Rookie WR Samori Toure flashes potential against Chiefs

The Green Bay Packers went with potential over experience for the last wide receiver spot. The Packers want to see more of rookie Samori Toure, who they chose over Juwann Winfree for the initial 53-man roster.

The decision was a bit of a surprise, considering Winfree had received praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, this isn’t another Jake Kumerow situation. Winfree, now in his fourth NFL season, had the experience edge over Toure, but the rookie’s production in the preseason was tough to ignore.

Toure led all Green Bay receivers with 125 yards after catching nine out of 13 targets. He capped it off with an impressive performance in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, bringing in six catches for 83 yards.

To get a better look at what the Packers may have seen in Toure to keep him around, let’s go to the film from his game against the Chiefs.

Green Bay selected Toure with the 258th overall pick in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Toure was coming off an impressive season at Nebraska, where he led the Big Ten in yards per reception (19.5). Toure is listed at 6-1, 191 lbs, making him a solid-sized receiver with the ability to run. He ran a 4.48 with a 1.64 10-yard split at his pro day.

In the above clip, both receivers are in a reduced split and aiming to work back across the field. Toure is at the top of the screen facing an aggressive corner. He takes a jab release to get the defender leaning, so the jam misses its intended target. Toure then takes the inside release and uses his speed to gain separation on a deep over route. The opposite corner notices Toure coming towards his side of the field just as the ball is getting released. The help defender is actually in a pretty good position, but Toure shows good processing skills to get in front of him and make a great concentration catch.

Toure logged a RAS score of 6.15, which is a tad low for what Packers GM Brian Gutekunst usually looks for. However, when you are able to run precise routes, it can help make up for average athleticism. Toure is tasked with running an in-breaker against zone coverage. He utilizes an effective stutter step to gain inside leverage against the corner but does so without losing too much momentum. This keeps the flow of the play intact and creates ideal timing for the quarterback to get rid of the ball. The safety crashes down hard on Toure when he makes the catch, and there is also a linebacker in the area. However, Toure shows great effort to stay on his feet, breaking a pair of tackles and picking up good YAC to get the ball down to the one-yard line. This kind of effort does not go unnoticed by coaches.

Here is another example of Toure’s mental processing and competitive toughness. As a young player fighting for a roster spot, you have to be able to do the dirty work. Toure isn’t afraid to go over the middle and also understands how to beat zone coverage. After getting behind the linebacker, he demonstrates good pacing on this route to settle into the soft spot of the zone. You love to see this kind of recognition from a rookie.

Being a willing blocker is required of all Green Bay receivers. If you want to get on the field, you have to be able to block. This was one of the areas where Winfree was believed to have a slight edge over Toure, but the rookie definitely has the tools to be an effective blocker. He attacks this defensive back with force and good hand placement while getting his arms extended. Overall, this is a solid rep that could carry over to the run game.

We’ve seen Allen Lazard do this a ton. The crack block is a useful move to create room for the ball carrier by sealing either the linebacker or safety. Toure takes a good angle to the safety, but unfortunately, the corner recovers to set the edge and prevent the running back from turning the corner. Even though the play goes for a minimal gain, it says something about the team’s trust in Toure to perform this type of block.

Conclusion

After reviewing the tape, it’s understandable why the Packers want to hang onto Toure. He is a solid athlete who runs good routes and is a willing blocker. The blocking part is important because it will help Toure get on the field for special teams. Offensively, he probably won’t have much of a role in 2022. After all, he is the seventh receiver on the depth chart and is still learning the playbook. That said, Toure will have a chance to carve out a role down the road if he continues to improve. One thing we didn’t see much of against Kansas City was his ability to stretch the field, which is a huge part of his game and upside. If Toure can be a deep threat, who is also capable of running good short to intermediate routes, he will have a much longer NFL career. Early on, though, he will have to make the most of his reps on special teams.

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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire

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