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Making the Leap, No. 12: Davante Adams

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The Around The NFL crew will document the players we believe will be "Making the Leap" in 2015. This could be a player emerging from no-name status to a quality starter. Or it could mean an excellent player jumping to superstar status.

The list continues with No. 12, Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams.

MVP of the offseason?


Few players around the league have been showered with more praise this offseason than second-year Packers wideout Davante Adams.

Let's review:

» "Humongous upside" and "incredible" athleticism were the words Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers used to describe Adams, saying "the opportunities are going to come for him."

» Packers coach Mike McCarthy called Adams the "MVP or an All-Star" of the team's offseason, almost pointing to our "Leap" series by name in boasting that the "tremendous" 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was the "clear illustration of a player taking a jump in his second year."

» Rodgers wasn't finished, talking about Adams as a "very polished player" with "excellent demeanor for a guy who's going to be a star," specifically pointing to the requisite "note-taking, the preparation, the study habits, the focus, the practice habits" that produce the "swagger of a No. 1 receiver." The quarterback went on to compare the receiver's charisma to that of Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers and Greg Jennings during the early part of their careers.

Talent you "can't teach"


"I feel like I'm the best receiver in this draft," Adams said of a 2014 class that included Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and enough additional talent to potentially go down as the greatest group of wideouts in NFL history.

That's the confidence Rodgers spoke of, but Adams wound up finishing 11th among rookies with 38 catches. Quiet out of the gate, the Green Bay wideout finally emerged with six grabs for 77 yards against the Dolphins in Week 6 and another seven catches for 75 yards against the Saints two games later. He then blew up in a nationally televised Week 13 win over the Patriots with 121 yards off six connections.

NFL Media's Nate Burleson thought enough of those high points to name Adams among his top-five breakout wideouts for 2015, noting how Adams "took advantage" of his opportunities with excellent route-running, especially on slant routes.

His playoff performance against Dallas was instructive: A seven-grab, 117-yard day that showed off Adams' strength and after-the-catch gifts. On his 46-yard touchdown grab in the video package below, Adams makes up for his lack of blazing speed with good routes, shiftiness and savvy field vision that resulted in extra real estate. Check out the 1:02 mark, where Adams uses his strength post-catch to toss Sterling Moore to the dirt like a ragdoll -- with one arm!

Obstacles


Last year's bursts of production hint at a high ceiling for Adams. Still, it's challenging to predict a breakout year for a guy sitting behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

I went back and looked at how No. 3 wideouts have fared with Rodgers and McCarthy at the helm. Since 2008, the third-most productive receiver -- in terms of catches -- has averaged 41.3 grabs for 570.3 yards with 4.6 touchdowns. Adams split snaps with Jarrett Boykin before finishing last year as the team's clear-cut No. 3, one reason his 38/446/3 line was slightly below the noted average.

His role is clear this season, but Adams still has two go-to talents in front of him. It's worth noting that only six rookie receivers played more snaps than Adams, but 11 saw more targets, meaning Rodgers typically looked elsewhere. Perhaps that won't be a concern after all the pretty words from the quarterback this offseason.

Expectations


History tells us that Green Bay doesn't ask its third wideout to carry the load, but Adams is helped by the absence of a bona fide playmaking tight end on the roster. Besides, he's going to see a steady diet of favorable matchups with Nelson and Cobb facing opposing top cover men. 

Adams has shown enough friskiness after the catch to see more targets in Year 2. Fifty catches for 750 yards and seven scores feels about right, with those numbers skyrocketing if injuries strike Nelson or Cobb.

Around The NFL's Chris Wesseling pointed to Green Bay's attack as a threat to break NFL records in 2015, which makes plenty of sense. With Eddie Lacy on the ground, a flock of weapons through the air and the game's finest quarterback under center, defenses will have their hands full. Look for Adams to thrive and grow amid the chaos.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes back Lindsay Rhodes to recap Antonio Gates' suspension and the 'Top 100' rankings. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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