This is the third in a series of stories examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to training camp. The series continues with the wide receivers.
GREEN BAY – Once training camp begins next week, there is perhaps no competition more compelling on the Packers’ roster than the jousting set to commence at the receiver position.
Starting jobs and roster spots will be at stake in a wide-open race behind two-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams, who’s coming off a career year in which he caught 111 passes for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns.
While quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made it known he has no issue targeting Adams another 170 times in 2019, Green Bay is looking to fill the starting role Randall Cobb vacated this spring when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
Based on what Head Coach Matt LaFleur stated this offseason, the Packers plan to take a multifaceted and flexible approach to do so, with veterans Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jake Kumerow competing against 2018 draft picks Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J'Mon Moore for significant roles in the offense.
The following is the third installment in a series of photos examining the Packers' roster position by position. This installment examines the wide receivers.
Besides Adams, the 25-year-old Allison is the most experienced receiver on Green Bay’s roster and the frontrunner to supplant Cobb in the slot at this point.
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver has caught 55 passes for 758 yards and four touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons. An apprentice to Jordy Nelson, Cobb and Adams, Allison appeared the cusp of breakthrough last year before a core-muscle injury ended his 2018 season after only five games.
With Allison on injured reserve and Cobb battling injuries, the door was opened for Valdes-Scantling to become a big-play target in the offense during the second half of the year.
The Packers drafted the 6-foot-4, 206-pound receiver in the fifth round out of South Florida due in part to his blazing 4.37-second time in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. In 16 games with 10 starts, Valdes-Scantling proved he could put that speed to use with 38 catches for 581 yards (15.3-yard average) and two TDs.
Known for his strict study habits, Valdes-Scantling continued to show promise after returning for the offseason program. Rodgers praised the 24-year-old for his growth this spring, suggesting Valdes-Scantling had everything it takes to become an every-down player in Green Bay’s offense.
St. Brown (358 snaps) and Moore (74) didn’t get as many opportunities as Valdes-Scantling (692) as rookies but possess similar upside. Still only 22 after declaring as an early entrant into the 2018 NFL Draft, St. Brown came on late to finish the year with 21 catches for 328 yards (15.6-yard average).
A fourth-round pick out of Missouri, Moore came to Green Bay as the most highly touted of the three rookies. While playing only a handful of offensive snaps, Moore hopes a change to LaFleur’s system will help him realize his full potential.
One factor the Packers hope will benefit all three second-year receivers is the hiring of new position coach Alvis Whitted, a nine-year NFL vet who gained national acclaim for his work with young receivers during his seven years at Colorado State.
Davis and Kumerow are two other veterans looking to lock down roster spots this summer. One of the NFL’s top returners in 2017, Davis played in only two games last year due to a recurring hamstring issue. A full participant in the offseason program, the fourth-year veteran hopes he’s put those injury woes behind him.
Former practice-squad receiver Jake Kumerow came out of nowhere to claim a roster spot last summer. After recovering from a preseason shoulder injury, the former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater standout realized his dream of playing in the NFL.
Kumerow, the oldest receiver on the roster at 27, forged instant chemistry with Rodgers. After returning from a preseason shoulder injury, the 6-foot-4, 209-pounder went on to catch eight passes for 103 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 16.
The competition doesn’t end there, though. First-year receiver Allen Lazard is back after finishing last year on the Packers’ 53-man roster, while former New York Giants receiver/returner Jawill Davis was claimed off waivers on May 11.
Davis played in seven games for the Giants last season, averaging 24.4 yards on seven kickoffs and 7.4 yards on 12 punts. He’ll likely compete with Trevor Davis, Tramon Williams and others for return duties this summer.
Practice-squad holdover Teo Redding and undrafted rookie Darrius Shepherd round out the receiving corps the Packers will look to shape and develop over the next five weeks. Shepherd earned his contract as a tryout player at the Packers’ rookie camp in May.
COUNTDOWN TO CAMP SERIES