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Ranking the Roster: Nos. 82-84 – WRs Begelton, Blair, Thompkins

Get to know Reggie Begelton, Chris Blair and DeAndre Thompkins, who will battle for a spot at a position group with a lot of long-term uncertainty.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster ahead of the start of training camp on July 27. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.

No. 82: WR Reggie Begelton (6-0, 200; 27; first year; Lamar)

Competing for a job at receiver with the Packers for the second consecutive summer is about a million miles away from Begelton’s thinking coming out of high school.

Well, to be precise, 2,769 miles.

The native of Beaumont, Texas, grew up 1,302 miles from Green Bay. He went to his hometown college, Lamar, to get a degree in chemical engineering. Playing professionally wasn’t even a consideration.

“Honestly, no,” Begelton said during training camp last year. “I thought it would be cool if I got the opportunity but, yeah, coming out of high school, because I didn’t get any offers, I accepted that I was going to be a regular person. The area that I live in has a lot of chemical plants, so I wanted to get a good job at the chemical plant, and that was really my mind-set.”

Begelton rewrote the record books, setting school standards for receptions in a game, season and career. His 227 career receptions ranked second in Southland Conference history. But he went undrafted in 2016 and wasn’t signed after minicamp tryouts with the Falcons and Raiders.

So, it was off to Canada. Begelton signed with Calgary – 1,467 miles from Green Bay – and again showed talent and perseverance. At Lamar, he was a nonscholarship player for two years and would have quit had he not received a partial scholarship. With Calgary, his first two seasons ended with injuries. Finally, he caught 102 passes for 1,444 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019.

That got him a shot with the Packers as a 26-year-old rookie.

“It’s truly a blessing for me,” he said while fighting for a roster spot at training camp last summer. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m just having fun with it. No matter what happens at the end of the day, I can always say I had the opportunity and that’s all I could ever ask for.”

Begelton didn’t make the final roster but spent the year on the practice squad. He was added to the gameday roster for one game, where he played two snaps on offense and two on special teams.

Begelton is one of 12 receivers on the roster, including third-round rookie Amari Rodgers and the return of veteran Devin Funchess. Making the roster will be a big-time challenge. By the time training camp is winding down, he’ll turn 28. Only Davante Adams is older among the receivers. That could make this his last chance to make an NFL roster.

“I’m from Texas, so that’s like the football capital of the world. It’s a religion,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was a kid. The adjustment is not drastic. I just need to be comfortable with the offense I’m in, soak in all the details and go out there and play fast. Once I’m able to play fast, I can be really dangerous. I truly believe that. Anybody, honestly, when you can go out there and not think and just play football, that’s the best feeling in the world.”

No. 83: WR Chris Blair (6-2, 198; 23; rookie; Alcorn State)

Playing for the same school in which Packers Hall of Famer Donald Driver once starred, Blair caught 44 passes for 931 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. He topped 100 yards five times, had four receptions of 60-plus yards and finished sixth in FCS with his 21.2-yard average.

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With COVID cancelling pro days and limiting NFL roster sizes, Blair went undrafted and unsigned in 2020. He kept working, hoping for the best, and it paid off. Blair signed a futures deal with the Packers in January.

Driver isn’t the only Green Bay ties for Blair. There’s one receiver he’s consistently studied.

“I’ll never tell him that, but … I wouldn’t go a day without watching his highlights,” Blair told The Athletic. “I’ve been a Davante Adams fan since he was at Fresno (State).”

Blair faces an uphill battle to make the roster but he’s an intriguing developmental prospect. Following the 2021 season, Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown will be unrestricted free agents and Allen Lazard will be a restricted free agent.

He’s ready to work. As he told NFL Draft Diamonds late during his senior season: “I’m from Louisville, Mississippi. The thing that I love about my town is that we get it out of the mud. We work for what we have. We’re often overlooked but that’s what drives us to be great.”

No. 84: WR DeAndre Thompkins (5-11, 188; 25; first year; Penn State)

With Davante Adams among the five veteran receivers who skipped the three weeks of OTAs, the Packers signed Thompkins for added depth.

Thompkins went undrafted in 2019 out of Penn State after catching 83 passes for 1,245 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons. Plus, he averaged 10.2 yards with two touchdowns on punt returns.

At Penn State’s pro day, he ran his 40 in 4.34 seconds.

“My mother and father told me I was always fast,” he told NBC Sports. “I always thought I was slow. I was always the smallest kid on the field. I was always playing with bigger guys, so I always thought I wasn’t fast. I was just too small for them to see me.”

He spent training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 and the final week of training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. In between, he played for the D.C. Defenders of the XFL.

The speed and return experience – the Packers badly need a spark at returner – give him a chance to emerge in a crowded receiver room.

Ranking the Packers Series

Nos. 85-88: LBs Wilborn, Harris; OL Johnson, Capra

No. 89: G Jon Dietzen

No. 90: K JJ Molson