Jeff Janis was one of the biggest names to come out of the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend. Before his big performance on Saturday night, though, he was an unknown wide receiver buried on the Green Bay Packers' depth chart.
When starter Randall Cobb got hurt in the first half of Green Bay's playoff matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, very few were familiar with his name.
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Didn't know a man named Jeff Janis walked the earth before tonight— jeffpearlman (@jeffpearlman) January 17, 2016
Janis finished the game with seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Although the Packers lost the game, 26-20, he caught a 41-yard Hail Mary from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to force overtime on the final play of regulation. He also caught a 60-yard bomb from Rodgers to set up that game-tying touchdown.
Janis had more yards on the final drive (101) against the Cardinals than he did in his entire career leading up to that game (95).
Via SportsCenter on Twitter:
Prior to tonight, Jeff Janis had 95 career receiving yds. On final drive of regulation for Green Bay Janis had 101. pic.twitter.com/g5fB8C4yGS— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 17, 2016
Janis was a standout at Saginaw Valley State. At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 6-foot-3, 219-pound wide receiver posted top-tier figures in the bench press (20 reps) and the three-cone drill (6.64 seconds). He also recorded a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash, so the Packers selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft (236th overall).
As a rookie, Janis only appeared in a few games. His only catches came in a Week 5 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, when he had two grabs for 16 yards in a 42-10 win.
Janis' speed was useful on special teams in 2015. He returned 14 kicks for an average of 29.0 yards per attempt and made several impressive stops as the team's top punt-gunner. Still, on offense, the 24-year-old wide receiver was rarely used, recording just 11 targets all season. His only receptions of the year came in Week 6 against the San Diego Chargers (two catches, 79 yards).
After his breakout performance against the Cardinals, Janis said that this is "only the beginning," via his official Instagram account.
A photo posted by Jeff Janis (@jrjanis) on
Although he's on a national radar now, Janis will have to put in a lot of work this offseason in order to build on his recent emergence. If Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are healthy next season, the former seventh-round selection may have a hard time finding playing time.