The Green Bay Packers are finding their identity on offense, thanks to the emergence two rookie wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. However, if the Packers want to add another young piece to their passing game, then they’ll need to find the successor to veteran receiver Randall Cobb.
Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner has just the solution for Gutekunst and the Packers in his latest 2023 NFL mock draft. Despite the long history of the Packers not taking receivers in the first round, Renner had the team taking wideout Josh Downs out of North Carolina with the 28th overall pick.
“Downs is that level of electric in the open field where teams can forgive his size concerns (5-foot-10, 175 pounds),” Renner wrote on October 4. “He’s racked up 230 yards on 22 catches with four scores in three games this year. He can be the Randall Cobb replacement in the Packers’ offense.”
With Downs, Watson and Doubs, the Packers could have one of the more exciting young receiver rooms in the league for years to come.
At 32 years old, Cobb has dealt with a number of injuries over the last few seasons, and he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
Who Is Josh Downs?
He may not have the national recognition of a wide receiver like USC’s Jordan Addison, but North Carolina’s Josh Downs has the playmaking ability to be a future NFL slot receiver.
Coming out of North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, Downs was a four-star recruit and a top 25 receiver in the class of 2020. He received interest from top programs including Ohio State and Oregon, and even took a visit to Penn State in June, but Downs decided to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Although he didn’t have a full-time role as a true freshman, Downs still caught seven passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns in 2020. He burst onto the scene the following season, earning first-team All-ACC honors after racking up 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight scores.
Downs is off to another strong start this season through five games. He’s caught only 22 passes, but he’s picked up 230 yards and four touchdowns. That dropoff is likely due to the loss of Sam Howell at quarterback, but Downs is still finding the end zone.
At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Downs isn’t the biggest receiver, but he has the qualities of a slot receiver with his excellent explosiveness and ability to make defenders miss after the catch. That would be an ideal skill set in Green Bay, regardless of who is playing quarterback in 2023.
The Packers Have Already Whiffed on Cobb’s Replacement
The Packers already tried (and failed) to find Randall Cobb’s future successor in Amari Rodgers.
Rodgers was taken in the third round of the 2021 draft but has had very little impact on the Packers offense. He only caught four passes for 45 yards as a rookie, and in 2022 is failing to even get on the field for Green Bay’s offense.
As a returner, Rodgers is firmly on the hot seat for questionable decision making. It’s gotten so bad that the Packers have signed a speedy return specialist in Corey Ballentine to their practice squad to let Rodgers know that his job is in jeopardy.
Rodgers was supposed to be an exciting addition to the Packers offense, but so far he’s been a massive disappointment.