Projecting Packers' Top Wideout

Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard
Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - For this May round of Four Downs, we will be looking at each team's biggest remaining need as well as notable undrafted free agents who will be going to camp with each franchise.

Chicago Bears

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Wide Receiver

The real answer for Chicago's biggest remaining hole is a "pick your poison" ordeal. The Bears have too many issues to solve, including offensive line, defensive line, and linebacker (outside of Roquan Smith, of course). Wide receiver is the most hindering issue right now, though. The team lost a slew of pass-catchers, most notably Allen Robinson, and did not do enough to replace them.

Incumbent Darnell Mooney is a solid player, but he is a WR3 on a good team. He should not be a WR1 the way he looks to be for Chicago right now. As far as vets go, the Bears only signed Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. Both are WR4 types who have moonlighted as WR3s from time to time, but never because their teams wanted to do that on purpose. Chances are they will be WR2 and WR3 in Chicago. The team also drafted Velus Jones Jr. out of Tennessee, but at least in Year 1, he is probably more of a gadget player and returner than a real-deal wideout.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

Chicago spent a good chunk of their UDFA resources on wide receivers and defense. Liberty's Kevin Shaa leads the pack at wide receiver. A smaller prospect at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, Shaa brings great speed and could become a decent field-stretcher down the line. On defense, Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn is Chicago's best get. Sanborn is a middling athlete (Wisconsin, duh), but he plays with good eyes, a quick trigger, and plenty of physicality between the tackles. The Bears also made one interesting pickup along the offensive line: Florida's Jean Delance. An incomplete player right now, Delance brings rare size at 6-foot-5 and 357 pounds, making him a solid free-agent swing.

Detroit Lions

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Secondary

Detroit's secondary is not completely hopeless. 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye has quietly been nice for the team, while safety Tracy Walker III has been a solid piece in the back end. However, neither of them are Pro Bowl-caliber players, and the rest of the unit is largely made up of volatile propositions. There is still a way to go for this unit.

For one, former first-round pick Jeff Okudah probably will never live up to his draft slot. He may recover and become a decent player, but it's hard to see how he goes from what we have seen so far to a legit No.1 cornerback. Likewise, the Lions signed another former first-rounder, Mike Hughes, who was fine in Kansas City last season, but has yet to string together a few weeks of consistently good play. Detroit tried to solve their other safety spot by signing DeShon Elliott from the Ravens and drafting Kerby Joseph (Illinois) in the third round. Perhaps the latter blossoms into a quality player, but neither of those additions are likely to make a meaningful impact in 2022.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

An overwhelming majority of Detroit's signings were on offense, which makes sense for a squad that has spent so many resources on defense as of late. Among the signings, tight end Derrick Deese Jr. (San Jose State) brings the most intrigue. Deese is a 6-foot-4, 247-pounder with good movement skills and a natural knack for finding the ball in the air, though he is raw as a route-runner right now. Appalachian State defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor is an interesting pickup as well. More of a 3-technique at 298 pounds, Taylor is an active, feisty player with enough strength and craftiness in his hands to make an impact on some level. TCU offensive tackle Obinna Eze is also worth keeping an eye on.

Green Bay Packers

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Pass-Catcher

The Packers have a decent amount of resources invested at wide receiver, but it still projects to be an incomplete unit in 2022. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb both return, but neither move the needle for any team. Free agent Sammy Watkins was a nice body to add for depth and rotational purposes, but he isn't changing the fate of the unit either. Moreover, 2021 third-round pick Amari Rogers hardly played at receiver last year and didn't play well as a punt returner, leaving his role in limbo. Green Bay did add two rookies—Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs—but Aaron Rodgers' history of getting production out of rookies is not particularly impressive, and Watson in particular likely does not project as much more than a Marquez Valdes-Scantling imitation in Year 1. It is an intriguing unit that is loaded in some sense of the word, but there is a lot left to be proven. While Rodgers can probably make it work anyway, it's a dangerous line to walk.

At tight end, Robert Tonyan is coming off a season-ending injury, is hardly being paid, and is set to get loose from his contract after 2022. Marcedes Lewis is one million years old, and 2020 third-rounder Joseph Deguara has yet to come alive. If Tonyan is healthy, the unit will get by the same as they have before, but it's easy to see how this room could get a complete makeover soon.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

The Packers running back room is loaded, but funny enough, that's where they may have added their best UDFA in Iowa's Tyler Goodson. Goodson is a little small at 5-foot-9 and 197 pounds, but he cleared the 75th percentile in the 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, and both jumping drills. He is a good, cheap bet on some third-down help. The Packers also took four swings along the offensive line, most notably Texas A&M's Jahmir Johnson. On the other side, Green Bay picked up another undersized guy in Penn State linebacker Ellis Brooks. Size and strength will limit him, but Brooks is a smart player with enough quickness and attitude to hang around and contribute down the line.

Minnesota Vikings

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Tight End

"Quarterback of the future" could fit here as well, but that doesn't inform any of the team's potential issues in 2022. This season, the Vikings' previously solid tight end room is now rather void. 2019 second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. returns as a sleek, "move" tight end type, but he did not clear 350 receiving yards in either of his first two seasons and then missed all of 2021 with a season-ending meniscus injury. Smith was never much of a blocker, either, which continues to be an odd fit with the style of offense a Kirk Cousins-led unit tends to gravitate towards. Behind Smith on the depth chart is Ben Ellefson, who could not stick around in a putrid Jaguars tight end room, and Johnny Mundt, formerly of the Rams, who followed new head coach Kevin O'Connell north in free agency. The team took a flier on South Carolina's Nick Muse in the seventh round this year, but nobody in their right mind is tricking themselves into that late of a pick contributing early, especially at a position that tends to require a transition period.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

The Vikings' UDFA class was a bit light compared to others. Still, they added a few intriguing pieces, starting with former Wake Forest edge Luiji Vilain. Vilain was a transfer from Michigan in 2021, but immediately produced nine sacks at Wake Forest before showing off a stellar 10-yard split (1.57s) and three-cone drill (7.01s) at his pro day. The Vikings also signed Appalachian State wide receiver Thomas Hennigan, a five-year contributor with toughness, some route-running chops, and decent hands. In addition to those guys, Minnesota brought in a pair of specialists: kicker Gabe Brkic (Oklahoma) and punter Ryan Wright (Tulane).

Portions of this article previously appeared on ESPN+.

Comments

38 comments, Last at 25 May 2022, 10:01am

2 Really?

“Sanborn is a middling athlete (Wisconsin, duh),”

JJ Watt, TJ Watt, Russell Wilson, Joe Thomas and Jonathan Taylor have entered the chat…and they ain’t happy.

3 It's funny

In reply to by Raiderfan

You dont even need to go outside his position in the same class! Leo Chenal is like a top 4 athlete all time at the position. 

4 None of them were…

In reply to by Raiderfan

None of them were linebackers. Maybe the comment was more narrowly defined?

5 Pass catchers?

Been coming to this site for a long time and am surprised at how an analytical driven analysis can land on pass catchers as the packers biggest weakness.

I am not arguing it is a strenght.  It isnt, but it isn't a wasteland that the clickbait people say it is either.

I am much more worried about oline right now.  An older all pro lt was injured in 2020, pushed his recovery and could not stay on the field after a year.  He may not be able to play again. Our second best oline player is not available to start the season.  Our MVP qb is getting older and while still relatively mobile has gotten major injuries in the past.  

While not excited about pass catchers im not super worried when you factor in Jones and dillion.

I want my MVP qb safe and able to do his thing and that starts with the oline.

Also as savage appears to be in decline if that continues safety is a concern after Amos.

Im 3rd most worried about pass catchers, and the way our team plays without adams the last few years should kinda show that as well.

6 You aren't completely off…

In reply to by Upnorth

You aren't completely off base but I think your concerns at offensive line are bigger than they need to be. It's very possible the Packers won't have a top 5 offensive line like they have the last couple of years (yes even last year will all the injuries it was still a top 5 line by multiple metrics) but the chances of it being below league average are pretty low. Safety I'm with you, that position worries me with Savage and no depth, but if the corners can do what we all hope that collection of players can do it does lessen that concern some. Another group that is thin that you didn't mention is edge rusher.

Part of this pointing to WR is that Green Bay has been a 13 win team for 3 years in a row. They are flawed, but they don't have any position group that is awful they shored up DL and MLB the last couple years two traditionally weak positions for them. So when you look a team that has gone 2, 1, 10, 10, 4 in passing DVOA in Rodgers last 5 healthy seasons (they were 20th in 2017) who is going to catch the ball for the back to back MVP jumps out. 

To go deeper on the offensive line
Bakhtiari is 30. So by good linemen standards probably only has 4 or 5 years left. His recovery went more like someone in the early 2000's. ACLs used to take a year or more to come back from. Now about 70% seems to only take 6-9 months but you still get some that take over a year. That seems to be what happened to Bakh. Medical knowledge of how to deal with the issues and set-backs he had is fairly solid keeping re-injury rates are low. Yes there is still a worry that he won't be back but I'm not hugely concerned about it.

Jenkins appears to be coming along at the recovery rates NFL fans have become more accustomed to. Bakh had hints of issues all along. None of that type of news seems to be leaking out around Jenkins.

Myers played fine at center when healthy and again no reason to assume he will be injured again.

Runyan is fine at guard. Newman had some rookie issues (especially with stunts) but got a lot of seasoning and off seasons tend to be where the Packers fix stuff like that. Nijman could turn out to be a very fine right tackle and is adequate (not good, but adequate) at left tackle. The chances that at least one of the rookies drafted (or picked up in FA), given the Packers history with offensive lineman, is a capable starter by the time the season starts are probably around 80%. So even if Bakh and Jenkins can't go a league average line should be very possible.

Finally this is not the McCarthy offense. LaFleur actually pays attention to what is happening in the game and will provide help to a lineman who is having issues, or change the play calls to make pressure less of an issue. That's part of the reason Rodgers career lowest sack rate was in 2020, his 3rd lowest was in 2021, and his 5th lowest was in 2019.

So offensive line is a concern, yes, but the team hasn't ignored it like pass catcher for multiple years. The team has constantly been bringing in new talent to improve or sustain the line and has a long history coaching players up and the knowledge is still with the organization.

Pass catchers
The article covers it pretty well. It's a unit with like 5 WR2/3 type guys. No one in that WR room is looked at like a WR1. Tonyan is still a one year wonder. He played enough last year that even if he hadn't gotten injured he could not have matched his 2020 without basically being perfect the rest of the season. Cobb is 31 and plays a style where his quickness matters so while he can still contribute. Expecting anything more than 30-40 receptions and 12 or so fully healthy games is a stretch. Lewis has been a blocker and a "caught ya with your pants down on defense" receiver for years now. He is not someone the defense generally has to worry about every down. Lazard can certainly have moments but last season was career highs in rec 40 and targets 60 and he's rarely had to deal with the top coverage of defenses. Sure the Packers, especially with Rodgers at QB, have a history of WR really taking off 2 or 3 years in, but this is going to be year 5 for Lazard. Him being what we think he is, seems pretty safe.

We all know about Rodgers and rookie pass catchers but to lay it out, and point out 1 brightish spot, here are the targets for rookies with Rodgers as a starter. I think I got all of them that had more than 10 targets, if I missed someone please let me know.

  1. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR (2018) - 73 targets; 38-581-2
  2. Davante Adams, WR (2014) -                    66 targets; 38-446-3
  3. Jordy Nelson, WR (2008) -                        54 targets; 33-366-2
  4. Eddie Lacy, RB (2013) -                               44 targets; 35-257-0
  5. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR (2018) -    36 targets; 21-328-0
  6. Andrew Quarless, TE (2010) -                  33 targets; 21-238-1
  7. Randall Cobb, WR (2011) -                         31 targets; 25-375-1
  8. Richard Rodgers, TE (2014) -                   30 targets; 20-225-2
  9. Ty Montgomery, WR-RB (2015) -            19 targets; 15-136-2
  10. Jermichael Finley, TE (2008) -                12 targets; 6-74-1

So the last time Rodgers had a WR room with so little carryover in 2018 he did throw the ball to a tall, speedy, somewhat raw rookie WR a lot in MVS. Of course he didn't catch a lot of those 73 passes, but the 38 receptions and 581 yards are still the most any rookie has had. That does give some hope for Watson. ESB also had his best year as a pro and came in as 5th most targets Rodgers has had for a rookie.

Can this offense still function with the top receiver having 40-60 catches for 500-800 yards? Sure. LaFleur has is from the Shannahan tree and using the running game and chewing a lot of clock and just trying to keep the chains moving with the occasional deep shot when it's there is part of the DNA of that offense. The team has gone I think 7-0 with Adams injured. But that is also defenses having 1 - 4 weeks of video and prep time for an offense without him. Now we've got a whole off season to think about it even if you still don't have a ton of video, but you'll get more of that and you can test your hypothesis about how to stop the offense as that video becomes available.

GB has been more successful on a drive by drive basis under LaFleur than their play by play would suggest (though I still haven't fully dug into that relationship like I want to). As I mentioned in the schedule announcement thread they should have an easy schedule and I would expect Jordan Love/Jones/Dillon could lead them to at least 7 wins, Rodgers and 6 guys with 30-60 catches and 300-800 yards should hit 10 easily and with any defensive or special teams improvement or the passing game being better than we think it will be, and 13 against this schedule becomes achievable again.

But pointing out pass catchers as the biggest weakness still feels valid. Outside injury the rest of the team should be fine and doing evaluations outside injury is valid. As I went into OL should be at least league average, same with safety and edge. Though an injury at safety or edge could be a major problem but still not as big a question or issue as who is going to catch passes.

WR looks like it's going to "take a village" and while that can work for winning football games it also makes fantasy football look bad and let's be honest 50-75% of all football writing these days is influenced by how it affects fantasy football even if that isn't the primary reason for the article. It's just gotten into the thought patterns of writers and fans and influences them even if they don't think it does. That is culture for you, it influences you even when you aren't aware, and fantasy football is very much a part of the NFL culture (even if I'm one of the few NFL fans that has never played and still doesn't follow it at all).

7 It's 💯 % pass catchers

Adding on, Bak was at least an all pro and knows the system, Sammy Watkins on the other hand...and Elgton was a full on pro bowler, Tonyan not quite the same (came back down to earth) and they'll be back around the same time I'm guessing. 

And the whole undeafted sample size with Davante thing is smaller than what Bak and even Elgton missed last year! Teams have a full offseason to plan against us sans Davante, as opposed to the random one offs that would come with like a week notice. And no other guy has eaten like Davante in quite a while. Expecting newcomers (3 rookies and Watkins) isn't probably the greatest.

Relying on RBs and their 8 ypr...not the greatest as well. Amos is good enough to hold down safeties (was the #1 graded S in 2020). Pass catchers are just big ???s highest returning guy is Lazard at <65% snaps last year. Yeah, Jones and Dillon are  susceptible to normal RB wear and tear.

9 The things that really bugs…

In reply to by Upnorth

The things that really bugs me about the Packers' pass catcher debate (aside from how low-hanging lazy it is) are that 

1) There is no such position as "WR1" and that seems to be what everyone keeps talking about. And

2) They are calling uncertainty a "weakness." 

To address the second part first, if the subject was "what is the biggest question mark," I can see responding "we don't know who will step up and be starting caliber receivers for Rodgers and MLF this year." But when addressing a team's biggest weakness, simply declaring a position of uncertainty doesn't work for me.

A weakness, to me, is something that needs to be addressed. The Packers' pass catchers have been addressed. They have kept Cobb (renegotiated) and Lazard (RFA) to ensure that Rodgers has people he trusts. They brought in Sammy Watkins who is slightly younger than Davante Adams and Odell Beckham, still has explosive speed (registered a ballcarrier speed over 21 mph with the Ravens last season), and is simply coming off of two injury-plagued seasons. Watkins has, in fact, performed comparably to Odell the past two seasons, and is not coming off of an ACL injury, and people treat Watkins like he's a washed up old man for some reason, and Odell like he could be a savior for some reason. Then they drafted three players--two of which with fairly ideal measurables.

The position has been addressed. They have purchased 2 or 3 lottery tickets and hope for one to cash in. That's not a weakness, it's a question of who steps up, not whether they have anyone who can. 

 

Addressing the first part--WR1--is easier. The Packers have players who can run, block, separate, and catch (not all of them can do all of it, obviously. But each of them can do 2 or 3 of those). They have players who play in the slot, on the boundary, or both. In short, they have players who can fill their role. Do they have a player who forces/can defeat double teams? No, they probably don't. That certainly helps, but it is not a requirement to an offense. They have a multitude of players who can fulfill the requirements of playing WR in this offense. There will be 2 or 3 on the field at any given time. And none of them have to be an elite #1. Only like 5 teams have an elite WR by the very nature of the definition of elite. The rest field a team, a corps, a group. We're like the rest now.

 

For some specific complaints, Cobb is specifically an obvious answer when people say "it's 3rd down, who does Rodgers look to?" That doesn't mean he's a number 1 or even a fulltime player, but he's a guy with over a decade of experience with Rodgers who has come through in the clutch for him dozens of times. But Lazard and Tonyan fit the bill here, as well. How quickly he develops trust with Watkins remains to be seen, but Watkins has played for the Packers' head coach with the Rams in 2017 and with the Packers' WR coach/passing game coordinator with the Bills. He knows the coaching, he knows the schemes, and the team knows the person. He has as good of a chance at succeeding in this offense as anyone.

Finally, it strikes me that the same people who might clamor for an Odell Beckham signing are the ones who say things like "they don't know what they have in Tonyan returning from an ACL injury," which is just a lazy way to write off one of Rodgers' favorite targets to build a case that he doesn't have any. Players have ACL injuries, and they return. Sometimes, like with Bakhtiari last year, there are setbacks and it doesn't work out. Most times, they player just continues playing football. If you think Beckham could help the team, then you can't discount the impact of Rodgers getting one of his favorite targets back on the field, likely by the end of September. 

 

If you want a real weakness on the Packers, ask what happens if a single player in the secondary is forced to miss time. They have 5 players with any experience at all and brought in no draft picks, no free agents, no anything. Secondary depth is a position, unlike pass catcher, which has not been addressed by the team (yet). And it would be absolutely bonkers to believe any team makes it through a season without a single injury in their secondary. All the Packers' well-laid schemes on defense could fall apart if suddenly Shemar Jean-Charles is trying to cover Justin Jefferson out of the slot, or Vernon Scott becomes our last line of defense at free safety. 

 

Sorry for the long post/rant

10 So it seems like semantics

because I don't really have a problem for outsiders to say "wow you're relying on a bunch of mediocre and/or new in the system, guys. That's kinda 'weak.'"

Maybe if they heavily invested into new players like Olave or Tyreek and then you could say pure "uncertainty of adjusting to a new team but  there's certainly talent there." But as is, it's legit weak. It was weak with Davante, now he's gone and their replacing him (and MVS and ESB) with a 2nd rounder (don't hit as quickly as 1st rounders), a 4th rounder and a 7th rounder/washing Watkins (he is, contract says it all with Baltimore, another WR thin group, letting him go for pennies). If Watson doesn't hit the ground running...you're relying on some scraps. That's just...a weak plan. We saw day 2 pick Amari struggle too so you can't say Lafleur has magic pixie dust that magical makes anyone great...right away. 

Regarding "WR1," how many top 32 WRs do the Pack have? I think it's a resounding, objective, 0. That's generally what people mean by WR1, not necessarily "elite" which is even more vague and obviously hard to obtain. 

And with Tonyan, well, outside of 2020, the former WR  has been pretty mediocre. Rodgers can like him but doesn't make Abbrederis, Max Mcaffery, Jake Kumerow, etc any good. That's more extreme but the point stands. Didn't exactly get the biggest contract ever signaling lots of interest/confidence (rightfully). 

On the secondary: Jaire, Douglass and Stokes is pretty fine. The, biggest thing in the secondary is if Savage can be consistent but at least he's not new to the team/system like Watson/Doubs/Toure/Watkins (he was WR3/PC4 in LA, same with BAL). They invested in Tariq Carpenter who's a pseudo SS, so it's not really an investment argument because throwing a few day 3 picks at OL doesn't make the Bears suddenly strong (opposite of weak) there. Shemar is going into his 2nd season (like Amari). Vernon Scott entering year 3 too. 

In all, there's no Jaire among the pass catchers. There's no Amos. There's no 1st round talent like Stokes or Savage. There's no mid tier signing like Rasul. They're throwing a few balls off the empire state building but that doesn't mean they'll make it into the hoop. 

11 The problem with comments…

The problem with comments like these--and most about the WRs--is that it assumes the basically worst-case outcomes for all the guys we do have, and then assumes good outcomes for the guys we don't. Claiming that having Olave is better than having a different rookie, at this stage, is just silly season. Justin Jefferson was the 5th WR taken his year. AJ Brown and Deebo Samuel were second rounders. Claiming that an early-round investment in one rookie is a better plan than an early-round investment in a different rookie is preseason uselessness, and poor analysis. 

 

But we don't need it to be Watson. Because we used a 4th round pick on a guy who is more productive and refined as a failsafe. And we signed Watkins. And we kept a couple holdovers. 

 

Calling Watkins washed/washing after 2 injury-plagued seasons is also lazy. As I said, he is no more washed than Odell Beckham. Over the past two seasons when both battled injuries, they both have 60-odd catches for 800-some yards. OBJ has more TDs, Watkins has been more efficient. Watkins is 6 months younger than OBJ. And he has been playing in schemes that have not asked him to be a primary receiver for a while now. Saying "the contract says it all" is also lazy. It's a "prove-it" year. Watkins' contract is no more a statement of his talent than DeVondre Campbell's contract was the previous year. 

The point of scouting is that you look for traits and capabilities that fit the scheme so that you can maximize a player's abilities. Campbell says he was better in GB this year because they asked him to just be a linebacker and nothing else. It's not like he suddenly became talented; it's that he suddenly was asked to do what he does best. Watkins, similarly, still has 4.4s speed, was PFF's 3rd-ranked blocking WR last season, has worked under Matt LeFleur and Jason Vrabel before, is considered tough and mature (now), has good hands, and is not a deficient route-runner. His TRAITS and scheme fit are perfect. The question is "can he stay healthy" not "can he play football."

 

So yeah, when you call the guys we have their worst-case "washed, slow, old, inexperienced, etc) it sounds like a sorry group. When you say things like "outside of 2020 Tonyan hasn't been great," like, ok... outside of his literal most recent healthy year, when he broke out with this QB and this coach and system, he hasn't had another stellar season. He happened to tear his ACL halfway through the next one. It's another worst-case comment and it holds no weight and no water. Tonyan is not a weakness. It's absurd to suggest that he is. 

But when you look at the traits they have in the room, it's an immensely TALENTED group of receivers. When you look at the numbers, you see that you only need one or two to pop better than anticipated by the masses for the unit to hold up. 

So I stand by it. Simply saying "they don't have a number one" is lazy. It discounts the numerous opportunities the team has given itself for a potential payoff; it ignores the traits and talent the unit has collectively. Describing every player in the room by their worst-case scenario is as unrealistic as if I said every guy in the room will turn out--but I haven't said that. I'm saying they got themselves enough players with enough talent and enough different ways of potentially panning out to give them a really REALLY good chance that one or two guys will likely be able to step up and fill the role. Maybe they'll have 3 guys with 700-900 yards instead of 1 guy with 1400 and 2 guys with 500. But that doesn't make them a worse team.

Further, and finally, when assessing a player group that a team has addressed in several ways in an offseason, saying that you don't like the moves they made is just saying "I'm smarter than that team's GM" and calling that analysis. The team picked a free agent they wanted to sign. They picked which WRs they wanted to keep from the team last year. They picked who they drafted--very clearly targeting Watson, especially. They have the WR corps they chose to build. They made several moves to get there. If you're smarter than Brian Gutenkunst, so be it. But given the recent track record of this team, that seems like a risky bet on yourself (not any specific yourself; the general punditry and fanbase yourself). That's why I look more at positions where nothing has been done as problems. Those are areas that STILL need to be addressed. It doesn't require me thinking that I know better than the GM. It simply requires me looking at a roster and saying "where are there starter or depth issues that have not yet been fixed by the team as they see fit?" Secondary depth is the obvious answer. And your (specific you this time) reply about the secondary very very clearly misses the part about depth and injuries by speaking about only the starters. 

13 I mean it's not even really the worst outcome

How good do you think the 34th (7th WR taken), 132nd (19th) and 258th (28th) picks and a guy that was signed for <$2m, are going be right away? I mean, they just aren't likely to be Jamarr (5th, 1st taken) or even Jefferson (22nd, 5th taken) right away. Which is why I mentioned 10th overall pick Olave (3rd WR taken). Draft capital is a signal, even with Deebo (didn't break out until year 3 anyway) and AJ Brown. Because you're forgetting the like of Mims, Pittman (exactly 34th in 2020), etc. 

And you think Doubs is essentially guaranteed to hit? The 4th rounder? And a guy that has only had one 1k season (back in 2015!) despite having MVPs like Mahomes and Lamar throwing him the ball? The guy that hasn't played a full season since his rookie year?

Oh no not "fit the scheme" bleh. And overly concerned with blocking, bleh (ignore keeping MVS so long despite being legit the WORST at it). This is SO weird after watching Lafleurs mentor take OBJ and win a SB. Bleh bleh. 

Yeah I think you just got some mighty expectations. "Only" need one or two be better than expected...uh...yeah...lol that might be a sign of the opposite of strength. 

There's some comparisons to MVS, Watson has and he had 581 yards his rookie year while playing every game. That's not worst case but this whole argument seems to be boiling down to my least favorite fallacy. The secondary is good! Of course going to depth (forgetting the ones I mentioned) hurts anyone at any position! But the WRs dont really have good starters! Let alone depth!

16 Allow me to make a much more…

Allow me to make a much more brief point than my previous ones.

 

People seem to be wondering what this might look like, this mythical offense without a #1.

So I'll send anyone who has any interest in actual analysis out to do some homework.

Look at the 2017 Rams, the 2019 49ers, and the 2019 Packers. None are perfect analogues, obviously. The 2019 49ers had an elite TE, the Packers don't. The 2017 Rams relied heavily on Todd Gurley, while the Packers would split that load. The 2019 Packers had Adams for 12 games--though at that point he had never posted a 1,000 yard season. None of these teams had a wide receiver top 1,000 yards. Only one had any player (Kittle) top 1,000 yards. Two relied on Day 2 rookies and one relied on Day 3 second-year players. 

 - The 2017 Rams traded for Sammy Watkins and drafted Cooper Kupp in the 3rd. They got zero 1,000-yard receivers that season, but 3 in the 800s (including Gurley). MLF was the offensive coordinator. The offense was top 10.

 - The 2019 49ers got massive production from Kittle, but their top WR contribution was Deebo as a rookie, hitting 800 yards (tough standards to say he didn't break out until year 3). They heavily featured TEs in the passing game and spread the ball among remaining role playing receivers. The offense finished top 5. 

 - The 2019 Packers had 997 yards from Adams and had 4 players between 447 and 497 yards receiving, including a RB, a TE, and two 2nd-year WRs--MVS and Lazard--who are significantly more raw (draft status is an indicator, remember), than either of the top 2 WRs the Packers drafted this year.

 

The point is not that my expectations are sky high. The point is that Watkins, Watson, Lazard, Cobb, Doubs (no guarantee, he's just another option), Amari, Toure., etc... and Tonyan, Deguara, and Lewis.... there is ample precedent IN THIS SCHEME with some of the same coaches and players to having a successful offense. They don't need to hit on everyone. They need a couple guys to hit, and they need to put guys in position to win and highlight their strengths. 

What YOU'RE saying is that no one is likely to be an elite WR for the team this year. I AGREE. What I'M saying is that they don't NEED an elite WR (remember WR1 is not a position). They simply need capable players (which they have) to do their jobs and highlight their strengths--and the coaches and schemes that this team has have a history of making that work. 

17 They don't need it but they need CB5 or S5?

WR1 is a starter. And there's a lot of projection (literally 3 are non 1st rookies, they dont have the talent of Olave, etc). Not so much for the starting secondary.

It is an intriguing unit that is loaded in some sense of the word, but there is a lot left to be proven. While Rodgers can probably make it work anyway, it's a dangerous line to walk.

Idk how that's controversial. Everyone could use depth everywhere but the WRs are literally ???? and that's the opposite of a strength. No one said it couldn't work but it IS a dangerous line to walk no matter the amount of magic scheme dust (that didn't help Amari Y1 or ESB...any year).

The 49ers plummeted when Kittle went down the next year for half the year (about what Tonyan will miss, which is of course WAAAAAY different levels). 2nd year Deebo played even less so if Amari goes down, yeah that's a lot of new to the team they're relying on. I that's think that's perfectly fine to criticize from a 10000 foot view. They aren't idiots. Yeah they'll likely be top 9 but that's mostly due to having the back to back MVP. But like the last few years, there may be a limit to it in the playoffs, even with your examples. The Rams won it all when vet Kupp won OPOTY, swapped Woods for OBJ at just the right time, an experienced VJJ. Rookie 2nd round Tutu didn't do anything! Of course Watson will produce more because he HAS to. They're relying on him to. 

18 Dupe

Overall: it could work. But being concerned more about backups in the secondary over pass catcher starters (WR & TE) seems contrian for contrivance sake. 

20 I get what you're saying,…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I get what you're saying, but this is about what NEEDS remain on the team. That to me is asking where the team should take action. 

You're insisting that the team's NUMEROUS actions at WR are basically all bad. You're also assuming there's anyone on the street who could change the conversation around a "#1WR."

And again, you say #1WR is a starter, and I say #1WR is a mythical concept that doesn't exist. There will be 2 or 3 WRs on the field and they will have roles and formation-monikers like the X- or Z-receiver. There is no rule that being a good offense means you need an elite receiver, and I gave you multiple teams with specific years in the same scheme to justify that contention, and you returned by talking about what happened to those teams in later years. 

 

If you're looking for what the team still needs, after the draft and free agency--what moves they may make, and what moves could ensure their success... I think that the marginal difference between putting, say, Julio Jones on the team and sliding a couple other guys down is far far less than the marginal difference between having Shemar Jean-Charles play a significant role on defense instead of, say, Chris Harris Jr or Fuller. When I speak of depth issues, it's because there is an entire unit--a crucial unit--in which a single injury drops you all the way from a high-caliber player (a Stokes, Savage, Amos, Douglas, or Jaire)  on the field to a guy who might not belong in the NFL at all (a Vernon Scott or a Jean-Charles). What needs still remain? Well, we could sign an 8th WR to the roster who is probably older and/or more injured than any of the guys we have. Or we could use those resources to address an absolute cliff of talent behind our starters on a crucial unit. 

21 You have to be realistic on the chances

If they have the chance to sign a champ like OBJ, day 2 and 3 WRs shouldn't stop them. 

"#1WR is a mythical concept" despite my attempts to explain it, but you think X and Z are hard and fast positions without flexibility? And I gave you the explanation of how the 49ers fell off after a Kittle and Deebo injury the very next year. And how the Rams were able to be BETTER later and how their rookie WRs drafted in similar spots didn't contribute right away (but Tutu might this year! And they still invested big in Robinson, unlike us).

CB4 played <29% of the snaps last year despite CB1 missing most. King missing some. Rasul not joining til halfway. S3(not 4) played <24%! WR4 played >33%. Shemar can't back up Jaire, Douglas, Stokes but Amari is going to Lazard, Watkins, Watson? You feel safer with the former 4 than the latter? And you don't think losing a WR is anything? You can address depth, again, but relying on the current starters at WR (AND depth)...is dangerous! If they can swing Lazard and a 3rd for McLaurin, they absolutely should!

22 I have no issue with the…

I have no issue with the team adding OBJ, specifically, because he's not going to cost a roster spot until week 7 at the earliest (probably later, like week 10), and by then someone else will likely be injured and there is no opportunity cost. OBJ could help the team. Calling him "a champ" because he joined and contributed late in the season to one Super Bowl winner after a full career of winning absolutely nothing is a bit of a stretch for me, but yes, sure. OBJ would be a decent addition for the right price. 

I still argue that the marginal difference between OBJ coming off of an ACL and Sammy Watkins, if healthy, isn't likely to be as big as you think. AND OBJ is literally the only guy who moves the needle--like at all. Julio Jones doesn't move it (older, just as injured), Will Fuller definitely doesn't. No one else is particularly close. There's one guy. I'd have no issues adding OBJ. But they don't necessarily NEED him. 

I see that you pointed out CB4 and S3separately, not cumulatively. I'd also point out that 29% of the snaps is easily enough to drastically alter the course of multiple games if the dropoff in talent is severe enough. But 29% plus 24% (with some likely overlap) is a lot of snaps to fall off from a solid NFL starter to guys who were drafted no higher than the 5th round and haven't seen the field in their early careers. Having a savvy veteran who can play CB and Safety would significantly improve the team's chances to stay in games in the event of inevitable injury. 

 

I guess my main point is that the Packers have VASTLY reduced the "danger" of their "line to walk" by giving themselves so many different opportunities to see something pan out well. If you have 3 guys who are proven mediocre and 1 guy who is an intriguing question mark, that's dangerous. If you have 2 guys who are proven mediocre and 4 intriguing question marks, you're probably going to be ok. I'd much rather count on any 2 of the following things than have any one top-10 draft pick at WR:

 - Sammy Watkins stays healthy for ~14 games and puts together a solid 60-750-6 stat line

 - Allen Lazard continues to gradually improve and steps into a bigger pass catching role and puts together a career-high 60-700-8 stat line (compared to 40-513-8 this year as the 3rd WR option)

 - Christian Watson lands on the rookie production spectrum somewhere in the MVS (5th round 38-581), Cooper Kupp (3rd, 62-869, MLF OC), Deebo Samuel (2nd, 57-802) rather than to the Jordy Nelson (2nd, 33-366) Davante Adams (38-446) or worse.

 - Romeo Dubbs (4th) lands on the rookie production spectrum somewhere in the MVS (5th round 38-581), Cooper Kupp (3rd, 62-869, MLF OC), Deebo Samuel (2nd, 57-802) rather than to the Jordy Nelson (2nd, 33-366) Davante Adams (38-446) or worse.

 - Randall Cobb stays healthy enough to look more like 2019 Cobb (55-828) than 2021 Cobb (28-375).

 - Amari Rodgers' year 2 jump looks more like Randall Cobb's year 2 jump (from 25-375 to 80-974) than, I dunno, Andy Isabella's washout.

You get the idea. Six opportunities for players to improve and help out the team. If two happen, the unit plus Rodgers put together a solid passing season AND have one of the best RB tandems in the league. None of these anticipate anything unprecedented. None of these anticipate any record-breakers or phenoms. None of these rely on "scheme magic."

What's more likely, honestly? That two+ of these six things happen? Or that <1 of them happens? Seems to me like a good bet that things work out just fine. Personally, I anticipate headed to the sportsbook and betting some "over" on various Packer passing game outputs.

23 He's a literal champ

So you wouldn't trade Lazard and a 3rd for Terry McLaurin because of blocking?

And yeah they're separated because they're different positions that suffered different injuries? And they not everything is a static amount of DBs. Seems quite clear they're going to play more base this year with investments in Devondre and Quay (and Jarran and Devonte) so that means less DBs.

I'm not sure why you're so confident in the system when the system when a day 2 pick in Amari was a non factor (rookie Cobb went to a more stacked WR room and got more RECEPTIONS than rookie Amari got TARGETS). And youre just assuming Watson will too? OK round higher but you think a (later!) Mid round pick in Doubs will hit the ground running? Mcvay couldn't even get a guy with the same round capital as Watson to get going last year. Sam with Shanahan and Deebo.

The thing is theyll produce more because they HAVE to. They will be given the targets because there's no else. There's no Kittle. There's no Kupp. But does that mean they'll grade out as a top 32? Not exactly. 

Again, just because the Bears threw a few day 3 picks at OL doesn't mean it's still NOT a weakness for em, until proven otherwise.

24 You're addressing your own…

You're addressing your own biases not my arguments.

I have mentioned blocking maybe twice. Once as a list of things about Sammy Watkins--PFF did, in fact, rank him high. I was listing all of his traits, and simply included that in the list. And second as one skillset upon which one can evaluate players at the position--again as a list of traits a receiver may or may not have. I have not over-stated it; I have not placed it atop any priority lists. I have simply included it as a thing that WRs do, particularly our WRs.

 

I also don't understand what you're talking about when you keep bringing up Amari Rodgers in regards to the mention of the system or scheme. When I say we are looking for a scheme or system fit, I am saying that we brought in a free agent who specifically has played in this scheme under this coach. I am not saying the scheme and system makes anyone good. 

When I point out that this scheme does not necessarily require an elite #1 WR, I am pointing out that both the more WR and pass-focused McVey version and the more TE and running-game focused Shanahan version have fielded top 10 offenses without any WRs playing an elite role--under 900 yards, in fact. I'm not saying the scheme and system makes anyone great. I'm saying it does not require someone to be great. 

You seem to have a bunch of pre-conceived notions in your head about what this argument is and are assigning them to me, without regard to anything I have said.

I also have zero idea what your obsession with Tutu Atwell is. He was a return man. He's got a number of measurable deficiencies. The fact that he didn't play well as a rookie WR isn't indicative of anything. If you asked me to project a big year from a 155 pound rookie at any position int he NFL with any coach in any scheme, I'd say "but that's never happened before!"

 

Further, you keep saying that Deebo and Kupp, for instance, didn't emerge as rookies. They each had 800 yards! As rookies! Those are really good rookie years and are more than I have anticipated from any Green Bay rookie this year. You also say these rookies will prodce because they have to, because there aren't any barriers to their success--no Kupp or Deebo, for instance. But I am referencing Kupp and Deebo AS ROOKIES. They, too, did not have barriers to success. They each were slotted into starting roles (McVey's system features three starting WRs). So yes, Christian Watson and/or Romeo Doubs have a pretty easy path to stats. But it doesn't matter if it comes from them or not. Out of the 6 players--Watkins, Lazard, Cobb, Watson, Doubs, and Amari Rodgers, the Packers probably need two guys to get around 700-800 yards and another in the 500-600 range. It doesn't matter which three guys that is.

Again, I specifically laid out multiple hypothetical scenarios. One in the post above with 6 different options. One in a post below with a team-wide hypothetical. I think that the Packers are unlikely to have a single 1,000-yard WR this year. My argument is that THAT DOESN'T MATTER as long as they get multiple contributors in the 50-60 catch, 700-900-yard range.

My whole point about the system is that there are multiple ways to skin a cat, so to speak. The Packers cannot and should not expect to have a player come in and replicate Davante Adams' role. They should and do expect players to come in and play to their strengths and capabilities. So I listed the vast array of sizes, shapes, speeds, and types of players they have at the position. They have a couple vets who can fill a role and who Rodgers trusts (Tonyan, Cobb, Lazard). They have a bargain free agent who the team's coaches know personally, and who has experience in the scheme, who is still young for the position (will be 29), and has had varying degrees of success both as a role player (recently) and a top target (early-career) throughout his 8 or 9 years in the league. They have 2 rookies and one second-year player all drafted early enough to anticipate that at least one of them will fill some sort of deep threat/gadget role. 

They have deep speed, some separation guys, some zone beaters, some vets, some youth. As the article stated "in a way, it's loaded." The risks they are taking are vastly mitigated by the numbers they have at the position and the high floor of several of the role players. The odds that no one works out--that not a single player improves or exceeds expectations--are as low (in my view lower) than the odds that a couple of them do work out or step up. That's the wisdom of taking multiple swings at addressing a position rather than putting your eggs in one basket. That's why they drafted 3 guys, not 1. That's why they signed a cheap enough free agent to retain Lazard and Cobb, as well. That's why they kept Tonyan around instead of waiting for him to heal to review his contract situation. 

 

Now, your scenario--absolutely I would not trade Lazard and a 3rd for McLauren because McLauren will want to be paid more than $20 million a year that we don't have right now. (And also because the Commanders would never, in a million years, make that deal; but even if they would...) We had that money to offer to Davante, but when he passed and asked to be moved instead, that ship sailed; we spent it elsewhere. It's not because of blocking but because of the allocation of resources. This type of lazy hypothetical without understanding the costs and consequences is exactly why I'm arguing so vehemently. It's the type of analysis a fan on the street could/does make, not the type you expect from any sort of through review of the actual circumstances. You see a name and you gravitate toward it. You're clamoring for something proven instead of something projected. Proven resources cost more and often don't pay off nearly as well as the evidence would suggest.

25 It's common practice when hyping Lazard

(Even though no one outside of GB cares about him). But you avoiding the question seemed like you'd say no which only leads to the conclusion further. And that's confirmed, even if under the guise of "da cap!" which is...yikes. Davante was asking for MORE and didn't want to be here. Not the same. Trying to go cheap is what led to Davante being the only one separating on his own and biting us in the playoffs. We'll I guess Davante wasn't the cheapest but...here we are in 2022 watching the WR OPOTY win the SB MVP and we continue to deny their value.

Same reasoning with a Cobb jump for Amari who just wasn't at his baseline. And Watkins playing in Mcvays (not near 100% lafluers) offense 5 (!) years ago. 

It's loaded in the since they have a bunch of low cost options. But, again, those day 3 OL does...not make the Bears OL "strong." Similar applies here. Yes someone will step up but that doesn't mean it'll be enough for a team that extended an old QB and should aiming a little higher than they've gotten recently! Or...I guess I HAVE to ask this: is the Bears OL strong for letting Daniels going and drafting, iirc, 4 OL this year and a couple (one in the 2nd!) last year?

But it seems like you're relying on short term outliers that had a stud  (which we don't! Which is the point!) that was on the team for a bit before popping off (the options for that are Lazard, Cobb, or Amari and the chances...ain't great!)

The author here isn't an idiot and those saying the WRs and TEs being weak aren't really wrong. Literally everyone knows costs and consequences. It's not that hard to understand that they don't value the position. We're just saying, "hey that's probably not great!"

26 I have given up on you…

I have given up on you having the reading comprehension or the basic understanding of probabilistic outcomes that is necessary to have an informed discussion.

 

I'll just summarize my points as briefly as possible and walk away after this.

  • The Packers chose Sammy Watkins out of a list of available WRs because the current head coach and the current WR coach/passing game coordinator have each worked personally with him, they have a far better understanding of his capabilities than the media and the fans do
  • The Packers traded picks 53 and 59 for Christian Watson this year because he is the player they targeted at the position (at least once the first 4 guys were gone; they could have moved for Dotson or Burkes if they wanted to).
  • The Packers decided to renegotiate Cobb's contract to keep him rather than release him and they tendered Allen Lazard at a 2nd-round compensation level. They chose who stayed.
  • The Packers traded a pick last year to move up and take Amari Rodgers in the 3rd despite his not fitting their traditional athletic and size characteristics. He was a washout as a rookie. He was mentally overwhelmed to the point that you could see him thinking, appearing to move at half speed. He may never pan out. He may not.
  • The Packers took a productive deep threat WR in the 4th round this year, who had two 1,000-yard seasons in college.
  • The Packers granted Davante Adams his desire for a trade despite having offered him more money than he received with the Raiders--they value that player and the position highly; it just didn't work out.

In short, the Packers hand-picked this WR corps. They have given themselves 6 or so different spectrums of possible outcomes. Some spectrums of possible outcomes are wide, some are narrow. Some are higher-ceiling, some are higher floor. When you have 6 spectrums of outcomes available to you, the odds are strong that some of those will have more positive results and some will have more negative results. 

People in the media and fan ecosystem are focusing a LOT of their attention on two things:

  1. The Packers are unlikely to have a true Davante Adams-like #1 WR this year on their team; they are unlikely to have an 1,100 yard WR, let alone a 1,400 yard WR.
  2. The bottom range of possible outcomes for each player selected--the floor, so to speak, of the WR room. The downside scenario.

I have spent more time than is worth it (because I am quarantined and bored) explaining and showing evidence for two things:

  1. Numerous NFL teams find significant offensive success without having to rely on an elite WR at all--no pass catchers over 1,000 yards is not a death knell. I have specifically pointed out that such things have happened within the very similar schemes that the Packers run, and once even happened with the Packers head coach on the staff.
  2. It is far more likely, when you have 6 possible ranges of outcomes, that SOME will turn out toward the top end of the spectrum and some toward the bottom, and that the average of those spectrums of outcomes will be closer to the middle than to the bottom.

That's it. That's the entire argument. This isn't some position where the team hasn't made any moves. It's not an area that they simply haven't had the resources or wherewithal to address. My takeaway here is that you, most fans, the media narrative-builders... they think the Packers are stupid. It's not that the Packers have ignored the position everyone is looking at--quite the contrary. The fans and media simply don't think they drafted the right WRs. They don't think they signed the right WR. They don't think they kept the right WRs. The media and fans think they know WRs better than the Packers; that they know team building better than the Packers; that they know the specific players the Packers signed, scouted, and retained better than the Packers. 

So you keep telling me that the media guys who wrote this and the fans who agree aren't stupid. I simply am saying I'd bet that the actual insiders doing this job and continuously performing at a high level are less likely to be stupid than the media and fans who keep contradicting their work. 

27 Oh yay more condescending attitude

  • The Packers chose Sammy Watkins out of a list of available WRs because the current head coach and the current WR coach/passing game coordinator have each worked personally with him, they have a far better understanding of his capabilities than the media and the fans do

Yeah we know that. That doesn't mean he's actually good. He was the 68th/115 graded WRs last year. That is WR3 level. Just like it was in targets last year for Baltimore AND when he was with Lafleur. But you dive deeper into appealing to authority (IDK if I've seen you here before but I think it's quiet clear your bias comes from being a fan of the team). The team doesn't have sole ownership of his game tape. His play is not hidden to us. 

  • The Packers traded picks 53 and 59 for Christian Watson this year because he is the player they targeted at the position (at least once the first 4 guys were gone; they could have moved for Dotson or Burkes if they wanted to).

No...way. Thanks for repeating what we already know. That doesn't matter as (I've already linked it) being passed up 33 times is not a good signal to contributing right away. He's their guy but that doesn't mean he's Julio right away. 

  • The Packers decided to renegotiate Cobb's contract to keep him rather than release him and they tendered Allen Lazard at a 2nd-round compensation level. They chose who stayed.

No...way...again. We know that. A peace offering to appease Rodgers that Cobb thankfully accepts. Lazard was tendered at the 2nd not 1st round compensation. Hmmm. Now he still hasn't signed it and the team isn't giving into his demands for a better contract (rightfully!) and next month it'll be reduced if he doesn't sign it. Hopefully they don't cave to him.

  • The Packers traded a pick last year to move up and take Amari Rodgers in the 3rd despite his not fitting their traditional athletic and size characteristics. He was a washout as a rookie. He was mentally overwhelmed to the point that you could see him thinking, appearing to move at half speed. He may never pan out. He may not.

No...well you and I already know how this goes. But yes! He was rough last year and expecting a Cobb jump instead of Isabella one is...kinda silly for the reasons I already mentioned. Instead of reiterating it verbatim I'll just mention that Cobb almost QUADRUPLED his APYd in their rookie years.  

  • The Packers took a productive deep threat WR in the 4th round this year, who had two 1,000-yard seasons in college.

Ok...what part are you still not understanding about probabilities? But yeah I'm the one not understanding "probabilistic outcomes"

  • The Packers granted Davante Adams his desire for a trade despite having offered him more money than he received with the Raiders--they value that player and the position highly; it just didn't work out.

After burning a bridge they leak they offered him more with no mention of the actual structure of the contract. I wonder why. Oh well.

"In short, the Packers hand-picked this WR corps. They have given themselves 6 or so different spectrums of possible outcomes. Some spectrums of possible outcomes are wide, some are narrow. Some are higher-ceiling, some are higher floor. When you have 6 spectrums of outcomes available to you, the odds are strong that some of those will have more positive results and some will have more negative results. "

L i t e r a l l y every team does this. Literally. That does not make a unit "strong." Bears fans are convincing themselves the same exact thing. "Cheap ESB and Pringle are great! Our day 2 pick will be awesome! Our young WR is gonna continue to progress!"

  1. The Packers are unlikely to have a true Davante Adams-like #1 WR this year on their team; they are unlikely to have an 1,100 yard WR, let alone a 1,400 yard WR.

BECAUSE they aren't proven to be good. NOT because they'll cannibalize themselves like a team like Dallas last year did, because they were GOOD. And they had much CERTAINY of that because they were GOOD right before that year, along with other signals like draft capital and compensation. 

  1. The bottom range of possible outcomes for each player selected--the floor, so to speak, of the WR room. The downside scenario.

Yes! Because of...the probability!! 2nd rounders don't hit right away. We literally saw it with Jordy, Jennings, Davante etc. in GB alone! 4th rounds aren't great! We've literally already seen Gute pick JMon in the 4th. 

  1. Numerous NFL teams find significant offensive success without having to rely on an elite WR at all--no pass catchers over 1,000 yards is not a death knell. I have specifically pointed out that such things have happened within the very similar schemes that the Packers run, and once even happened with the Packers head coach on the staff.

You showed three. In which there were counters anyway. No one is saying EXACTLY 1k yards because that is also partly due to volume. Not that anyone should afraid of such distribution after Kupp hogged everything (partly because the coach let the QB do his thing btw). 

  1. It is far more likely, when you have 6 possible ranges of outcomes, that SOME will turn out toward the top end of the spectrum and some toward the bottom, and that the average of those spectrums of outcomes will be closer to the middle than to the bottom.

Again...literally every team does this. That does not mean they're all equal. A team spending $12m on 12 guys  (Baltimore! Hmm I wonder if they're WRs are great) is not equal to spending $40m on 10 (the defending champs! Lafleurs mentor!). Which one is more of need in your opinion? The team with the OPOTY, VJJ and Allen Robinson or the team with Rashod Bateman and...Tylan Wallace. Baltimore gave themselves more options! Hmm maybe 12 1% chance to hit stabs is equal to 10 10% chance stabs. 

The fans and media simply don't think they drafted the right WRs. They don't think they signed the right WR. They don't think they kept the right WRs. 

It's almost like opportunity cost is really! Wow! Disagreement! 

The media and fans think they know WRs better than the Packers; that they know team building better than the Packers; that they know the specific players the Packers signed, scouted, and retained better than the Packers. 

Oh great that blasted fallacy. You know what, we're idiots! There, I admit it. We can ever know as much as NFL teams. That's why we can NEVER question BOB when he traded Nuk. He KNEW he'd be suspended. We can't provide ANY value with our 10,000 foot view that isn't concerned with job security. We CONSTANTLY contradict ourselves by saying the Packers need to draft a WR every year. Meanwhile the team keeps proving us wrong with all their SB wins...ok that's too high of a bar, I mean SB appearances. NEVER question a team that keeps resigning a multi time MVP QB. NEVER question a team that trades up for a mediocre prospect at a position that never rotates with their incumbent locked up for 4 more years with no real way out for at least half of it. NEVER question em.

What a fun discussion. All hail the savior Gute and his hidden treasure trove of Christian Watson drops that no one else can see. 

28 UGH. It's not a deference to…

UGH.

It's not a deference to authority fallacy. It's a deference to a specific authority with a proven track record of success. It's reliance on specific guys who have insider information that not every team has--you mentioned that all teams have game tape, but not all teams have a multiple coaches who have coached a specific player and have insights into that player's personality, fit, and capabilities. 

And again, you look at each individual probability, rather than looking at a collective group of multiple probabilities. As I stated, you clearly don't understand the impact that has. I have stated again and again that when you have 6 rolls of the dice, the odds are good that you'll roll a couple 5s or 6s even if the the individual odds of rolling a 5 or 6 are only 1:3 for each die. You keep citing individual examples and thinking you've made your point that something is unlikely. I know it's unlikely! But out of 6 unlikely things, you're going to see some unlikely results. That's my point.  

You also refuse to acknowledge the differences in what I call as success. When I mention, say, a 4th round pick, and you throw out the word probability and tell me it's a pipe dream and name drop J'Mon Moore. But when I talk about what I actually expect from a positive outcome for Doubs, I reference MVS--a 5th round pick used as a deep threat who had 500 yards as a rookie--that was my positive assessment. And you treat the claim like it's an act of insanity. Even though I have not said it NEEDS to happen for the team to be successful. It's just ONE positive outcome that MIGHT occur which could give the Packers a successful passing attack. You, yourself, even claimed you imagine the Packers would be a "top 9 offense," so I'm not even sure what the issue is. If the offense is looking likely to be a top 10 unit, I'm not sure that pass catcher makes a lot of sense as their biggest need.

 

And yes, I stated things that we already know because I am stating things that are not in dispute to make it clear that we disagree on the ability to interpret readily-available information, not the ability to have insider information. Neither of us have that. 

 

And you're right; we HAVE been saying they should draft a WR every year. We've been right. They neglected the position too long and didn't set themselves up for a failsafe in the event of Adams moving on. In previous years, when a need was not addressed, I agreed that it remained a need! That's why when I look to remaining needs, I focus on areas the team did... not address. Now, the Packers did, in fact, draft a WR early. Then another in the mid-rounds. Then another late. And they signed one. They... addressed... the need. You just think you could have addressed it better. Because you think you're smarter. Which is evident based on your sarcastic comments about Gutey.

You can laugh at Gutenkunst all you like with a lack of Super Bowls. He's been a GM for four years and the team has won 13 games 3 times and been in 2 NFC Championship games. In 2020 they led the NFL in Pro Bowl players. You can give the credit to Rodgers, but Rodgers has literally never won so many games in any stretch of his career. Excuse me for ignoring your incessant commentary about the first-year Bears GM and their Day 3 OL picks. I don't defer to just any authority. I defer to ones with a track record of success and personal connections to the players they select. 

29 Oh much better

It's not a deference to authority fallacy. It's a deference to a specific authority with a proven track record of success.

Cole Strange was a great pick! NKeal Harry? AMAZING. All that great specific insider knowledge like...NKeal great guy! That...DKs medicals weren't that he could miss more than NKeal?  

"They have a proven track record...after 4 years! But wait you can't bring up the JMon miss!!! Or the Amari miss! It's only been 4 years!!!" LOL

And again, you look at each individual probability, rather than looking at a collective group of multiple probabilities. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE HIT RATE OF 4TH ROUNDERS IS!?

As I stated, you clearly don't understand the impact that has. I have stated again and again that when you have 6 rolls of the dice, the odds are good that you'll roll a couple 5s or 6s even if the the individual odds of rolling a 5 or 6 are only 1:3 for each die. You keep citing individual examples and thinking you've made your point that something is unlikely. I know it's unlikely! But out of 6 unlikely things, you're going to see some unlikely results. That's my point.  

It's like you completely ignored the actually probability examples I gave of the Rams and Ravens! Surprise surprise! Weird how you wouldn't answer which has a better chance! Should be easy with the Ravens rostering more!

You also refuse to acknowledge the differences in what I call as success. When I mention, say, a 4th round pick, and you throw out the word probability and tell me it's a pipe dream and name drop J'Mon Moore. But when I talk about what I actually expect from a positive outcome for Doubs, I reference MVS--a 5th round pick used as a deep threat who had 500 yards as a rookie--that was my positive assessment. And you treat the claim like it's an act of insanity.

More like you stretch the definition to fit your narrative. In reality you didn't see the similarities that 2018 GB team with this one, ones relying on 3 rookie WRs and a used to be good pass catcher. 

Even though I have not said it NEEDS to happen for the team to be successful. It's just ONE positive outcome that MIGHT occur which could give the Packers a successful passing attack. 

Anything COULD happen!

You, yourself, even claimed you imagine the Packers would be a "top 9 offense," so I'm not even sure what the issue is. If the offense is looking likely to be a top 10 unit, I'm not sure that pass catcher makes a lot of sense as their biggest need.

But it seems like you missed the part where I said it's being led by a back to back MVP. Like I didn't say it's the end all be all. But for the end goal of...IDK winning at the end of an old QBs life. 

And yes, I stated things that we already know because I am stating things that are not in dispute to make it clear that we disagree on the ability to interpret readily-available information, not the ability to have insider information. Neither of us have that. 

Oh the sweet insider knowledge of the wonderlic, asking whether their moms are prostitutes, playing waste bin basketball. Trumps tape for sure. 

And you're right; we HAVE been saying they should draft a WR every year. We've been right. They neglected the position too long and didn't set themselves up for a failsafe in the event of Adams moving on. In previous years, when a need was not addressed, I agreed that it remained a need! That's why when I look to remaining needs, I focus on areas the team did... not address.

And they addressed DB in Carpenter. Just...*gasp* not to your liking! Oh wow! That's on you for twisting it and turn it into a typical mEdIa rant. 

Now, the Packers did, in fact, draft a WR early. Then another in the mid-rounds. Then another late. And they signed one. They... addressed... the need.

Oh wow and the Bears signed ESB, Pringle, drafted one on day 2. Solved! Imma ask again since you keep avoiding it, is the Bears OL now strong?

You just think you could have addressed it better. Because you think you're smarter. Which is evident based on your sarcastic comments about Gutey.

I dont care. But your reliance on a tired awful fallacy is boring and just sad. Think for yourself. BOB has a winning record as a HC. Hopkins trade was still stupid. Bill has been doing it forever. Doesn't make the NKeal pick anymore sus. 

You can laugh at Gutenkunst all you like with a lack of Super Bowls. He's been a GM for four years and the team has won 13 games 3 times and been in 2 NFC Championship games. In 2020 they led the NFL in Pro Bowl players. You can give the credit to Rodgers, but Rodgers has literally never won so many games in any stretch of his career. Excuse me for ignoring your incessant commentary about the first-year Bears GM and their Day 3 OL picks. I don't defer to just any authority. I defer to ones with a track record of success and personal connections to the players they select. 

And I still don't care about the specific individual making the calls. Just sick of you annoying Gute worshippers that only appeal to his almighty authority as if he's God. Think for yourself. You ignore the flaws because you know youre wrong.

Excuse me for ignoring your incessant commentary about the first-year Bears GM and their Day 3 OL picks. I don't defer to just any authority. I defer to ones with a track record of success and personal connections to the players they select.

But since you won't answer the Bears qs (because you KNOW youre wrong), why won't you say the Ravens are less pass catcher needy than the Rams? Not new GMs. What's the excuse? Oh you KNOW you're wrong again, but you gotta cap for your team and you'll live with the cognitive dissonance.

My goodness. Imagine just making an account to cry about ThE mEdIa ALL agreeing on something against your team. Just take a hint.

30 The guy who's name is "I'm…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The guy who's name is "I'm New" is telling me I made a new account just to complain; I have physical copies of Football Outsider Almanacs. I don't think they've even made those this decade. 

 

The guy who is vehemently defending the mainstream narrative has said "think for yourself" three times in a single post. 

 

The guy who says I don't understand probabilities thinks that pointing out a couple draft misses contradicts the statement that a guy has a proven track record of success.

 

No one is saying successful GMs never miss. Your random list of good coaches or GMs that have missed draft picks tells on yourself. You're proving your lack of comprehension and you think you're making a point. I'm saying this GM has more often than not attacked position weaknesses in bulk, by making multiple moves and knowing that the odds that ONE move will work out are good. And this year, that position was WR, where they added 4 new players this year, one Day Two pick last year. Obviously, moving on from Adams requires an answer. Replacing 2 players (Adams and MVS) with 4-5 players (Watkins, Watson, Doubs, Toure/Amari) increases the odds that you can replicate lost production. This is like the simplest concept in statistics. I mean kids playing Yatzee with their parents understand this. More rolls = improved chances of success, even if the odds of success on any given roll is low. 

31 I truly beg you to look at…

I truly beg you to look at the bottom of this thread at the post I made half a day ago with an example scenario. My goalposts have never moved. I have shown you precisely what I think success might look like--one option of it, out of dozens of permutations of potential outcomes. 

 

I'm done with this thread for real now. But maybe if you look at the example I laid out SO LONG AGO as to what I'm actually expecting out of these players, you might see how silly it is to call me some sort of Gutey-god worshipper. 

32 Yeah, you're a new burner account

But go off on my ironic name because you don't know how to EDIT a comment, old guy, and instead keep rambling on to yourself in a reply. 

But oh, great they went for bulk MAYBE they'll be where they were the past few years...oh, still needing more than one guy! WOWOWWOWOW. Maybe that's why it wasn't sufficient!!! Maybe that's why they chose it!

Congrats! Like I haven't heard this song and dance before. You expected a year Cobb jump from a guy that got 8 targets last year. You think a 2nd AND 4th rounder will = rookie MVS. WOWOWOW so great. What we needed sooooooooo badly. 

Weird how you still can't tell me who, with old GMs --as if their experience is relevant-- needed WRs more, Baltimore or LAR? I wonder whhyyyyyyyyyyyy it's almost like compensation matters as it's an indicator of certainty. It's almost like you couldn't see the similar parallels to 2018 of "bulk" drafting of non day 1 WRs and signing of a used to be good pass catcher in Jimmy Graham, that didn't exactly work woowowowowowoowowwowow. 

Maybe a Chefs plan of at least having a Kelce (maybe because we didn't have one!), signing a couple alright names instead of one that, repeating myself, hasn't played an entire year since 2014, and a bunch of rookies. 

But hey they'll get a few hundred yards because THATS LITERALLY ALL THEY HAVE TO THROW TO. WOWOWOWOWOW. Thankfully our safety net is an injured Tonyan, basically just another George Kittle. because Rodgers likes him!! KEEP INJURED JULIO AWAY THO EVEN THO HES NOT CURRENTLY INJURED LIKE TONYAN. 

But oh no! DB6!!!! Even though DB6 played <29% of the snaps WITH INJURIES LAST YEAR. SO WORRIED! SiLlY mEdIa! PrOvEn TrAcK rEcOrD but wait!! It's only 4 years!! BUT THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH TO STAN AND APPEAL THE WORST FALLACY TO BECAUSE I CANT EXPLAIN THE PLAYERS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES SPECIFICALLY! THAT INSIDER KNOWLEDGE OF KNOWING IF THEY LIKE MEN IS VIIIIIIIIIITAL! 

Lol. The author said nothing wrong. It's low hanging fruit BECAUSE ITS TRUE. They do NEED SOMEONE, MULTIPLE SOMEONES, TO STEP UP. Wow! And they didn't invest in annnnnnnnnny surefire guarantees like KC. 

Yeah they need pass catchers to emerge for the team to stop settling for playoffs and job security. The article told no lies. Whoopty doo lol truth isn't that hard. 

19 Ok, I've rambled enough. Let…

In reply to by Upnorth

Ok, I've rambled enough. Let me get tangible here.

Last season, the Packers' top 6 pass catchers (everyone with at least 300 yards) included 4 WRs and 2 RBs (the next 3 were all TEs). Those 6 pass catchers combined for 303 catches and 3,575 yards.

Based on realistic yards/catch numbers, here's an idea of what I would expect from the Packers' top 6 pass catchers this year: 3 WRs, 1 TE, 2 RBs.

 

Sammy Watkins: 60 rec, 750 yards (12.5 ypc)

Christian Watson 45 rec, 765 yards (17.0ypc)

Allen Lazard 55 rec, 688 yards (12.5ypc)

Bob Tonyan 50 rec, 565 yards (11.3ypc)

Aaron Jones 50 rec, 400 yards (8.0ypc)

AJ Dillon 40 rec, 320 yards (8.0ypc)

 

That's 300 catches for 3,488 yards.

THIS is the "The Packers' pass catchers are going to be alright" projection. Am I being unreasonable? Are my expectations too high? It doesn't have to be THESE guys with THESE numbers. Maybe Doubs takes the MVS deep threat role and cuts into Watson's numbers. Maybe Cobb eats into Lazard and Watkins' numbers. Maybe Tonyan isn't healthy enough to repeat 2020. There are limitless combinations and possibilities. 

But when I say the pass catchers are fine, I simply mean this. The GROUP can easily replace last year's pass-catching production without an elite #1, without massive leaps in player efficiency from previous years, without anyone having eye-popping surprising numbers. 

33 So I've stayed out of your…

So I've stayed out of your back and forth but I'll come back here. I'm going to address your specific predictions even though you hedged with "it could be some other combination". I'll get into that too.

Sammy Watkins
60-750 for Watkins would be his 3rd best season ever (only behind 2015 and 2014 his first 2 seasons). Considering he has averaged playing just 12 games a year over his career that's 5 rec/game. In his 8 season career he's been over 4 rec/game 3 times (4.6 in 2015, 4.1 in 2014, and 4.0 in 2018). So that's expecting a career best. Add in that he has a 58.5% career catch rate (and keep in mind he has 3 seasons with Mahomes throwing to him while Hill and Kelce draw coverage) expecting that to climb a lot is also a big ask. So that's 8.5 targets a game. Adams averaged 10.7 targets/game from 2018-2021 the 4 seasons where he was Davante Adams. So that's another big ask for Watkins.

I'd give his best case as something like 2019 with KC where he played 14 games and was 52-673-3. I'd give his likely case as 40-500 in part because he's basically done that for 5 of his 8 season.

Christian Watson
45-765 would be the greatest rookie season for any Packers WR playing with Aaron Rodgers. By a lot. I broke it down in post 6. MVS at 73 targets; 38-581-2 is the best rookie season a Packer WR has had with Rodgers as QB. Rodger's history with rookies matters, even when he doesn't have any other options. MVS hit those levels in part because Rodger's had no other choice but to throw to him. Yes Adams had his career high 11.3 targets a game that season. Zombie Jimmy Graham got 89 targets for #2 that year, MVS 73 (4.6/g), Cobb 61 (in 9 games so 6.8/g), Jamaal Williams 41, ESB 36. So that's your top 6 for 2018. They pulled off a top 10 passing offense (10th 22.5%). Sure lots of coaching turmoil that season too and I trust LaFleur more than I trusted McCarthy to deal with not having the tools he wanted. But it's still relevant.

Also keep in mind that Adams 38-446-3 was the 2nd best rookie receiver season with Rodgers as QB and that ESB season was 5th and with how ESB's career went was again mostly because Rodgers had to throw the ball to someone even with Adams drawing double and triple coverage.

So expecting Watkins to be better than 38-581-2 is expecting the best Rodgers to rookie combo EVER.

Expecting something between ESB and MVS would seem reasonable. So that's between 21 and 38 catches and 328 and 581 yards. You could do that for 2 of the rookies if you want.

Allen Lazard
55-688 you've already admitted would be his best season ever. Putting aside projecting his best season ever as being hopeful. This one doesn't feel like quite as big stretch. That's probably 80 targets. That 4.7 targets a game. He's at 3.8 target/game for his career. So basically 1 target a game more without Adams makes a lot of sense to me. You're basically projecting him to do what he's done for the last 3 seasons but getting 1 more opportunity a game. Pushing him up to ever 5.5 targets a game and a 64-838 as a best case wouldn't be crazy. So a 55-688 feels like a decently safe projection without a lot of hope thrown in.

Robert Tonyan
50-565 has 2 ways to get to it. It's 2021 where he caught 88.1% of his 59 targets in 16 games. Or it's him catching 66.7% of his targets like hes done for his other 2 non rookie seasons (17 games) and getting 75 targets or some other sliding scale. I would lean more towards the later being the case than the former but I can live with this one too. Of course the offense isn't as good with the later than it is with the former. But I can live that projection. It's still asking Tonyan to do something that bests or matches a career best in year 5 but again it's not a huge stretch.

Dillon and Jones
Jones has been 47 - 52 recs for 355 - 474 yards on 63 - 68 targets for the last 3 seasons. So 50-400 seems fine. It's still asking him to replicate a career best but it's not a huge reach. Dillon going from 34 to 40 isn't an unreasonable ask. Though again expecting him to stay at 91.9% catch rate could be a big ask. Dillon was only targeted last season when he was basically wide open. Jones (72 - 80% catch rate) was targeted in many more situations. So Dillon would have to do something that he has never done before. With Dillon and Jones being more likely to be considered fungible and not brought on in specific situations as much Dillon will likely get targeted more in situations where the catch is harder and his catch rate will likely look more like Jones. So his stat line my be projected correctly but not at the efficiency he had in 2021.

Summary
You count on every player you listed doing something they have never done before or matching the best they have ever done before and in the case of Watson/Doubs/insert favorite rookie here it's actually not that player it's Rodgers + a rookie so it's potentially more about Rodgers doing something he has never done before.

Yes I admit that in a vacuum several of those asks seem reasonable, but by your own arguments you are relying on all 6 of those never been done or matching the best done happen. Does that illustrate why your argument is very easy to see as "Hopeful fan projection?"

Does it help to illustrate why pass catchers isn't just low hanging fruit but a legit concern because just getting to a reasonable passing offense for this group requires multiple players doing things that they have NEVER done in the NFL. And that's all your projections were, a reasonable, not a great, passing offense.  Do you see why it seems reasonable to thing Rodgers may have a 2018, 2019, or 2015 type season where he's in the 60-62% completion range vs the 65% career rate. Did those teams do OK? sure they did. But we're projecting a passing offense that is likely in the bottom 5 of the 12 (13 assuming a full 2022 for Rodgers) full season passing offenses since Rodgers has been a starter.

The secondary, even if someone gets injured is likely projected to be in the top half of secondaries since Rodger's took over as starter. The offensive line, even if there are injuries, is likely going to be at least in the middle of the Rodger's offensive lines. Same for edge. MLB might be the best Rodgers has had. Edge looks about middle of the pack for a Rodgers team. WR looks like it could be 5th worst at best and the worst if things don't go well.

Using relative rankings of a unit based on how long Rodgers has been the starter might not be the best way. Comparing it to NFL averages is might not be the best way. But all those methods reasonably project WR low in both of those metrics and they knock on project a decline for Rodgers. Which is compounded with a likely normal decline from back to back MVP level. No one is projecting a complete flop, but the range of projections for each of the units which you can tweak for injury likelyhood and replace players all you want (which you would need to do for the WR too) all point to WR being weak.

Is there anything they can do about it right now? Not likely no. OBJ while he has 5 seasons better than anything Watkins has done, as you rightly pointed out in other posts is not really a huge upgrade even if he would be available the whole seasons. Jones is also not likely to be much better than what they currently.

The issue is that WR has been an issue since 2018 and it has not been been addressed well (see my post 62 here: https://www.footballoutsiders.com/open-discussion/2022/2022-nfl-draft-night-2-open-discussion) for more detail this post is already too long. They needed to do something earlier. They choose to address other issues and now we have 2022 where "Well someone is going to catch the ball". This is also why people say the Packers don't value the position. Compared to previous Packers FO they don't. They don't spend the same draft or FA capital (own or outside FA). They value other positions more based on how they spend on them. Now why they value those other positions more could have many reasons. It might be because they thought WR + QB was good enough to win a Super Bowl but secondary, edge, and o-line weren't and this is just a temporary, 5 year blip to get those positions stabilized enough. Or maybe it's just because they think coaching and scheme and the base level of WR talent in the NFL is all you need for a successful offense. Or maybe something else. The why doesn't matter the why is more about fans getting what they want or think is best. But the stats very much point to them not valuing the positions.

34 Thanks for the reply!  …

Thanks for the reply! 

Starting at the bottom, I have zero disagreement that the Packers have not valued and have specifically neglected the WR position of late (that's why your info on rookie WRs under Rodgers bears very little weight... more on that later).

Let's start person-by-person.

Sammy Watkins:

I am admittedly much more bullish on Watkins than, well, anyone I know. I literally placed him atop the list of WRs I'd like to see the Packers sign this offseason. Your methodology to get to "asking him to do something he never has before" by using an average number of games played is, to me, flawed. If he only plays 12 games, I certainly would not expect him to have 60 catches. He has played in at least 13 games in 5 of his 8 seasons. The narrative around his injuries is somewhat intriguing because it doesn't seem to exist for other players. Davante Adams, for instance, has not played a full season in 5 straight years and it's very infrequently talked about--maybe because he usually only misses 2 games. Adams has also had 3 concussions and that receives very little mention. We have already agreed about OBJ and how the narrative fails to reflect his injury status.

When I predicted 60 catches, I figured that's playing at least 14 games. I even said that somewhere in the thread above, but hold no ill will to anyone who skipped that whole mess, let alone missed small details. But Watkins is a player whose traits don't align well with his stats, and the reason goes beyond simple "he's had X catches per game Y times and plays an average of A games." It goes to evaluation. Sammy Watkins is a player who has almost never been featured as a top 2 target. Maybe that's because he doesn't deserve to be. But I think being third fiddle behind Tyreek and Kelce is no slight. You mention his production as if it is easier to be on a team that features other top targets, and to an extent you are correct--he does not draw top coverage. But it also drastically reduces his targets. When you look at what he has done on a per target basis, a larger opportunity should scale to an extent to a larger output.

And like you said, I'm not asking him to do something he's never done before. I'm asking him to do something he's exceeded twice before. You may say it was a while ago, but this is a 29-year old, not a 32-year old. I am projecting Watkins to be a fulltime starter when healthy and I believe that he was targeted specifically as a player with traits who needs an opportunity. He said as much when he left KC, explaining that while he isn't bitter about doing the dirty work on a team that features someone else, he was ready to go back to being targeted more. Unfortunately he went to Baltimore where the passing game was a scrap heap this year and then he injured his ankle. To me, the questions about Watkins are almost entirely health related. Based on this very website, he has been, even over the past three years where his injury problems were the most bothersome, in the range of a mid-tier #2 (ranked in the 40s by DVOA and the 50s in DYAR) to a high-end #3 (ranked in the low 60s in DVOA and DYAR). On a team with ample opportunities for targets, he has the opportunity to turn starter efficiency into starter output. 

Christian Watson

It has been 8 years since Rodgers had a rookie WR drafted before the 4th round. That a 5th round rookie got 73 targets as the 3rd option is not an argument AGAINST Watson or Doubs getting a rookie record production under Rodgers. It's an argument that on a team with few proven players, a bigger-than-expected rookie season is the most likely outcome.

But you're also dealing with the tiniest sample size ever. I don't think there is anything generalizable or informative about your list of previous rookie WRs. Everyone has pointed out that the Packers usually have a clear top guy (or two) on the roster when rookies are brought in. Now, the Packers have their highest-drafted rookie on the team since Rodgers has played in Green Bay and they have no clear top guy blocking the rookies from seeing the field and garnering targets. Expecting outcomes in line with past rookies, then, is actually terribly under-valued.

So basing Watson's projections on Rodgers rookie WRs becomes unreasonably low when a) Rodgers has never had one drafted this high, b) Rodgers has never had a rookie when he didn't also have at least two primary targets already on the team, and c) Rodgers' best year with a rookie was his most recent opportunity, and with a player who most similarly compares to Watson by most accounts. It's comparing apples to oranges. Watson's projections should consider the circumstances. Projecting him in the 700-800 yard range probably (I don't have the data) wouldn't put him in the top 75th percentile even of rookies drafted in the top 50. It's just not that ambitious of a target, and using past Packers teams who had established leading receivers and much lower-ranked rookies doesn't make any sense.

Allen Lazard

These number could be Randall Cobb's or Romeo Doubs or whatever. But I think Lazard will be on the field a lot. Lazard has never played a year in the NFL without Davante Adams eating up a major target share. The target share argument will be key to my post overall, but I'm only getting to it now. The idea of this exercise is to estimate how those extra targets might be distributed among the remaining receivers. I used Lazard's own yards per catch to estimate what it would look like if he saw a fairly marginal increase in target share. The somewhat pedestrian projections I arrived at are a career high because the opportunity available is a career high. It is patently obvious that without Adams or any clear-cut #1 WR, the other receivers on the roster will receive a larger target share. Obviously increasing target share or improving the coverage options on a given player will likely lower efficiency. That's hard to project, but it's why I cut his yards per catch from 2021's 12.8 modestly to 12.5. In 2020 and 2019, his yards per catch were each over 13.5.

Conclusion

I'll skip the other 1-by-1s because there isn't a ton of disagreement there. But I want to point out one last thing. By projecting these guys to come up with these numbers, I am necessarily projecting Randall Cobb not to have a big jump in his second year back from the team (remember, I based this on the fact that 6 guys last year had at least 300 yards; anyone not on this list, I'm expecting to be under that mark). I'm projecting Amari Rodgers not to be a factor. I'm projecting Doubs to be mostly an injury fill-in and special teams player. I'm projecting no advancement from Deguara's role. I'm projecting no surprise risers from out of nowhere like Tyler Davis or Samari Toure, each of which would be somewhat of a shock.

I made a hypothetical based on who I personally thought would likely hit. I love Watkins and Watson and think Tonyan, if he makes it back by week 2 or 3, is likely to look a lot more like 2020 than 2021, due again to increased target share. But my point in the back-and-forth above is that it doesn't have to be this outcome. While you correctly pointed out that I may be fairly optimistic on 3 players whose projections you don't agree with, I am necessarily being pessimistic on the other three guys--less than 300 yards apiece! So if Lazard can't make use of a greater target share, maybe Cobb can. If Watkins can't stay healthy, maybe those targets go to Doubs, which admittedly would likely be less effective and efficient than I project Watson to be. If Amari Rodgers finds a consistent slot role, maybe he keeps Watkins or Watson or Lazard on the sidelines more.

Again, it's about ranges of outcomes. I projected three guys to finish above expectations and 3 to finish below. I find your reliance on history of the Packers under Rodgers to be a flawed metric. The scenario and availability of targets are different than this team has seen with Rodgers under center. That's the uncertainty. There IS no reliable model for this. 

So I estimated. I looked at what MVS did as a rookie and imagined if he had been 2nd in targets instead of 3rd; and if he had been 2nd round talented instead of 5th round talented. I took Lazard's 2020 production, increased his target share and decreased his efficiency accordingly. Your conclusion indicates that I am counting on players doing something they've never done before, but you use inconsistent standards. For Watson, you say he's bested these raw numbers twice, but on rate stats, assuming he misses 5 games (your average games also don't account for a 17th game being added), he hasn't done this. But on Lazard, I actually decreased his real rate stats, and you say he's never done it cumulatively. For Watson, you compare him to a 5th round rookie #3 WR in 2018 and then distantly to a 2nd round rookie in 2014 who was WR4 that year. You don't account for who was in front of them. 

You also acknowledge that "someone has to catch the ball" in 2022, but seem to find find any increase I project in target share (and therefore per-game catches) to be unlikely, because the players haven't seen that kind of target share before. But on a team where no player has ever received a target share of a typical starter because they have been sharing the field with the NFL's target leader over the past 3 seasons, it is not only likely, but necessary that multiple players see target share increases over their recent past. It literally almost has to happen, unless the Packers dramatically shift toward the run. 

 

So in short, I will reiterate that the people analyzing the WR position are being unnecessarily pessimistic, not simply through opinion, but through statistical analysis. When you remove Davante Adams' targets from a team, even if you decrease the number of passing attempts by some degree, then the players remaining on the team will have to see target share increases. When you look at, say, Sammy Watkins who received 49 targets last year on a Baltimore team that suddenly couldn't throw (likely because it suddenly couldn't run because 3 RBs got injured and multiple OLmen went down, leading to them lapping the field in adjusted games lost last season)... and who played behind two more target monsters in Kansas City for three years prior, you are going to almost have to project an increased target share. 

The constant pushing of the narrative that anything that has not previously happened on a cumulative basis is necessarily unlikely to happen, along with the failure to consider where, exactly, Adams' targets may go, is pushing down the opinion of what this corps may or will likely accomplish. Once adjusting your expectations for an increase in targets, the rate stats actually work out quite nicely:

  • In 8 years, Sammy Watkins has only had one season below 12.9 yards per catch and only 3 seasons below 14.0 yards per catch. I project him to earn 12.5 yards per catch due to lessened efficiency and scaling up.
  • In three years of offensive production, Lazard has averaged 13.6, 13.7, and 12.9 yards per catch. I project him to average 12.5 yards per catch.
  • In each of the past two seasons, Tonyan has averaged exactly 11.3 yards per catch so I figured, hey, consistency; let's stick with 11.3.

So there's nothing unrealistic if you accept that someone is going to get more targets than they normally do. The only way it really drives down efficiency and outcomes from my projections is if too many of those extra targets go to the RBs, who get single digit yards per catch. That's a possibility. But I think anticipating greater target shares for the WRs on the roster is the absolute most likely scenario.

36 The simple fact is that the…

The simple fact is that the position is not fixed by bringing in Watkins and 3 draft picks. As you agreed they have ignored it too long and they did not fix it this offseason. They addressed it about as best they could but it's still a huge question mark. It's still likely their weakest position group so it's their biggest need.

It also seems like one of your big assumptions is that all these targets from Rodgers will still convert to receptions at the same rate. Adams caught 77.2% and 72.8% of the passes thrown to him the last 2 years, while being the target of the best coverage teams could throw at him. They were great years as he was 66.1% for his career.  That was a huge part of Rodgers completing 70.7 and 68.9% of his passes in 2020 and 2021, both career highs.  MVS's catch rate did not increase he was right around his career 49.8%. Lazard's catch rate did not improve the last 2 years it was right around is 68.6% career rate. Randall Cobb was right around his 71.6% that he had most seasons with Green Bay. Aaron Jones did have a banner year in 2021 at 80% over the 72-74% he had previous years. So assuming ANY combination of the Packers receivers who by virtue of being the top target will be able to do what Adams did is a stretch in itself.

I only briefly touched on that point earlier but it's very hard to ignore that asking anyone or any group of players to catch 72% or better of 150+ passes is not going to happen. Cobb is the only one who has ever had numbers like that at high volumes (71.7% on 127 targets in ... 2014) and he doesn't run the same type of routes as Adams did. The scheme needs someone to run those still, even with adjustments they can't completely rewrite the playbook, and if they do then well that likely sets everyone back as they are doing new stuff. That alone is reason to say pass catcher is an area of concern and a large one.  You yourself said the model can't predict what happens when that large of a vacuum shows up. So that right there is saying pass catchers is an area of concern! You can't predict it, it's a concern.

So you project with your methods and I project with mine and we get different results. But even yours still projects a team that should see a noticeable decline in the passing game, unless you really push up the expectations of one or more players.

It isn't lazy to say that relying on what they have to replace the 200 odd snaps that left with Adams and MVS is a gamble. I still do not believe that everything I looked at was completely invalid. Multiple players will have to do things they haven't done. If you count producing at rates near career averages but doing it at a higher volume than you have ever had, then all of them, except maybe Cobb will have to because even Watkins has only ever seen more than 100 targets once, his rookie year

Seriously this not just a low hanging fruit and funky math (your projections are using just as many assumptions). It's relying on getting 5 or 6 reliable players out of this collection. A collection of rookies who are always an unknown, two older (not old just older) receivers in Watkins and Cobb who each averaged missing 4.75 games a year the past 4 seasons, a solid receiver who has rarely faced top coverage and who has a clear pattern of fewer yards/rec as his targets increase in Lazard (which is typical for most receivers) and a TE who is still a 1 year wonder and who in half a season last year played like he had his first 2 and not like he did in that 1 year wonder year. 

Again no one has said this offense will fall off a cliff, but I am saying that expecting Rodgers to have a season that ranks in the top half of his performances is not something that is easy to see. It's just fortunate that even in his worst fully health season he still managed to put up 406 DYAR but I find that way more likely than a 1000+ DYAR season out of him because he had only 1 proven receiver on that team (Cobb) and James Jones, Adams, Richard Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and James Starks didn't have a good enough hit rate. They caught the ball because someone had to, but it was just not very efficient. All the other guys with potential on that team did nothing.

I still contend that Rodgers stats with rookies does matter, especially 2018 because he had to throw to them. Which is why I used the 2018 rookies for the primary benchmark. As I mentioned Adams got over 11 targets a game, but they didn't run in 2018. There were still 428 non Adams targets as Rodgers had the 2nd most attempts in his career. Jimmy Graham got the next most but it wasn't that many over MVS. And this was not a good looking Jimmy Graham but Aaron Rodgers still preferred to throw to him over MVS.  And if your thoughts about Watkins are correct and you thoughts about Lazard are correct then those 2 are likely to pick up the lions share of targets that Adams had. So that leaves Watson with a target share like MVS got. If your thoughts are wrong about Watkins and Lazard well then your projections for those 2 are likely wrong and then even more unlikely hits are going to have to happen.

 

Again I'm not coming at this willy nilly. I'm not poking at low hanging fruit. I'm worried about a position that has been ignored for years and then they took a shotgun to it this year and hope that some of the pellets hit the target. That does not feel like fixing a position that has been hugely reliant on 1 player for half a decade. This position still looks like the biggest weakness/area of need on the team.

38 I mean, it's clear that you…

I mean, it's clear that you have applied more rigor to the endeavor than most in the media and at home. I appreciate that, I do. I was specifically hoping you or someone like you would reply to my comments and I could have a real conversation, and you have, and we have.

But I also have applied more rigor than "fan hopes" people accuse me of.

As far as your response, you also make assumptions about my methods that just aren't true.

I don't touch on catch rate at all. Nor on Rodgers' completion percentage. You use those as a basis. I simply took players that exist and scaled them up. You point out that scaling up leads to less efficiency; as I pointed out, I DID account for that. I agree with you there. 

You then use those faulty assumptions to say players will have to do something they never have before. But Watkins has done what I'm saying. Cobb has done far more than what I'm saying. You use average games played, fail to account for a 17th game, and then indicate that any individual result above average is unlikely to occur even within a group. But that's not how averages work. You also didn't address that I pointed out explicitly that the corresponding opposite side to my rosy assumptions are a group of players where my assumptions are pessimistic, which is why I say this is just one scenario of many possible outcomes.

And then let's get to 2018 versus 2022.

You say the rookie numbers matter because Rodgers had to throw to rookies then and he'll have to now. But 2018 had a 4th, 5th, and 6th round player and 2022 has a 2nd, 4th, and 7th round player. That's a failure to adjust expected outcomes based on something that we all here agree has a predictive impact (Football Outsiders uses draft stock in Playmaker score; the guy above me harped on expected outcomes based on draft grade, I'm sure you understand the difference).

You also seem to bring up 2018 as an example of a shotgun approach not working, but they got a #3 receiver with a 5th round pick because they took multiple shots at it.

In 2018 the team added Jimmy Graham (who finished 8th in yards among TEs in yards that year) and the 3 rookies already mentioned. Graham was 32 at the time. Graham improved his yards per catch and catch rate in 2018 over his previous season in 2017. His yards per catch (11.6) were a tick below his career average (11.9) and median annual outcome (11.8). So that addition wasn't the abject failure many thought it to be because he underplayed his hefty contract. And the rookies yielded a #3 WR despite only investing Day 3 picks.

In 2022, they added a player who will be 29 years old this year, and whose yards per target have been relatively similar at every stop in his career. In three years in Buffalo, he averaged 8.9 yards per target. In his year in LA with McVey and MLF, he averaged 8.5 yards per target. In his 3 years in KC, he averaged 8.1 yards per target. In his one year in Baltimore, he averaged 8.0. Don't worry, I see the trend just as well as you (it also hasn't been as linear of a decline annually, as these are averages at each stop). Injuries truly ravaged him this past two years, and it's possible that he is not the same player, despite being only 28 right now. That is definitely one possibility that this one scenario I use might overlook.

So give him his worst yards per target based on his playing circumstances, 8.0, and give him 90 targets. How close do my projections look? You like using catch rates; I don't as much, because we don't have depth of target info. Watkins, in particular, has seen wild swings in his catch rates, as low as 50% as a rookie (MVS-like), as high as 72% in his first year with KC (and 67% in his 3rd year with KC). Unlike the predictable nature of the stat you pointed out with Adams and Cobb, the various different ways Watkins has been used--as a starter and deep threat in Buffalo, a complementary possession receiver in KC, as a play action deep threat in Baltimore because play action deep throws were their whole game--have created wide swings. You can look at his yards per catch and his completion percentage and see the very clear inverse correlation and make easy inferences when he was primarily a deep threat and when he was primarily an intermediate/possession receiver. In 2021, for instance, this beat up injured washed out receiver was averaging 14.6 yards per catch. In his one year as WR3 with McVay, MLF, and the Rams, he averaged 15.2 yards per catch. Remember I projected him at 12.5 yards per catch this year. Like I said, I am accounting for the lessened efficiency of scaling up just as much as you. 

So you say WR isn't fixed just because they took a shotgun approach to it. I say WR is much much more likely to be good due to a shotgun approach not only because of sheer numbers but the quality of them. A former top-5 pick at WR who is under 30 and has had a handful of modestly successful NFL seasons, the 34th overall pick, a 4th rounder, and a 7th rounder are, in fact, tangibly different than a 32-year old TE, a 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks. 

The idea that Lazard might have a career high as a 26 year old in his 5th year seeking a greater target opportunity, while rightfully accounting for a decline in efficiency, is a likely not unlikely outcome. It's not guaranteed. It's not a lock. I don't rely on it being a lock. 

But this comes back to my concerns about the objectivity of your inconsistent evaluation making it seem like a preconceived bias borne out in stats rather than a statistical analysis. For a player who I project to have a career high in raw volume, you say "he's never done it before," even though his rate stats are being projected not only below his average, but below his career lows as a starter.

For a player I project to do better than the past few years, but his third best career volume stats at age 29 and near-career low efficiency stats, you switch the metrics, assume he's injured for 5 games, use a per-game catch rate and say "he hasn't done it before."

For a rookie I project to have modestly better rate stats than the 2018 5th round pick who was last in a similar scenario, you say "it's never happened before," but you only mean with Rodgers. You don't mean with a 34th overall pick. You don't mean on a Packers team lacking a proven primary target or two. 

For a player (Aaron Jones) I project to keep on doing what he's been doing, and give him similar pass catching stats as the past 3 years, you leave out the consistency and say it's hard to repeat near-career highs, even though I'm assuming a slight volume increase specifically due to the lack of proven WRs we're arguing about.

And then for the several players I project NOT to bounce--Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Doubs, Deguara--you fail to acknowledge that this is a vital part of my optimism--that some players will exceed and other players will not. That my projections are a mere sample size of one of infinite outcomes, and taking away a positive projection of Watkins still allows for a positive outcome of Cobb, for instance, which I don't rely on for this scenario.

 

Your--and many others'--contention is that some, maybe all, of the guys we chose to bring in and put on this team, will produce closer to their career downsides and averages than to their upsides. That projecting any rate or volume improvement constitutes an unlikely outcome and that each unlikely outcome should be evaluated as unlikely individually, rather than applying collective probability that any one good thing will happen. You find any way to suggest that an optimistic projection has "never happened before," with a brazen lack of consistency in how you find those stats. Sometimes you use averages, sometimes rates, sometimes volume. 

I, on the other hand, have put forth an argument that some rates will go up and some will go down; some volume will go up and some volume will go down; some players will play at their average, some below average, and some above average. Which sounds more like reality to you? A reality in which a group of 8 players (4 WRs, 2 RBs, 2 TEs) all fail to meet their career rate stats and fail to improve volume stats even with more volume, or a reality in which 3 of the 8 players see volume increases and rate consistency or declines, while 5 of the 8 play at or below their recent production?

The fact of the matter is I am projecting uncertainty, some good results, and some bad results; and other people seem to be coming back at me with a much higher degree of certainty and a much clearer slant toward negative results. That is not my understanding of probability and statistics. I'll go as far as to guarantee that at least two players on the Packers this season will do something that by your methods they "have never done before." Because based on how narrowly you define that, and the obvious truth that many of these players will see more targets than they have in recent seasons, it is almost a statistical certainty. It may not be the players I specifically listed (it probably won't be; I'm not Nostradamus). But the degree of certainty with which you seem to insist that no one will rise to fill an opportunity despite ample talent and a bunch of unaccounted for targets is just the lowest probability outcome.

35 Another note, since you…

Another note, since you addressed it:

When I say secondary depth is the biggest remaining need to me, I am saying so out of the "what can we do about it" mentality that you mention.

When I look at WR, it feels fairly obvious that we've made almost all the moves we'll make. Adding a player such as OBJ would be fine; he doesn't mess up the roster numbers and come January, will likely be healthy enough to be an upgrade over someone on our team who is getting playing time.

But in the secondary, I see a guy like Chris Harris, Jr sitting out there. Chris Harris, Jr. has been mostly a nickel CB throughout his career but can play the boundary in a pinch. When he signed with the Chargers and Brandon Staley last year, he switched to safety and played there. Now, we may know that Joe Barry was an assistant under Staley and runs a similar defense. That means with one player, we could add a guy who is capable of backing up the boundary, the nickel, and true safety.

That player is likely inexpensive, and when asked what his plans were for free agency, he said he'd like to find the right opportunity and fit where he can be an emergency player at any position. He has scheme familiarity, a Super Bowl ring, is only 32, which isn't terrible as far as vet options go, and graded out fairly nicely last year.

While we can't do much of anything to top-load the WR position at this point, we can sign one player who gives a security blanket between playing 20% of the snaps with Shemar Jean-Charles and another 15% with Vernon Scott. He can fill in for about a third of the snaps and create instant damage control against the steep dropoff we would see as various secondary starters get hurt.

 

I know I'm not the only one talking about secondary depth. Andy Herman has addressed it. SI's position preview specifically delved into the issue. Cheesehead tv recently did a summary on the no-names at safety. It's quite clearly a concern, AND it is the type of need that can still be addressed at this stage of free agency, unlike the specifics of our WR room.

37 Fine you have a different…

Fine you have a different definition of need. Or I have a different definition of need but seeing how many places seems to view need the same way I do and come to the conclusion it's pass catchers I think you have the different definition.

By yours, it changes things some but I still think it's WR because they didn't fix it yet. As mentioned there aren't a lot great FA options but that doesn't mean they still couldn't try the trade market. Just because there may only be 1 avenue to try and fix it now doesn't mean they can't still potentially do that.

It also feels more important than the back-ups at safety and CB even though in my post about Rodgers and rookies I admitted that those are probably the 2nd and 3rd biggest concerns. I trust 2nd year players more than rookies at those positions but yes depth after the starters at those positions is very thin and may be thinner than the average NFL team but I'm not positive about that. The starters are fine though, unlike WR where that is still a big worry that we could have a 2015 offense when I'm expecting at least a 2019 (and 19 was not stellar with Rodgers never fully embracing the new coaching ideas until 2020).

Another factor with the secondary is it looks like they are shifting even more to a base 3-4 with Barry's flavor of the "star" corner. That D has several packages where you have both MLB on the field with 3 corners and only 1 safety to get the 3-4-4. Though of course playing more base 3-4 lowers the importance of CB3. Barry doesn't want to go 2-4-5 or 3-3-5 with 2 safeties and 3 corners as much. So the 2nd MLB becomes more important, the 3rd corner becomes more important, but the 2nd safety becomes less important. So I think 3rd corner stays about the same importance overall but is used differently. 4th corner is likely to be even more of an injury replacement than on the field in dime packages because Barry really likes coverage MLBs which also seems to be the whole point of taking Quay Walker (and Carpenter) and paying Campbell.

So even with my concerns about the depth we are also likely looking a different scheme that makes that depth even less important outside of injury.

8 Chicago - O-line??

The storyline all offseason has been adding receiving options for Justin Fields, yet I don't think he'll survive for two seconds behind that line. I was amazed Chicago didn't add any significant pieces on the O-line this offseason.  I definitely get the WR talk, their crop is pretty poor, but even if Fields had Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams - how will he have time to throw?  How will they respect the running game if David Montgomery is swarmed behind the line constantly?  Cody Whitehair is reasonable, and Teven Jenkins at least has potential (even though he rode the bench last year on a unit that finished dead last in Adj. Sack Rate), but who else do they even have that looks like even an average starter?

My comment on Detroit's secondary is the role of coaching and scheme.  Seems like they have the talent, but can they actually mold it and use it effectively.  Not so far...Otherwise I think they need a better backfield.  Jared Goff - obviously, and I think De'Andre Swift is overrated based on his fantasy numbers.  He doesn't look impressive to me.

15 "My comment on Detroit's…

"My comment on Detroit's secondary is the role of coaching and scheme.  Seems like they have the talent, but can they actually mold it and use it effectively.  Not so far"

They have talent?  Who?

Okudah was a great prospect, but he was terrible as a rookie, and injured last year.  Oruwariye is a 2019 day 3 pick who's show some flashes, but never consistency (don't let his interception total fool you about his coverage ability).  They had 3 undrafted players (AJ Parker, Jerry Jacobs, and some other guy whose name escapes me) forced into starting roles at various points, because the guys in front of them either got hurt or sucked.  Tracy Walker is underrated, but Will Harris (who was awful) will lose his starting safety job this year (to either a 3rd round rookie or a former Ravens depth guy).

Agree about the RBs.  Swift is decent pass-catcher, but can't run between the tackles to save his life.  Williams is a decent RB2, but nothing more.