The hum of excitement is currently rising from the NFL combine. Coaches and reporters eagerly await the quantifiable stats of each potential new star and leave in the hope that the draft falls kindly for them to land the next Jerry Rice, Tom Brady or Aaron Donald. In the case of Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst, they could well be paying attention to one position in particular, that of wide receiver.
Much has been made of the Packers need to add a receiver early in this draft. It’s been two decades since Javon Walker arrived in Green Bay and many fans believe this is the year that the Packers finally take a receiver in the first round again. Personally, I have no issue with this and trust the war room to make the right call on draft day.
Another area of intense interest amongst fans is who will be back in 2022. Following the announcement of a home game in London during the 2022 season, Allen Lazard took to Twitter to proclaim “we’re going to London.” I decided to take this as a sign that Lazard has already been informed of Green Bay’s desire to bring him back. If this is the case, I for one think its a shrewd move.
It’s no secret that Lazard contributes hugely in the run game. Head Coach Matt LaFleur affectionately refers to him as “the goon” and many fans have expressed the opinion of converting him to a tight end for the upcoming season. This, for me, would be a major mistake.
I believe Lazard is ready to make the step up and be the bonafide receiver number two this season. His performance in 2021 was a steady improvement on 2020. He made some important catches throughout the year and his five touchdowns over the final five regular season games was second overall in the NFL.
Lazard is entering his fifth year in the NFL and coming off a 513 yard, eight touchdown season. At 26 years old, he is four years younger than Davante Adams. Adams turned 26 during his fifth season with the Packers and it was in this season he broke the thousand yard marker and began to establish himself as the number one wide out in the NFL. Adams’s rival for that crown, Cooper Kupp, is coming off a career year, almost reaching two thousand regular season yards. As fate would have it, this too was Kupp’s fifth season in the NFL.
With the Packers needing a legitimate number two threat in the receiver room, I do expect them to draft for the position, however, I expect the number two slot will be filled by Lazard next season. Aaron Rodgers has spoken of the “course correction” that his trust and connection with Lazard took last season. Assuming he’s also back next season, there’s no reason to think he won’t be targeting Lazard more frequently. With even a modest increase in opportunities, Lazard has the potential to add yards to his stats sheet. A return of over 800 yards and, let’s say, 11 touchdowns in the regular season is certainly within his range.
So while all the buzz from Indianapolis is about Olave, London, and Williams, let’s not forget about our goon and let’s see if he can make that fifth season step up and become a guy that will give opposition defensive backs some nightmares when facing the Packers in 2022.