The Green Bay Packers head into training camp this year with many questions concerning their wide receiver corps following the departure of star wide-receiver Davante Adams and reliable number two receiver, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. It’s no secret the weakest part of the offense lies with the wide receivers, but how does the rest of the offense hold up? That’s what we’ll aim to answer as we look at the different positional groups of the Packers and assign them a letter grade.
Even with the departure of Adams, the Packers are still a threat to win the NFC North and be a playoff contender because of the future Hall of Fame Quarterback under center: Aaron Rodgers. The four-time MVP inked a three year, $150.8 million contract extension in the off-season to captain the offense for the foreseeable future.
At QB2, Jordan Love waits for his opportunity to prove the Packers didn’t waste their 2020 first round pick on him. While the selection of Love could have been what propelled Rodgers to back-to-back MVPs, the pick can, unfortunately, still be seen as a waste as despite showing flashes here and there, Love’s performance has been underwhelming in his limited snaps over the course of the 2021 season. Should the Packers need to turn to Love at any point in the upcoming season, the offense would surely struggle.
Running Backs: A
In the backfield the Packers have a pair of running backs that are one of the best duos in the NFL. The premier back, Aaron Jones, has been very productive in the Matt LaFleur system, posting 4,226 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns. Jones is a solid back who thrives in the offense and will most likely see more use this upcoming season in an offense that may mirror his use in 2019.
Backing up Jones, and coming off somewhat of a breakout season, is third year running back AJ Dillion. The second round draft pick saw an increase in his use last year, but he definitely wasn’t utilized enough given his ability. Dillion’s ability to break nearly every tackle with his power rushing ability is almost a guaranteed four to five yards every play, making him a formidable back when it comes to short yardage situations.
Wide Receivers: D+
The departure of Adams means Rodgers no longer has a go-to receiver, someone who can shine whenever needed. Additionally, the loss of Marquez Valdes-Scantling means the Packers also don’t have a deep-threat who can extend the field. Heading into training camp, the wide receiver corps consists of Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Juwan Winfree, Amari Rodgers, and newly drafted receivers Christain Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure.
Cobb and Lazard were reliable targets for Rodgers last year, with Cobb making many big-time catches and Lazard being an excellent blocker in the run game. Lazard’s receiving ability may not even come close to Adams, but his 40 catches on 60 targets for 513 yards means that he would have been on pace for over a thousand yards if his targets were doubled, and with over 180 targets to spare following the departure of Adams and Valdes-Scantling, there are plenty of targets for Lazard to inherit.
Amari Rodgers, Malik Taylor and Juwann Winfree are the remaining receivers that have caught a pass from Rodgers. The three of them combined for 14 catches, 117 yards, and zero touchdowns in 2021. In fact only Taylor has caught a touchdown pass from Rodgers, and that was back in 2020. Second year receiver, Amari Rodgers, had a underwhelming rookie season last year with only 4 catches for 45 yards, although it’s easy to pin this lack of production on the existence of Adams; however even in the week eight matchup against Arizona, a game where the Packers were without Adams, Lazard, and MVS, Rodgers only managed one catch for seven yards, while Winfree managed four catches for 30 yards.
Sammy Watkins is a solid pick-up for the Packers and could produce some with Rodgers throwing him the ball, but his signing is most likely for nothing more than depth. Only time will tell if draft selections Christain Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure are able to help fill the void left by Adams, but it is unlikely that they will have the same impact other first year wide receivers have had recently, such as Justin Jefferson or Jamarr Chase.
The Packers receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired and until we get to see all of these new receivers in action, it’s hard to tell how useful they will be. There are just too many question marks in the corps to have much, if any, confidence in them quite yet, though there will be plenty of opportunities for the receivers to prove themselves this upcoming season.
Tight Ends: B
The Packers tight end group is an underrated part of the team. Entering his 17th NFL season, Mercedes Lewis has become one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, and this blocking ability has made him a big part of the Packers offense. While his receiving ability isn’t as strong, the Packers don’t need him to catch the ball. Instead they rely on the receiving ability of 5th year TE Robert Tonyan. While Tonyan’s ACL tear during the Packers week eight matchup against the Arizona Cardinals sidelined him for most of the 2021 season and most likely the first couple weeks of 2022, he is still a solid red zone weapon for Rodgers. Two years removed from a season in which he hauled in 11 touchdowns, and with Tonyan on a 1-year extension, Rodgers will likely look to Tonyan in an effort to fill the void left by Adams.
The Packers have a great history of drafting and developing offensive lineman, outside of Tony Mandarich who we will pretend doesn’t exist, to build consistently top 10 offensive lines. This year is no different as the Packers head into the 2022 season with a left tackle and a left guard who are top 2 at their positions in David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins respectively. Bakhtiari rarely saw the field last year due to an ACL tear he suffered at the end of the 2020 season, however he should be healthy for week one kickoff. Jenkins, who suffered a torn ACL in November of the 2021 season, is expected to be back at some point during the season. In their absences, Yosh Nijman and Joyce Newman did a solid job filling the gap left by the two all-pros. 2021 draft picks Jon Runyan and Josh Myers also performed well in their first season and will most likely see improvement in the coming weeks.
So long as the offensive line can remain at even 75% strength and with either Bahktiari or Jenkins remaining healthy the length of season, we will see the Packers once again have a top five offensive line in 2022.