Packers take a pass on drafting a receiver from heralded 2020 class
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers ended the 2019 season with two homegrown wide receivers seeing action in a 37-20 loss to San Francisco in the NFC championship game – and Marquez Valdes-Scantling played just one snap.
Undrafted free agent Allen Lazard was the team’s second-leading pass catcher at the position with 35 receptions and he didn’t make the team out of training camp and didn’t play until Week 5. With the departure of Geronimo Allison in free agency, the remaining group of Lazard, Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow and Darrius Shepherd combined for 74 catches.
Davante Adams missed four games and caught 83.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that general manager Brian Gutekunst would add to the group with a draft pick in a 2020 receivers class widely heralded as one of the strongest in decades – but after three days and nine picks, the Packers did not select a single receiver.
In all, 35 receivers were drafted, but after spending a fourth-round pick to move up in the first and take quarterback Jordan Love, Gutekunst felt that by the time the Packers were ready to select again the pickings were slim.
“I thought the top was one of the stronger drafts at the wide receiver class that I can remember,” Gutekunst allowed. “But the runs went pretty early and once we got to a certain spot, with the group we had coming back – it wasn’t like we weren’t looking to add to that competition – we just felt that there wasn’t a lot of great candidates that were locks to make our team next year.”
Only two receivers were picked in each of the third and fourth rounds, while rounds five through seven saw 18 go.
The Packers were one of eight teams that did not add a receiver, joining Carolina, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, the New York Giants and Tennessee.
“That doesn’t mean as we go from here to training camp and the season that we won’t look to continually improve that group,” Gutekunst said. “But we really like some of the young guys and where they are headed.
Gutekunst did address the position in free agency, as the Packers signed Canadian football free agent Reggie Begelton and former Carolina and Indianapolis receiver Devin Funchess.
Begelton, 26, caught 149 passes for 2,236 yards and 12 scores the last three years in Calgary. Funchess, 25, played just part of one game with the Indianapolis Colts last season before breaking a collarbone but caught 161 passes for 2,233 yards and 21 scores in four years with the Panthers.
With those additions, along with the incumbent group that includes Equanimeous St. Brown returning from injury and practice squad players Malik Taylor and Shepherd (who made the team out of camp), the Packers ended the day feeling OK with the group of outside receiving options for Aaron Rodgers.
“We really like the group of receivers we have,” Gutekunst said. “We think there’s some guys really coming into their own. If the right players would have been there when we picked, if we had the opportunities we liked, we certainly would have considered it. It just didn’t happen. We’re really happy about the guys that we got.”