The initial star of the Green Bay Packers training camp was, of course, the NFL’s highest-paid player, Aaron Rodgers, arriving at training camp doing a cosplay of Nicolas Cage in “Con Air” — because of course Rodgers would do that. However, almost a week in camp, the star of the show for the Packers has been a fourth-round draft pick.
Romeo Doubs was a productive player all four seasons at Nevada. The Los Angeles native caught a pass in every single game of his college career, except for a bowl game as a freshman. Over his last two collegiate seasons, he was named All-First Team Mountain West and tallied over 1,000 yards twice with 18 total touchdowns.
At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, with 10-inch hands and a 30-plus inch vertical, Doubs also clocked in as the second fastest player at the Senior Bowl, once reaching 21.25 miles per hour. That sounds like a prototypical deep threat, but he got dinged on scouting reports for route running. He fell in the draft because scouts thought that he would have a difficult time getting open regularly in the NFL. Because of that doubt, he gets to start his career with a back-to-back MVP and the team that had the best record in the NFC in 2021. Rodgers has already said on NFL Network that he is impressed with Doubs and surprised that the rookie fell that low in the draft.
Doubs is working with Rodgers sometimes at quarterback — due to injuries to Sammy Watkins and 3rd-round pick Christian Watson early in camp — and also with backup Jordan Love. It doesn’t matter who throws him the ball; he is showing that whatever he lacks in finer route-running technique, he makes up for in explosion and attacking the ball in 50/50 plays. In Tuesday’s practice, the Packers’ second in pads, he received “oohs and ahhs” from those at camp when he burned promising young defensive back Eric Stokes in one-on-ones. Doubs would also make a grab in tight space in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
“The 50/50 ball,” veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb said to the media last week, “When it’s just thrown up and it’s between him and the DB to go up and make a play, that’s one thing you can’t coach.”
Packers’ Twitter is flinging cheese heads everywhere in excitement over this potential gem in hopes that he can help fill the shoes left by Davante Adams and his 99 overall rating in Madden 23. Adams was not nearly as low of a pick as Doubs — he was selected in the middle of the second round — but he does share a talent with him. While big and strong, but not necessarily looming over opposing defensive backs, Adams was able to give Rodgers the option to confidently heave the ball in his direction and expect positive results. Those back shoulder catches and jump balls that Adams consistently won are hugely important even for a quarterback with multiple MVPs like Rodgers. Every play can’t be him creating extra time and/or making a pass in a perfect football crevice of daylight, almost gifting the pass catcher the ball.
Even the best quarterbacks need to be able to simply let the ball rip sometimes. With no Adams or even Marquez Valdez-Scantling in 2022, there was a chance that the 50/50 ball might not be part of the Packers’ offense. The 6-foot-5 rookie Watson was supposed to be a player like that, but the Packers still don’t have a timeline for him to return to the field from knee surgery. Allen Lazard, also 6-foot-5, is another large candidate — especially with him having been on the same team with Rodgers for four seasons. His most productive one was last year, and certainly early in the season that is who Rodgers will be looking to target as often as possible.
But with Doubs, the Packers might have the gas on the stove working at full strength. He’s a raw talent, but they can work with him on getting in and out of breaks more efficiently and running routes more precisely. There is a veteran coaching staff, veteran wide receivers like Watkins and Cobb, and Rodgers to help him with the finer points of the position. What Doubs appears to need no help with is: See the ball, get the ball.
That’s quite the starting place for the 132nd pick in the draft.