If you haven’t heard of rookie wide receiver Randall Cobb yet, I think it is time you pay attention to the hottest name in Packers training camp. Cobb was drafted from the Kentucky Wildcats in the second round primarily for his incredible athleticism that makes him a lethal receiver as well as a kick return specialist. He wears the same No. 18 that he wore in college.
Arguably, Randall Cobb has been the most noticeable new face during Packers practices since the lock-out ended. During Saturday’s preseason opener in Cleveland, Cobb continued his case for such an honor. Cobb recorded three catches for sixty yards in the Packers meaningless 27-17 loss. That may not be the stat-line of a Pro Bowl receiver, but for a first year wide out playing with the second team offense to emit such a presence in his debut is something that should satisfy Packers coaches.
The rookie also took a pair of kick-offs past the twenty yard-line as well as a punt return that saw him show his reliability in fielding high punts. SPecial teams coach Shawn Slocum has stated that kick returns are an area that needs significant improvement if the Packers are to defend their Super Bowl title. It is no secret that Randall Cobb will have to make his immediate impact on special teams, but what about his impact as a wide receiver.
Randall Cobb now finds himself in a unique position. At Kentucky, he was the single play maker that the team and quarterback relied on when a big play was at hand. In Green Bay, he must be a fifth or even sixth option for Mike McCarthy. Receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson sit comfortably above Cobb on the depth chart, but if Cobb is patient and keeps up his brilliant hard work, he can make a very good name for himself in a Packers uniform. Donald Driver will be retiring within the next couple seasons (We think, it is no guarantee seeing as how the Packers icon has not lost a step in five years.)
James Jones and Jordy Nelson are young receivers who have made the most of their time with the Packers, but they are not immune from competition for playing time. Jones is the recipient of a fresh contract, so he will likely receive the most playing time between Nelson and Cobb, but if he does not produce at the level coaches expect him, don’t be surprised if the rookie from Kentucky is given a chance to compete in the regular season. Mike McCarthy does not play favorites, and he will let the best football players play. That is only good news for Cobb, because he is used to being the best football player on the team and he realizes what kind of effort that title requires.
I am excited by the potential Randall Cobb carries. He is a hard worker and is no stranger to having his number called. Keep an eye on his progress throughout the preseason, because all it takes is for one unfortunate injury and Cobb will be given the opportunity to step in.
If there is one thing an SEC fan like me knows about Randall Cobb, it is that he does not allow great opportunities to pass him by. My advice to the receivers above him is to make sure you stay ahead of him, because once Randall Cobb surpasses you, he will not look back.