The Green Bay Packers front office is one of the most unique front offices among aspiring championship teams. Over the last several years this front office has assembled a roster filled with an elite quarterback, a top notch offensive line, one of the best secondaries in the league as well as a great pass rush. But there’s one problem. Brian Gutekunst, the General Manager, has already hamstrung this team and cost them a championship in 2022.
The reason the Packers have already cost themselves a championship in 2022 is something they have faced criticism for the last several years. This is their lack of playmakers. Yes they’ve signed Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins from Baltimore, yes they will be getting Tight End Robert Tonyan back from his ACL tear and yes they drafted three rookie receivers on days two and three of the draft. This simply isn’t enough.
The Receiving Corp:
First let’s address the notable veterans playmakers on this team, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb. Starting with Allen Lazard it’s actually quite simple. Packers fans need to get over their strange obsession with him. When you turn on the tape Lazard is quite slow, allows himself to get bodied by bigger corners, and he’s at best an average route runner. In 2021 he had a PFF grade of 65.5 and a drop grade of 57.5. Lazard had a drop rate of 7% in 2021, his lowest in his three true years starting, but when you are as slow as him you should be reeling in more catches. Next up is Watkins, a veteran playmaker that has floated around on multiple teams in his career. Watkins is already considered a roster bubble candidate on the team, but even disregarding that, he is a low end WR two. Even in Patrick Mahomses earth shattering 2018 season Watkins could only put up 500 yards. Another issue is his health. Watkins has not played a full season since his rookie year in 2014. Now let’s discuss Aaron Rodgers best friend Randall Cobb. Cobb is an older, slower slot receiver, but he makes up for this by being a nuanced route runner and reliable pair of hands. By no means is Cobb some top ten slot receiver, he is simply a dependable number three option in the slot at this point in his career. This is reflected in his PFF grade in 2021, a grade of 72. This grade is actually his best since 2014 during the Mike McCarthy tenure. He will certainly help this team compete, but he simply cannot carry this receiving corp on his back.
The place where the Packers are truly depending on this season is in their three young playmakers Chrstian Watson, Amari Rodgers, and Romeo Doubs. Watson is easily the number one source of hope in this receiving corp. The Packers paid up to trade up with the Vikings in order to secure him. Coming out of college Watson is known as an explosive vertical playmaker, the exact type of player you should be pairing with Aaron Rodgers. The sky’s the limit with him in his career but it is incredibly unlikely he manages to have an elite rookie season which is exactly what this team needs to win a championship. Amari Rodgers is a fascinating discussion to have. A third round pick out of Clemson last year, Rodgers had an abysmal rookie year. With a PFF grade of 60.6, paired with a drop grade of 41.6 he lost himself many snaps late in the season. On the field when you watched him he looked slow and lost, never a good pairing for an NFL player. The hope is he can step up and eventually be the Cobb replacement in the slot, but only time will tell if he can develop. The final young playmaker to discuss is Romeo Doubs, a fourth round pick out of Nevada. He is your typical early day three prospect. A player that has talent in certain areas, in this case route running and dependability. But he also has a problem with physicality. Corners can bump him around at will which is why he wasn’t considered an early day two player. The hope is he can develop some strength to his game and develop into a nice fourth receiver. But as a rookie he will not provide the type of capabilities the Packers need in order to win a ring this season. The Packers also have young playmakers in Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Samori Toure and Danny Davis. These low end depth players are simply not a major focal point to this offense unless they can prove otherwise in camp.
The Tight End Room:
Now let’s quickly discuss the tight end room. There are three players relevant enough to discuss in this room and they are Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, and Josiah Deguara. Tonyan is another interesting case, He is returning from a torn ACL in 2021 and you always have to factor in that he may not be the same player after. But even if he is, the fact remains Robert Tonyan is not some top ten elite playmaker like Packers fans treat him as. He is obviously a good player, a decent blocker but he is not some athletic matchup nightmare. Nor is he some remarkable route runner. Yes he had a good 2020 season where he caught 11 touchdowns, but if you go back and watch that season over, a lot of his production came on leak outs to the flat.
There is nothing wrong with him as tight end one by itself, but when you pair it with the Packers bottom tier receiver group, it will not be enough to propel the Packers to the Super Bowl. As for veteran Marcedes Lewis, he is a slow blocking tight end with good reliable hands. He doesn’t get many targets in this offense but at least when he does the Packers can rely on him to bring the ball in. The final notable tight end is Josiah Deguara. Deguara was a 2020 third round pick out of Cincinnati. In 2021 he recorded a PFF grade of 58, certainly not a ringing endorsement. When he has been out on the field it has been easy to see he has not been running the right routes and even when he does, he isn’t some remarkable athlete. The only reason he is relevant in the discussion is because he was a third round pick two seasons ago and this coaching staff seems to like him because they continue to put him out on the field. At the moment he is a third tight end. Should any injuries take place and he becomes more than that, then the tight end room will be more of a liability then it will be helpful. The tight end room also has Sal Cannella, Dominique Dafney, Tyler Davis and Alize Mack.
This receiving corp is not one that can win you a championship. If the Packers want to win this season they need to look at adding additional playmakers through free agency or a trade. Until and unless they do this, the front office will remain the reason this team once again falls short of a ring. But that’s nothing new. The front office has been holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers back from another championship for a decade.