An article this morning from Greg Bedard over at jsonline.com on the Packers’ overloaded receiver position reminded me that I still have a problem with TT’s approach to WRs and keeping 12 of them on the roster (at the expense of keeping other players at other positions of greater need). With Robinson gone (a move I am still uncomfortable with – could see him contributing for another team now), there are 12 players competing for 5-6 spots. As Bedard points out, Driver, Jennings, Jones and probably Nelson are all safe. I would think it would be difficult to cut Ruvell Martin too considering he contributes in some way pretty much every time he’s on the field (Martin may be one of the best WR blockers I’ve seen in a long time).
So this begs the question, why would TT set up a situation where there are essentially 7-8 guys competing most likely for just 2 spots at a position of strength? We’ve argued before that TT drafting 2 WRs in this draft was a bit questionable again, as this is not a position of need. After reading Bedard’s article and Johnny Quinn’s quote, I wondered if perhaps TT may be searching for special teams aces (not just return guys, but fliers too), and that may explain having 12 WRs on the roster. But keeping 12 guys with the hope of landing a special teams ace doesn’t quite add up. The only other mini-explanation I could come up with is that the Packers may be searching for a Wes Welker-like slot guy or another Greg Jennings yard-after-catch guy, so they’re keeping a bunch of guys on the roster to see if any have that kind of potential.
Anyway, this prompted me to do some research. Since TT took over in 2005, the Packers have drafted 8 wide receivers – which means they have used more draft picks on wide receivers than any other position (OG – 5, LB – 5, Safety – 4, and so forth). (Curiously, in these 4 years, he’s only drafted 2 RBs). Reviewing this and noting TT’s propensity for picking up WRs after the draft and keeping them on the practice squad, I’m developing a mini-theory that TT may simply be WR mad.
Unfortunately, if you examine the NFL contributions of his 6 WR draft picks (we obviously don’t have info yet on Nelson and Swain), you’d find that TT hasn’t been overly successful with his picks. Sure, Jennings was a big-time find and James Jones could really be a contributor someday. But the other 4 are either all out of the NFL or in the NFL but not playing at all (David Clowney for the NYJ). I’m not sure what percentage of success a GM should have with respect to each position, but 33% strikes me as a bit low.
Now I agree with TT’s apparent belief that in general, WRs are a critical part of the team and having a solid group there is important. I am also on record saying better teams aren’t afraid to upgrade positions that do not, on the surface, seem to need upgrades (like TT did with kicker last year and like the Patriots seem to do often). Still, my concern right now is that the Packers core group of receivers (especially when Robinson was still here) was a really, really quality group – so using up 12 roster spots is excessive. The only way I could look past this someday is if one of the group of 7 or so really competing for a spot turns out to be another Jennings-like find, a solid return guy or a Steve Tasker.