Packers Training Camp Report: Just How Good is Randall Cobb?

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Packers WR Randall Cobb
Packers WR Randall Cobb

From the moment Randall Cobb first arrived in Green Bay, it was apparent that the former Kentucky star would add yet another wrinkle in the Packers already potent offense.

As a rookie, Cobb quickly emerged as a homerun threat in the return game—something the Packers haven’t had since the mid 1990s with Desmond Howard. And while Cobb hasn’t collected as much hardware as the former Heisman trophy winner and Super Bowl XXXI MVP, the second-year wide receiver possesses a diverse skillset unparalleled by any Packer in recent memory.

And throughout the early goings of training camp, it’s clear that Cobb is on the verge of an expanded role within the Packers’ offense.

Starting wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson form quite possibly the best duo in all of football, leaving veterans Donald Driver and James Jones as Cobb’s primary competition for playing time. Jones and Driver have shown flashes in training camp, but neither player is the “X-Factor” that Cobb is.

With Cobb, head coach Mike McCarthy feels like a kid in a candy store—if the candy store were located in the middle of Disney World and handing out free Hot Wheels cars.

In just over a week of training camp, Cobb has taken snaps as the team’s placeholder on field goals, lined up in the slot, the perimeter and the backfield, while being featured on bubble screens, reverses and at least one reverse pass.

As a slot receiver, Cobb has shown the ability to settle within holes in zone coverage, and his ability to explode after the catch stands out among his peers. Cobb’s explosiveness was on display towards the end of Sunday night’s practice, as he caught a crossing route from Graham Harrell and immediately accelerated past the defense on the way to what likely would have been a 30-yard touchdown.

It’s unmistakable that Cobb has a very bright future with the Packers. But since his repertoire of offensive skills is different than the rest of the team’s receivers, Cobb could be in line for a heavy workload in his second NFL season.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • Mojo

    The answer to your question Marques is; very good. As a returner, I don’t see him in lets say, a younger Devin Hester’s league. But he is certainly the best we’ve at least since Rossum, and has a chance to be one of the Packers best returners ever. Since I’m comparing him to Hester, I’d say Cobb has a much brighter future as receiver than Hester has had with Chicago. So in this regard, Cobb can have as much or more impact as one of da Bear’s premium players when it’s all said and done.

    • Marques Eversoll

      He’s very good, I agree. And I agree with your assessment that Cobb has more talent as a WR than Hester; however, I think there will come a time down the road when Cobb is too valuable to the team to return kicks. Obviously for the time being, he’s just one part of a stacked WR corps, so he can be utilized as a returner, but I fully expect him to develop into a stud WR (primarily in the slot) and potentially push 1,000-yard seasons.

      Packers fans definitely have reason to be excited about Cobb.

    • Bubbaloo

      I agree Mojo, Cobb’s return abilities may not challenge Hester, but then Hester isn’t even on the same planet as Cobb the receiver! Cobb’s ability to play so many different positions is a real asset, but I keep imagining him “mastering that one position” and just blowing it up into something nobody’s seen before. The guy is really special, and we were sooooooo lucky to get him with a second round pick. (I was actually hoping they’d take him with their first round pick, I didn’t want to lose him to another team)

      • http://None Bearmeat

        Actually, at this stage of Hester’s career, I think Cobb does challenge him. Hester is 30. His good year returning punts last year is overshadowed by the fact that he hadn’t been good in any capacity since 08 before then.

  • Mr. Bacon

    Honestly I don’t like Cobb playing Kick Returner if he is going to be expanded at a Wide Receiver. I honestly from the top of my head, can only think of one person that is a legitimate WR/KR.

    That is DeSean Jackson, but the problem with DeSean is that I see him more speedy than Cobb. Cobb is more a of possession person.

    I don’t have a problem with him this year or next year as a returner, but I would feel much more comfortable if in a few years we can move him away from that role if the Packers feel like he can become a big WR star.

    You would have be a really special person, like Deion Sanders, to be able to pull double duty for a good portion of your NFL considering your playing or defending a Skill-base position. Cobb is great, but I really don’t see him like Deion Sanders.

    • Marques Eversoll

      Funny you say that haha, I just posted the same thing about 30 seconds ago. I assume there will come a time where Cobb is too valuable as a WR to be risked on the field as a KR. However, 2012 isn’t that time.

      Remember, Driver’s contract expires after this year and James Jones’s contract expires after next season. Maybe that’s the point where Cobb’s role shifts to being solely a WR.

      • Mr. Bacon

        Indeed. I don’t have a problem because he is young. The issue is though is that it’s very hard to maintain a Special Teams skill role and a Skill Position role over a career.

        One or the other is going to have to take priority.

        Can Cobb do this, maybe but if I was a betting man. I would rather have him be a KR than a PR going forward in about 2-3 years. That way he is still on the field, but he wouldn’t need to be the primary man.

      • Bubbaloo

        Marques, are you sure about that? I thought Driver signed a renegotiated 2 year contract?

  • BubbaOne

    If Cobb is given the ball on avg 2-3 times a game the RB position is deeper and more explosive. It should allay some concerns fans have expressed.

  • Joe Seidel

    If you could have seen him at Kentucky there would be no question about what he can do. He was Mr. Everything at Uk and did a super job. He just never had the support that the Packers can give him. The sky is the limit on his ability.
    Joe in Ky

  • Big T

    If Cobb stays healthy, I can see him snapping the ball to himself and then throwing himself a touchdown pass and then kicking the extra point too…..

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      no, I think he’ll run it for a two-point conversion. Why settle?

      • steve cheez

        And maybe march in the half-time show and sell beer in the stands when the defense is on the field.
        Or is he going to be the backup nose tackle too?

        • Oppy

          What the hell, he should buy me a beer at halftime, too.

  • tlvincent

    Pretty F’in Good, feels like to me that we have only seen the scratching of the surface with how good Cobb can be in McCarthy’s passing offense. I think of that play vs New Orleans where he caught that short slant and exploded past the Saints DB’s for a TD. You put Jennings on one side, Nelson on the other, and Cobb in the slot, you got 3 guys capable of taking the top off the D or burning you for a long play, you can’t double all of them :) not even mentioning Finley operating in the middle too. Cobb is really in the perfect situation where his talents/skills will have the best opportunity to succeed, not always the case for every NFL player.