Over the past two seasons, Randall Cobb has become one of the premier playmakers in the league. His development since entering the league back in 2011 has been a huge reason why the Green Bay Packers currently boast one of the better offenses in the league.
Cobb has become such an important part of the Packers offense that it's hard to imagine them having the same type of success without him. The way he makes such a huge impact is by using his versatility and athleticism to consistently make big plays.
Today we'll take a look at how Cobb used these two attributes during last week's game against the Detroit Lions.
What the Advanced Stats Say
Before we get into the game film, let's take a look at what advanced statistics say about Cobb's importance to the Packers.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Cobb currently ranks as the 17th-best receiver in the league. While that ranking doesn't seem very high, he's also played one less game than many of the receivers graded above him. If you take his average grade through the first four games and add in a fifth game, Cobb moves up to the 11th-best receiver in the league.
However, where Cobb really makes his impact is as a slot receiver. He's currently running 93.8 percent of his routes out of the slot, and as you can see in the chart below, his catch rate is one of the best for a slot receiver:
Simply put, the advanced statistics say that Cobb is an elite slot receiver and quickly becoming one of the most premier receivers in the league.
This was the first big play that Cobb made during the Week 5 game against Detroit.
On this play, Cobb is going to run a simple corner route towards the sideline.
No one in the Lions secondary bumps Cobb off his route, so he has a free break toward the sideline. As you can see in the picture below, Cobb perfectly times his jump to be able to make a ridiculous one-handed catch. He also shows off his athleticism by jumping quite a bit higher than the Lions cornerback.
One thing to note here is the beautiful throw by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Had Rodgers not placed that ball perfectly, Cobb wouldn't have been able to make such an incredible reception.
Had this ball been thrown to either Jordy Nelson or James Jones, it'd likely end up as either an incomplete pass or an interception. However, due to the ability that Cobb brings to the field, he's able to make the reception.
If you're looking for the play that busted open the game against the Lions on Sunday, you need to look no further than Cobb's 67-yard run late in the third quarter. This was the perfect play to show off the versatility that Cobb brings to the field.
As you can see in the picture above, the Packers are lined up in a shotgun formation with Cobb as the sole back. After the snap, center Evan Dietrich-Smith is going to pull around to the left and become the lead blocker for Cobb.
While the blocking on this play is fantastic, Cobb also deserves credit for having the vision to navigate through the defensive line to get to this point where the hole is so huge.
Cobb also shows his strength and playmaking ability in the open field by easily breaking the arm tackle of the Lions safety. By breaking this tackle, Cobb is able to use his speed to break away from the defense to pick up such a huge gain.
This play jump-started the Packers offense in the second half to put them in some type of offensive rhythm.
All-in-all, Cobb is proving more and more each week just how important he is to the Packers offense. With his versatility and athleticism he'll only become a bigger piece of this offense moving forward.
As good as he's been this season, he's only going to get better. Don't be surprised if he's established himself as not only the most important receiver on the Packers roster, but as one of the elite receivers in the league.