Packers Positions of Need: Top 10 Receivers
Receiver might be the biggest position of need for the Green Bay Packers entering the offseason. Here are our early Top 10 draft prospects.
1. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma* (6-2, 195): In three seasons, Lamb caught 173 passes for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns. His final two seasons were for 60-plus catches, 1,100-plus yards and double-digits touchdowns, highlighted by 62 grabs for 1,327 yards and 14 scores last year, when he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. He had four catches for 119 yards vs. LSU in the national semifinals. “He’s one of the best receivers we’ve seen,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We’ve faced some really good receivers. We see some really good receivers every day in practice. But he’s different. Yards after the catch from this guy are phenomenal. You’re going to have to cover one-on-one. You just can’t put a safety over the top of him and stop Jalen Hurts all day. You have to mix it up. You can’t give them the same thing every time.”
Lamb was born about an hour away from Baton Rouge, La., and grew up an LSU fan but the family was forced to move to Houston following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His elusiveness was born on the playground. “Back in Louisiana, we’d just grab rocks and throw them at each other and if you get hit, you get hit.” His first name is Cedarian; a youth football coach coined CeeDee. “I feel like CeeDee is what I am now. My mom calls me ‘Cedarian’ when I’m in trouble. I like to keep it that way.”
2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama* (6-1, 192): Jeudy caught 159 passes for 2,741 yards and 26 touchdowns in his three seasons. He caught 68 balls for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns in 15 games as a sophomore, when he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, and 77 balls for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior, when he was a Biletnikoff finalist.
Jeudy plays for his sister. When he was a five-star senior receiver at Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, his 7-year-old sister died. “I swear I’m going to make it for you and mommy,” he posted on Twitter at the time. He used to play neighborhood football games with and against Lamar Jackson. He remembers getting juked badly by Jackson. “It was on the street, like a small little street, (where) if you’re on the grass, you’re going to get hit, (and) if you’re on concrete, they’re not going to hit you. So, it’s a real small space, (and) having a small space helps you out with knowing how to juke and stuff.”
3. Henry Ruggs, Alabama* (6-0, 190): In three seasons, Ruggs caught 98 passes for 1,716 yards and 24 touchdowns. In 2019, when he caught 40 passes for 746 yards and seven touchdowns, he had an 81-yard catch and a 75-yard run and averaged 18.7 yards per catch. He also produced on kickoff returns and on the kick-coverage units.
Ruggs is pushed by the memory of Rod Scott. Scott was his best friend at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Ala., and they starred on the basketball team. In March 2016, Scott was involved in a car accident and died. Ruggs was sick that day and wonders if life would have been different had he been healthy and behind the wheel. “Most of the time, if I was with him, he’d let me drive. I probably would’ve been the one driving, so there’s no telling (what could’ve happened. You know, everything happens for a reason, but you never know. If I was driving, maybe it would’ve been both of us, but you just think about what other kind of situations could’ve went on or would’ve went on if I had never gotten sick.” The death hit him incredibly hard. He’d disappear to the cemetery or retreat to his bedroom for hours at a time. “Who am I going to talk to?” Ruggs said. “Rod was it. I didn't have another friend like that. Rod knew things my brother didn't know. Things my parents didn't even know. I didn't even tell my family how many scholarship offers I had, but Rod knew it was 23.”
4. Laviska Shenault, Colorado* (6-2, 220): In three seasons, he caught 145 passes for 1,900 yards and 11 touchdowns and added 280 rushing yards and seven more scores. In 2018, he led the nation in receptions per game (9.6), finished the year with 86 catches for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns and was the only player in the nation with at least five touchdowns receiving and rushing. In 2019, he caught 56 passes for 764 yards and four touchdowns.
His father died when he was 10, struck by multiple vehicles when he slipped on the shoulder of a highway. It was a horrendous scene witnessed by his wife and their five children. "It swiped him and spun him around, and he was starting to get up," Annie Shenault. "I tried to get out of the car and my door wouldn't open; I was grabbing at the handle so fast. By the time he started to stand, this truck comes and hit him straight on -- we saw him on the hood. It almost caused a big pile-up. You [remember] it in slow-motion. Big trucks were swerving, an SUV spun around when they saw him in the road.”
Growing up in DeSoto, Texas, Shenault started his football career on the lowest-level freshman team. Now, he’s a role model. “It’s a tool that we use for kids now that are on the B team. Now I can say, ‘Laviska Shenault was on the Heisman watch list and he was on the freshman-B team,’” Bam Harrison, the B-team coach at the same, said. “It gives the kids hope, because when you’re put on the B team it’s like, ‘Oh, man, I’m the worst.’ Some take it hard, but some of them, like Laviska, take it and use it as a building block.”
5. Justin Jefferson, LSU* (6-3, 192): Jefferson went from zero catches as a freshman to 54 as a sophomore to 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. In his final three games, Jefferson was dominant. In the SEC Championship Game, he caught seven passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. In the national semifinals, he had a day for the ages with 14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma. In the national championship, he caught nine balls for 106 yards against Clemson.
The native of St. Rose, La., is the third of the Jefferson brothers to play football at LSU, joining older brothers Jordan and Rickey. All three started during their career. Jordan played quarterback for LSU from 2008 through 2011 and Rickey played in the secondary from 2013 through 2016. “Seeing that at a young age and growing up wanting to play football, wanting to be like my brothers, playing on this high level and playing for a national title, it’s something special,” Jefferson said. “I definitely want to get a ring for my brothers, especially Rickey, because he didn’t have a great four years here.” When he was 9, Jefferson finished third in the national Punt, Pass and Kick championship.
6. Tee Higgins, Clemson* (6-4, 215): Higgins had a monster final season with 59 receptions for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. He average 19.8 yards per catch. As a sophomore, he caught 59 passes for 936 yards and 12 scores.
At Oak Ridge (Tenn.) High School, he was Tennessee’s Mr. Football and a finalist for Mr. Basketball. His high school coach used simple math to persuade Higgins to concentrate on football. “Those guys are dime a dozen. They’re all over the place. But you take a 6-3 wide receiver who can do what you can do as a sophomore in high school, and you really have an opportunity that you don’t even understand yet: to play big-time college football and beyond.”
He has listened and learned from his mom, whose voice can be heard over the 80,000 cheering at Clemson games. “I always talked to him about how blessed he is from God,” his mom, Camillia Stewart, said. “The talent that he has, if he doesn't treat it with respect, God can easily take that away.” She would know. She could have played college basketball and become a nurse but lost it all due to a drug addiction. “I found myself on the wrong side of the tracks. I can't blame anybody but myself, but I was around people I shouldn't have been. It looked like they were having fun, so I wanted to have fun with them.” His football career began because of Hot Wheels.
7. Jalen Reagor, TCU* (5-11, 195): Reagor did everything during an All-American junior season. He caught 43 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 92 yards and three touchdowns, and averaged 20.8 yards per punt return with two touchdowns. He was one of two players in the FBS with two punt returns for touchdowns, both of which went 70-plus yards. As a sophomore, he caught 72 passes for 1,061 yards.
His father, Montae Reagor, played nine seasons in the NFL and was a defensive lineman for the 2006 Indianapolis Colts team that won Super Bowl XLI. “I was just trying to lead the way,” Montae said. “I wanted to show (Jalen) as a young man how to get things done, how to always work, how to do less complaining.” Said Jalen: “I was brought up not to make excuses. You have to do something with what you have.” Having a dad who played in the NFL meant a high bar. His mom knew that Jalen would surpass those expectations. “When he was a little boy, I knew he was going to be better than his dad. When he starting running, I asked myself why he didn’t walk first. He just ran — everywhere,” said Jalen’s mother, Ishia Johnson. “When we tried to get him to say his first word, it was ball. Not mama or daddy. Ball. All I could think is, ‘This kid is too much.’ I knew he was going to be good. He has always had an edge to him.”
8. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State (6-1, 206): The junior-college transfer caught 98 passes during two seasons, including 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns during an All-American senior season. He also averaged 31.9 yards with one touchdown on kickoff returns and 16.1 yards with one touchdown on punt returns in 2019.
Coming out of high school, most recruiting interest was on the defensive side of the ball. "I like having the ball in my hands. I think that's when I am at my best. I really wasn't interested in playing defense.” He runs like a running back, piling up most of his yards after the catch. “Initially I was a running back. I spent a lot of time there and then I moved to cornerback in high school with wide receiver being my second position. Then at JUCO, I played a little bit of defensive back as a freshman, but mostly receiver. And then as a sophomore, I was receiver-only. So my first year playing only receiver was as a college sophomore.” He was picked for the Senior Bowl but won’t play because of a hip injury.
9. Devin Duvernay, Texas (5-11, 210): Duvernay had a monster senior season with 103 receptions for 1,249 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the nation in receptions and receptions per game (8.6). In an early-season game against LSU, he caught 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. His four-year totals were 176 receptions, 2,468 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also was a five-time member of the Big 12 honor roll.
Athletics are in his DNA. His twin brother, Donovan, is a defensive back for Texas who will be a redshirt senior in 2020. Among other family ties are being cousins with Kyler Murray. He was a Texas state champion in the 100-meter dash in high school. He’s not just a track guy in pads, though. "The anger he runs with once he has the ball in his hands and the physicality is so impressive for a slot receiver," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "I'm glad he's on our team." He met LSU’s stud safety, Grant Delpit, and lived to tell about. “It’s definitely a cool moment,” Duvernay said. “You look for top-notch people to try to punish them.” He has outstanding hands and a quiet confidence that helped him thrive in the slot. “The transformation for him from outside receiver to slot has been great,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “This is his last year, so he’s taken it as a personal challenge.”
10. Michael Pittman, USC (6-4, 220): Pittman caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior to earn second-team All-American and be a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. He topped 100 yards in four of his last five regular-season games with six touchdowns. That gave him a four-year total of 171 catches for 2,519 yards and 19 scores.
Pittman’s father, Michael Sr., was an NFL running back who was part of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl XXXVII champions. He rides horses in his spare time and wants to get into roping when his career is over. Younger brother Mycah Pittman was a freshman receiver at Oregon this year. The team captain made a difference off the field, too. He overcame stuttering by reading aloud, a message he’s passed onto kids. “I read because it helps me talk and be able to spread what I’m thinking,” he said. “When you read more, you know more and are more likely to share that with others. Knowledge is power!”