As is the case most summers, the wide receiver position will be back in the spotlight when the Green Bay Packers open training camp later this month. This time the position is legitimately intriguing. The Packers lost Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, signed veteran Sammy Watkins and drafted three rookies, providing Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers enough moving pieces to sort out this summer.
How will the depth chart shake out at training camp?
We break down the position by categorizing all wide receivers into five levels:
Veterans, probably starters
Sammy Watkins (11) can be seen during Green Bay Packers minicamp Tuesday, June 7, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins are expected to enter training camp as the top three on the depth chart and likely starters come in Week 1. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Lazard was a chance to be the number 1 recipient and Watkins becomes legit possibilities to contribute to the passing game. Returning for his 10th season at Green Bay, Cobb is a close friend of the quarterback and an accomplished final receiver. All three have worrying injury histories, including Watkins, who is looking for a… stay healthy and revive his career. The trio have played 283 NFL games together, so there is experience at the top. Lazard and Cobb have been efficient complementary players in recent years, and Watkins, fourth overall pick in 2014, has the talent. All three will be leveled up by playing with Rodgers in a receiver friendly attack, but the Packers need all three to stay healthy and play at a high level, otherwise this could be one of the most unstable receiver groups in football in 2022 to be.
Returning veterans in the margins
Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor played together in 17 games and caught 10 passes last season, but each will enter the 2022 season as fringe players. Taylor is entering his fourth season at Green Bay, while Winfree has been with the Packers since the 2020 season. Both are well-versed in the Matt LaFleur offensive and longing for a bigger role, but both will struggle to make the 53-man roster given the impact of this off-season additions on the current depth chart. Winfree and Taylor will need to excel in special teams this summer to stand a chance. They each get a chance to play a ton of snaps with Jordan Love during the preseason and should make the most of that opportunity. Remember, Winfree was the star of the off-season training program last spring, while Taylor led all NFL players in preseason receiving yards last summer. Can one of the two make a big jump and beat one of the rookies for a place on the list? The Packers may have to keep seven on the roster before one is Winfree or Taylor.
The wild card for the second year
(AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Amari Rodgers’ rookie season has been nothing but disappointing, both as a receiver and as a returnee. He couldn’t get on the field for the attack, and he made more mistakes than splashes on special teams. Rodgers to lose weight and is more comfortable with the schedule, so the Packers are confident he’s ready to take a big step in year 2. Can Rodgers earn snaps in the slot, add some value to gadgets and improve as a returnee? As a third-round pick entering its second season, Rodgers’ roster spot should be largely secure. But he has to prove that his rookie season was a fluke and he’s poised to take on a bigger role in 2022. The player we saw last season wasn’t ready to become an NFL receiver. This is a big summer for Rodgers and his development as a young player. Competition for the selection spots will be fierce.
The three draft picks
Second round pick Christian Watson, fourth round pick Romeo Doubs and seventh round pick Samuri Toure provided a much anticipated infusion of young talent to the Packers’ wide reception area. Watson, the team’s highest pick at receiver since Javon Walker, is a alien athlete with the speed to replace Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the versatility to get on the field in a unique role as a rookie. The Packers need his field-stretching ability right away. According to most stories, Watson had a strong spring† Doubs is a polished rookie receiver who dominated at the college level. To be experience and great playing ability give him a real shot at playing time as a freshman. Toure, who did nothing but create explosive plays in Montana and Nebraska, is a fascinating receiver prospect who is able and willing to play a lot of roles in special teams. There’s a decent chance that all three draft picks will make it onto the 53-man roster and contribute in one way or another as rookies. Watson and Doubs could be the long-term future with the Green Bay trustee, but Aaron Rodgers will turn 39 in December, retire annually and need the young trustees to get started immediately.
The longshot UDFA
Danny Davis, the unwritten Wisconsin rookie, is certainly the longshot of the group. He was not very prolific as a badger and lacks a defining characteristic in terms of size and athleticism. The Packers could see him as a long-term investment project, making the practice squad a legitimate option should Davis flash in the summer.