As the 2020 NFL Draft looms closer, no position swirls more frequently in the dreams of Packers fans than the wide receiver. And why shouldn’t it? With many pundits calling this most wide receiver heavy draft in years. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah declared he has 18 wide receivers in the top 100. Only Davante Adams provides a true threat in the passing game; Allen Lazard showed potential, Devin Funchess could be apt, and Jace Sternberger looks the part, but this offense needs another true playmaker on the field.
This column will profile the best wide receiver fits for the offense, and players who I think the Packers are most likely to fall in love with based on their pre-draft visits and past tendencies. We’ll be profiling a dream pick, and a selection for day one, day two, and day three.
There is no better fit for Matt LaFleur’s offense than LSU’s Justin Jefferson. Prior to the combine, this was a feasible option at 30. Jefferson’s 40 time of 4.43 and a 37.5″ vertical jump, along with an excellent showing in the drills, likely put him into the first tier of receiver prospects. If Green Bay would like Jefferson on the team, they’ll need to cough up some draft picks, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Some have cited Jefferson as not having what it takes to shake the league’s top corners, and while I disagree, he wouldn’t have to in Green Bay. With Davante Adams taking the opposing teams best man, along with the pre-snap trickery and play-action runs Matt LaFleur runs with the new offense, Jefferson should have no problem getting looks.
Check out our scouting report of Jefferson here
Jefferson profiles most closely to Keenan Allen, and there are traits quite similar to Davante Adams. Jefferson is excellent off the line of scrimmage and shows nuanced footwork in route-running. He’ll garner no dirty looks from Aaron Rodgers with his excellent hands. Jefferson is a red-zone wizard, scoring 18 times last season. He possesses excellent body control and finds soft spots in the end zone.
His most enticing aspect is his proficiency working from the slot. Jefferson weighed in at 6’1″, 202lbs at the combine, which the same weight and 2 inches shorter than Green Bay’s previous slot receiver Geronimo Allison. Jefferson is also a willing blocker in the run game. Green Bay does not have a dedicated slot receiver for 2020, and the 2020 NFL Draft offers no better prospect than Justin Jefferson.
The Packers spoke with Jefferson at the combine.
Day One Pick
Like Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims has improved his draft stock greatly through a good combine showing. Mims clocked in at 6’3″ and 207lbs. He shocked spectators with a 4.38 40 and a high 38.5″ vert. Mims improved his expected range of 2nd or 3rd, to a late 1st round prospect.
Denzel Mims is a high-floor, low-ceiling player. Excellent measurables, athletic profile, and hailing from a football family aid to his potential. Denzel Mims has the ability to be a true number 1 target in the NFL. The question is can he evolve into that player, and can he be produce in year one?
Drafting Denzel Mims would provide Aaron Rodgers with a deep-threat and another target who can attack the middle of the field. Mims is a natural hands catcher with a large catch radius and uses his physicality to win 50/50 balls. Mims, too, is a plus as a run-blocker.
The biggest concern is his route-running ability. His high hips make for fine vertical routes, but he struggles with double moves and horizontal cuts. This may the amount he can see the field early on, though there is certainly room to grow.
The Packers reportedly held an official pre-draft meeting with Mims.
Day Two Pick
Jefferson and Mims would provide Aaron Rodgers with a trustworthy target to pair with Davante Adams, but Matt LaFleur might want a player who is more than just a pass-catcher. He may look to grab a Swiss Army Knife, gadget player who can do a lot of different things for the offense has a whole. There is no better prospect than Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr.
In early February, many considered Shenault to be a top prospect akin to the likes of Jeudy, Lamb, and Ruggs. Teams got a better look at Shenault’s injury plagued career at the combine. Such concerns have likely dropped him out of the first round. A team could find excellent value on day two.
As a pure receiver, Shenault is quite unrefined. Colorado asked him to perform many different tasks and take on various roles. Because of his varied use, Shenault doesn’t really excel in any one area. His route-running is fine, but far from great. He has the speed to provide a deep threat, he has the vision and strength to be handed the ball out of the backfield, and he is fearless at grabbing the ball in the middle of the field.
I question Shenault’s effort. On plays where he isn’t getting the ball or is asked to block, Shenault doesn’t play with the same tenacity. When he does have the ball in his hands, he’s a punishing player who isn’t afraid of contact. Shenault would fit in LaFleur’s offense similarly to how Deebo Samuel fits in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in San Francisco.
Drafting Shenault would provide Matt LaFleur with a versatile weapon who can add a lot of creativity to the gameplan. However, there are better prospects who are pure receivers. The team could acquire a better receiver early on and get Shenault in the mid rounds—provided they are comfortable with the medical flags. The Packers met with Shenault at the combine.
Day Three Pick
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impeded on teams’ ability to properly scout prospects. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see teams select local prospects. Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus would fit the bill for the Packers.
Cephus isn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest wide receiver available, and he likely won’t be a true number one or number two receiver in an offense. Cephus can be an excellent number three or off-the-bench player. His route-running is good, his release is snappy, and he plays with an alpha mentality. He lacks the second-gear to be a deep attack, but his snappy hands and physicality could make for an efficient target regardless. Cephus could have a career similar to James Jones, never being the top guy but still finding himself as a key depth piece.
There are many late round prospects the Packers could value near the end of the draft, but it’s likely the team’s scouts are familiar with Cephus. This makes him a likely candidate. The Packers spoke with Cephus at the combine.
In 2018, Brian Gutekunst’s first draft as General Manager, he selected three wide receivers in total. We know the team is willing to double down on positions in the draft. The Packers have 10 selections in this year’s draft, and you can nearly be certain the team will spend at least two of those selections on a wide receiver.