Randall Cobb went from an exciting player for the Green Bay Packers with potential in 2011 to a legitimate superstar in the making during the 2012 season. It wasn't just his 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight touchdowns that Cobb recorded last year, either.
With fellow receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings retiring and signing with the Minnesota Vikings respectively, the time is now for Cobb to step up. He's been given the perfect opportunity to become the option at receiver for the Packers.
It was a little bit of everything that Cobb did last year that proved that he can become a top 10 wide receiver. Let's break down exactly how Cobb will become one of the best receivers in the league this upcoming season.
More Time Focused to Offensive Duties
One thing the Packers were so excited about with Cobb was his ability to contribute instantly in the return game. It didn't take long for Cobb to do that either as he returned a kickoff in his first career game against the New Orleans Saints.
In his two years in the league, he's had three combined punt and kick returns for a touchdown. However, if Cobb truly wants to become a top-10 receiver this year, he needs to become more focused on offensive duties instead of special teams.
The good news is that the Packers seem to be aware that this is a necessary transition for Cobb. After the close of the 2012 season, head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say about Cobb's role on special teams according to a tweet from Paul Imig:
McCarthy on Randall Cobb: "I hope he's not playing (special teams) next season." #Packers— Paul Imig (@Paulimig) February 22, 2013
While the decision is far from being finalized, McCarthy and the Packers are taking their time with the decision. In a recent interview with Weston Hodkiewicz of USA Today, McCarthy had this to say about Cobb and special teams:
"We have to look at special teams and wide receiver and be smart there, whether we fully take him off special teams or only partially," McCarthy said. "That's a decision we're talking through right now."
Whether Cobb is fully removed from special teams or only partially, either decision will make a big impact on him becoming an elite receiver. It'll allow him to become more focused on the responsibilities that top receivers have.
Trust From His Quarterback
In order for any receiver to become a top 10 receiver, he has to have the full trust of his quarterback. Of course, having one of the best, if not the single best, quarterbacks in the league throwing the ball to you helps, but any top receiver-quarterback combination needs trust.
That's why what Aaron Rodgers said to Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin was so encouraging regarding Cobb:
“I still like the guys we've got,” Rodgers said after practice. “We have a lot of talent at that position. I think Randall Cobb is a guy who could be a 100-plus-catch guy every year.
With the exception of Witten, who is a tight end, and maybe Wayne, it would be hard to convince anyone that any of the above receivers aren't elite. Guys who catch 100-plus balls on a consistent basis are generally considered top 10 receivers.
As you can see from the chart below, Cobb posted the second-best percentage of catches for balls thrown his way.
Bleacher Report writer Zach Kruse also points out that Cobb's hands don't become any less reliable down the field:
Amazing Randall Cobb stat: He caught 62.5% of his targets 20 yards or deeper in '12, second best among WRs w/15+ targets (per @PFF).— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) May 30, 2013
With hands that Rodgers can trust every single game, he'll certainly have the trust from his quarterback to become a top 10 receiver.
Cobb is an Elite Playmaker
Finally, the biggest reason why Cobb will become a top 10 receiver is because of his elite playmaking abilities. Elite receivers can all make plays after the catch and Cobb has the potential to become one of the best at that aspect of the game.
As you can see in the video below (his first kick-return touchdown spoken about earlier), Cobb shows just how dynamic he is with the ball in his hands.
Not only does he break a number of tackles, but he shows incredible amount of balance and the speed to run away from defenders. All of Cobb's physical abilities allow him to be a legitimate threat to break a big play or score every single time he touches the football.
Will Randall Cobb become a top-10 receiver in 2013?
With Cobb's ability to focus more on offense, his quarterback's trust in him and his otherworldly playmaking abilities, he's set to build on last year's breakout season. Look for Cobb to easily become a top 10 receiver when Week 17 of the 2013 season is finished.