We are now on to the wide receiver position as I continue on taking a look at the one big question facing each member of this 2021 Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster. You can find the previous positions that I’ve covered below.
Juwann Winfree: Can he build off of his performance at mini-camp?
Yes, I know, it was only mini-camp, but Juwann Winfree was someone who really took advantage of his opportunities. Winfree caught a 50-yard touchdown from Kurt Benkert and another 30-yard touchdown from Jordan Love.
Matt Schneidman of The Athletic would mention that Winfree “stood out on offense,” while Rob Demovsky of ESPN said that he “found ways to get open.” In terms of an under-the-radar name to keep your eyes on, Winfree is one of them.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Can his NFCCG performance vault him to a new level in 2021?
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has certainly had his ups and downs, but with that speed of his, he brings a downfield element to this Green Bay Packers offense that no one else does. After all, he did lead the NFL in yards per catch last season at 20.9.
For all the grief he receives, he’s made many more good plays than bad, and the NFC Championship Game was a prime example of that as he had what I believe is the best game of his career. MVS caught four of six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown and may have had another had Aaron Rodgers not overthrown him.
It’s performances like this one on the big stage that can vault a player to a new stratosphere. Entering a contract year, perhaps 2021 becomes a career season for Valdes-Scantling.
DeAndre Thompkins: Can he be more than a camp body this summer?
Thompkins was an undrafted rookie out of Penn State in 2019, where he caught 60 percent of his 83 career targets at 14.9 yards per catch and with six touchdowns. But in the NFL, he’s been unable to stick, spending some time in Philadelphia in 2019 and some time briefly with Pittsburgh in 2020. Can he show enough during camp to make the Green Bay Packers practice squad?
Malik Taylor: Can special teams earn him a roster spot?
For any back-end of the roster player who isn’t going to see a lot of playing time on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, in most instances, they need to contribute to special teams—otherwise, what are they really providing to the team?
For Malik Taylor, it’s that special teams ability that could differentiate him from the others on the roster that he’s competing with. Over his career, he has taken 210 special teams snaps, far more than anyone else on the back-end of the roster, and during mini-camp, he took his fair share of reps as a gunner. It’s these contributions that could earn him a roster spot.
Equanimeous St. Brown: Will he make the Green Bay Packers’ final roster?
I really feel that St. Brown’s back is up against the wall this summer, and I feel that way for two reasons in particular. One, if the Green Bay Packers only keep five receivers as they did in 2020, then there is really just one roster spot available.
And two, as I referenced above with Taylor, special teams contributions are important for back-end of the roster players, but St. Brown has just 62 career special teams snaps, according to PFF ($$). In a vacuum, Devin Funchess is the far more talented receiver while Taylor and Winfree provide special teams help.
Allen Lazard: How big of a season can Lazard have in 2021?
The 2019 season was Allen Lazard’s breakout year, catching 67 percent of his 52 targets for 477 yards with three touchdowns. He also emerged as a very reliable third-down target for Aaron Rodgers. This past season, however, Lazard missed time with a core injury and appeared in only 10 games. Yet despite the missed time, he nearly matched his 2019 numbers with 451 yards and three touchdowns, including a monster game against New Orleans.
With another year of experience under his belt and now fully healthy, how close to 1,000 yards do you think Lazard can get to?
Bailey Gaither: Can the UDFA put himself in a position to contribute in future years?
As an undrafted rookie and at a position where there is likely just one — or maybe two — roster spots available, it is unlikely that Bailey Gaither makes the initial 53-man roster. But with a strong performance this summer, he can put himself in a position to contribute in future years.
Gaither has already made some plays during mini-camp and OTAs that caught Matt LaFleur’s attention, saying that “Bailey’s done some really cool things.” If Gaither can make the practice squad this season, as it stands, Green Bay will only have Amari Rodgers under contract for the 2022 season, opening the door for Gaither to make the final roster at that point and possibly contribute.
Devin Funchess: What can we expect from Funchess this summer?
The spectrum of where we could see Devin Funchess end up is quite vast. He could become an impact player on third downs and in the red zone with his ability to line up in the slot with that big frame of his. However, he could also end up being cut, as it has been two years since he’s last played in an NFL game. How quickly does he shake off the rust? How quickly does he pick up this Green Bay Packers offense? And does he develop a rapport with QB1?
Chris Blair: Can he show off that big-play ability?
Blair was a 2020 undrafted rookie out of Alcorn State who signed with the Green Bay Packers to a futures deal back in January. At 6’2″ – 206 pounds, Blair ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and brings some serious big-play ability to this team. During his final season at Alcorn State, Blair caught 44 passes for 931 yards at a whopping 21.2 yards per catch. He also hauled in seven touchdowns. If he can show off that type of explosiveness this summer, it’s hard to imagine that Green Bay wouldn’t keep him on the practice squad to continue developing his game.
Reggie Begelton: Can he sneak his way onto the final roster?
After a monster 2019 season in the CFL that included over 1,400 receiving yards, Reggie Begelton entered the 2020 summer as a camp darling of many. But ultimately he spent most of the season on the practice squad, appearing in only one game against Atlanta, and that was as a special teams player.
Like the other fringe roster players on this team at the receiver position, it won’t be easy given how few roster spots are available, and Begelton will have to showcase some special teams abilities. But regardless of what level of football you’re talking about, tallying 1,400 yards and over 100 receptions is quite impressive. He would also show off his YAC ability, with over a third of his receiving yards coming after the catch. The Packers’ coaching staff will need to see these abilities from Begelton this summer.
Davante Adams: Is this his final year with the Green Bay Packers?
There was a report recently from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that the Green Bay Packers and Adams were working on a deal that would make him the highest-paid wide receiver in football. But to this point, nothing has come of it. On the flip side, we’ve also heard Adams talk about playing with his former college quarterback Derek Carr and discuss how Rodgers’ future could impact his decision.
When dealing with contracts of this magnitude, they certainly do take time to complete, and the uncertainty around Rodgers’ contract isn’t helping things either–depending on how this all plays out with the reigning MVP, either way, it’s going to affect the salary cap in 2021 and into the future, which could very well be holding up some other deals that the Packers are working on.
From the outside looking in, it’s difficult to gather where the two parties are at in negotiations, but the longer this plays out, the more the uncertainty surrounding Adams’ future will grow.
Amari Rodgers: Can he take this offense to a new level?
As good as this Green Bay Packers offense was in 2021 — they were first in points per game and first by DVOA — they were missing that true slot receiver presence, and gadget-type player–a role that would have been filled by Tyler Ervin had he been healthy. The addition of Amari Rodgers and his skill-set will provide this offense with an element that they just haven’t had.
Out of the slot, he is a YAC monster — another welcomed sight — and his ability to move around the formation, be utilized as the motion man, as well as on jet sweeps and screens, which will help LaFleur achieve that “illusion of complexity” he often talks about. It’s hard to envision this offense being better, but with Rodgers, they absolutely could be.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus ($$)