The Green Bay Packers will begin three weeks of organized team activities following Memorial Day weekend, with the first of those that’s open to the public set for Thursday, May 28. We get you ready with a positional look at the team, which continues with the wide receivers.
Noteworthy: Cobb and Nelson formed a two-headed receiving monster as they combined for 54.2 percent of the team’s receptions, 63.1 percent of the receiving yards and 65.8 percent of the receiving touchdowns. Taking those three percentages into account, they were the most productive duo in the league. The Packers and Broncos were the only teams in the league that had two receivers finish in the top 10 in the league in receptions and receiving touchdowns and top 15 in receiving yards. They also combined for 11 receptions of 40-plus yards. Only six teams had more 40-plus-yard gains through the air than Green Bay’s duo. Nelson, with a four-year extension inked just before the start of training camp last summer, and Cobb, with a four-year deal signed just before the start of free agency, are under contract through the 2018 season.
The stars: Nelson and Cobb go together like a horse and carriage. In other words, like “love” and “marriage,” you can’t have one without the other. That’s why a mere million bucks separate the value of their contracts. With Nelson finally earning league-wide acclaim with his season of 98 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns, Cobb almost quietly put up 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. It wasn’t just a bunch of fluff. They each turned 24 third-down receptions into first downs, tied for third in the league. Cobb tied for the league lead with six touchdowns on third down; Nelson had five. Among wide receivers, they ranked fourth and fifth in the league, respectively, in yards after the catch. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Cobb forced 18 missed tackles — third-most in the league. Nelson led the league with five touchdown catches of 50-plus yards.
The battle: Assuming Adams finds some consistency — 31 of his 46 receptions (including playoffs) came in five games but he had nine games with zero or one catch — he’s locked in at No. 3. That leaves No. 4 a wide-open battle between Janis, Abbrederis and Montgomery. Janis is the favorite, if based on nothing else than coach Mike McCarthy predicting he’s going to take a “big step” after being inactive for most of his rookie season. But Janis has to prove it. Being tall, fast and strong doesn’t mean a darned thing if it doesn’t show up on Sundays. Whoever it is, the Packers need one of those players to step to the forefront to help an offense that struggled in almost every game against a top defense last season.
Rookie impact: Among receivers with at least 50 receptions in the 2015 draft class, Montgomery had the best broken-tackle rate, according to ProFootballFocus.com. That’s part of the attraction with the former Stanford star. If it’s third-and-5 and Montgomery joins Cobb as the slot receivers in a four-receiver set, what’s a defense going to do? Montgomery is a potential matchup nightmare because he’s so athletic and powerful, which should allow him to turn a pass caught short of the sticks into a first down. Between that and the ability to line him up at running back in a Cobb-style package, the opportunities seem limitless. And don’t rule out one of the five undrafted rookies, such as Coxson or Collins, making a run at a roster spot. They potentially offer more special-teams value than Abbrederis, who is coming off a torn ACL.
Quoteworthy: “Obviously, we know what Aaron and Jordy can do,” Cobb said. “I look forward to seeing Davante Adams step up and come into the mix. I think we have a high-powered offense and being able to have all of us stick together for another few years is going to be big, and I think that it makes us hard to stop. You look at the numbers we were able to put up last year and, God willing, we all stay healthy and continue to produce at a high level, I think we’re in the mix year in and year out.”firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.