The Green Bay Packers became a popular team among Cal fans thanks to the success of one Aaron Rodgers. That grew when they drafted TE Richard Rodgers and will likely grow some more as they just drafted WR Trevor Davis in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
We sat down with Acme Packing Company and Evan "Tex" Western to find out where Davis fits into the Packers' plan and their two prominent Rodgerseses; meanwhile, I'm just wondering how to get a sweet nickname like Tex did.
1. How does the depth chart look at receiver? Is there a dire need to upgrade at that position or is your team pretty stacked? Davis had some success as a kickoff returner at Cal, so does it look like the Packers are looking to test Davis at returns?
Evan "Tex" Western (Tex): The receiver position is a bit of an enigma in Green Bay right now. There is plenty of young talent at the position, but there are really only two locks on the roster: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Behind them, there are four receivers from last year's team who have no more than two years of experience: Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, and Ty Montgomery (whom I'm sure Cal fans remember). All four have question marks though—Adams with his disappointing overall play and injuries, Abbrederis and Montgomery with significant injuries of their own, and Janis with ridiculous physical ability but going through a long and difficult adjustment from D-II football.
As far as kickoffs go, I definitely expect that Davis will get a look in training camp. Whether he earns the starting job will probably depend on which other receivers make the team, however, as both Montgomery and Janis had good success as return men in 2015 while Abbrederis has that ability as well.
2. What kind of skill set do your coaches look for at wide receiver?
Tex: In general, short-area quickness and leaping ability have been two physical trends that the Packers have seemed to value in recent years—and Davis certainly has both of those qualities as well as his good speed.
This year, however, I think the most critical factor for the Packers' receivers will be the ability to get separation from defensive backs, as that area was painfully exposed in 2015. Aaron Rodgers processes the field so quickly that he really only throws to receivers who are truly open, rather than "throwing them open" in tight spots. Davis will need to demonstrate that he can run the right routes and do so effectively in order to carve out a significant role.
3. What role does the receiver play in Packers' scheme?
Tex: I expect Davis to play on the boundary rather than the slot, especially since Cobb, Abbrederis, Montgomery, and even Nelson line up in the slot often. He'll probably line up most at the X receiver spot and will be asked to stretch the field deep while other receivers run more of the underneath routes.
4. How have the fans or critics responded to drafting Davis in the fifth round?
Tex: Davis' selection was definitely a surprise—few fans were familiar with him prior to his selection, and the only reason I remember noticing him prior to the Draft was because of his impressive performance at the Scouting Combine. GM Ted Thompson tends to draft receivers with strong credentials on day two and go more for projects in the later rounds, but Davis seems to be a bit of a blend of both.
5. What is your evaluation of Davis?
Tex: His speed and quickness should allow him to take the top off the defense and separate from corners at the NFL level if his route-running continues to develop. His 3-cone time of 6.60 seconds also stands out to me—that was the best time at the Combine and suggests that he'll be effective separating in tighter quarters as well. And I think his hands are excellent.
6. Is there any early indication or do you have a guess if Davis has a chance at making the Packers' roster?
Tex: Based on the fact that the Packers' receivers don't have a lot of speed and because Thompson almost never gives up on a draft pick in his first year except in the case of injury, my guess is that Davis will be on the 53-man roster for week one. All told, Davis should have a great shot because only one other WR (Janis) possesses similar deep speed and stretching the field vertically was a major weakness of the Packers' passing game with Jordy Nelson on Injured Reserve.
In addition, any special teams value he can bring as a gunner and/or returner will certainly help. That is one of of Janis's strengths and if it comes down to Janis vs. Davis for the last spot, special teams value could definitely be the deciding factor.
7. How much do you love A.A. Ron Rodgers? What are your feelings on Richard Rodgers?
Tex: How much can a fan possibly love a player? Because that's how much we love Aaron. Seriously, Aaron Rodgers is beloved all across Wisconsin and by Packers fans everywhere. It's not just his play, but it's his somewhat goofy attitude off the field, his charity work, and all of those other aspects of his personality that endear him to us.
Richard Rodgers has been criticized quite a bit over the past two years, however. He has seemed to play at a heavier weight than would be ideal, and though he has sure hands, he isn't much of a receiving threat between the 20s. The Hail Mary against the Lions certainly earned him some points, but a few of us joke that the biggest miracle on that play was that he was able to make it 60 yards downfield. He's a great red zone target—that cannot be overlooked—but he needs a more athletic tight end to complement his limited athleticism and ability after the catch. Still, I feel that most Packers fans actually under-rate him; it's just that he was put into a tough position due to the Packers' receiver injuries a year ago.
Our thanks to Tex for answering all of our questions. Follow him and Acme Packing Company on Twitter at @TexWestern and @AcmePackingCo and check out Acme Packing Company to stay abreast with all Packers/Rodgers/Rodgers/Davis news.