20

February

Is the Next Jarrett Boykin on the Packers Roster?

Myles White

Could Myles White end up contributing to the Packers next season?

With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb due to hit free agency next offseason, the Packers could be looking to draft a wide receiver in April.

Or maybe they’re confident that they can re-up with Nelson and Cobb and aren’t worried about finding another receiver in the draft.

Or maybe they think they have a capable replacement for Nelson or Cobb already on the roster, and the rest of us just don’t know about him yet.

That last scenario seems by far the least plausible, but you never know. Nobody heard of Jarrett Boykin, but he became a reliable receiver and might step into James Jones’ role in 2014 if Jones signs elsewhere.

Of the Packers four “unknown” wide receivers currently on the roster, which one has the best chance of turning into a player? Here’s what I think:

Myles White
Some were saying White was the fastest receiver in training camp. He was also a hurdling star in high school and was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech. Speed and athleticism isn’t the issue for White. Size is.

White is barely over 180 pounds and probably needs to buff up if he wants to stick around and have a legitimate shot at cracking the lineup. If White gets bigger and improves, he can potentially be a deep outside burner who would be a nice complement to the bigger Jordy Nelson, Jones (if he re-signs), Boykin and Cobb (who likes to work inside).

White was called up off the practice squad for the middle part of the season and didn’t do much in 123 snaps. Of course, he didn’t have Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, either. White’s season came to an end early when he tore cartilage in his knee.

Chris Harper
He used to play for the Seahawks so he must be halfway decent, right? Well, maybe.

Harper has the size (228) to be another Boykin-type of receiver — tough to bring down and holds his own blocking. But there must be a reason he was cut by the Seahawks (and later by the 49ers) not long after getting drafted in the fourth round. Bob McGinn ranked Harper 12th in his pre-draft wide receiver rankings and quoted scouts who said Harper catches well in traffic and can play in the red zone.

4

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Training Camp

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Another week of Packers training camp is in the books. Is it Sept. 8 yet?

Finley pipes down
I’ve never been one of those people who gets all bent out of shape whenever Jermichael Finley says something that stirs the pot — I’ll take honesty and candor over canned cliches any day. But it looks like Finley is at least trying the cliche route…for now. Will a boring Finley in front of the microphones lead to a more exciting Finley on the football field? I don’t think one has anything to do with the other. If Finley becomes a force at tight end, it won’t be because he zipped his lips during training camp. Besides, if he does finally break out, people would probably be more tolerant of whatever does come out of his mouth.

Hawk OK with pay cut
Calling it “more of an ego thing than anything that guys can’t get over,” LB A.J. Hawk spoke about taking a pay cut this offseason in order to stay with the Packers. After the slash in pay, Hawk is due to make $10.6 million over the final three years of his deal. That sounds like more than enough money for a guy who rarely makes impactful plays. It’s good to hear Hawk speak openly about taking a cut and being a team guy, but deep down, even he has to know that there probably wasn’t another team out there that would be willing to pay him over $10 million. It’s still a great deal for Hawk, and the Packers obviously think it’s a fair price for a LB that hasn’t made many flash plays, but is healthy and ready to go every Sunday.

Bakhtiari making a move
We’ve been hearing nothing but good things about David Bakhtiari. There are even rumblings that he might end up winning the starting right tackle job. The rookie from Colorado appears to be plenty athletic to be the kind of pass protector the Packers like. And with Marshall Newhouse being, well, Marshall Newhouse, and Don Barclay horsing around at backup center, perhaps the window is open for the rookie to win the job. But remember: We haven’t made it to the first exhibition game yet. All rookies are getting loved up right now because they’re new, they’re fresh, their ceilings are perceived to be high and we don’t know their shortcomings yet.

29

March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Wide Receiver Prospects

Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

There may not be a Julio Jones or A.J. Green at the top of this year’s wide receiver crop, but the position is among the deepest in the 2013 NFL Draft.

This year’s classes is led by former JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson, who played at Tennessee in 2012. Patterson, although raw, is a freakish athlete with seemingly limitless potential. He’s the No. 1 receiver on my board, and his college teammate, Justin Hunter, isn’t too far behind.

Along with Patterson, West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin also appears to be a surefire first-round pick. Austin is more of a Percy Harvin-type matchup nightmare than a true perimeter wide receiver, but he may be the most explosive offensive prospect in the entire draft.

Many have Calfornia’s Keenan Allen as a first-round pick as well, but I’m not 100 percent sold. To me, Patterson and Austin are clearly the top two guys at the position, and after them, Allen is one of a handful of guys that could sneak into the end of round one or fall to the middle of round two.

Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins and Southern Cal’s Robert Woods fall into the same boat as Allen.

The Packers certainly have a need at wide receiver. On top of Greg Jennings leaving Green Bay for Minnesota, the team faces uncertainty with Jordy Nelson, whose contract is set to expire after 2014, and James Jones, who is scheduled to be a free agent after this season.

Ted Thompson has done some serious damage on Day 2 of the draft since taking over as general manager. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jennings were all selected in the second round by Thompson, while Jones was a third-round pick. It’s very possible that the Packers will look to address the position in either the second or third round.

1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6-2, 216)

  • Draft stock: Early-Mid 1st
  • 40 time: 4.42, 10-yard split: 1.55, Vertical jump: 37″
  • One-year starter in D1; transferred to Tennessee in 2012.
  • There isn’t a “can’t-miss” guy at the top of the draft, but Patterson has a chance to develop into a pretty special player. He’s remarkable after the catch and was often given the ball in the running game at Tennessee. If he can polish up his route running, Patterson could very well end up being a Pro Bowl player.
19

March

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Wide Receiver

Packers WR Randall Cobb will return as a top playmaker in 2013.

Packers WR Randall Cobb will return as a top playmaker in 2013.

The injury bug bit the position hard, but players continually stepped up and the offense didn’t miss a beat. James Jones has had his fair share of struggles with dropped passes, but he had the best season of his career in 2013, leading the league with 14 touchdown catches. Randall Cobb also had a breakout season, due in part to the absence of Greg Jennings for much of the season. With Jennings likely headed elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, more pressure will rely on the shoulders of Jones, Cobb and Jordy Nelson.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

Jordy Nelson (2nd Round, 2008)
James Jones (3rd Round, 2007)
Randall Cobb (2nd Round, 2011)
Jarrett Boykin (UDFA, 2012)
Jeremy Ross (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2012)

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen in using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Nelson: Coming off a breakout 2011 season, expectations for Jordy Nelson were high coming into 2012. Nelson will likely assume the subjective role of the Packers’ No. 1 receiver without Jennings in the fold. Although he missed four games due to injury, Nelson performed well when he was in the lineup. In a two-game stretch against the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, Nelson racked up 17 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

Jones: Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the team, Jones set career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013. With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson in and out of the lineup with nagging injuries, Jones started all 16 games for the team and led the league with 14 touchdown catches. He didn’t command much of a market as a free agent in 2011, and the Packers benefitted greatly from having him in the fold this past season.

Cobb: As a rookie in 2011, Randall Cobb was electric as a return man. But in Cobb’s second season, it became obvious fairly early in the year he was one of the team’s best offensive playmakers. In 15 games, Cobb led the team with 80 catches and 954 receiving yards, to go along with eight touchdowns. Cobb does most of his damage from the slot, but he’s capable of lining up on the outside, as well as running the ball out of the backfield. It should be more of the same from Cobb next season.

22

February

Talking Wide Receivers: NFL Draft Possibilities That Fit the Packers

Packers Wide Receivers, NFL Draft

Packers Wide Receivers

With Donald Driver retiring and Greg Jennings putting his house up for sale, the Packers will be kicking the tires on Wide Receivers. The 2013 NFL draft has a talented group of prospects, so if you need one, it’s a good year to go shopping.

The Packers still have one the best WR groups in the NFL, with or without Jennings and Driver. Jennings leaving will make a hole in the group, but not as large are some think. Jennings has missed half of the regular season games with injuries the last two years. Driver was used very little this last year, where his smile and leadership will be missed, his production will not be.

Jones had his best year, lead the NFL in TD’s and reduced his dropped passes significantly. Nelson is still on the rise as a WR. Cobb when he was drafted, I called a steal, and he has shown that to be very true. His play and continued development is a huge plus for the Packers.

After those three, it’s unproven developmental players. Boykin could become a very nice procession type receiver or even more, he has good size at 6-2 and 217#. His testing numbers are almost identical to James Jones coming into the draft, not fast 4.57 40 time, Jones 4.58. Both have good quickness showed in there ten yard times and good agility. Boykin does have great hands and a excellent coach so I give him a 4th round type grade going into this next season.

Jeremy Ross is the other interesting WR to develop. He showed his ability with the ball in his hands returning punts and kick offs. Good size at 6-0 215#, 4.44 speed and a very nice 1.50 ten yard time.

I give extra credit to development players already on the team. The NFL training, coaching with the added experience of being a Pro gives these players a step up over most rookies. Regardless of those players the Packers are going to have to look at drafting a WR, and making it a priority to sign some UDFA’s for development on the practice squad. Wide Receiver might have the deepest talent in the 2013 draft, intriguing prospects can be found through the 4th round and even beyond.

12

November

Packers Midseason Grades: Offense

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has the Packers 6-3 this season.

With nine games under their belt, the Packers are technically beyond the midseason, but that’s just a technicality.

There’s no Packers game to review this week, so now is as good a time as any to grade what’s happened so far.  The offense is up first. The defense and special teams will be up later this week.

Quarterbacks: A-
Aaron Rodgers does things no other quarterback in the NFL can do. All the injuries the Packers have suffered are frustrating, but as long as Rodgers is on the field, the Packers have a chance. I enjoyed reading the comments made by several of the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive players after the Packers beat them last week. They were being asked about Randall Cobb, James Jones, the Tom Crabtree catch, and a bunch of other stuff, but they kept coming back to Rodgers and how great he is. Meanwhile, in another room down the hall, Rodgers was talking about how poorly he played.

I suppose I could be as harsh on Rodgers as he is on himself and knock his grade down to a ‘B’ if I really wanted to. I could point to the reduction in explosive plays, holding the ball too long, and the fact that the Packers are averaging about three yards fewer per completion than last season.

Those are all valid criticisms, but it’s not enough to knock Rodgers’ grade down, in my view. The guy has racked up almost 2,400 yards to go along with 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions without his No. 1 receiver, a shaky offensive line, and a receiving corp that drops too many passes.

Honestly, I was going to give the Packers quarterbacks an ‘A,’ but I knocked it to an ‘A-’ because of Graham Harrell’s goal line fumble against the Saints.

Running Backs: D+
Not every son or daughter gets straight ‘A’s’ in school. Some try hard, only to realize that the best they can do is a ‘C.’ Some don’t try at all and are thrilled if they manage to eek out a ‘C.’

The Packers running backs fall into one of these two categories.

Right when the Packers rushing offense appeared to be waking up, Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury. But even before the injury, it’s not like Benson was on his way to the pro bowl. He only averaged over four yards per carry in two of his five games and never cracked 100 yards.

11

August

Packers Jordy Nelson is Already Underpaid

Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson against the Chicago Bears

The Jordy Nelson stiff-arm.

This post is putting the cart waaaaay ahead of the horse, but I think the topic merits discussion.

Jordy Nelson had an amazing season in 2011. I mean, really amazing.

So far, he’s showing no signs of slowing down in training camp. Most observers say he’s only getting better.

Before Nelson truly exploded last season, he signed a 4-year, $14 million contract extension with the Packers. He might have already outplayed that contract.

Here are three random WRs making more than Nelson: Stevie Johnson ($5 years, $36.25 million); Earl Bennett (5 years, $18.55 million) and Marques Colston (5 years, $40 million).

I would take Nelson over all of those guys, and it’s not even close. Nelson was the 27th highest paid receiver in the NFL after signing his new deal, and he’s surely dropped in the rankings since.

I like to make snarky comments on Twitter about Nelson’s agent soon being unemployed after Nelson realizes the bargain-basement extension he signed. But in all seriousness, it’s ultimately Nelson who made the call when he chose to re-sign with the Packers and for how much.

When Nelson re-signed, he wasn’t quite where he’s at now. I’m sure he took a look at the contract, thought that $14 million was plenty of cash, and decided to sign so he could move on with his life and keep working at becoming a better player.

Well, he’s become a better player. And he might be getting even better.

If that’s the case, the Packers better hope that Nelson doesn’t try and do something about being underpaid, even though he was the one who signed his name on the dotted line a couple of month before his value skyrocketed.

Ted Thompson has to come up with extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews in the near future. The last thing he wants to deal with is Nelson demanding a reworked deal.

I’m not saying that Nelson will be threatening a holdout any time soon. I’m also not trying to garner sympathy for a guy set to make $14 million. But this is probably an issue that Thompson at least has in the back of his mind.