Green Bay, Wis. — Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure never thought they’d end up with the same NFL team. And when the Green Bay Packers drafted Doubs, the receiver from Nevada, in the fourth round, Toure had written off any possibility that he’d join his offseason training partner.
After all, the Packers had already picked another receiver, Christian Watson, in the second round at 34 overall.
“It wasn’t even really a thought because I felt like the chances of that are kind of low,” Toure said.
But general manager Brian Gutekunst wanted one more, and Toure became the last of the Packers’ four seventh-round picks. The receiver from Nebraska went 258th overall — 126 spots after Doubs.
“We texted each other and basically said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Toure said. “That’s all there is to it.”
For all the grousing the Packers heard about not taking a receiver in the first round for the 20th straight draft, they did something with that position that they had not done in 16 years: They picked two wideouts within the first four rounds.
Not since 2006, when the Packers used a second-round pick on Greg Jennings and a fourth-rounder on Cory Rodgers, had they picked two receivers that high. Jennings turned into a star, while Rodgers never made it to the season opener.
While all the attention has been on Watson, who became the highest drafted receiver by the Packers since they took Javon Walker at No. 20 overall in 2002, there’s reason to think Doubs and Toure could have an impact, too.
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“I do think that they all offer some versatility, whether or not we want to put them inside or outside,” LaFleur said of his rookie receiver trio. “They’re all eager to learn, and we’ll just see how much they can handle and how fast they can acclimate themselves to our offense.”
What LaFleur might as well have said was how fast they can acclimate themselves to Aaron Rodgers. The quarterback has been famously hard on young receivers, and LaFleur knows it, saying this offseason, “I’ve witnessed it.”
“I think he’ll be fine,” said Eric Scott, Doubs’ former receivers coach at Nevada. “I think his biggest problem would be not wanting to disappoint because he knows who he’ll be working for. He never wants to disappoint. He can take it.”
Scott calls Doubs the “anti-diva” receiver.
“He’s just not your typical showboat type of a guy,” Scott said. “He definitely has the talent and ability to be that, like he could actually back it up and be able to perform at that level. But at his highest level of performance, he never did. He’s always [passing] the attention to somebody else. He’ll come over and say, ‘Give so-and-so some reps, get him into the game.'”
The Packers like Doubs’ size (6-2, 201) and production (consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Nevada). It translated immediately to their rookie minicamp, where he caught several deep balls — something he excelled at in college.
That could be especially important given the loss of deep-threat receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Chiefs in free agency.
“I would say the way that they used him there was a lot of verticals,” said Packers co-director of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan. I would say that’s probably fair, but we feel like he can turn himself into a really good route-runner. He’s not where he needs to be yet, but most that come into this league aren’t. “
Toure transferred from Montana to Nebraska in part to make himself more NFL-ready. After not playing football in 2020 because Montana, like all FCS schools, canceled the season because of COVID, Toure had to make a big showing in order to get on the draft radar. He led the Big Ten in yards per catch (19.8) and had five 100-yard games.
“So many of these guys, especially from the lower levels, got caught in that COVID year where they couldn’t play or didn’t play much and then some of them transferred to try to get opportunities,” Gutekunst said. “Samori fell into that kind of category. Certainly when you look back at his last year in Montana, where he had a huge year — 1,300-some yards, 10 touchdowns — transferred to Nebraska and put up really good numbers in one year there, we kind of knew him all the way through.”
Still, as a seventh-round pick — and the last of the Packers’ 11 selections — he’ll have to do more of the same to make the roster. The Packers rarely keep more than six receivers, although they have kept seven on occasion.
“Making that transition and coming into a whole new situation, whole new offense and starting a whole new playbook, being a part of a whole new team is something I experienced already,” Toure said. “I think that can help me in this situation.”
So will being with Doubs. The two met this winter while training together at EXOS in San Diego in the lead up to the combine and draft.
“I’m really glad I got to be around him,” Doubs said. “I saw him get drafted and it kind of excited me, too, once I saw that he got drafted. Christian, who I was at the Senior Bowl with, so it’s just really an exciting room, just getting comfortable with the other guys who’ve gotten an opportunity here as well.”