Ted Thompson Back to Collecting Wide Receivers

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Ted Thompson looking for wide receivers
Wait, is that a wide receiver over there?

Shhhhhh… be vewy, vewy qwiet… It’s wabbit wide receiver season…

Trapper Ted is up to his old tricks., i.e.,  his normal off-season compulsive collecting of no-name wide receivers. On Wednesday, the Packers signed Alex Gillett, a 6’1″, 214lb former QB turned receiver from Eastern Michigan.

That brings the number of wide receivers currently on the Packers roster to eleven. That may seem like a lot at first glance, but it’s actually fairly normal for the Packers. I know this because I remember calling a few years in a row for the Packers to carry one less wide receiver on the camp roster so that they could bring in a second placekicker to make Mason Crosby actually, you know, earn his spot.

But no, we can’t waste a precious roster spot on a second kicker, I kept hearing. Well lo and behold, look what the Packers have done this season. Hey, they even went out and got an Italian kicker – Mama mia!

But before this veers off into another epic Crosby rant (I’m kind of due, aren’t I), let’s get back to the subject at hand.

The argument in favor of bringing so many receivers to camp has always been that they need camp bodies to run routes during practices so the main receivers don’t get worn out. I totally bought into that theory, but still felt it was a waste with the Packers only keeping five wide receivers – until last year.

Last season, the Packers actually brought 12 receivers into camp. (Borel, Boykin, Brewer, Cobb, Driver, Curenski, Gurley, Jennings, Jones, Moss, Nelson, Smithson). Many speculated they could keep seven. I expected them to keep six, what with Donald Driver being given a mercy roster spot after his fan popularity shot through the roof thanks to his Dancing with the Stars win. But seven?

The two players most assumed had the best chances of being #6 and #7  (Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley) were sent packing, while relative unknown Jarret Boykin (a rookie camp tryout invitee) was the surprise choice as the #6 receiver. In October, the Packers signed Jeremy Ross to the practice squad and signed him to the active roster on Dec 1. So the Packers did end up with seven wide receivers after all.

What will happen this year? Of the current eleven wide receivers on the roster, only Cobb, Nelson and Jones have more than one year of NFL experience. Scary, if you think about it too much. That basically means there’s a wide open 8-man competition for 2-3 spots. Household names like Sederrik Cunningham, Kevin Dorsey, Charles Johnson, Tyrone Walker, Miles White and the newly signed Gilettt will be battling Boykin and Ross to be part of this Packers receiver corps. Warm and fuzzy?

Think about that for awhile and it will become even more clear why the Packers drafted two running backs…

 

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • Savage57

    The difference between this year and last, is that now there is a much higher probability that whoever sticks from the ‘newbies’ has a legitimate shot at significant playing time. And along with that the pressure to consistently perform when that field time comes.

    The Packers will be going from the abundance of WR’s to choose from as a luxury to a necessity. With any luck at all, TT will stay true to form and offset his relatively weak track record with linemen by unearthing some more pass-catching gems for AR.

  • Brooklyn81

    Miles White, Boykin, and Charles Johnson will make the active roster. Dorsey will be on the ps . Ross will be waived and another team will take him.

    • Savage57

      Holy crap! Can I borrow your crystal ball to pick some lottery numbers?

  • Razer

    I agree with your point that some of these guys are needed for training camp and OTA practice targets. With the loss of Driver and Jennings, we do have at least two spots open and both Ross and Boykin can be subject to upgrade.

    Despite the numbers, I am a little concerned that we might actually be a little thin with starting talent. If one of Nelson/Jones/Cobb goes down, we are basically throwing inexperience into the fire. We saw how that played out in the San Fran game. Hopefully, there is enough true talent to build the next generation receiving corps

    • Batavia Greg

      I agree, Razer. We are thin at WR with starting talent. The Pack may regret that TT passed on talent like Quinton Patton, Tavarres King, Kenny Stills and Corey Fuller in the fourth and fifth rounds in this year’s draft.

      • Dobber

        Kenny Stills? That guy must be, like, 50.

        • Batavia Greg

          Cool. Kenny Stills, Sr.,turns 50 this year. Kenny,Jr., the WR not DB, is only 21. He would have been a perfect fit for the Pack. Too bad the Saints nabbed him in the fifth round.

          • Stroh

            I’m a bit of an OU fan and seens Stills quite a few times. To be honest I’m higher on our 7th rd guys than Stills. He never impressed me.

            • Batavia Greg

              So, you are more impressed with Kevin Dorsey, who last year as a senior at Maryland caught 18 passes for 4 TDs. And, you are more impressed with Charles Johnson, who attended 3 different colleges, finishing with Division II powerhouse, Grand Valley State, where he did catch 72 passes for 16 TDs. Interesting . . .

              In comparison, last year as a junior, and against top Division I competition, Stills caught 82 passes for 964 yrds and 11 touchdowns. He runs a 4.38 40 yd. dash, which is faster than Dorsey and equal to Johnson.

              Stills would not have been my first WR choice for the Pack, that would have been Quinton Patton, which TT passed in order to select J.C. Tretter. Nonetheless, I think Stills would have been a great pick, given his dad’s history as a Packer from 1985-89.

              • Stroh

                Damn Right I am! Dorsey is bigger, quicker, and much more explosive than Stills. Stills has only speed. But for being bigger by 2 in and ~15 lbs he was better in the quickness drills. Dorsey played w/ 5 QB’s his Sr and the best was a Sophmore. They went thru a few Freshman before ending the season w/ a Freshman LB that was a HS QB. No wonder he didn’t have success!

                Stills success was very much system driven and he had one of the best QB’s in college throwing to him! Stills numbers were a product of the system and a QB w/ NFL skills! Dorsey had Nobodies throwing to him. And in Dorsey’s Jr seaaon he had a very good year. I’ll take his size and overall athleticism over Still pedestrian numbers (other than 40 speed).

        • Dobber

          Not that there’s anything wrong with 50…they say 50 is the new 52.

  • zerotolerance

    We need eleven receivers to run routes? But I thought we need four QBs so that their arms are not worn out.

  • JimR_in_DC

    Jersey Al says: “Think about that for awhile and it will become even more clear why the Packers drafted two running backs…”

    Yep, we’re finally going to become a running team. ;)

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      three yards and a cloud of dust!

      • JimR_in_DC

        Hahaha!

      • Batavia Greg

        “three yards and a cloud of dust!” — NOT with our O Line.

  • Escobar

    I don’t think the reason for drafting two running backs has/had any correlation with the wide receivers. I think it had a lot more to do with needing balance, and you don’t want to be playing musical chairs with guys like Benson(old), Grant(signed off the scrap heap), Starks(always injured), and Green(hasn’t shown much). Jennings showed something, but is too small and too much of an unknown to go into the season with as the main guy. We’ll still be a passing team, but if we HAVE to run the ball, at least these guys should give us a chance.

    As far as these unknown receivers, Jennings, Jones, and especially Driver were relative unknowns coming out of college. Our top three are set, and Cobb is likely to have a huge season. If Nelson can stay healthy and Jones is anywhere near last season, we shouldn’t have to rely on the young guys much anyway. With that said, Thompson has always had a knack for finding pass catchers, and it wouldn’t surprise if one of these guys played at least a rotational role this year.

    • http://Allpackers.com Nick perry

      Johnson!! I’m telling you guys, he’ll actually be somewhat a factor in the offense this year. 6’2″ with 4.39 speed and 39″ vertical, gotta love it. He’s my sleeper pick!

      • Batavia Greg

        Dream on, Nick.

  • Oppy

    Is it really all that strange to have three really good WR’s, one second year player, and a rook or two for a WR corps?

    I don’t know, but to me, having three high-quality guys and two youngins doesn’t worry me in the least. 3 WR, with a TE or two, with this team, is more than enough to keep a defense occupied. Boykin should be ready to contribute more, and the 5th WR can get his feet wet from the sideline most of the season and maybe even see a few snaps towards the end of the year.

    I see no reason to be uneasy- even if a guy goes down.

  • bobalou13

    Actually, you have to keep in mind that we are really only replacing one, injury-prone player, Jennings. Popular as he was, Driver was a waste of a roster spot, essentially. High hopes for Boykin this year and Johnson also. Size and speed combination for Johnson is impressive. Could be a tough match-up. And, don’t forget Finley playing for a contract again. Bet he has a big year.

    • Dobber

      I agree with you on Finley. I think he’ll be more focused than we’ve seen recently, and if ARod really does have more confidence in him, he could really make some hay in the deep middle. He’s a big reason why I’m not super concerned about WR depth.

  • BrianD

    I’m watching for Johnson to become the next Donald Driver. 7th round pick from a small school who becomes an impact player for years to come.

    We’ve needed more receivers since Favre retired. He’d always slack off in the offseason, so we’d have fewer QBs to throw the ball to receivers. At least Rodgers is present, giving more receivers the chance to show their stuff.

    • Batavia Greg

      Johnson the next Donald Driver? Anything is possible, but this is highly improbable. Don’t forget, Driver played for Alcorn St., which is in the Southwest Athletic Conference with some pretty good football teams (Mississippi St., Jackson St., Alabama A&M, etc.). That conference has produced many NFL players over the years. Johnson, who put up some good numbers as a receiver at Grand Valley State, played in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate conference. That conference includes powerhouses like Tiffin, Hillsdale, Northwood and Ohio Dominican. If GVSU would have played the Little Sisters of the Poor, the game wouldn’t have been decided until the 4th quarter.

      • http://Allpackers.com Nick perry

        Hey Chester Marcol came out of Hillsdale!!

        • Batavia Greg

          So did Jared Veldheer of the Raiders. Hillsdale truly is a football powerhouse!

    • http://hotmail Woody

      Ummm cuz they only have a 53 man roster? And contrary to popular believe, there are 3 aspects to any team… offense, defense AND special teams!!!! Special teams is not just the PK or P.

  • http://allpackers.com nick perry

    Will someone please help me understand something??? Why is it M.M. is always considering using vital players on offense and defense on special teams? For example, I keep reading their considering Cobb and now Franklin to be the return men. I know Franklin is a rookie, only a 4th rounder at that but I think the guy is going to be a hell of a RB in this league. I don’t think I need to mention why it makes me sick to think of Cobb still on return duty. Two thoughts come to mind that make mne feel like this. One when Cobb got smashed towards the end of last year and kinda limped off the field. The Packers NEED Cobb on offense. Period!! The other? In the first preseason game, after reading that Devon House was a beast through OTA’s and camp, he was hurt on the first kickoff coverage play of the preseason. Hurt his shoulder and it seemed to kill his chances as being one of the starting corners. I know part of it’s a numbers game but damn guys, I don’t want to keep losing key players of the offense and defense on special teams. Just please explain why they risk these players health and importance to the team on special teams. PLEASE!

    • Oppy

      The answer is simple, it’s two fold (and a half), and you’re not going to like it.

      1) Special teams play is far more important to success in the NFL than most NFL fans choose to believe, so having impact players on all four ST units is important.

      2) With the the NFL postitions becoming increasingly specialized (Pass rush specialists, run stoppers, coverage LBs, 3rd down backs, etc, and so forth), and the active game day roster still being limited to 53, it is becoming harder and harder to set aside nine to eleven roster spots specifically for “ST players” outside of a punter or kicker.

      2.5)Despite popular belief and what seems like logical reasoning, I don’t know that there is any hard data that shows that playing a down on special teams is any more dangerous than playing a down on offense or defense.

      • Stroh

        Pretty much agree w/ all this. Except the Active game day roster is 46 and the roster limit is 53, of which 7 are inactive. ST may be a little more dangerous, but you can’t play scared in the NFL. If your best return man isn’t a full time starting player, he still has to be on some ST. Personally, I think Cobb should be the Punt Returner and they should use Franklin or Harris as the Kick Returner. Unless they find someone who is as good on PR as Cobb he should still be out there. KR has been shown to have a higher injury rate, but I think Franklin or Harris can be as good and possibly better at KR than Cobb.

  • Dobber

    Health is the key, even with 3 quality WR. My expectation, with a corps of RB that can block and can catch the ball effectively, is that we’ll see fewer empty backfields in 2013.

    If one of those guys goes down, hopefully Finley will be playing well enough that he won’t be missed. All four of Cobb-Finely-Jones-Nelson are fundamentally different kinds of players with different niches in the offense. If two of those guys get hurt (like Jennings and Nelson last year), the offense could struggle.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m intrigued by the potential of White and Johnson, but I sure hope they don’t play a lot.

  • Lars1

    Johnson and Dorsey have the inside track as draft picks. Gillett is camp fodder for the defense to practice trying to stop the R/O QB’s (though stubborn Capers won’t change his scheme one iota). The rest are mostly camp bodies.

    Finger crossing time re: the WR position. It’s their turn to be short quality players as RB, OL and S were last year.

    • Oppy

      Do Johnson and Dorsey really have the “inside track” because they were draft picks?

      They were both ‘this close’ to being undrafted, in being 7th rounders.

      I don’t think TT bats an eye cutting a kid drafted past the 5th round if there is a more talented player, or more football-ready player, to fill the roster spot.

      These are the players and the round they were drafted in that have not made the final cut under Ted Thompson:

      Jamon Meredith (5), David Clowney (5), Brian Brohm (2), Andrew Datko (7), BJ Coleman (7), Caleb Schlauderaff (6), Ricky Elmore (6), Lawrence Taylor (7), Clark Harris (7), Cory Rodgers (4), Dave Tollefson (7), Craig Bragg (6), Kurt Campbell (7).

      To that end, the only draft class under Thompson where every drafted player made the final cut was 2010.

      Make what you will of it. I believe the impression that TT stubbornly loves his draft picks to a fault (at least, more so than any other GM) is a media generated misnomer. The Packers really do seem to give everyone the same opportunity to make the roster, or to fail to make the roster.

      • http://Allpackers.com Nick perry

        Remember Ricky Elmore? He was a 6 th rounder in 2010 or 11, I forgot which but he was cut before the regular season. I agree, Ted won’t hesitate. Thanks or the answers. Like I thought a numbers game. 53 spots sounds like a lot but its really not. Then they dress 46 I believe on game day. Well lets hope for the health of the Packers, especially the starters! Love to see em play the 49ers straight up, starters against all Packers starters.

        • http://allgreenbaypackers.com Badgherr

          Why does a billion dollar industry like the NFL limit teams to 53 active players? I know, greed, but in a sport with so many injuries, the quality of the sport is compromised when quality back-ups at each position are not available.

          As fans we should push for a change to a 55-57 active roster each week. This would also help the quality of the game by giving teams more players to develop.

          • Shavager

            I kinda agree with Badgherr on this one, unless a KICKER is playing a second position such as Jerry Kramer/Paul Hornung did for Lombardi’s Packers-a kicker should NOT be counted against the 53 man roster-being a “specialist” that rarely plays, same with a punter-carry them as specialists but since they play only a limited few plays and very little time on field, it seems like a waste of roster space that could be used for an extra player or two strictly for injury support. Yeah, I know it’s 53-those two positions play very little time on field during a game,NFL allowing teams to specify them as ‘specialists’ specifically for that job only, could allow two more roster options that could be critical late in season for more bodies.

          • Oppy

            Adding more available roster spots will not make the players that fill them better. That’s flawed logic.

            If we don’t have “quality backups available” on a 53 man roster, pushing it up to 57 would only mean that there’s 4 more players on the team… 4 players that weren’t as good as the 53 already on the active roster.

        • Batavia Greg

          Since we are going down memory lane, remember these other unforgettable TT picks at WR: Terrence Murphy (2nd round, 2005); Craig Bragg (6th, 2005); Corey Rodgers (4th, 2006);and David Clowney (5th, 2007). Where are they now?

      • Stroh

        Johnson and Dorsey have the inside track. That doesn’t mean a guaranteed roster spot. If its even close he’ll keep the draft picks over an UDFA and give them the opportunity. An UDFA has to clearly beat out the draft picks. It can happen, but if I’m a betting man the money’s on Johnson and Dorsey.

  • NYNeal

    I’m not woried one bit about our WR situation. If there’s anything Thompson has been good at, it’s finding WR’s.
    I do agree that Crosby must be challenged.He stunk last year and I have never had confidence in him in pressure spots.
    To me, the biggest worries we have are our newly changed “O” line, our “D” line, our LB’ers, and our safeties.
    If we get mprovement in those areas, we’ll be fine. If we don’t, with our tough schedule, we’ll be in trouble.

  • Shavager

    Guys, “special teams”-some don’t realize that Ray Nitschke, Willie Davis, Adderley, Willie Woods (all NFL HOF) played special teams for Packers-ALL starters on defense? It’s a different era, don’t look for Cobb to be returning kicks short of injuries-expect he’s full-time “wildcat-type” player now, probably in slot. Ross, Franklin likely to get the job now depending on camp productivity. Most of the WR’s won’t be on roster–look for some moves to PS for one or two. Ross sticks as WR based on his kick return experience also, unless another receiver can beat him out. Dont’ think Dorsey and Johnson can both make the 53 man roster short of injury to another player.