Camp Preview: Top Concern at WR

Even with full offseasons to prepare, most rookie wide receivers provide a negligible impact. The Packers' second-round draft pick, Randall Cobb, will be asked to fit in right away without the benefit of three months of offseason practice and study time.

The history of rookie wide receivers, even under the best of circumstances, isn't great.

In 2010, 27 wide receivers were drafted. Just three of them caught at least 45 passes. Of the 12 selected in the first three rounds, only Jordan Shipley (third round, Cincinnati) got into that 45-catch group.

In 2009, 34 wide receivers were drafted. Seven of them caught at least 45 passes (just three had more than 50, though). Of the 15 selected in the first three rounds, four of them were in that 45-catch group.

In 2008, 35 receivers were drafted. Four of them caught at least 45 passes. Of the 15 selected in the first three rounds, three of them were in that 45-catch group.

In 2007, 34 receivers were drafted. Three of them caught at least 45 passes — all of them among the 17 receivers selected in the first three rounds. The Packers' James Jones caught 47 passes, ranking fourth on the team's rookie chart behind Sterling Sharpe (55 in 1988), Billy Howton (53 in 1952) and running back Gerry Ellis (48 in 1980).

In 2006, 33 receivers were drafted. Three of them caught at least 45 passes. Of the nine selected in the first three rounds, two of them were in that 45-catch group, including the Packers' Greg Jennings, who hit 45 right on the head.

In 2005, 31 receivers were drafted. Not a single one of them — not even with six first-rounders among 14 taken in the first three rounds — got to our 45-reception measuring stick.

The big difference between those 194 wide receivers and the Packers' Randall Cobb, who was the final pick of the second round in April, is that they all had the luxury of learning the playbook bit by bit for three months, from the beginning of May to the start of training camp in the beginning of August. With the lockout and with no player-organized practices, Cobb's education into the Packers' version of the West Coast scheme won't begin until camp begins.

Fortunately, Cobb's background should ease some of the growing pains. He was a two-time all-state quarterback who was named Tennessee's Mr. Football following his senior season at powerhouse Alcoa High School. He also started four games at quarterback as a true freshman at Kentucky. So, while most receivers enter the league with a bit of tunnel vision, Cobb will have a better feel for the game. He'll also spend much of his time in the slot, where he can learn from Donald Driver.

"They (Alcoa) put a lot of pressure on the quarterback to learn offenses," director of college scouting John Dorsey told Packer Report. "He's just been ingrained in terms of how to see and read defenses from a quarterback's perspective that you normally may not see as a receiver or running back. From playing quarterback, transferring it over to college, he has a broader understanding of what defenses are designed to do, where your normal receiver may not be asked to understand that. That's a benefit and luxury."

That's good, because even on a powerful offensive team like Green Bay, Cobb might not have the luxury of being a role player on offense. If Driver continues to show signs of age and James Jones isn't re-signed, Cobb instantly would be asked to fill a vital role on offense behind Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.


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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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