Part three of the Green Bay Packers roster breakdown:
Adams is in the prime of his career and is coming up on free agency. He will cash in big time. That will eventually be with the Packers. Exactly when? Who knows. Hopefully, before the season starts.
There is no way they let him walk away. His release of the line is so good; it is probably the best in the league. And, while he isn’t particularly fast, he beats defensive backs deep all the time.
He is one of the top five receivers in the league and can make any DB look silly. He probably has another three to four prime years left before we start seeing a decline. I would expect any extension they give him will probably be around four years.
Lazard is kind of the proverbial number two receiver. He does everything well, but he is not exceptional at anything. He is a solid route runner, has good size, decent speed, beast of a blocker, and he occasionally can get deep. He is still young at 25 and still could improve some. He will also be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
If he had been able to stay healthy all last season, his numbers would have shown how good he is. He had a catch percentage of 71%; that’s very good. If he can stay healthy this season, he should put up some pretty good numbers. Hopefully, they will be able to resign him. He should provide a great compliment to Adams and MVS this season to form a solid top three.
MVS is the proverbial big-play guy of the group. He has the most physical talent of all the receivers. Although late last season, he showed improvement on his short and intermediate route running and production. He’s been hot and cold through his first three seasons. I think we remember his more than others is because they were drops on potential big plays.
His average catch percentage through his first three seasons is 50.5%, which is not good. It’s a good example of how hot and cold he can be. There is no one on the roster that can duplicate what he brings to the offense. MVS’s blocking tends also to get underrated by fans. While he is not the beast that Lazard is, he is a pretty good blocker and will keep blocking down the field.
That is what helps keep him on the field because he can contribute to the offense in more than one way. Hopefully, he continues to show improvement in his short to medium game. He will be a free agent next offseason.
The new guy in the group. He will take over the Tyler Ervin role plus add playing some slot receiver as well. People forget how big of an adjustment it is going from college to the pros as a wide receiver. Fans look at Justin Jefferson’s rookie year and forget that he was an outlier. Most rookie receivers struggle with the change. And that’s ok and totally normal.
Some Packers fans think Rodgers is going to come in and be like a prime Randall Cobb. They forget he struggled some his rookie year. He only had 25 catches for 375 yards and one TD. I would expect Rodgers to have somewhat similar numbers.
It’s going to be hard for him to get a lot of looks on offense with Adams, Lazard, and MVS all ahead of him in the pecking order, so to speak. Most of his contributions as a rookie will be on special teams.
Funchess the man of mystery. The man has not played in almost two years. That is a lot of rust to knock off. He only played one game with Indianapolis before he broke his collarbone and missed the rest of the 2019 season. He then opted out of the 2020 season.
He has some talent; he is big, has long arms, and is a great red zone threat. His career catch percentage is 51.8%, and he has never been the big-play threat at MVS is. So, it is questionable where he fits on the roster. He would at best be the number four receiver spot, possibly the number five, but he doesn’t play special teams.
If you are going to be the number four or five receiver for LaFleur, you need to play special teams. Also, they already have Lazard who fills a similar role. I have a hard time seeing him making the roster.
Reggie’s highlight film from the CFL was really good, but once he got into camp, he didn’t stand out much. Of course, not having a true offseason or preseason to get out there and show something probably hurt him. He spent all of last season on the practice squad. He was called up for one game and played a total of four snaps, two on offense and two on special teams. So, he is still practically an unknown. Begelton is in for a fight for one or maybe two roster spots.
Malik spent the 2019 season on the practice squad. Taylor then made the roster last year on his hard work in the blocking game and on special teams. He ended up playing in 15 games. Also, he had five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. In ten games, he didn’t have a single target.
Taylor has good size at 6’1, 220, and he is a good athlete. He probably has a slight leg up on the competition for the final spot in the receiver group. But with a great camp and good preseason, anyone really could overtake him.
Equanimeous St. Brown:
Of all the guys that are in a battle for a roster spot, St. Brown has the most talent/upside. A freak athlete that scored a 9.84 RAS score. As a rookie late in the season, he had flashes that looked like he was coming on. He looked really good playing the ‘big slot’ role.
There was a lot of excitement for his second season, but he got hurt in camp and missed all of 2019. He didn’t look quite the same in 2020 and struggled to get on the field. He only played in 196 snaps after getting 358 as a rookie in 2018.
He did play 41 snaps on special teams in 2020 versus only 15 in his rookie year. If he can get back to how he played towards the end of his rookie season, while showing some improvements, then he should be an easy shoo-in for the roster. But, that is all up to him.
Winfree is a former sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in the 2019 draft. He played in three games as a rookie without recording a reception. He played only 14 snaps on offense and 49 on special teams. He spent the 2020 season on the Packers’ practice squad. He was activated for two games and played eight snaps on offense and 21 on special teams.
He has some decent athleticism. He also made a few deep catches in minicamp/OTA. He also has good size at 6’1, 210. Although he has played very little in his first two years, he has played several special teams snaps. So, that would help his chance at making the roster. Of the bottom of the roster guys, he probably has the best shot at making the roster. If he does, it would be most special teams unless there are a rash of injuries.
Blair came out of Alcorn State in 2019 and was not on any team’s roster or practice squad for the 2020 season. He has decent size at 6’2 198. Not much info on him out there. So unless he balls out, it’s doubtful he makes the roster. He is fighting for a practice squad spot.
Gaither made a couple of flash plays in minicamp that got some hype from fans on Twitter. They were pretty much already penciling him in on the 53-man roster. He has decent size at 6’1, 188. He was a known deep threat at San Jose State.
Although his pro-day workouts don’t seem like it, he has some sneaky speed. He is not very strong though and struggles with physical DB’s. Doubtful he makes the roster. He could spend a year on the practice squad working on add muscle and mass.
Thompkins is another 2019 undrafted free agent. He was signed by the Eagles but was cut at the end of training camp. He spent some time with the Steelers in 2020. He’s a graduate of Penn State.
He is one of the smaller receivers on the roster at 5’11, 188. He has speed, though as he ran a 4.34 coming out of college. Thompkins also has some experience returning, so he might get a shot there, but with Rodgers already a lock, it’s doubtful he beats out Rodgers for return duties. He is probably looking at a role in the slot. He is more than likely just a camp body.
So to sum it up. Adams, Lazard, MVS, and Rodgers are all locks for the roster. So, that leaves eight guys battling it out for one, maybe two, roster spots. So far, Coach LaFleur has only kept five receivers his first two years. He does not use a lot of four-receiver sets like McCarthy used it. Also, with the expanded practice squads and the possibility that the NFL brings back the ability for teams to bring up guys from the practice squad for up to three games a season, they might as well save the roster spot for a position that might need it more.
Unless there is an injury to Adams, Lazard, or MVS, I have a hard time seeing Funchess making the roster. So, that takes it down to seven guys. Thompkins and Blair are highly doubtful. Gaither needs a year to add some strength. That leaves Taylor, St. Brown, Winfree, and Begelton fighting for one spot. Begelton is probably at the bottom of the list, so realistically it’s either Taylor, St. Brown, or Winfree for the last spot. They each bring something different to the field. So, it will be interesting to see how the last receiver spot ends up throughout the camp.