2019 Season in Review - Wide Receivers
Another day, another position! In our third instalment of reviewing every player at every position, we turn our attentions to the wideouts. Who took a step forward, who took a step back and who earned the No.2 role opposite Davante in 2019?
Adams continues to be ranked in the upper echelon of wide receivers in the NFL – being held up in 2019 only by a turf toe injury that saw him miss 4 games around midseason (he started in the other 12 regular season games) and undoubtedly hindered him upon his return. Adams has a fantastic release off the line of scrimmage which gives him the ability to quickly beat bump and run man coverage and is a fine route runner, enabling him to gain separation quickly. Unfortunately for Adams, those 4 games that he missed cost the star wideout a second 1,000-yard season - instead he notched up the second 997 receiving yard season of his career. Those receiving yards came on a team high 83 receptions at 12.0 yards per catch and included 5 touchdowns.
On the negative side of the ledger, he had 2 fumbles and led the team in dropped passes with 7 (5.5%) as per Pro Football Reference. Adams played in 678 offensive snaps (62.9% of the team’s offensive total).
Disappointingly, Adams failed to make the original Pro Bowl roster but was later added when Atlanta’s Julio Jones dropped out. PFF ranked him as the 33rd best player (2nd highest placed Packer) in the NFL in 2019 regardless of position.
Adams continues to move up the Packers all-time career receiving lists:
Receptions – 431 – tied 8th in franchise history
Receiving Yards – 5,194 – 14th in franchise history
Receiving Touchdowns – 44 – 10th in franchise history
In his second year, Valdes-Scantling didn’t have the breakout season that many hoped (and some predicted he would) – indeed by midseason he seemed to have almost disappeared from the Packers game plan, being targeted just 15 times in an 8-game span. He finished the season having played in all 16 games (10 starts) with 26 receptions for 452 yards and 2 touchdowns. The long striding wide receiver did show himself to be somewhat of a deep threat however, with his catches coming at 17.4 yards per pop. He also had 2 carries for 9 yards. In total, he played in 542 offensive snaps (50.3% of the team’s total offensive snaps).
Valdes-Scantling is a very fine athlete with better than 4.4 speed and great size (6-4). In 2020, he’ll be in a stiff battle for playing time in what could be a make or break year for his career.
Allison played in all 16 games (starting in 6) but his year can be considered a little disappointing. Returning from his 2018 injury, it was hoped that he would have a bigger impact than he did. Allison had 34 catches for 287 yards at a very lowly 8.4 yards average per reception with 2 touchdowns. According to Pro Football Reference, Allison dropped 5 passes at a 9.1% rate and played in 638 offensive snaps (59.2% of the team’s offensive totals) – second most amongst Packers wideouts. He fumbled twice (with 1 fumble recovery) and had 1 rushing attempt for 7 yards. On the plus side, like several of his wide receiver colleagues, Allison showed himself to be a very fine blocker.
Allison enters 2020 as unrestricted free agent who may or may not be back with the Packers. It would be a surprise if another team paid him relatively high money to sign with them, so this increases his chances of a return to Green Bay. However, even if Allison is in camp with the Packers, he will have tough competition for roster spot.
Lazard was promoted from the Practice Squad (signed on 1st September) to the 53-man roster on 4th September (filling the spot that became available when TE Jace Sternberger was placed on Injured Reserve the previous day). He ended up playing in all 16 games (starting 3) and catching 35 passes for 477 yards (13.6 average) and 3 touchdowns. Lazard also carried 1 time for 21 yards on a jet sweep play. According to Pro Football Reference, Lazard played in 479 offensive snaps (44.4% of the team’s total) and dropped 3 passes. As a big wideout, with great athletic ability, the Packers were able to line Lazard up in numerous spots and to utilise his physicality in the running game as well as in his primary roles as a receiver. He also contributed on special teams – being in on 165 special teams plays (38.5% of the team’s total).
The Packers have tendered him as Exclusive Rights Free Agent and he is expected to be a strong challenger for one of the spots behind Adams on the roster in 2020.
Kumerow played in 14 games, starting 4. He caught 12 passes for 219 yards (18.3 average) and 1 touchdown. He played in 328 offensive snaps (30.4% of the team’s offensive snaps)1 and 140 special teams plays (32.6% of the team’s total). Kumerow is a solid pro who some believe is underutilised in the offense and his blocking in the run game and downfield can go unnoticed. He seems destined to spend his career on the edge of roster contention as a WR5 or WR6.
Kumerow has good hands and a quick burst. The Packers have tendered him as Exclusive Rights Free Agent so he will be again competing for a roster spot in 2020.
Shepherd was in a training camp battle for a roster spot and, perhaps surprisingly, made the final 53-man roster ahead of Allen Lazard. Shepherd remained on the roster until 29th October when he was released. The Packers then signed him to the Practice Squad 2 days later. In his time on the active roster, Shepherd played in 6 games (no starts) pre-dominantly as a kick and punt returner – returning 9 kick-offs for 147 yards (16.3 average) and 2 punt returns for -9 yards (-4.5-yard average). As a receiver, Shepherd had just 1 catch for 1 yard and he fumbled once. He played in 53 offensive plays (4.9% of the team’s offensive snap totals). Shepherd signed a futures contract with the Packers just after the season finished, meaning that he’ll be back in 2020 competing for a roster spot.
Sixth year receiver Grant was signed by the Packers on 16th October and remained on the Packers active roster for the remainder of the season but was named as a gameday inactive every week. He had played in games for the Raiders early in the 2019 season before being released. Previously in his NFL career he has had spells with the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.
Grant enters 2020 as an unrestricted free agent and given that we never saw him on the field for the Packers in 2019, it’s difficult to get an assessment as how the team feels about him – although they did keep him around for more than half the season. We may or may not see him back in camp to compete for a roster spot.
Equanimeous St. Brown
After a promising rookie season in 2018, hopes were high that 2nd year man St. Brown would continue his progression and have a good year. However, he suffered an ankle injury against the Raiders in pre-season and was subsequently placed on injured reserve at the cut-down to the 53-man roster (31st August), ruling him out for the season.
It is expected that St. Brown will back in 2020, adding competition at the wideout position. He brings size and wingspan with great catching range to the receiving corps.
In 2018, Hatcher spent a short time on the Packers Practice Squad before being signed by the Raiders. This year, the situation was somewhat reversed as he was released by the Raiders at the final cut-down and then later signed by the Packers (19th September) to their Practice Squad. The Packers released Hatcher on 31st October (making room for Darius Shepherd) without ever promoting him to the active roster. Hatcher signed to the Jets Practice Squad in December and later signed a futures contract with the New York team for 2020.
Taylor was signed to the Practice Squad on 1st September, having been waived at the final cut-down to the 53-man roster the previous day. He had originally been signed by the Packers during training camp (19th July), after having spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the spring. Taylor is a raw rookie, having played his college ball at a small school (Ferris State), whose chances of making the roster in 2020 would appear to be slim but the fact that the Packers kept him around on the Practice Squad means that they must see traits in him that they like.
Taylor signed a futures contract with the Packers just after the season finished, so we should expect to see him camp and pre-season challenging for a roster spot – albeit it will be a tough challenge for him to make it.
Begelton was signed on 6th January 2020 to a futures contract meaning that he should be part of the 90-man off-season roster and compete for a 2020 roster spot in camp. Begelton had previously played for years in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders. He was named a CFL All-Star in 2019 and also earned Most Outstanding Player honours for the Stampeders.
Eaton was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent on 3rd May but was released after a very short period (14th May). He later signed and was subsequently released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Moore was the Packers 4th round draft pick in 2018 but never made the expected impact catching just 2 balls in the 2018 season. It was hoped that he may take the leap forward in his second year, but it wasn’t to be and under stiff competition for the wide receiver roster spots, Moore was waived at the final cutdown to the 53-man roster on 31st August. He was signed by the Cleveland Browns to their Practice Squad in November and then given a futures contract with the Browns in December.
Redding spent time on the Packers Practice Squad in 2018 and was in camp with the team again in 2019, being released at the final cutdown to the 53-man roster on 31st August 2019. He was signed by the New York Guardians of the XFL in December.
Davis was signed by the Packers on 7th May (he’d previously been with the New York Giants) but was waived on 10th August. He later spent a short time in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and more recently was drafted by the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL. In January this year Davis decided to call it a day and announced his retirement.
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