Reality Check: What Can the Green Bay Packers Expect From Randall Cobb?
While Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson may be the core of the Green Bay Packers’ offense, Randall Cobb is without a doubt the most exciting player to enter Green Bay in a long time. In fact, Cobb’s reputation as an elite playmaker was seen during the first game of his career when he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints.
Even though Cobb only posted 25 receptions for 375 yards and one touchdown, there is still plenty to get excited about heading into the 2012 season for this young player. The big question is how much of an impact can we truly expect to see from him during his second season.
While it may seem difficult for Cobb to have too huge an impact thanks to the depth of the Packers’ receiving corps, there is simply too much talent oozing from this young player for Green Bay not to figure out how to get him more involved in the offense.
So, just how big of a leap will he make from year one to year two? Let’s take an in-depth look at what the 2012 season may hold for this talented youngster.
Last year Cobb was only thrown at 31 times which resulted in 25 receptions. There is little doubt that both those numbers should increase, and here is why.
James Jones and Donald Driver had a combined 108 targets last year. With Driver’s increasing age and diminishing impact on the game combined with Jones’ inconsistent hands, it isn’t crazy to think that Cobb could begin the season as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart. When Jordy Nelson was the No. 3 receiver during the 2010 season, he was thrown at 61 times with 45 receptions.
It is definitely possibly that Cobb could see that many targets this year, but I actually believe he’ll see more. Teams are going to need to focus on slowing down Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, leaving a potential mismatch on every snap for Cobb.
If there is one thing we know about Rodgers as a quarterback it’s that he loves to throw to the open man. Cobb will certainly be open a bunch this season, making it extremely likely that he surpasses Nelson’s 2010 campaign.
Don’t be surprised to see Cobb have between 50 and 55 receptions this year and somewhere around 70 targets.
In 2011, Cobb averaged 15 yards per reception. If we were to talk his estimated 50-55 receptions and keep his same average from last year that would mean that Cobb should gain between 750 and 825 yards.
However, I actually see Cobb averaging more than 15 yards per reception during the 2012 campaign. If you look at his 7.7 yards after the catch, or YAC, average from last year, you see just how dynamic of a player he was with the ball in his hands.
He’ll most likely be used on short slants or screen passes where he can put his elite athleticism to work. However, the Packers will also likely try to get him on the outside where he can beat defenders with his speed.
If Cobb can increase his yards per reception by even just one yard, he’d end up putting up between 800 and 880 yards, which is where I see him finishing the season.
This is a little harder to project because Cobb only had one receiving touchdown in 2011. Even Nelson only had two receiving touchdowns in 2010 before posting 15 touchdowns last season.
The biggest issue with Cobb is that the Packers already have incredible red zone targets that Rodgers trusts in Jennings, Nelson, Finely and even Kuhn. That means the majority of Cobb’s touchdowns are going to come off of big plays, which are extremely difficult to predict.
Cobb will certainly get more than one receiving touchdown this year, but don’t be surprising if he ends the year with only three or four.
A breakout year is definitely in store for the second-year player from Kentucky in 2012. Along with his improved statistics as a receiver, Cobb should also get some special plays at running back and possibly even quarterback.
The sky is literally the limit for Cobb and an offense like Green Bay’s is the perfect place for him to thrive.