As training camp approaches, packers.com is examining Green Bay’s roster, position by position. The series continues with the receivers and tight ends.
GREEN BAY – There was little debate among experts and pundits on where Davante Adams ranks in the NFL hierarchy after a statement-making 2020 campaign.
The Packers’ four-time Pro Bowl receiver shattered the franchise’s single-season record with 115 receptions on his way to receiving 49 of a possible 50 first-place votes in the AP All-Pro balloting and becoming the first Packers receiver to receive a spot on the AP All-Pro team since Antonio Freeman in 1998.
What’s more, Adams’ NFL-leading 18 touchdown receptions made him the first player in league history to register 100-plus receptions and 18-plus receiving TDs in a season.
And he accomplished it all while playing in just 14 regular-season games, after a hamstring tweak sidelined Adams against New Orleans and Atlanta in Weeks 3-4.
Adams, who is still just 28, is on the cusp of making even more history in 2021. He can climb all way to second in the franchise annals in both career receptions and touchdown grabs with 50 catches and eight TDs, respectively.
The competition for playing time behind Adams remains as fierce as ever in Green Bay with Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Malik Taylor all returning from last year’s 53-man roster.
The Packers also drafted Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the third round in April and welcomed back seventh-year Devin Funchess, a 2020 free-agent signee who opted out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a challenging 2019 season, Valdes-Scantling reemerged as a big-play target a year ago. His 20.9-yards per catch led the NFL and was two-percentage points higher than the next eligible receiver (Las Vegas’ Nelson Agholor, 18.7).
The 26-year-old receiver was even better in the postseason, catching four passes for a game-high 115 yards and a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay.
Lazard, meanwhile, was again his same versatile and consistent self after returning from the core-muscle injury he sustained in a breakout performance against New Orleans in Week 3. Like Valdes-Scantling, Lazard peaked during the team’s postseason run (seven receptions for 158 yards and a TD).
In Funchess and Rodgers, the Packers have added two playmakers with differing body types and skill sets. Funchess, a former second-round pick, is an imposing on-field presence at 6-4, 225. While Funchess has played in just one regular-season in two years, the 27-year-old still believes his best football is in front of him.
Rodgers comes to Green Bay after a decorated career at Clemson, where he handled punt returns and led the Tigers in receiving in 2020. At 5-9, 212, Rodgers figures to be the dual-threat the Packers have lacked on offense and special teams since Randall Cobb’s departure in free agency two years ago.
One other receiver to keep an eye on is Juwann Winfree, a 2019 sixth-round pick who spent most of last season on Green Bay’s practice squad. He played 29 snaps (eight offense, 21 special teams) for the Packers in two regular-season appearances.
The decision of the Packers’ veteran receivers to sit out of voluntary organized team activities afforded Winfree first-team snaps he otherwise might not have seen – and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver made each one of them count.
Winfree made one of the top plays of the offseason program when he hauled in a 50-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Kurt Benkert on third-and-5 to end a two-minute drill at mandatory minicamp.
Gaither, a 6-foot, 188-pound receiver out of San Jose State, played six collegiate seasons after taking a medical redshirt in 2018 for an Achilles tear.