By Anthony Licciardi
In trading away superstar receiver Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers took a sledgehammer to the weaponry Aaron Rodgers utilized to carve up defenses. Using the return and flexibility to round out the roster has rendered Green Bay an easy division favorite, but has opened up a chasm in the receiving corps.
Who is going to catch the ball for the Packers in 2022?
Can the veterans keep their starting roles?
The simplest projection for Green Bay’s starting lineup is to lean on NFL experience.
Allen Lazard may not have a 1,000-yard season to his name, but he’s been a consistent asset of head coach Matt LaFleur’s passing attack. Comfortable with Rodgers and talented enough to threaten defenses downfield, we can lock in Lazard as Green Bay’s lead man.
Now on his fifth NFL team, former Clemson superstar Sammy Watkins could find himself starting on the opposite boundary. He’s a good blocker, a necessary skill in this offense, and likely has a better hold on the scheme and the demands of it than his younger counterparts. It’s safe to say he isn’t an inspiring target, but he raises the floor of the group.
Like it or not, the bromance that is Rodgers and Randall Cobb is everlasting. The quarterback’s love for the former Pro Bowler is seemingly the only relationship he can keep. He’s lost family, a fiancé , and coaches in recent years, but a receiver with one career 1,000-yard campaign is where his loyalty lies. Cobb will almost exclusively see the slot. At least for now, the veteran’s job is safe.
What about the rookies?
Bringing in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs has injected youth into a corps that lacks potency.
Watson, a size-speed-strength freak from North Dakota State, is in many ways similar to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who the team lost in free agency. Taken at the top of the second round, Watson will see greater expectations than MVS. His role, eventually, will be to scare the hell out of NFL defenses. A knee injury had delayed the start to his NFL career, but Watson is sure to see the necessary opportunities to make a difference.
Furthermore, Doubs has taken advantage of something Watson couldn’t: playing with house money. Without expectations of starting, Doubs had flourished as a contested catch maestro and a legitimate threat to Watkins’ role in the starting lineup.
Recently, Rodgers has expressed displeasure with the young receivers, dampening the excitement training camp generated. For now, the biggest hurdle between Doubs and starting NFL reps is development as a blocker. He won’t see the field without benefitting the ground game, no matter how many cool catches he racks up in camp.
What’s the angle?
The Packers are still a very good team, even if their lack of talent outside comes back to bite them. Running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will see an increase in targets, as will tight end Robert Tonyan. With a creative mind calling the shots, Rodgers and company can take solace in the idea that they’ll still be put in the best position to succeed.
LaFleur can give us information to succeed, too. The talent around Rodgers will make winning his third consecutive MVP (+1000 on DraftKings) incredibly difficult, and a long shot bet on Offensive Rookie of the Year wins for Doubs (+1400) and Watson (+1600) may not be worth it either.
Instead, bank on those with the talent around them to produce monster seasons. An OROY bet on Chris Olave (+1000) or an MVP bet on Justin Herbert (+1000) should be more worth your while.