With the selection of Jared Abbrederis by the Packers in the 5th round, fans all over Wisconsin gushed that one of their own was finally picked by the Packers. Â Fans were quick to heap praise on Abbreferis’ try hard attitude, underdog story and “little engine that could” mentality. Â Others however questioned the logic, Abbrederis was going into a loaded position and doesn’t have the physical tools to really contribute right away. Â How about as a returner?
Lacks elusiveness and is a straight line athlete. He will catch the ball and get some yards (what its blocked for) but he wonâ€™t be a good returner that can make plays, just a guy that wonâ€™t make mistakes. If your ok w/ that from a return man thatâ€™s up to you. I prefer a little more. Â - Stroh 2014/05/10 17:51
Challenge accepted! Â I think the question before addressing whether Abbrederis could be a good returner for the Packers is first to look at what kind of players the Packers typically like. Â I would argue that the Packers do not seem to be very fond of speed/jitter-bug returners that are currently in vogue like Dexter McCluster, Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Tavon Austin etc (interestingly not many of these types of players did all that well in returning last year). Â Randall Cobb might be the closest player to that mold, but I would argue that Cobb had a much better and diverse skill set than any of the players I just listed. Â What I decided to compare combine/pro day results of notable Packers returners from 2008-2013 to the top ranked returners from the 2013 season based on ProFootballFocus metrics (I excluded some players who had incomplete combine/pro day numbers to make analysis a little more straight forward).
The combine/pro day drills I chose to look at were the 40 yard days, which measures straight line speed, the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone, which measures agility/flexibility and finally the broad and vertical jumps, which measure acceleration. Â I didn’t analyze bench press for instance because I felt it was largely irrelevant to being a good returner, who typically don’t block or tackle anyone.