The Green Bay Packers added four talented pass-catchers in the 2014 NFL Draft in Fresno State’s Davante Adams, Cal tight end Richard Rodgers, in-state prospect Jared Abbrederis, and small-school WR Jeff Janis. Adams was the most touted prospect and Janis is the sleeper of the group, but Abbrederis has long been one of my favorite receivers in the entire draft class. While he lacks the long speed and physicality of the top wide receivers (he isn’t as athletic or physical as Adams either), but he looks like a steal on paper in the fifth round for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers has some talented weapons coming in this offseason, and Abbrederis could fit a key niche as a chain-moving receiver for the Packers.
Nobody should take Abbrederis lightly, and he certainly showed that to Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, who famously got burned for over 200 receiving yards when Wisconsin and OSU went head-to-head last year. Roby is one of the most physically gifted rookie cornerbacks and was a solid late-first-round pick for the Denver Broncos, but he quickly learned just how excellent Abbrederis is. Blessed with good short-area quickness, top football sense, and some nasty cutting, he performed the play below throughout the college football season. Watch how he completely dusts Roby on an out route after a devastating cut inside to fake the aggressive Buckeyes standout.
At Wisconsin, Abbrederis established himself as one of college football’s best route-runners, and his ability to beat receivers one-on-one and find the soft spots in zone coverage will allow him to have an easy transition to the NFL mentally. There’s no question that he can run NFL-quality routes and beat wideouts with his cutting ability, but there are questions regarding his physical tools and ability to beat press coverage. For the most part, Abbrederis has solid hands and drops have never been a legitimate problem for him, but he does have a tendency to catch balls with his body, which hurts him in tight coverage (Jordan Matthews has the same problem). In the Ohio State game, I actually saw three instances in which Abbrederis dropped a ball in traffic because he caught the ball against his body, but Joel Stave shoulders some of the blame for not leading his receiver properly (Stave had some issues with throwing the ball too late).
The highlight below is one of my favorite ones from Abbrederis last season, because it’s a combination of excellent route-running and ball skills that allows him to beat Roby and a poorly thrown ball from Stave. He’s running a wheel-route (a route the Badgers love utilizing) against Roby in off-coverage, so Roby technically has the advantage playing off of a WR who isn’t known for his speed. But Abbrederis still beats him with a wicked, almost deft cut upfield to burn Roby. Had Stave thrown a better pass, then Abbrederis could have earned some mean YAC, but he instead shows great ball skills, leaping, and hands to come down- and hold onto- the pass.