6

June

Packers Stock Report: Offseason Edition

Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Donald Driver

Two of the three in this pictures are rising.

A little over a week ago, a few folks over at ESPN put together NFL power rankings for the 2015 season. Yes, you read that correctly, the 2015 season.

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, a young core of talented players on both sides of the ball and a steady front office and coaching staff, the Packers finished first in the rankings. It’s silly to talk about 2015 power rankings in 2012, but that’s what NFL nerds like us talk about in June.

Perhaps a more appropriate exercise would be to examine each team’s roster and determine which players are rising and which are falling. It’s impossible to project anything clearly all the way to the 2015 season, but if you can assign a rising/falling grade to everyone currently on the roster, you at least can get a somewhat reasonable projection of the team’s future beyond the upcoming season.

All of this sounds like the perfect recipe for a Packers offseason stock report. Which players are on the rise and which are falling? This isn’t like the normal stock reports I do during the season. Those reports go week-to-week with heavy emphasis on the last game played.

For this offseason report, I’m looking more long term. Heck, I’ll use the 2015 season as a benchmark. Between now and 2015, can we reasonably expect (insert player’s name) to get better, keep playing at a consistently good level, or regress? I’m not going to label any player as steady, either. They’re either rising or falling.

Also, it doesn’t mean that a player is bad if he’s tagged with the falling label. For example, I think Charles Woodson is falling. I don’t think he’ll be playing at his current level in 2015, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad now and should be cut.

Finally, I’m just going to look at starters and I’m not touching the rookies. We don’t know enough about the first-year guys to slap any sort of label on them.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here we go:

Aaron Rodgers, QB: Rising. Expect Rodgers to keep playing at an MVP level well into the future.

James Starks, RB: Rising. I’m giving Starks the benefit of the doubt here. I think if he stays healthy he can be the type of running back the Packers need.

Greg Jennings, WR: Rising. The most disciplined route runner in football will be good for a long time.

Jordy Nelson, WR: Rising. After breaking out in 2011, I see no reason why Nelson will slow down any time soon.

3rd Wide Receiver: I’m not sure who to officially call the team’s third WR, so I’ll just label the rest of them. Driver is falling, Cobb is rising, and Jones is rising.

Jermichael Finley, TE: Rising. People were down on Finley after last season, but at 24 years old, the ceiling is still high for this kid. The Packers obviously agree and resigned him to a two-year deal.

Marshall Newhouse, LT: Rising. Not a great first year, but he showed enough to gain the inside track to start at left tackle in 2012.

T.J. Lang, LG: Rising. Lang is a nice player and is playing for a new contract this season.

Jeff Saturday, C: Falling. Saturday gets the first falling label, not because he’s bad, but because he’s old.

Josh Sitton, RG: Rising. Coming off his first pro bowl, Sitton will be good for a long time.

Bryan Bulaga, RT: Rising. I’m looking at my crystal ball and I think I see a pro bowl in it for Bulaga between now and 2015.

Ryan Pickett, DE: Falling. Pickett is still a good player, but age will likely get the best of him in a year or two.

B.J. Raji, DL: Rising. 2011 was forgettable for Raji, but he’s young enough to rebound and return to form.

Other D-linemen: I have no idea who the third “starter” on the d-line will be. Whoever it is, he needs to become a riser to help this defense recover.

Clay Matthews, OLB: Rising. Matthews’ sack total dropped, but his overall game improved in 2011. He’ll be a fine player well into the future.

A.J. Hawk, ILB: Falling. Hawk is just sort of there on defense. Rarely do find yourself saying, “That sure was a helluva play by A.J. Hawk” during a game.

Desmond Bishop, ILB: Rising. Bishop looks a bit slow at times, but he’s a high-energy player that is also a sneaky-good blitzer.

Other Outside Linebacker: This will likely be Nick Perry. If it’s Erik Walden, Frank Zombo or Brad Jones for some reason, consider them all falling.

Charles Woodson, CB: Falling. Still a very good player, but I don’t see him staying at his current level into 2015. Could a move to safety change that perception?

Tramon Williams, CB: Rising. Hopefully a healthy Williams gets back on track after getting burned far too often in 2011.

Morgan Burnett, SS: Rising. I don’t see Burnett as an all-pro, but he should be decent.

Charlie Peprah, FS: Falling. A decent backup that shouldn’t be starting.

Only five of the 22 starters are falling in my opinion (depending on how you want to handle who starts on the d-line and OLB). Yes, 2015 is a long ways away, but the Packers are set up to be contenders for a long time.

Epilogue
The commenters demanded it, so I will deliver it. Here’s a report on a few more players:

Sam Shields, CB: Rising. This one wasn’t easy. I went with rising because I believe the physical talent is there.

Mason Crosby, K: Rising. Strong leg on kickoffs and a stellar season (finally) kicking field goals. Once Jersey Al publishes his annual “Mason Crosby is Terrible” post, Crosby should improve even more.

Tim Masthay, P: N/A. The Packers will never have to punt this season so no report is necessary for Masthay.

Randall Cobb, KR/PR: Rising. Fix the minor fumbling issue and Cobb’s future is bright as a returner.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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18 Responses to “Packers Stock Report: Offseason Edition”

  1. JimR_in_DC says:

    How about Special Teams, Adam?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Chazman says:

    How about Sam Shields?

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  3. Steve Cheez says:

    Love the Crosby and Masthay comments

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Kevin says:

    The Masthay comment was very funny, and maybe close to true. How about a general rating on the roster of backups? To me it looks to improve and go into the rising category. The D line will actually have reserves and the secondary reserves look to be upgraded as well. On offense, the backup linemen look to be stronger as a group as do the backup running backs assuming Green recovers fully. I think replacing one tight end (likely to be Quarles on IR) with Gurley or Borel may actually improve the reserve receiving group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Ed says:

      6 WR and 4 TE is what I am looking at too.

      The backups would be rising everywhere excpept maybe OLB — I have a feeling that they are oing to get rid of a lot of dead wood at linebacker. So backups at that position group should be ‘rising’ next season.

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  5. FourEyesBrewing says:

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

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

      Two years ago i was on the bandwagon of dumping JJ,but dumping him now is a mistake and i strongly feel he comes up big this year as Nelson has after being given the time.
      Take a look at JJ last year from 2010 SB year.He’s going to be big for us and no rookie is pushing him out…Driver staying though can induce some stupidity and deciding on the wrong release of a WR.

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      • Ed says:

        They won’t cut JJ until Greg Jennings signs long term (they tried to trade him this spring, but that’s a different issue. You get some value in return for a trade.

        If Jennings doesn’t sign and DD gets old fast, or anybody else gets hurt, JJ is the veteran glue that keeps the receiving core together this season. Next year is a different story.

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    • Adam Czech says:

      Jones won’t be cut. He’s no superstar, but he fits well. I don’t see him falling off at all, so I gave him the rising label.

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    • Oppy says:

      James Jones is a far more talented receiver than people give him credit for.

      I don’t know why the NFL isn’t interested in him. He displays an ability to get free down the field and make plays. In the past, it was a lack of focus- usually a matter of not looking the ball into the catch before turning up field- that limited his production. Those drops were untimely and costly, but when he FOCUSES he does make plays.

      JJ is actually a pretty decent weapon to have at your disposal. He really could have a little break out year. I don’t think like Jordy Nelson, though.. Not many WR’s enjoy a season-and-a-half run like Jordy has.. Amazing streak

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  6. shtarker says:

    How good are Gurley and Borel? Are either above a fifth wr? They certainly aren’t as good as Jennings, Nelson, Cobb and probably Jones. Fourth and fifth at best.

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    • Ed says:

      Exactly right.

      Gurley is really interesting because he apparently can block punts. Other than that they are developmental receivers. Smithson and the new kid, Dale Moss, seem ready to step into that role in Gurley and Borel go elsewhere.

      Not that I actually want Gurley and Borel to go or get cut, just saying that Gurley and Borel have to earn a job by beating somebody out in training camp, and agreeing that will be a fairly tough task.

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  7. James david Marsh says:

    Taining camp and the preseason need to be played out before even MM & TT can sort out the positions of OLB, ILB, DL, S and the reserves for WR,DL,OL,OLB,ILB,CB, AND S. Please give P Masthay is due, as he is rising. Draft and develop your players as a continued influx of new talent is always needed even in areas one might consider a real strenght. One truely never knows what might be needed later on as the games get played.

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  8. Stroh says:

    No area where players are staying the same?… A players prime years are between 26 and 30. THe vast majority of players fall into this category and are simply playing at a consistent level from one year to the next. You don’t see many players make a large jump in improvement from age 27 to 28. Its ridiculous not to include them in the remain the same category. I get that if your not improving your getting worse thing. But once you get to your 4th or 5th year in the league you aren’t going to improve too much anymore. Everyone already knows who you are and what you can/can’t do!

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    • Adam Czech says:

      No. Staying the same equals rising for the purposes of this post. Read the intro. If I had a stay the same category, most players would fall into it and the post would be pointless.

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Stroh showing unusual restraint with only one exclamation mark!

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