Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and second-round rookie pick Jayden Reed have garnered most of the offseason attention as the presumed top weapons for Jordan Love in his first full season as the Green Bay Packers’ starter, but one oft-forgotten receiver — Samori Toure — is turning heads with his coaches.
Packers wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator Jason Vrable greeted reporters with a glowing review of Toure, a 2022 seventh-round pick, when discussing the 2023 group of receivers last week ahead of the start of OTAs.
Out of all of the returning receivers, Vrable said Toure has been the most eye-catching after putting in a significant amount of offseason work.
“If you guys would see Samori right now, you wouldn’t even recognize the guy from last year,” Vrable told reporters on May 18 ahead of OTAs. “He’s probably of everybody the one that everybody around the building is like, ‘83 looks unbelievable right now.’ He’s put on like 8-10 pounds, he’s worked his butt off, and he’s just grown into his own. You feel comfortable in your own skin, and you play fast and you play with confidence.”
Samori Toure Had Limited Opportunities in 2022
Toure didn’t entirely pass under the radar during his 2022 rookie season, getting a summer shoutout from Aaron Rodgers on The Pat McAfee Show and beating out Juwann Winfree and Travis Fulgham for a spot on their initial 53-man roster. While he had limited opportunities for reps behind Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Watson and Doubs, he still finished five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Trust, however, was a big thing with Rodgers during his veteran years with the Packers. He saw Watson and Doubs earn it throughout the 2022 season, but part of the reason why he was willing to depend on them was that he had no real alternatives, even more so once injuries started to sideline veterans such as Lazard, Cobb and Watkins.
Fortunately, Toure getting pushed to the back burner as a rookie might have helped the Packers in the long run. As a member of the scout team, Toure got to practice against the No. 1 defensive starters, including cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vrabel found that experience formative for his young playmaker and said he proved he could get open.
Toure’s scout-team experience also granted him additional opportunities to build chemistry with Love, which should only strengthen his chances of standing out in 2023 now that Love, not Rodgers, is going to be the one throwing him the ball on Sundays.
Will Samori Toure Enter 2023 Season as a Starter?
Strong early reviews of Toure are great, but more telling will be how he handles himself against the other young receivers fighting for opportunities throughout the summer.
The Packers drafted three receivers for a second straight season, adding Reed in the second round but also picking up Dontayvion Wicks in the fifth and Grant DuBois in the seventh. They also signed 2022 seventh-rounder Bo Melton off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad late last December and will finally get a chance to see what he can bring to the table during OTAs and training camp later on in July.
The competition to keep an eye on will be Reed and Toure for the starting slot job. Toure’s experience in the system could give him a temporary edge, but Reed may not need long to catch him if he proves to be as advertised. While Reed has the versatility to line up on the perimeter and function as a punt/kick returner, the slot makes the most sense for him with Watson and Doubs viewed as the perimeter starters at this point.