The Green Bay Packers enter the preseason with one of the most intriguing training camp quandaries in the league. The Packers have a surplus of potentially talented receivers, they just don’t know which ones to keep.
Of course, this conversation excludes Green Bay’s leading receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Everyone knows how effective those two can be when healthy.
After that, the Packers might have some tough decisions before finalizing their roster.
Davante Adams, a former second-round pick, didn’t shine like he was expected to last season in extended playing time in relief of the injured Nelson. Adams caught only 50 passes for 483 yards in his second season, and the Fresno State product could be treading on thinner ice.
The other holdovers from last season include Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. The Packers also used a fifth-round pick on former Cal product Trevor Davis and signed Illinois receiver Geronimo Allison as an undrafted free agent.
Assuming Allison gets cut at some point in the preseason, the Packers have five relatively unproven receivers competing for three or four roster spots. Who makes the cut?
Although Adams might have been extremely frustrating to watch at times, it’s tough to see Green Bay parting ways with a second-round pick after only two seasons. Reports have been mixed regarding how Adams has performed during the summer. Some say he has been a ball magnet, while others suggest he has struggled. Assuming he makes the roster, Adams could get first crack at the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. However, that doesn’t mean he will get the benefit of the doubt if he gets off to a slow start.
Montgomery, a 2015 third-round selection, started training camp on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers from an ankle injury sustained last October. He has been cleared to run, but has not participated in team drills. It’s unlikely the Packers will cut him after only getting a small sample size, but Montgomery’s roster status could hinge upon his health.
Montgomery caught 15 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in six games before his ankle injury shut him down for the season. He was evaluated as an electric prospect that can also serve as a return man as he returned seven kickoffs for 218 yards (an average of 31.1 yards per return) as a rookie.
The battle could heat up between Abbrederis, Janis and Davis. Abbrederis, a 2014 fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin, finally took the field late last season, catching nine passes for 111 yards in 10 games. After missing his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, Abbrederis sustained a concussion on the first day of training camp last summer that kept him out for the first half of the season.
The former Badgers wideout has not only stayed healthy, he’s looked good early on in camp.
Janis has gotten reps with the first team with Nelson and Montgomery both on the PUP list. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity lately and has had some good moments thus far in camp. Overall, reports suggest he’s gotten off to a slow start. The Saginaw Valley State product was only targeted 12 times last season, despite dressing in all 16 games. He’s still a developing talent, but will need to make strides to preserve a roster spot.
Janis’ roster hopes might have taken an enormous blow, as the third-year pro sustained a right hand fracture during practice and could miss significant time. A slow start to camp, plus an unfortunate injury, could mean Janis’ days are numbered.
Davis has been arguably the flashiest receiver during the offseason. He impressed with his speed and athleticism during minicamp and OTAs and has gotten off to a decent start to his first training camp. Davis’ speed is tantalizing, but his college production was lackluster. He caught 40 passes for 672 yards and two touchdowns during his only season as a starter with the Golden Bears. Some might have deemed his fifth-round selection as a reach.
Of course, it’s tough to gauge who will make the roster. Performances fluctuate on a day-to-day basis, which makes practice evaluation quite difficult. And again, the real evaluation doesn’t begin until the lights are on.
Yet for this receiver battle, the Packers will need every snap they can get to make the best decision possible.