The Green Bay Packers knew they couldn’t replace Davante Adams with a single wide receiver. Even if there was a great option available, it’s unrealistic to expect someone new to come in and replicate the partnership Adams had with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, their approach was always going to be trying to find multiple options to rebuild the room to give head coach Matt LaFleur different styles of receivers. The ultimate goal was to build a new version of the offense that takes advantage of what each receiver does well.
And that’s what general manager Brian Gutekunst has done. Since trading Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, Gutekunst has added four receivers, three of them through last week’s draft. He’s using a logic that might look like a cliché, but it applies well to what the Packers need: building the WR room as if it was a basketball team. The additions of Sammy Watkins via free agency, plus Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure in the draft allow Green Bay to have flexibility in the position, including long-term. Before the draft, slot receiver Amari Rodgers was the only wideout signed beyond 2022.
Green Bay prioritized speed. According to Zebra Technology, Watson and Doubs were amongst the draft’s top five in max speed during the Senior Bowl practice. Watkins also offers velocity when healthy. But, besides speed, the new receivers fit the offense in different ways.
Allen Lazard is the big guy. A 6’5”, 227 lb. receiver, he is built almost like a tight end. Throughout his career in Green Bay, Lazard has been a reliable possession receiver with a good connection with Rodgers to convert first downs. Last season, Lazard played more than half of his snaps from the slot. But that should change now. As a big-bodied wideout, he can be used more as the X receiver if Watkins isn’t occupying the role.
Christian Watson is a long, slender receiver. He’s almost as tall as Lazard but significantly lighter and faster. The second-round pick replaces Marquez Valdes-Scantling as Green Bay’s deep threat. He can have an immediate impact if the Packers are able to explore what he does best. Watson had a limited production at North Dakota State because the school uses a run-centric approach.
“He’s a big, fast, physical receiver. We think his best football is ahead of him,” Gutekunst said after the selection. “We brought him in for one of our 30 visits, got a chance to spend a lot of time with him. Really smart kid who we feel will fit our culture. He’s got really good tape, his athletic traits are off the charts, and the more we got to know him as a person, we felt really good about him.”
The Packers need to do two things with their new receiver. The first is to find a way to adapt the old MVS role for him. The second is to develop Watson into a more complete player, with the mindset that Watson can be the WR1 of the future.
Veteran Sammy Watkins and rookie Romeo Doubs are both fast receivers. They are not as tall as Lazard and Watson, but they have average height and play as wideouts. Watkins can be the best option to be the X receiver in 2022 if he is able to stay healthy. Due to his small salary and the fact that the Packers drafted three receivers, Watkins isn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster. However, he should be an experienced weapon who has already played under LaFleur with the Los Angeles Rams.
As a fourth-round pick, Doubs is more of a developmental player, but he can take the top off the defense and is powerful enough to face defensive backs.
“We liked his play speed. We thought he played fast on tape,” said Packers director of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan. “He’s a fairly big kid. We thought he was very intriguing. Good value where we got him. Good week at the Senior Bowl. We think he’s got some upside to grow into a player.”
Samori Toure has the same height as Watkins and is just one inch shorter than Doubs, but he is much lighter at 190 lbs. He is also a different type of receiver and plays primarily from the slot.
“When you look back at his last year at Montana, he had a huge year, 1,300 or some yards, 10 touchdowns. Transferred to Nebraska, put up good numbers there,” said Gutekunst.
The seventh-round pick will compete with the traditional slot receivers for offensive snaps, but he is more of a vertical threat.
After the draft, the Packers have enough weapons to be competitive. Now it’s a matter of development, both from the rookies and Amari Rodgers. It’s also how the offensive staff will be able to integrate the new pieces and how Aaron Rodgers will get along with inexperienced players. There is time, and now talent, to have an effective passing offense.