Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson’s track record with his early-round wide receiver picks speaks for itself.
There was Greg Jennings and James Jones, then Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. All four developed into excellent players. At times last season, Davante Adams looked like he’d be the latest player to join that parade of stars.
That was never more apparent than in the NFC wild card game against Dallas, when Adams hauled in seven passes for 117 yards and one touchdown in his playoff debut. Those numbers set franchise records for a rookie, and the 117 yards were the sixth-most by a rookie in NFL postseason history.
There were other games, however, when Adams was practically nonexistent. Including the Dallas game, Adams had 31 receptions in five games. In the other 12, Adams had only 15. In the game after his five big performances, Adams had a total of six receptions for 55 yards.
Consistency was elusive, which isn’t uncommon for rookie receivers. In NFL history, there have been only 17 1,000-yard seasons by a rookie wide receiver. So guys like Odell Beckham, who burst onto the scene with 91 catches for 1,305 yards in just 12 games, are the exception rather than the rule.
With a year under his belt, Adams took advantage of his first offseason with the team. He showed growing chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who didn’t always trust Adams to be in the right place at the right time last season.
“Davante’s (a) guy that the arrow is pointing up,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said. “The ability to make the plays he made for us late in the season I think gave him confidence coming in that he can be a go-to guy in our system. Having Randall and Jordy in that room have been huge for him because now he knows how to be a pro, how to practice, how to take care of your body. I think now in his second year and going through an offseason, it’s really shown up. He’s flashed out there, for sure, but we still have room to grow.”
McCarthy preaches the need for players to take a big jump forward between their first and second seasons. That hasn’t always been the case with the receivers during his tenure, though. While Cobb more than tripled his reception count and Jennings went from three touchdowns to 12, Nelson and Jones went the other way before the production soared during their third seasons.
Only time will tell what the next step will be for Adams, but with defenses certain to pay close attention to Nelson and Cobb, the matchups should be favorable or Adams. And with what McCarthy described as a “tremendous” offseason, Adams seems more likely to take a big step forward than a small step back in 2015.
“It means that my work and my approach to practice and meetings and everything is not being ignored,” Adams said of the “MVP” comment. “They’re taking note of everything I’m doing, which means a lot to me. I want it to be more than that. That’s the first step. Now, I want to be the MVP of the minicamp and training camp and then go out there and do some damage.”
Packers Receivers as Rookies
|Player||Yr-Rnd||Year 1 Rec||Yards||Avg.||TDs||Year 2 Rec||Yards||Avg.||TDs|
NFL’s 2014 Rookie Receivers
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.