Cobb Getting First NFL Tastes

Want real football news during the lockout? Packer Report talked to second-round pick Randall Cobb. What Packers has he met? What is he doing to fill the void of OTAs? And what does he say about returning kicks? Find out in the first of our two stories on Cobb.

Even with the lockout, Randall Cobb is getting ready for life in the NFL.

The Green Bay Packers' talented and versatile second-round draft pick met with his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, while attending the Kentucky Derby. He fielded punts from former college teammate Tim Masthay while their trips to Kentucky's campus in Lexington overlapped. Last weekend in Los Angeles, he attended the NFL Players Rookie Premiere, a 36-player event that included third-round pick and new teammate Alex Green. And Cobb started working out with other NFL stars in Arizona this week, a group that will include Greg Jennings once he's back from a wedding and some other business.

"We had a good time," Cobb said of the Rookie Premiere in his exclusive interview with Packer Report on Monday. "It was fun getting together with all of those guys I got drafted with and a few I had already known before. It was the first time I got to put on my Packers uniform — putting that green-and-gold 18 on felt good. It was real fun."

Even under the best of circumstances, rookie receivers typically aren't major contributors. There's just too much to know, too many on-the-fly adjustments to master, to be a steady contributor. In the last six drafts, there have been only 11 receivers to grab as many as 50 passes during their first seasons.

Under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers' young receivers have been relatively productive from the get-go. Jennings caught 45 passes as a second-round pick in 2006, James Jones caught 47 as a third-round pick in 2007 and Jordy Nelson caught 33 as a second-round pick in 2008.

The lockout and subsequent missed practice time hurts Cobb's chances of being an immediate contributor like the others before him, especially considering he only played receiver for his final two-and-a-half seasons at Kentucky and admittedly isn't a finished product. However, there are a couple of mitigating factors working in his and the team's favor. The time in Arizona will allow Cobb to pick Jennings' brain and at least get a grasp of some of the playbook while working with elite players like Larry Fitzgerald. Moreover, his high football IQ stemming from years of playing quarterback — including starting four games at the position as a freshman at Kentucky — should help ease his shortened NFL transition, too.

"I think that's one of the key things to my success is having that quarterback experience," Cobb said, "and understanding what the quarterback's job is and what he's looking for out of his receivers and knowing the concepts of the play and knowing what read you are. It gives you a great understanding of when you should come open and how much time you have for your routes."

Of course, as a productive kickoff and punt returner at Kentucky, Cobb figures to be right in the mix to handle those duties as a rookie to upgrade units that ranked in the bottom third of the league last season. It's a role he relishes after boasting career averages of 24.6 yards on kickoffs and 9.8 yards with two touchdowns on punts.

"I don't really think it's a secret," he said when asked about his success. "It's something that you just have to want to do. Not many guys want to do it because it's basically a suicide play because you've got 11 guys that are running to come take your head off. You just have to have faith in your teammates to be able to make the blocks."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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