3

March

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Promising Young Player

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Promising Young Player

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Randall Cobb. As long as Aaron Rodgers is the QB, you could probably classify any Packers WR as “promising.” Cobb gets the nod because in addition to showing flashes of greatness at WR, he’s already an outstanding kick returner.

Al: Alex Green. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I firmly believe that if Green hadn’t gotten hurt, he would have been at least splitting carries by the end of last  season. I like everything about him. He’s an aggressive runner and has some shake, while still being a North-South runner. He’s a very good pass receiver and reports out of camp were that he was learning fast in the pass-blocking area. Whenever someone says the Packers need to draft a running back, I just shake my head…  They have their guy. Just wait and see…

Chad: D.J. Smith. If Mike McCarthy is serious in his vow to improve the tackling next season, then D.J. Smith will be a part of the plan. On special team and in his limited time in the defense we saw how much of a hard-hitter Smith is. He may be short, but he is feisty, and he has a nose for the ball. A solid offseason and more time on the field will do Smith a lot of good in helping him grow as a player.

Kris: Brandon Saine. I love the way the guy runs and if Ryan Grant departs via free agency, Saine would be a decent No. 2 back. He’s got more power than Starks but perhaps not as much finesse.  He really intrigues me in the passing game as well.  A dark horse to keep your eye on in 2012.

Michael: Sam Shields. As many have stated already, Shields was probably the player on the Packers’ roster that was hurt most by the lockout. With a full season of workouts with the Packers, Shields is capable of improving his play in a big way and building on the promise that he should at times during his rookie season.

Thomas: Morgan Burnett.  After a pretty up and down year where Burnett played with a broken hand for a large portion of the season(which is basically a death sentence for a play making safety), I think Burnett starts to become a solid presence in the backfield.  Keep in mind that before Burnett broke his hand, he was one of the leaders in interceptions and looked like an up and coming player.

Zach: Bryan Bulaga. I think people forget that this guy will turn just 23 years old at the end of March. A 2010 first-round pick, Bulaga followed up an inconsistent rookie season with a year in which he established himself as one of the NFL’s top right tackles. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the league’s No. 3 overall tackle (left or right) last season. Regardless of whether or not he’s moved to the left side of the Packers’ offensive line, Bulaga might be the team’s best player under 24 years old.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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37 Responses to “2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Promising Young Player”

  1. Oppy says:

    I love, Love, LOVE the fact that the Packers’ team has enough young, promising youth that NONE of you guys on this round table named the same person for “Most Promising Young Player”.

    Think about that for a second, let it sink in: That’s seven different young players that show enough talent to be considered to have great promise.

    Awesome.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      For the record, I couldn’t choose before Bulaga, Cobb, and Green.

      Bulaga probably has the brightest future at his position- it’s a stretch to think that Cobb or Smith are going to ever be considered one of the top three WRs/RBs in the league, much less in their second year with all that room to grow..

      But I think Cobb and Smith have a chance to forge a more dynamic impact on this team than perhaps Bulaga.

      Some of you already know I’m a Green supporter, and the run game has a lot of room to improve and I think Green can be a catalyst there. Cobb is, IMO, an “x factor” type weapon the Packers haven’t had in, well, maybe forever. Bulaga should be a perennial pro-bowler and has perhaps a chance- should things fall right- to be a H.O.. oh, I can’t say it, but you never know.

      I’m not so sure about Brandon Saine, but I did like what I saw of him last season. I agree that all the rest mentioned deserve to be on the list.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      • Oppy says:

        Wow, don’t know where my mind was at, but I somehow inserted “Smith” into my above comments at least twice instead of “Green”.

        My mind is slipping.

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    • Ron LC says:

      Amen – Oppy

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Mark says:

    I’m really excited to see what Alex Green has since his rookie season was cut short by injury. I was really hoping to see TT pick up Sproles last offseason (pipe dream) but if he can provide some of the same type of receiving threat out of the backfield that should help out the entire offense from the OLine (can’t blitz as much if we have that kind of threat) to QB to the receivers.

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  3. Ron LC says:

    I lke them all. My #1 is Cobb. Reading a transcript of an MM press conference he stated that there are going to be changes in the running game. I think he’ll be incorporating Cobb into the running game as a new wrinkle and with his upside if DD isn’t there, he will come into his own this season.

    Long-term Bulaga may be the best of all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I think the change in the running game will be Alex Green.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Ron LC says:

        Ok Al but, I’m still feeling like Cobb will get some time out of the backfield. I’d love to see him doing some screens. To do that effectively he’ll have to run once in a while as well.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • Zack says:

          I actually had the same thought a while back Ron. I brought up that he could be used similarly to the way that the saints use Sproles. The one argument that someone made against it that made sense is that he’s not as fast as Sproles. I would like to see that if he has that ability to be used out of the backfield but running out of the backfield takes a different mindset than Cobb is used to. the argument could be made that he has experience allowing blocking schemes to develop on kick offs but again that’s a different set of mechanics than running out of the backfield.

          Ultimately what I’m trying to get to is I don’t think it’s a bad idea but might I offer that he could be used in WR screens and out of the slot better than he could be used out of the backfield, especially considering he already has a precurser to developing those mechanics more than he has the mechanics out of the backfield? The guys kind of won me over on this one when I brought up the concept.

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          • Ron LC says:

            Great minds or did I plagerize? I must admit I heard that somewhere before I wrote it down. The Sproles analogy is just what I had in mind. Conveting more 3rd downs would make the Packer offense beyond awesome.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

            • Zack says:

              I’m not sure but feel free to plagerize, we’ll split the earnings off of what we make on that idea, =P It’s very possible that we just came up with the same idea. It’s easy to see he has alot of the same ability that Sproles has, I’d say probably they’re equal in quickness. Good accelleration, shifty as hell. A good feel for letting blocking schemes develop. Sproles is just faster which is arguably his best weapon. I would argue that if a team were trying to pick up a Sproles archtype player, Cobb is easily the closest thing you could get without going back to the source (with the exception of maybe Reggie Bush). All in all I’m confident Cobb could be used out of the backfield effectively… there would just be a learning curve for the mechanics.
              The things that remain to be seen is can he be used out of the backfield better than he could be used in the slot and on WR screens. Also, does he have the durability to last out of the backfield? RB’s historically are the most physically taxing position. He really needs to develop his route running if they EVER want to use him as a slot reciever and trying to split his duties out of the backfield with recieving duties would really take away from that development. If history is an indicater he hasn’t ever been used out of the backfield so why wasn’t it done before? Does he lack the intangibles? Is he even willing to try it?
              On the other hand, like we discussed, he has the raw ability to do it. If he could be used in that capacity he would add an unbelievable layer of unpredictability to our team more so than he would out of the slot. Sproles broke the record for the most all purpose yards gained this year. Imagine if we had that tool added to our already legendary offense… The reward is unbelievably high and the risk relatively low… if he doesn’t work out there then move him back to a slot reciever. Kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t try it already… or maybe they did in work outs and practices and it just didn’t work. I don’t know, I’m always skeptical when I think that I have come up with something that the staff hasn’t already considered.
              I won’t be surprised if I see him with a limited role out of the backfield next year… A type of situational runner to set him up for screens out of the backfield which he would split with his reciever responsibilities. but I also won’t be surprised to see them just using him like a wes welker/ steve smith type of slot guy (this one is probably more likely simply because we haven’t seen him used out of the backfield before, therefore there has been no indication that they desire to use him in that capacity). When it comes down to it there’s a million reasons to do something and a million reasons to not do it and there are enough points/ counter points that it makes sense either way. I really hope that they try him out and that it works.

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              • Oppy says:

                Cobb has plenty of experience running out of the backfield- just not as a traditional RB.

                He was used in Wildcat formations and has played a kind of h-back before. He was used all over the field in college.

                At that level, he was a threat to run/throw/receive.

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              • Zack says:

                True, I didn’t consider that, which makes his playing out of the backfield even more plausible to me.

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      • cow42 says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

        Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

        • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

          That’s the same type of thinking that got Jeremy Lin ignored, just to give the most recent sports example.

          I also prefer to keep an open mind and not just go with the obvious choices.

          And finally, this wasn’t about what anyone has done so far. It’s about the future.

          So basically, YOUR comment is “ridiculous” on all counts.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • cow42 says:

            “And finally, this wasn’t about what anyone has done so far. It’s about the future.”

            but the only way you can decide that someone could break out is to see consistent good play.

            might as well choose house or so’oto or sherrod or md jennings. every one of those guys has done the same amount as green (which is NOTHING).

            to put green, shields, smith, burnett on a list such as this is just wishful thinking.

            the Packers only have 2 young players who have shown anything that might lead people to believe that they will become playmakers… cobb, bulaga.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

            • Zack says:

              Not true at all… This statement shows a complete lack of vision. People can speculate on who is going to be good in the future based on the player’s ability. We have some raw, undeveloped talent and saying that the guys who pick up quicker than the undeveloped guys is the type of thinking that would have caused us to give up Rodgers… or for that matter Favre. Remeber both of those guys were back ups for a few years. They had to develop. It’s ideal to have a guy come straight out of the draft and be an impact player but as ideal as it is, it’s also extremely rare. You’re living in a pipe dream if you think that you can make decisions and judge players with that mindset.

              Everything that Al and his contributers are doing in this article is speculation, but that’s all any of us can do in the off season in between the contract signings and the FA pick ups and trades and such. If you don’t like that then you should stick to articles that report facts… this player cut, this player traded… But it’s a waste of people’s time and more importantly it’s irritating to read your post saying that the writers are specualting when they blatantly and purposely wrote an article aimed at doing such. They know that they’re speculating and they know that they could be wrong. Pointing it out is like saying,”If you go running while it’s raining outside, you’re going to get wet!” Why state the obvious?

              Again, if these types of articles, the ones where opinions and forecasting are the whole premise of the article, please stick to factual, straight forward articles but as for the rest of us, some of us like speculating and making educated guesses.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

              • Zack says:

                correction:
                “We have some raw, undeveloped talent and saying that the guys who pick up quicker than the undeveloped guys is the type of thinking that would have caused us to give up Rodgers…”
                should be
                “We have some raw, undeveloped talent and saying that guys who pick up quicker than undeveloped guys are the only ones we should build our future on is the type of thinking that would have caused us to give up Rodgers…”

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • Zack says:

                “Again, if these types of articles, the ones where opinions and forecasting are the whole premise of the article…”
                should be
                “Again, if these types of articles, the ones where opinions and forecasting are the whole premise of the article are not for you…”

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Oppy says:

          Shields’ rookie year was amazing, for any rookie CB.. Mind you, most NFL rookie CB’s have been playing the position for at least 6 years. Shields? One year. That kind of raw talent alone puts him on a list for most promising.

          Burnett was a straight-up playmaker in college. He came out this season and was putting together a pro-bowl type year until his injury.

          Smith was another collegiate stand out, over looked in the draft due to his stature. He had good games and bad games, but his good games when he was called upon to step in for injured starters Bishop and Hawk were VERY good. That’s a young rookie who probably wasn’t intended to see the light of day this season, who stepped in and took over all the play calling duties in a complicated defense with many moving parts and on-the-fly adjustments. Oh, he’s got a few NCAA records, too. Kid’s got talent.

          As far as Alex Green? Sure, it’s projection and hope. Have you watched his tape? Did you go up to GB and watch him practice in the preseason? I did, and he looks like a legit RB with intriguing burst.

          Remember when Aaron Rodgers was an injury prone joke? Just because a player hasn’t had a break through moment yet, doesn’t mean they are promising.

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      • SpiderPack says:

        Jersey. Al. Thank you for reminding me of the forgotten man. I believe your observations & perception of Alex Green are spot on. He will be a more dynamic and in particular, smarter more instinctive open field runner than even Starks. Though I don’t know how well he’ll function out of the backfield when there isn’t a hole to run through, but then who is? or who on the Packers’ squad as of late has been? One important insight tho is that if A Green was a fast learner with regard to blocking/protection schemes, would that not transfer to reading defenses in the run game? and with regard to which hole/path to take as he gets the hand-off? I’m not sure Alex will win “Most improved player” next year, but he most certainly is in the running for “Most Promising.”

        By the way nice meeting you at the CHTV gathering at the Rams game. We were the folks grilling the colorful peppers.

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  4. Pete Kliman says:

    I think Cobb is most promising because he will be an even bigger part of an explosive offense.Buloga is good but I have a very hard time swallowing that he is the 3rd best of ALL the tackles.Al,I hope you’re right about Green. A big back with speed and pass catching ability would be exciting. However,I have my reservations because if he was that good why did he play sparingly at the begining of the season?

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Pete, you know how McCarthy operates, he is not one to throw rookies to the wolves if it’s not really necessary. He works them in in slowly, even ones with such promise as Randall Cobb. That’s why I said that by the end of the season, I think Green would have been worked into the rotation and then stolen snaps away from Grant & Starks.

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    • Zach Kruse Zach Kruse says:

      I think a big part of the reason why Bulaga was the No. 3 overall tackle at PFF was the fact he played on the right side. Not as many big time pass rushers coming from that side. It would certainly be interesting to see how he’d transition over to the left. That said, he’s one of the top 2-3 guys right now on the right side.

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      • Oppy says:

        Zach,

        I can see where your point about his ranking being artificially elevated due to his being a RT yet competing with LT’s is valid.

        Of course, it’s also valid to maintain that 31 other starting RT’s had the same unfair advantage as Bulaga did.. But it’s still Bulaga who ended up at #3.. Not too shabby.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Zack says:

      I think Rodgers’ escapability is another factor contributing to Bulaga’s power ranking but regardless of those things, he’s still damn good and exciting to think how long he has left in the league.

      Cobb is going to be a major impact player and will get more recognition because he plays a skill position but that doesn’t mean that he will be an “even bigger part” of the offense than Bulaga. I’d say that protecting Rodgers is more important than having an extra weapon on offense and if anything I would say that Bulaga has done more to prove that he’s a keeper. Cobb showed flashes of greatness but he had problems with holding onto the ball and his route running is not where it needs to be. These can be written off as rookie jitters but it’s up to Cobb to prove that in the years to come. Bulaga proved to me everything I needed to know this year. If he had identical years to this year for the rest of his career I would be more than happy. Pretty much Bulaga has developed into a true NFL starter, Cobb has not yet. I think he will but that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t yet.

      Being a blocker in the NFL is a historically thankless job and your statement definitely proves it. If at 23 a blocker has a probowl caliber year vs. a #5 WR who had a few good kick returns and a few receptions and you say that the WR is the more promising I have to say that I disagree.

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  5. Pete Kliman says:

    You would think with four good lineman and our expertise at passing the ball that naturally our running game would have been much better .

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  6. Mojo says:

    Cobb, IMO is going to have the greatest impact. He will be more elusive in the slot and on crossing patterns than DD ever was and should be a breakaway threat every time he handles a KO or punt. The Pack should use him more on dump-offs and let him do his thing. That will also help thwart opponents pass-rush somewhat.

    Don’t know if Green will come back from an ACL tear, so I’ll take a wait and see approach with him. BB is going to be a great player for a dozen years.

    Shields, Burnett and Smith have shown some promise, but it appears the most impact of youth is from the offensive side of the ball. Hopefully, TT can address that in this years draft.

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  7. Chad Lundberg says:

    I agree with Zach on this one (wait, me and Zach agree on something? lol). If Bulaga just stays healthy, he will establish himself as the best right tackle in the league.

    I like ALL the players above, but Bulaga can do everything, pass protect and run block, and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he doesn’t give up a single sack next season.

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  8. SchenySchen says:

    Davon house anyone? Anxious to see what he learns in the offseason. GoPack!

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Had to drawn the line somewhere…

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    • Oppy says:

      All season long I’ve wondered if House was simply kept off the field because the Packers felt as though they didn’t need to push him just yet and felt he would stand to gain more in his development by absorbing more from the sideline while Shields developement was still underway…

      …Or if he’s a guy that was not progressing as quickly as the Packers had hoped when he was drafted.

      I hope it’s the prior.

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      • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

        Oppy, he also had several nagging-type injuries that he was fighting all season. I think that played as big a part as anything.

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        • Oppy says:

          I thought he was inactive a few games due to injury, but he was also active a number of games where I thought he might get a chance to get on the field, but no dice.

          Then again, there is a pecking order and he’s low man on the totem pole.

          I can’t wait to get a glimpse of him this year during training camp after a full off season.. Hope he’s a gamer.

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