Josh Jones is stealing all the OTA chatter for the rookie class this year. With Wisconsin-Wisconsin-Wisconsin Vince Biegel injured and first round pick Kevin King stuck in the college quarters system (which is the stupidest, if not also the worst, rule in the NFL), there’s just plain less to talk about, too.
The Packers first four picks this year all went to the defense, but the last six were all offensive guys. Most of them were backs and receivers. The running back position only has one returning veteran (and starting backs usually miss a few games), so there’s certainly an opportunity for one a rookie back to grab some reps. The Packers receiving core is deep, but the last couple of years have shown how quickly receiver depth can evaporate.
So who will make the biggest impact in their first year? Let’s review the candidates.
DeAngelo Yancey – From Purdue, he looked like a bit of a reach at first glance (even in the 5th round), but I’m not gonna doubt TT’s ability to find receivers that can succeed in the this offense. Lack of attention, due to being on a team that won 9 games in his 4 years, didn’t do wonders for his draft stock, but at 6’2″ 201 with a 40 time in the 4.5s, he fits what the Packers usually take in the receiver market.
Malachi Dupre – This was a guy who looked like a solid second round receiver that could creep in the first round at the start of the college season, but poor quarterback play (and, to be honest, maybe less growth than scouts were expecting on his part), dropped him all the way to the 7th round. He’s got talent and now a chip on his shoulder. Early results have been good in OTAs and Davante Adams has been impressed, for what that’s worth.
Jamaal Williams – A one-cut back taken in the 4th out of BYU, Williams could be a good fit for the Packers scheme in the mold of Ryan Grant.
Aaron Jones – Selected in the 5th out of UTEP, Jones is a short (5’9″) compact (201 lbs) runner who ripped off big plays in college despite lacking elite speed. With a 7.7 average per carry in his college career, it remains to be seen how steep his drop will be against pro competition.
Devante Mays – Mays is a 230 pound power back taken in the 7th round out of Utah State. He was banged up a lot in college, but produced when healthy. He’s the same size as Lacy (well, at least based on college listings), but a tick faster on the 40. With a 420 pound bench press, he boasts the strength to go with his size.
So who’s gonna have the biggest impact this year?
It’ll be tough for receivers to break into the rotation this year, so the top rookie producer will probably be a running back.
Williams seems to be the most similar to their current starter, which would probably make him the best true backup since the offense wouldn’t (in theory) have to change to accommodate him in the event of an injury. Jones is a completely different type of back, he looks built perfectly to play the role of change of pace guy. Mays, on the other hand, is a completely different animal.
The Packers could use a power back to complement TyMo (apologies to the Rip), someone needs 4th quarter clock eater reps, and McCarthy loves grinding it out in December. Devante Mays could be that guy. If things go really good, he could also get goal line reps, even though the short passing game, now featuring Martellus Bennett, will take a lot of those.
Still, 500 yards and 5 touchdowns isn’t out of the question. Since none of these guys (all of them day 3 picks) seem like they are going to steal a starting role at this point, that’s not bad production for a role player just starting to carve out a niche.