When Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson takes receivers in the second round, he usually hits home runs. In fact, there may not be a better association between a general manager, a specific position and a particular round than Thompson and second-round wide receivers.
He went back to the well during Friday night's second round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Needing to replace James Jones, who departed to the Oakland Raiders via free agency this offseason, Thompson took Fresno State receiver Davante Adams at No. 53 overall. The 21-year-old led the nation with 131 receptions in 2013, and he'll be given every opportunity to become Green Bay's next gem receiver who was found in the second round.
Jennings, picked at No. 52 overall in 2006, gave the Packers seven good years, finishing his Green Bay career with 425 catches, 6,537 receiving yards and 53 touchdowns. In 2011, his two scores in Super Bowl XLV helped the Packers win their fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Nelson was the final result of a trade back in 2008, with the Packers eventually taking him at No. 36 overall. After three years in a supporting role, Nelson blew up in 2011, catching a career-high 15 scores on 68 receptions. Over 89 career games, Nelson has 302 catches and 36 touchdowns.
Cobb was selected with the final pick in the second round of the 2011 draft. He is now one of the NFL's most dangerous slot receivers. His 80 catches led all Packers receivers in 2012, and his touchdown catch against the Chicago Bears in Week 17 last season handed Green Bay a third-straight NFC North title.
Adams is up next.
In the 6'1", 210-pound receiver, the Packers are getting a pass-catcher who possesses the physical mold of Jones and the playing style of Michael Crabtree. Not a bad combination.
Adams combines an impressive catch radius—he posted a vertical leap of 39.5 inches at the combine—with run-after-the-catch skills, reliable hands and a history of production inside the red zone. In his final season at Fresno State, Adams caught 24 touchdowns.
He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds in Indianapolis, and his ability to beat press coverage and get behind defenders with long strides should make him a vertical threat at the next level, much like Jones. He'll also win most of the battles in traffic, a trait not unlike one Jones developed during his final few seasons in Green Bay.
The comparison between the two is tough to ignore.
Back in 2007, Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, which was only slightly faster than his new replacement's time. Adams is five pounds heavier and beat Jones' vertical (34.5) by five inches. Jones (22) did eight more reps on the bench, but Adams finished his three-cone drill almost three-tenths of a second faster (6.86).
The two are also both from the Southern California area and attended lesser-known California universities.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had Adams listed as his sixth-best receiver in the 2014 class, and he even viewed him as a potential late first-round pick.
Here's a quick snippet from his evaluation:
Adams shows strong hands and elite concentration He makes the tough catch away from his frame, whether the ball is hovering just over the turf or well outside his reach. He'll make the one-handed catch or track the ball expertly over his shoulder to pull in a tear-drop throw. He's a natural receiver with instant-impact gifts.
In Green Bay, Adams will factor into a receiving corps that includes Nelson, Cobb and former undrafted free agent Jarrett Boykin. Nelson and Cobb are clear starters, and Boykin caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three scores last season. Adams will have to work his way into the rotation, but the Packers aren't scared to put four receivers on the field on any given down.
There's also the impending free agency of both Nelson and Cobb to consider. Both are entering the final year of their respective contract, but there is a chance the team can re-sign each receiver, possibly before the start of the 2014 season.
Adams provides insurance for each, though, as he gives the Packers a legitimate future starter at receiver.
If there's any evaluator in the game that has earned the benefit of the doubt at any one position, it's Thompson at receiver. When he's invested in the position during the second round, he's received serious bang for the buck.
Adams, a highly productive college receiver in the mold of both James Jones and Michael Crabtree, figures to be his next great find at the position.
All combine statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Zach Kruse covers the NFC North for Bleacher Report.
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