potential as a go-to playmaker in Green Bay's offense, catching career-high 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, which tied the single-season franchise record held by Paul Coffman (1983).

As the Packers shifted gears this offseason, Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he and his coaches were charting out even bigger plans for Tonyan in 2021.

"I think Bobby, he's probably progressed as much as any player we've had in the two years," said LaFleur in June. "I know he had a really good season last year and I think there's still more there for him."

One of Tonyan's biggest mentors the past three years has been locker-room favorite Marcedes Lewis, who is making a run at the record Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten share for most NFL seasons (17) played by a tight end.

Lewis, entering his 16th pro season, has enjoyed a career renaissance in Green Bay. While Lewis has just 28 catches for 302 yards and four TDs in 47 regular-season games for the Packers, the 37-year-old warhorse remains one of the league's premier blocking tight ends.

Beyond the one-two punch of Tonyan and Lewis, the Packers have high expectations for Swiss-Army-knife tight end Josiah Deguara, a third-round pick from a year ago who flashed during the first month of the season before sustaining a season-ending ACL injury against Atlanta.

Deguara didn't practice with the team this spring but could be seen doing rehab exercises off to the side with the training staff during all six offseason practices that were open to the media.

After losing Deguara as their H-back, the Packers turned to another Indiana State alumnus with humble beginnings in undrafted free agent Dominique Dafney. After going unsigned through the spring, Dafney caught on with Green Bay in October as a member of the practice squad and went on to play in seven games (including playoffs).

Rounding out the tight end depth chart is former third-round pick Jace Sternberger, third-year veteran Isaac Nauta and converted defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

Countdown to Camp series

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