Saturday, April 30, 2011
Packers: Two fun additions on offense
By Kevin Seifert
While we were grinding away on other topics Friday night, the Super Bowl champions quietly added two fascinating prospects who are equipped to add new dimensions to their already explosive offense. I'm guessing few teams around the NFL would enjoy reading that sentence about the Green Bay Packers, but it's true.
Randall Cobb was used as a receiver, running back and quarterback at times by Kentucky.
Kentucky's Randall Cobb is officially listed as a receiver, but in reality he was an all-purpose running back-receiver-returner in the fast-paced SEC who could play all over the field for the Packers. And running back Alex Green's experience in Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense all but guarantees he will be a reliable and bruising receiver out of the backfield. Packers running back Brandon Jackson caught 43 passes last season, but his return as a pending free agent is questionable at best.
Cobb was one of 25 players the NFL hosted at the draft at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, and in case you haven't heard of him, here's one statistic that should make you sit up straight: He set an SEC record last season with 2,396 all-purpose yards. Given that conference's long history of dynamic playmakers, it was quite an accomplishment.
Among others, it bettered the totals racked up by former Florida scatback Percy Harvin, who was used in a similar manner and is now with the Minnesota Vikings. Cobb is about 15 pounds lighter than Harvin, and I'm guessing his slighter stature had something to do with his availability at the No. 64 overall pick. But Packers coach Mike McCarthy is one of the more creative offensive minds in the game, and I have no doubt he'll find plenty of ways to use Cobb in a Harvin-like fashion.
Speaking to Wisconsin reporters, Cobb embraced the comparison.
"He's able to do a lot of different things on the field and he's a very active football player and really understands the game and has a lot of great talent," Cobb said. "And I believe I can really fit in that mode, too."
As Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com points out, that list could include punt and kickoff returns and even the Wildcat, a formation the Packers have never really embraced under McCarthy.
Said receivers coach Edgar Bennett: "I'm going to defer that to Coach Mike, but certainly this kid (having) had some background as a quarterback, it just opens up additional opportunities," Bennett said. "We're talking about a guy that's versatile. We're not game-planning right now, but I'm pretty sure we'll take full advantage of what this kid is capable of doing."
Alex Green caught 27 passes out of the backfield for Hawaii last season.
Green, on the other hand, might not get as much immediate playing time as long as incumbents Ryan Grant and James Starks are rotating in the backfield. But neither are built like the 6-foot, 230-pound Green, and I'm guessing the Packers will find a way to use his receiving skills at some point during the season. He averaged 13.4 yards on 27 receptions last season, and I would be curious to see how he would fare in the fourth quarter of games when his legs are fresh and defenders are growing tired.
Like the Detroit Lions, the Packers have remained true to their draft board and refused to deviate to find a potential starting right outside linebacker. Perhaps they could find a candidate Saturday among their six picks in the final four rounds. Regardless, the Packers' haul to this point has been intriguing to say the least.