While the Green Bay Packers’ season ended abruptly in the NFC Championship game, their deep playoff run has the fanbase encouraged moving forward. First-year head coach Matt LaFleur brought a unique offensive scheme and mindset to the team, meshing well with veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While there were improvements, the Packers still have missing pieces to fully unlock the offense. Looking deep into their offensive performance this season, one of their major 2020 NFL Draft needs has to be at the wide receiver position. Despite having a dominant WR1 in Davante Adams, the Packers’ depth behind him leaves a bit to be desired.

Team Needs

Second on the team in receiving yards was Allen Lazard (477 yards), a second-year player who was an undrafted free agent originally signed by Jacksonville. Close in production to Lazard was Marquez Valdes-Scantling (452 yards), another boundary presence receiver who does most of his work down the field.

Lazard and Valdes-Scantling both have excellent size profiles, but neither one has the combination of quickness and agility to project into a full route tree. The same goes for depth wide receiver Geronimo Allison (287 yards), giving the Packers solid depth across from Adams.

The Green Bay Packers should be looking to improve the wide receiver slot position, as they’re desperate to add speed and route running to their depth chart. Looking at their potential draft options at that spot, there is a likely day two receiver who fits their needs to a tee. The prospect who could change the dynamic of their entire offense is Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr.

Is Bowden Jr. the best fit?

Bowden Jr. could prove to be one of the more difficult evaluations of the draft class, as he was forced into playing quarterback for the final eight games of the season. Before that, he was Kentucky’s leading receiver in 2018 and through the first five games of 2019. Listed at 6’1 and 199 pounds, Bowden Jr. was primarily a running QB who racked up over 1,400 rushing yards on the season.

Bowden Jr. is a natural with the football in his hands, no matter the avenue in which he carries it. He finished his collegiate career with 1,530 rushing yards, 1,303 receiving yards, 1,827 return yards, and 21 total touchdowns. While playing quarterback over the stretch of 2019, he was electric once he broke into the open field. He has the acceleration, elusiveness, and power to force missed tackles at all three levels. According to PFF, Bowden Jr. forced eight more missed tackles on 31 fewer designed runs than 2020 Draft RB1 candidate D’Andre Swift.

While Bowden Jr. only started at wide receiver for 18 collegiate games, his tape shows that his transition to the NFL at that position will be a smooth one. In the ten previous games before Bowden Jr. started taking more QB reps, he posted 64 receptions, 784 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He did that while averaging 24.9 yards per punt return with an additional 2 touchdowns.

Bowden Jr. should become a versatile piece for an NFL offense, but his main home will be in the slot. With his fluidity and long speed, he can stretch the field from the slot and finish at the catch point with body control. 

Bowden Jr. is a detailed route runner despite his lack of starting experience at receiver, capable of running the full route tree. He’s shown the ability to run routes while getting jammed, or move laterally in his stem and get vertical afterward. With his ability after the catch, his separation will become a dangerous weapon for an NFL team.

Bowden Jr. will draw comparisons to former Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who was also a quarterback to wide receiver and returner convert at Kentucky. Funny enough, Bowden Jr. is the ideal choice to fill the role once occupied by Cobb in the Packers passing attack.

For Rodgers to continue his level of play, Green Bay needs to improve his surrounding weapons. That starts with selecting Bowden Jr. in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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