For the Green Bay Packers to have a season as successful as those they’ve had in recent years, they desperately needed at least one of their rookie receivers to step up. So far, it seems that fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs is the guy most ready to do just that.
The lack of a strong receiving corps around quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a problem the Packers have been dealing with since the early 2010s. Back then, receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were putting together 1,000-yard seasons while running back Eddie Lacy was dominating in his prime. Meanwhile, a young receiver named Davante Adams had just entered the league hoping to someday follow in their footsteps.
But as the years went on, Cobb, Nelson, and Lacy’s age brought around a decline in performance, and for Nelson and Lacy, it spelled the end of their careers. By the late 2010s, Adams was just beginning his surge into stardom and national recognition, but behind him, Green Bay didn’t really have anyone else for Rodgers to throw to.
As the need for more wide receivers to round out the Packers’ offense became more apparent and pressing, the decision-makers up top didn’t make any moves to help him out. After eight years without drafting an offensive player in the first round, in 2020, Green Bay finally drafted a first-round… quarterback?
Then, after taking cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the 2022 draft would mark 20 years since the last time the team selected a wide receiver in the first round. Surely with receiver being such a pressing need even before the offseason, then after trading away Adams off of one of his biggest seasons, and with two first-round picks and a class full of premier talent at the position, the Packers would buck the no-first-round-receiver trend after 20 years.
Alas, no. Instead, they picked two more defenders: linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.
Fortunately for Rodgers, Green Bay did end up taking several receivers past the first round: Christian Watson in the second round, Doubs in the fourth, and Samori Toure in the seventh. At least one of them—and, even better, two or three—need to be significant contributors for the Packers’ offense to succeed in 2022, especially with Adams gone.
So far, Doubs has seemed to be the standout early on. With Watson missing the entirety of camp while recovering from a knee injury, it’s Doubs who’s had the better chance to show out, and he has. From the first day of training camp, the rookie from the University of Nevada was turning heads with impressive catches and good routes, including a win in a 1-on-1 against Stokes, the speedy, second-year cornerback.
Romeo Doubs 1 on 1 with Eric Stokes 👀 pic.twitter.com/gWoiY3NHba
— PackersUpdate (@UpdatePackers) August 3, 2022
More recently, Doubs had a strong performance in the Packers’ first preseason game against the 49ers, finishing with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Though he wasn’t catching passes from Rodgers, Doubs was nevertheless mostly impressive. He showed off his speed from the slot on that touchdown, getting past strong safety Tarvarius Moore’s press coverage with ease on that fade route. There were several instances of Doubs doing well creating separation throughout the game, with another standout play coming on another vertical route.
Ambry Thomas is a 3rd-round pick that is a part of SF's plans. Doubs stacks him despite all the grabbing (drew a penalty). Not a great throw from Love, either. pic.twitter.com/XEKganlHjH
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) August 13, 2022
On that play, Doubs gets a clean release off the line of scrimmage and once again gradually creates separation by outrunning the defender downfield. If backup quarterback Jordan Love makes a better throw there, it’s probably another touchdown. Instead, it’s an underthrow, Doubs has to try to work back to the ball, and the pass falls incomplete.
Not everything in the game was stellar. The fourth-rounder had a couple of drops, including one that looked like a nice contested catch until cornerback Samuel Womack came up with the ball. The other came on a completely uncontested catch that Doubs was unable to bring in despite getting both hands on the ball.
Unfortunately, that could be a problem Doubs will have to fight through. During this Tuesday’s practice, Doubs had another drop despite creating the separation to haul it in deep downfield. This time, it was a pass from Rodgers, who later called it his best throw of the day.
Romeo Doubs (with the 1s) gets separation on a double move down the sideline but drops a sure-fire 70 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. pic.twitter.com/qi7ZMx5bJr
— Ken Ingalls – Packers Cap 💰 (@KenIngalls) August 16, 2022
The veteran quarterback also expressed some of his frustration about the dropped balls and lack of reliability from Doubs.
“You keep dropping the ball, you’re not going to be out there,” Rodgers said. “It’s going to be the most reliable guys that are out there. The preparation and the job responsibility is most important. There’s going to be physical mistakes, like we’ve talked about, but if you’re going out there and dropping the ball and somebody else behind you is in the right spot all the time and catching the ball, that guy’s going to play.”
It’s still too early to panic about Doubs’ dropping issue. Hopefully, we’ve learned from reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase’s dropping issues last year that preseason is by no means a full representation of how the season will play out. The fact remains that Watson—a receiver the Packers valued more in the draft given his higher draft position—will be ready to practice in full soon. He could end up looking more reliable than Doubs off the bat.
Still, if Doubs can cut down on the bad drops, he’ll build up Rodgers’ confidence in him and earn some playing time. The speed and separation he’s shown off in the preseason are too good to be ignored. Even his teammates on the defensive side have taken notice, with Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander reportedly following Doubs in one-on-ones in practice after previously only covering Allen Lazard, the veteran receiver presumed to be Rodgers’ No. 1 target this season.
Green Bay could really use a guy like Doubs, someone who could be a big-play threat. If Watson gets off to a hot start too, the Packers could suddenly find themselves in a great spot with quality wide receiver depth, something they dreamed of getting this offseason.
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