Ranking the Packers (No. 49): Jake Kumerow
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. 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. 49: WR Jake Kumerow (6-4, 209, third season, UW-Whitewater)
Aaron Rodgers has quite an affinity for Kumerow.
“He’s such a steady guy,” Rodgers said during an offseason conference call, echoing what he’s said numerous times over the past 12 months. “I’ve been a big fan of his since the first time I threw a ball to him, and I just love his approach to the game.”
For the first time since entering the NFL in 2015, Kumerow had a season-long role. Kumerow caught 12-of-21 passes (57.1 percent) for 219 yards and one touchdown in the regular season and added a 23-yard catch vs. San Francisco in the championship game. He averaged a robust 18.3 yards per catch, boosted by a diving 34-yard catch vs. Kansas City, a 37-yard touchdown against Oakland and a tackle-breaking 49-yard gain against Chicago. Of 131 receivers targeted at least 20 times, he ranked 91st with 1.20 yards per pass route, according to PFF. He had one drop. Kumerow has a bond with the quarterbacks and blocked his butt off, but his 328 snaps were the fewest of the five regular receivers.
“We’ve got to get him more involved,” coach Matt LaFleur said during an offseason Zoom call.
Why Kumerow didn’t play more last season is one of life’s great mysteries. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but the Packers kept running Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison out on the field as if they were Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe. In a Week 15 game against Chicago, both players dropped passes – including a potential 70-yard touchdown by Valdes-Scantling. That gave MVS an eight-game stretch in which he caught 2-of-11 targeted passes for just 11 yards. Allison finished the season with a miniscule 8.4 yards per reception, next-to-last in the league among receivers.
Against that backdrop, it’s fair to wonder if Kumerow will ever be anything more a feel-good story of a former Division III player. If the 28-year-old couldn’t get a bigger share of the pie when the team’s projected No. 2 and No. 3 receivers went bust, will he ever be anything more than a role player? Kumerow had his 49-yarder in that Week 15 game against Chicago. There would be no encore, though, with no catches at Minnesota in Week 16 and one catch for 7 yards in Week 17 at Detroit. Looking ahead, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard figure to go into training camp as the clear-cut No. 1 tandem, Devin Funchess was added in free agency, Valdes-Scantling will attempt to make good on his enormous potential and Equanimeous St. Brown is back after missing last season with an injury.
Why he’s got a chance: Other than Funchess, who missed most of last season due to injury and has a career filled with drops, the Packers didn’t make a big addition at receiver. The Packers figure to field more of a run-centric offense in 2020, which should fit with Kumerow. “He’s been a force in the run game,” LaFleur said before the Week 16 game against the Vikings. “He’s done a great job blocking for the run game and then he’s just shown he can make plays when he gets an opportunity.”