By M. Britt Hayes
I know that every Packer fan and Jordy Nelson owner just sighed as they clicked on this link. Or maybe most just kept scrolling and gave their laptop a mental middle finger. But much like envelopes, this is an issue that needs to be addressed in the realm of fantasy.
Replacing a wide receiver can be tricky. In most NFL positions there is a direct replacement slotted behind the starter that substitutes when the starter goes down. Like when some guy named Tom Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe. But in the scenario that a WR goes down it opens a door of competition to fill the starting spot. In the case of Jordy Nelson’s spot this door hasn’t just been opened. It’s been busted through with an axe, Jack Nicholson style like in The Shining.
The good news is that this couldn’t have happened at a better time. In preseason before the “real” games start giving Mike McCarthy and crew time to find a replacement and ease them into the starting line up. The better news is that this could’t have happened to a better team. And by that a mean a team better suited to recover from such an unfavorable situation. The Packers are a strong Super Bowl contender with arguably the best quarter back in the league running things. The best news is that Green Bay is one of the deepest teams in the NFL at the WR position with a host of names waiting to fill the giant void that was Jordy’s spot. So, in the words of Mr. Aaron Rodgers “R-E-L-A-X.”
Truth is, the wide out substitute could wind up being the better player. It was just a year ago that NY Giants fans and fantasy owners alike lost their minds worshiping at the alter of Odell Beckham Jr. in the wake of Victor Cruz’s injury. And don’t tell me that you all saw it coming. In fact, I was offered a dynasty trade of OBJ for Tyler Eifert after Week 1 last season. And guess who has 2 thumbs and turned that trade down? It still have nightmares. Anyway, speaking of Cruz, please give me a show of hands from those of you that foresaw him doing the lambada all the way to WR1 status before Mario Manningham suffered his own afflictions. Point is, its not the end of world. So, chin up, and let’s check out the possible replacements.
Adams is the obvious suspect. Adams was taken in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, with the 53rd overall pick. He was hyped the entire offseason as the possible heir to Randall Cobb’s crown if he left in free agency, but with Cobb’s new contract signing the hype train slowed to a pause. But with Nelson’s bad ACL, that train is back on the tracks, full steam ahead. Adams has the college pedigree. As a sophomore in 2013 he led the entire nation with 131 receptions for 1,719 yards and 24 touchdowns at Fresno State. So ability is not a question, but he’s still young and raw after choosing to forgo his final two college seasons to enter the NFL. Yet, Davante did show flashes of success last season, like the Patriots game, in which he tallied 6 catches for 121 yards. Its no question that he will get the first crack at stepping up in the face of disaster and he has all of the athleticism to succeed as well as the right people in his corner. Even Randall Cobb says he’s,”poised for a breakout year.”
While Adams will most likely get the initial nod at the WR2 position behind Cobb, his old spot as the WR3 is most certainly up for grabs. Janis is a 2nd year, 7th round draft pick from Saginaw Valley State. He is the first player ever drafted from the school, after starting all 11 games in 2012 and catching 106 receptions(2nd in the nation) and leading all DII players with 1,635 receiving yards, both of which set new SVSU single season records. He also reeled in 17 touchdown passes. He followed that up with 83 catches for 1,572 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013. Janis is a vertical threat and stretches the field with the best, posting a 4.42 time in the 40 yard dash, and at 6’3″ (Jordy’s height) he makes for a big target. His skill set mimics that of Nelson in almost every facet of the game. Janis seems to be groomed for this opportunity.
Possibly the odds on favorite for the WR3 job based upon camp and OTA’s, Montgomery was taken in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Ty had just 172 receptions for 2,125 yards and 15 TD’s in his 4 year carer at Stanford, but was a stand out return specialist. His ability to make plays in space and get downfield make him a threat to score any time he touches the ball. This could be why he is currently lining up opposite Devante Adams in three-wide sets with the Packer first team during practices. Though originally Green Bay’s sole interest in Montgomery was believed to be kick and punt returns, he is showing that there may just more to him than a special teams player.
Abbrederis is the hometown favorite. A former walk on at Wisconsin, he left the University sporting 202 catches for 3,140 yards and 23 TD’s. His senior season was littered with accolades and highlights, sometimes being referred to as the “best NFL prospect on the field” over other notable players such as, Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and Melvin Gordon during the Wisconsin/Ohio State show down. A game that saw him grab 10 passes for 207 yards against future 1st round pick, cornerback Bradley Roby. During training camp in 2014, Jerad tore his own ACL unfortunately ending his season. This preseason he is suffering from severe concussion symptoms and hasn’t garnered many reps, but if healthy, the talent to produce is there.
White is the darkest of dark horses to fill Nelson’s shoes. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, he never made the 53 man roster. That was before Green Bay had a gaping hole at their starting wide out position. White is a burner that can get out into the opening quickly. He is fast, really fast. The former Louisiana Tech receiver ran 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash. If he had been invited to the NFL combine in 2013, that time would have tied him for sixth at his position. Myles has some proving to do if he wants to secure a job, but when opportunity knocks, you never know who is going to answer.