His replacement, Jarrett Boykin, was a second-year receiver who played college football for Virginia Tech and went undrafted. He only recorded five receptions and 27 yards in his rookie season.
Needless to say, the talent gap between Cobb and Boykin was expected to be Grand Canyon-esque.
However, Boykin hasn't just replaced Cobb's production; he's quickly developing into a long term answer for the Green Bay Packers.
Let's take a look at how this undrafted free agent has gone from a backup to a weekly stud over the past six weeks.
The biggest thing to understand about the current productiveness of Boykin is that it's all about opportunity. Had Cobb not gotten injured, it's unlikely that Boykin would have made any impact at all this year.
Last year he was stuck behind receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Greg Jennings and Cobb, which explains why he only had five receptions the entire year. The reason that Boykin had zero receptions through the first five weeks of this season was once again due to the fact that Nelson, Jones and Cobb were all ahead of him on the depth chart.
So, before we go any further, we need to understand that the main reason Boykin is even getting a chance to showcase his skills is because of an opportunity. Of course, he's taken that opportunity and ran with it at a rate that no one could have expected.
What the Statistics Say
Here's a look at Boykin's stats for the year:
As you can see, he's been a rather consistent producer for the Packers since becoming a full-time starter in Week 7. The only week he struggled was in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears, which was likely due to losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the first possession of the game.
In the six games that Boykin has been playing a big role in, he's been averaging 75.5 yards per game. He's had four drops since Week 6, but two of those drops came in Week 6, which was his first real action of the year.
In terms of advanced statistics, Boykin has been even better. As you can see in the chart below, Boykin currently has one of the best catch percentages in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required):
|Player||Targets||Receptions||Percentage Caught||NFL Rank|
Via Pro Football Focus
The only area where Boykin could improve is in getting into the end zone. His one touchdown in six games is a number that could definitely improve.
However, the statistics clearly show that Boykin is a player capable of making an impact each and every time he steps onto the field.
What the Film Says
There was one play in particular in last week's game against the New York Giants that we're going to break down. In this single play, we'll see all the attributes that make Boykin such a dangerous weapon as a receiver.
In the picture below, Boykin is lined up to the right of quarterback Scott Tolzien and is going to run a hitch-and-go route.
Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride initially has Boykin covered well.
However, as you can see in the picture above, Boykin's slight hesitation is enough to get some separation on McBride. You can also see that Boykin gets his head turned at the perfect time so he can see Tolzien releasing the ball.
After getting some space, Boykin shows the speed he has. Within the next few steps, Boykin has nearly two yards on McBride.
Finally, Boykin displays great hands as he reaches out to pluck this ball out of the air. He looks the ball into his hands the entire way and is only concerned with making the catch.
This one play showed that Boykin has the ability to run great routes, separate quickly and make difficult catches. And when you think about it, what else could you want from a receiver?
Why Boykin is Here to Stay
It's one thing for players to put up big numbers in a game or two over the course of a season. However, when that production lines up with top qualities you want from a receiver on film, then you have something special.
Will Boykin have a role once Randall Cobb returns?
Now it'd be easy to say that Boykin is going to become useless once Cobb returns, but that'd be far from the truth. As we've seen in recent seasons with the Packers, Green Bay has no trouble getting production from four different receivers. For example, James Jones led the Packers in touchdowns last year despite being the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart.
Boykin's ability to line up all over the field and make plays in both the short, intermediate and deep passing game proves that he's a legitimate NFL receiver. What he's shown to the Packers these past six games is that they'll need to find a place for him in their offense because he is absolutely here to stay.