Category Archives: Jordy Nelson

23

July

Is Jarrett Boykin A Replacement Player?

Jarrett Boykin will be slotted into the coveted No. 3 wide receiver next season. He's ready because of one person.

Jarrett Boykin

Wide receivers are known as the “shiny hood ornament” of the NFL because largely their production is tied to their quarterbacks; even a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson have had abysmal seasons with ineffectual quarterbacks behind center.  Furthermore, great/good wide receivers have left for greener pastures in free agency only to be met with an icy reception; Greg Jennings became the latest ex-Packer to move to Minneapolis and needless to say his production suffered when it was Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman throwing him the ball as opposed to Aaron Rodgers.

On the flip side, it almost seems like you can throw just about anybody into a jersey and make them a productive wide receiver if they are being fed the ball by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady; wide receivers without enormous physical talent Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon and again Jennings have all had great careers even if they don’t look like Calvin Johnson.  Of course, it’s not like a wide receiver is nothing without his quarterback, the question is how much.

The receiver I was most interested in was Jarrett Boykin; an unheralded, undrafted wide receiver out of Virigina Tech who initially signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars only to be cut after a couple weeks.  After being picked up by the Packers, he was one of the surprise rookies to make the squad in 2012 with the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings all on the roster.

I’ll be the first to say I didn’t notice his name on the transaction wire nor did I predict him to make the roster in 2012 (this was the year of the Torey Gurley vs. Diondre Borel debate) nor did I think he would he do much on the field, and needless to say I, along with just about everyone else was in for a pleasant surprise.  Now with two years under his belt, people are legitimately thinking of him as a viable #2/#3 receiver; he’s definitely not a #1 who can take the top off of a defense nor is he the shifty guy catches everything, but he’s a great role player who does everything good enough to contribute on a consistent basis.  Considering his rise from unknown prospect to perhaps one of the up and coming wide receivers, is this a product of good talent or a good quarterback?

---- Get AddToAny
15

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week that the current group of Packers receivers could be the deepest he’s had.

Remember before the 2006 season when Brett Favre said that teat team was the most talented he’s been a part of and we all chuckled? We thought it was just Favre being Favre, talking out of his you know what and maybe even having a little fun with his buddies from the Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.

Well, after a year of seasoning, the Packers went to the NFC championship game. Favre saw something in that group a lot of us overlooked and that talent eventually emerged. We can debate whether Favre’s statement was accurate when it came out of his mouth, but it ended up being a lot more accurate than we thought it would be.

Now Rodgers is heaping praise on a receiving group that features two rookies, a guy coming off a broken leg, no proven tight end and Jarrett Boykin, who appeared dead in the water last season before doing a 180 and coming up big when the Packers needed him.

Is Rodgers going overboard with his proclamation of this group’s depth? Not necessarily.

Favre qualified his praise of the 2006 team by saying it was also the most unproven and inexperienced team he’s been a part of. Most people conveniently overlooked that part of the quote.

The key phrase in Rodgers’ recent praise for his receivers is “could be.”

If Rodgers would have continued talking on the subject, he would have continued by saying his receivers “could be” his deepest if:

  • Randall Cobb returns to his old self.
  • Jarrett Boykin takes another step.
  • Davante Adams is the real deal and fills James Jones’ shoes.
  • Jared Abbrederius proves he’s the fifth-round steal a lot of people think he was.
  • Jordy is Jordy.
  • A tight end emerges as a red-zone threat.
  • Someone we’ve never heard of plays well.

Rodgers probably didn’t feel the need to expand on the “could be” portion of his praise because he’s confident that if his collar bone stays in one piece, a lot of those “ifs” will disappear and “could be” will turn into reality.

Packers News, Notes and Links

7

June

Cory’s Corner: Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb?

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. Given a choice, I would rather have Nelson.

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. 

This is a debate you will not see Aaron Rodgers commenting on.

The one deciding between his favorite targets: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. It’s like a parent trying to pick their favorite child.

Nelson is heading into the final year of his team-friendly, three-year $12.6 million deal – a contract that made him just the 27th-highest paid receiver. The six-year pro finished last season with career highs in receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,314). He is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the league, making those tiptoe, sideline grabs look second nature.

Nelson made his case for big money stronger last season on the field, while Cobb and Jermichael Finley were hurt. Defenses were zeroed in on stopping the 6-foot-3 wideout and couldn’t do it.

Cobb, on the other hand, is one of the most dynamic players in the game. He’s right up there with the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy in that category based solely on versatility. His four-year, $3.209 million rookie deal from 2011 obviously needs to be sweetened. What helps Cobb, despite last season’s injury, he has proven his durability.

He played in 15 games his first two years in the league, before being limited to six games because of a fractured right fibula last season. The 23-year-old came back strong in the regular-season finale and the playoff game against San Francisco.

According to overthecap.com, the Packers have an estimated $13.9 million of cap space for 2014. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, the Green Bay would like to lock up at least one of the receivers before the start of the season.

But who?

Judging from the career arc Nelson has taken from year four to year six, Green Bay needs to place a priority on Nelson.

There will likely be comparisons to Greg Jennings, the most recent Green Bay receiver to hit the open market. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that Jennings’ last season with the Packers was as a declining injury-prone 29-year-old, not an ascending 28 year-old.

It could also be argued that Cobb is still trying to find his niche on the team. In 2012, he had 10 carries for 132 yards in addition to fielding 31 punts and 38 kickoffs. He wears so many hats for the Packers, his potential as a true No. 1 receiver are yet to be seen.

4

June

The Contract Conundrum of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb

The Packers are a passing team first and foremost, and Ted Thompson has taken Ron Wolf’s lamenting to heart and has always made getting weapons for his star quarterback a priority.  Whether its drafting or resigning his own, Thompson has always made a big effort to keep talent at the wide receiver position, which can’t be said for some other positions like center.  However, next season presents a unique set of challenges, namely having both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both enter free agency by the end of this season.  While the Packers do have a relatively healthy salary cap it will be quite interesting to see how Thompson and lead negotiator Russ Ball deal with both Nelson and Cobb, who while playing the same position are almost two polar opposite players.

Jordy Nelson has been consistently one of the better wide receivers in the league, ranking as high as 2nd last year according to Pro Football Focus; he’s probably best suited for the perimeter and can use his size and deceptive speed as a deep threat for Aaron Rodgers. He’s also going to be looking for a big contract after taking a below market deal as he knows this will probably be his last big contract.  Randall Cobb on the other hand is a multi-purpose weapon that does a variety of things well, he’s a prototypical slot receiver but also has great versatility and can play running back and return kicks.  Cobb’s is likely looking to capitalize on his success early after missing out on the big money due to being picked in the 2nd round and also being in the first class under the new CBA.

I think the biggest problem with wide receivers is that there are so many of them and there are a lot of ways to be a good wide receiver.  If you think about quarterbacks, there are only a couple really great quarterbacks and they all share a lot of common traits like accuracy, poise, intelligence and arm strength.  Wide receivers on the other hand come in all shapes and sizes; Calvin Johnson plays very differently from Wes Welker but both are great wide receivers in their own right.  Some are fast, some are quick, some a big and some are small.  Does it make much sense for Randall Cobb to be looking at Calvin Johnson’s contract?  Sure they play the same position, but Johnson has such a different game it’s hard to justify using that as a contract bench mark (ignoring the fact that Johnson or Suh have the most ridiculous contracts of any player on the NFL).

21

May

Packing The Stats: What Makes a Returner?

Packing the StatsWith 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.  Fans were quick to heap praise on Abbreferis’ try hard attitude, underdog story and “little engine that could” mentality.  Others however questioned the logic, Abbrederis was going into a loaded position and doesn’t have the physical tools to really contribute right away.  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 won’t be a good returner that can make plays, just a guy that won’t make mistakes. If your ok w/ that from a return man that’s up to you. I prefer a little more.  - Stroh 2014/05/10 17:51

Challenge accepted!  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.  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).  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.  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.  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.

Workbook1

 

Data 1

Data 2

20

May

Cory’s Corner: Replay and sports have symbiotic relationship

Even instant replay couldn't overturn  the "Fail Mary," handing the Packers arguably one of the toughest losses the franchise has ever swallowed.

Even instant replay couldn’t overturn the “Fail Mary,” handing the Packers arguably one of the toughest losses the franchise has ever swallowed.

Instant replay has become such a large part of the sports vernacular.

Thanks to high definition cameras with every inconceivable angle, instant replay is able to capture what the naked eye simply cannot.

Now, I must admit, I really do like replay. I think it is always an added bonus when there is an ‘eye in the sky’ giving insurance to referees. However, what I absolutely loathe is when game action gets compromised because zebras are squinting at a video feed frame-by-frame.

The NFL began instant replay in 1986. Obviously it has come a long ways since then, but the same philosophy remains true: even with replay, some calls are just going to be missed.

Take Game 5 of the Clippers-Thunder Western Conference semifinals. Replays clearly showed that Reggie Jackson touched the ball before it went sailing out of bounds, but the officials gave the ball back to the Thunder.

I do like MLB’s system of farming out its reviews to a command center in New York that houses 30 HD TVs instead of forcing the umpires on-site to try and scurry over to a makeshift monitor. But alas, baseball isn’t perfect either, which is why it had to change the language for double play balls at second base.

There are a lot of things to like about the NFL system. And I really like that the NFL announced in March to give all power of reviews to its Officiating Command Center in New York. The NFL is usually pretty quick and they usually get the call correct. However, it still bothers me when they have to waste a few minutes just to review an obvious uncontested Jordy Nelson touchdown grab.

Unfortunately, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Instant replay is not only here to stay, but it’s only going to expand in scope. In order to whet everyone’s appetite for perfection, (Which will never happen!), I could see more challenges being afforded to teams and refs given more freedom to check the replay if there was a question about anything.

Obviously, the more replay seeps into the game, how much gameflow will be affected? Thanks to a study done by The Wall Street Journal in 2010, approximately 17 minutes of an NFL game is dedicated to replays. How much time is actually spent playing? Only 11 minutes.

11

May

Cory’s Corner: Jared Abbrederis steals Day 3 for Packers

Jared Abbrederis was a first team All-Big Ten pick, despite playing in a run-first offense.

Jared Abbrederis was a first team All-Big Ten pick, despite playing in a run-first offense.

This draft was hailed as one of the best wide receiving crops ever.

And the Packers proved why on Saturday by getting Jared Abbrederis with the 176th overall pick.

Abbrederis was a first team All-Big Ten selection the last two years — and the most amazing thing is that he did it despite catching passes from an inefficient and inaccurate quarterback. He also didn’t have a legit No. 2 complementary receiver the last two years, but he continued to get better even though defenses were clearly zeroing in on stopping him, and him only, in the passing game.

So how does a wiry kid with Wisconsin roots end up getting better each year in college? The easy answer is that he runs routes very well, which he does run with surgeon-like precision. But the reason he is amazing in the passing game is because he understands the process having won a state title as an option quarterback in high school. He also was a quarterback on the scout team at Wisconsin.

He may be a receiver but he scans the field like a quarterback. He looks to see what the defense is going to allow and then he just attacks it with his crisp route running.

Abbrederis went to Wisconsin with the intention of running track. After asking a football coach if he could walk-on, he was able to get his foot in the door and he hasn’t looked back since.

It’s an excellent pick and not just because he grew up about 85 miles from the Lambeau Field steps. It’s because he has a high football IQ and isn’t afraid to prove people wrong.

Jared Abbrederis: A+

 

Carl Bradford is never light on intensity.

Carl Bradford is never light on intensity.

The Packers already have one heat-seeking ball hawk at outside linebacker.

They just got another one with the 121st overall pick in Carl Bradford. Now, I’m not even saying that Bradford is in Clay Matthews’ stratosphere for talent but he is in the same zip code for intensity. And that’s saying something, because we all know how hard Mathews plays.