With just over a week before the Green Bay Packers kick off their 101st regular-season, some critical roster decisions still lie ahead. The most prominent position of interest for many, as we move towards the roster cut deadline, is the wide receiver position.
The Packers have had several young receivers show up this preseason and strongly pitch their claim to a roster spot. However, with limited roster spots, there is not enough room for everyone. Assuming Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are all locks to make the final 53, there are limited spots available for the eight other receivers currently battling to make the team. Here are the biggest names on the bubble for the Packers, and what they should do with those players.
Trevor Davis — Keep
Trevor Davis has been a polarizing name for a while. Drafted in the fifth round in 2016 primarily as a return specialist, Davis has filled that role well for the team but has also flashed potential as a pass-catcher. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him from making any breakthroughs. With a loaded receiving corps this offseason, he needed to stay healthy, deliver on the field, and show the organization why he’s worth a roster spot.
So far throughout OTAs, training camp, and three games of the preseason, he has delivered on most of these promises. Davis did miss some time with a stinger, which cost him valuable reps in week two against the Baltimore Ravens. When he’s been on the field, his play has been stellar.
Davis was a standout during offseason activities, a standout during training camp before his injury, and has regained traction since coming back from that injury with a huge performance against the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg last week. The injury history is definitely a concern, and inconsistency issues in the past cannot be something to gloss over. But with the strides of improvement he has shown from last year to the start of this year paired with the added value he brings on special teams, it’s hard to keep Davis off the roster.
J’Mon Moore — Cut
It’s tough to move on from a fourth-round pick just one year after being drafted. Unfortunately for J’Mon Moore, that could very soon become his reality.
Moore was an exciting pick coming out of Missouri because of the production he saw at the college level. He produced back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons as a receiver in 2016 and 2017 and led the SEC in yards in 2016.
So far, that production has failed to translate to the NFL level. Despite being the highest selected out of three receivers taken in the 2018 draft for the Packers, Moore saw significantly less playing time than the other two. Both Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown showed flashes of promise in 2018, while J’ mon Moore managed to catch just two balls on three targets.
So far this preseason, Moore has caught just three passes for 12 yards and has shown a continued pattern of dropping passes. Is one year enough time to confidently give up on J’mon Moore: absolutely not. But the reality is, there is so much talent at the position already, Green Bay doesn’t need to sit around and wait for Moore to develop.
Jake Kumerow — Keep
If Green Bay gets rid of Jake Kumerow, we will probably be watching him tear it up in Super Bowl 57, catching passes from an ageless Tom Brady.
When you have a Hall of Famer like Aaron Rodgers behind center, he doesn’t need supreme talent and athleticism around him to succeed. For as great as a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. is, Rodgers wouldn’t need his unbelievable circus catch ability to bail him out. What he does need around him, however, are smart, efficient, and reliable players who can deliver when put into a position to make plays. Jake Kumerow provides all of those things, and for that reason is a no-brainer to make the 53-man roster.
Some fans have taken Kumerow’s story to the NFL and run with it, anointing him “Touchdown Jesus” and expecting him to bring the same level of production to the Packers as New England’s Julian Edelman. To that, we need to pump the breaks.
With Adams, MVS, and Allison, all ahead of him, it will be tough for Kumerow to carve out a consistent role of repeated production. However, he has done the one thing that grants a golden ticket to a roster spot: He has gained Aaron Rodgers’ trust.
Darius Shepherd — Cut
Letting go of Darius Shepherd is a tough pill to swallow. The undrafted rookie has done nothing but prove he is worthy of an NFL contract since coming to Green Bay. He would likely find a job quite easily if let go by the Packers. The problem for Green Bay is that of need. Many people are speculating the battle for the final roster spot is between Shepherd and Allen Lazard. I would argue that the battle is more between Shepherd and Davis.
Both players have similar body types and skillsets. They are smaller, speedy guys who will primarily play out of the slot on offense, and also have the ability to impact the return game. I find it hard to believe they will carry both players, especially considering neither projects to be a main focal point in the offense.
I like Davis over Shepherd slightly, just because of the experience and the growth that he has shown from last year. I will admit, the battle is extremely close, and I could easily be swayed to Shepherd’s side.
Allen Lazard — Keep
Allen Lazard was on the outside looking in just a week ago, but with the injury to Equanimeous St. Brown on Thursday night, the door has been opened for Lazard to make the team. Assuming St. Brown goes on IR, Lazard would be the no-brainer option to round out the receiving corps going into the season.
At 6’5 227 pounds, Lazard’s size jumps off the screen. Despite his lack of speed (4.55 at the combine), that type of size is incredibly hard to find in the NFL. Even without an elite toolbox in his arsenal, no doubt pairing him with Aaron Rodgers on Sundays would create a matchup nightmare for defenses.
Lazard may be more of a developmental project at this stage, but he’s a perfect reserve for Adams and MVS in the short-term, and if nothing else he can be used as a compelling red zone threat. Adding size to the Packers receivers room will only help Rodgers in 2019.
Ethan Knipfer is a writer for PFN covering the NFC North. You can follow Ethan on twitter at @Ethan_Knipfer.