Wide receiver Jake Kumerow, a former standout at the Division III powerhouse that is the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is one of the most surprising stories of the Packers’ training camp so far. After two weeks and some change, he’s gone from an afterthought to suddenly contending for a spot on the team.
Kumerow joined the Packers’ practice squad in December 2017 after spending two years on the Bengals’ squad and some time with the Patriots. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
had a great article Tuesday
about the path Kumerow took to get to Green Bay, and the heads he’s turned since joining the team.
He’s got the prototypical body for a receiver—more than 6’4, lean and a solid vertical jump. While he lacks big-time speed, he’s certainly been able to get open. He’s performed well enough in camp that Aaron Rodgers has brought him up several times in interviews.
“I think Jake Kumerow’s had a fantastic camp,” Rodgers said on Friday, August 3. “I think you have to spotlight him. He’s made a ton of plays. Did it all spring and summer and now he’s getting reps with me and making a ton of plays. He’s running the right route all the time and making contested catches and putting the ball away. It’s been pretty impressive for a guy from a small school in Wisconsin.”
Kumerow has also drawn praise from the Packers’ cornerback Davon House, as well as the Bengals’ all-star wide receiver AJ Green. The praise constantly centers on his ability to run crisp routes and make catches in tight windows—key qualities for any NFL receiver to have, especially with a quarterback as precise as Rodgers.
Despite all the praise, though, Kumerow is going to need to be consistently solid in practice and in his preseason appearances to have a shot at making the team, even if he does have the endorsement of Rodgers. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are locks to make the team, and it would certainly be a surprise to see Geronimo Allison get cut.
The Packers also drafted three wide receivers: J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. All reports out of camp indicate that while each of the three has made occasional impressions so far, Kumerow has generally outplayed all of them and has been significantly more consistent. This is certainly good for Kumerow, but it takes a lot for teams to give up on a draft capital investment in a player’s rookie year. Kumerow will have very little margin for error throughout the entirety of preseason, and will likely also have to show he can be an asset for special teams to really have a shot at making the team.
But if you ask Rodgers, Kumerow is the player most ready to take the field on an NFL Sunday.
“Jake Kumerow is undrafted, and we drafted three guys,” he said in an interview last week. “If you’re playing today, you’d like him on the field.”
The Packers have had a lot of popular wide receiver underdogs in camp in recent years—Jared Abbrederis (another home-grown Wisconsin product), Max McCaffrey and the patron saint of fan-hyped wide receivers at the bottom of depth charts himself, Jeff Janis.
But it is Kumerow who has perhaps drawn the most praise from Rodgers, and if they continue to develop a connection in camp and in preseason games, that could be a deciding factor in him finally making a 53-man roster.
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