Wisconsin native and former Wisconsin Badger Jared Abbrederis has suffered an ACL tear that has eliminated the Green Bay Packers‘ 2014 fifth-round draft pick’s chances of making the starting lineup for the 2014 campaign.
He has been widely praised as one of the most technically sound, hardworking young wide receivers out there, and while his injury is a saddening event for the team and fans alike, he claims that he will be back stronger and is confident that he will be able to make a full recovery for next season.
With Abbrederis out for the season, a major opportunity now exists for other WRs in Green Bay. None stands to benefit from such a tragedy more than the seventh-round draft pick from Saginaw Valley State in Division II, Jeff Janis.
The main criticisms directed at Janis has to do with where he played in college. He was in the dreaded D-II, which makes coaches weary of whether or not his talent is the real deal. Among the D-II players still finding success in the NFL today are John Kuhn, Danny Woodhead and Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans, although there are several dozen more D-II alumni in the NFL.
The usual fear is that a player from Division II will be less likely to achieve success in the NFL because they will have encountered less real competition than those who played in Division I. Other than skepticism about the competition in college, Janis has been accused of lacking on-field confidence on occasion, having difficulty against press coverage and creating separation, and that his natural speed doesn’t always translate into quickness on the field.
On the other hand, Janis has great size, awesome speed (4.42 second 40-yard dash), and brilliant athleticism that allows him to make some impressive and sometimes shocking catches. His three final years at Saginaw Valley State all saw him with a minimum of 14 touchdowns and a receiving total of over 4000 yards.
I don’t care what division one played in, those are numbers that deserve some attention. Moreover, his reputation as a coachable, hardworking team player with a great attitude adds to his positives.
His skills are still raw, and there is no denying that he has quite a few things to learn before contributing in the NFL, but his natural abilities should not be overlooked. He showed up to training camp with a case of the shingles, and has yet to participate. Coach Mike McCarthy has indicated that he hopes to get Janis on the field this week as his illness is subsiding.