Category Archives: Pro Football Focus

4

March

Cory’s Corner: Raji and Shields aren’t worth worrying over

B.J. Raji was not franchise or transition tagged by the Packers.

B.J. Raji was not franchise or transition tagged by the Packers.

There is no reason to worry about the Packers not tagging anyone with a franchise or transition tag.

I can totally understand not tagging B.J. Raji. Here’s a guy that scoffed at $8 million and if the Packers applied the franchise tag it would’ve cost them $9.654 million and $8.061 million if they used the transition tag. The Packers aren’t going to spend that kind of cash on a guy that appeared disinterested last year — which happened to also be a contract year.

Raji, while only 27, will likely be paid a king’s ransom but will never live up to his 2010 season in which he had 6½ sacks and gave us his own rendition of twerking in the NFC Championship at Chicago.

The same goes for Shields. The Packers’ secondary has been in shambles ever since Charles Woodson lost his ability to cover at a premium level. That unit has made subpar passers like Colin Kaepernick look like Peyton Manning and has put more pressure on the front seven to generate a pass rush.

Shields would be owed $11.834 million if he were franchised and $10.081 if the fourth-year cornerback were transition tagged. Another twist in this whole equation is that Shields’ agent is Drew Rosenhaus, the antichrist for front office pro teams. Rosenhaus is the guy that tells his clients to hold out while asking for more money and a long-term deal.

The 26-year-old Shields has blossomed into a reliable corner. I wouldn’t say he’s the shutdown corner the Packers covet and need for a division loaded with guys like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery but he is solid. ProFootballFocus.com has Shields as the 52nd best corner — 12 spots below teammate Micah Hyde.

The Packers have proven that they are unwilling to overpay just to keep a veteran. That was proven when the Packers let go of center Scott Wells in 2011 — which happened to be the same year he was named a Pro Bowler for the first time.

Many people see that the Packers have the sixth-most cap space with $34,197,930 and wonder why none of that is getting used. Ted Thompson knows that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb must be taken care of after this season and he still may sign a defensive free agent.

24

February

Eddie Lacy 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy

1) Introduction:  Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was by far the biggest surprise for the team in 2013.  After being projected by many to be drafted in the first round, Lacy fell to the Packers late in round two.  He outgained the three running backs taken ahead of him (Giovanni Bernard, Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball)  in both yards and touchdowns and is a candidate for the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award.  Lacy was voted Pro Football Writers Association Rookie of the Year.  It can be argued that Lacy was the Packers most valuable player in 2013, as he helped re-establish the run game in the team’s offense and was most key in team’s few wins without quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season.

2) Profile:

Eddie Darwin Lacy, Jr.

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 6/2/1990 in Gretna, LA
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 230
  • College: Alabama
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Lacy came into this season expected to be part of a running back committee anchored by DuJuan Harris.  When Harris went down to a season-ending injury early in training camp, Lacy emerged as the starter, edging out James Starks.  The Packers had hoped to bring Lacy along more slowly and as a complimentary back.  But he was thrust into action and often carried 25+ times per game.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Lacy’s rookie season was filled with many highlights that delighted the team and fans.  He provided something the team had not had since the days of Ahman Green:  a reliable running back capable of picking up a tough one yard or breaking one for 50.  Lacy’s low light of the season was his only fumble in week one against the San Francisco 49ers along with having to miss two straight games due to a concussion.  Lacy’s single biggest highlight was his performance against the Dallas Cowboys where his 60-yard run to start the second half sparked a comeback that was complete with his plunge into the end zone for the go-ahead score.  His late and savvy touchdown run against the Bears in Chicago inched the Packers closer to their dramatic comeback win in week 17.  Lacy also broke a four-year drought of Packers running backs getting 100 rushing yards during the regular season.  He surpassed the century mark three times and went over 90 on two other occasions.  Lacy’s hard work was rewarded when he was named to the Pro Bowl as a substitute for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

19

February

Jarrett Boykin 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: When Jarrett Boykin replaced Randall Cobb in the Ravens game, Boykin  looked like me trying to get a date back in high school: awkward, bumbling and completely out of his element. My game never improved. Boykin’s did.

Packers WR Jarrett Boykin

2) Profile:

Jarrett Boykin

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 11/4/89 in Chattanooga, TN
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Virginia Tech
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Be ready in case of injury. With Cobb missing most of the season and James Jones also missing time, Boykin got his chance and made the most of it after a slow start.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Lowlights don’t get much lower than Boykin against the Ravens. He caught one pass in five targets, dropped two balls and was on a completely different planet than Aaron Rodgers. The following week against Minnesota, Boykin caught all five passes thrown his way and began showing that he may be more than just a backup.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Boykin is an aggressive receiver who is tough to deal with after the catch. Might he be the replacement for James Jones if Jones departs via free agency? I would’ve said “no way” earlier this season, but Boykin showed improvement, and with a little more consistency catching the ball and separating from defensive backs, he’ll stick.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Boykin was only targeted once and didn’t catch a pass. Is Boykin fast enough to separate from good cornersbacks? It didn’t look like it against San Francisco

Season Report Card:

(A-) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B-

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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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19

February

Randall Cobb 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers WR Randall Cobb

1) Introduction: The Packers best offensive play in the season’s final two games was to have Aaron Rodgers magically escape the grasp of an oncoming defender or two, scurry outside the pocket, and throw it Randall Cobb, who somehow managed to improvise, get behind the defense and catch Rodgers’ attention. Cobb was slowed by injuries at the end of 2012 and missed most of 2013 with a fractured leg. He’s a free agent after next season and will need to stay healthy if he wants to cash in.

2) Profile:

Randall Cobb

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 8/22/1990 in Maryville, TN
  • Height: 5’10″
  • Weight: 191
  • College: Kentucky
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: This year was going to be another progression in Cobb becoming one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. All was mostly going as planned until Cobb fractured his leg against Baltimore.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Of course, Cobb’s catch against the Bears in the season finale tops the highlight list, not just for Cobb but for the Packers entire season. Receiving honorable mention is Cobb’s long run that woke up the Packers muddling offense against Detroit and a couple of nice catches on improvised plays in the playoffs.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Without Cobb, the Packers probably don’t make the playoffs. When he was on the field, Cobb’s speed from the slot and overall playmaking ability made a good offense much more dynamic.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Cobb only had two catches in the postseason, but they were two memorable catches. Too bad the Packers couldn’t punch it in the end zone after Cobb’s last big catch.

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season

(A-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(B) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B

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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

February

Jordy Nelson 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  Remember during the offseason when everyone called the Packers soft and demanded more toughness? People were mostly talking about the defense. Nobody expected a wide receiver to raise the Packers’ level of toughness, but Jordy Nelson did just that.

Jordy Nelson

2) Profile:

Jordy Nelson

  • Age: 28
  • Born: 5/31/1985 in Manhattan, KS
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 215
  • College: Kansas St.
  • Rookie Year: 2008
  • NFL Experience: 6 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Bounce back. Nelson spent a good portion of the 2012 season banged up and his numbers nose-dived from his amazing 2011 campaign. He needed to stay healthy this season and return to being one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Whenever Aaron Rodgers was in trouble, he’d launch an impossible-looking pass toward Nelson on the sideline. Nelson would somehow catch it and get both feet down with a defender or two draped all over him. Any time that happened, it was a highlight. His 22 catches for 20 yards or more was also nice. If you’re looking for a low-light, Nelson “only” had eight touchdowns. Given the Packers struggles in the red zone, it would’ve been nice to see Nelson come down with a few more scores.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Nelson made the Packers tougher. I know you don’t think of receivers making a football team tougher, but Nelson did. He had knee surgery on Aug. 5, yet never missed a game. He took shots and held onto the ball. He made catches with defenders all over him. He pulled out the Jordy stiff arm every now and then. He was a chore for defenders to bring down on hitch routes. He didn’t quite have the success over-the-top that we got used to in 2011, but he improved in just about every other area.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: It was a strange game on offense for the Packers against the 49ers in the playoffs. Rodgers looked tentative early and the Packers never really got rolling. Nelson caught seven passes, but only for 62 yards. It was a good, not great, playoff game for No. 87.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(B) Contributions to team during the playoffs

18

February

James Jones 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: James Jones is another example of a Packers wide receiver increasing the team’s overall toughness. Jones missed more than two games with a knee injury, then returned and played hurt for the next month. He also played through a broken rib late in the season. Jones risked further injury during a contract year, which says a lot about his character and toughness.

Packers WR James Jones

2) Profile:

James Jones

  • Age: 29
  • Born: 3/31/1984 in San Jose, CA
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 208
  • College: San Jose St.
  • Rookie Year: 2007
  • NFL Experience: 7 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: I’m not sure anyone expected Jones to catch 14 touchdowns like he did in 2012, but they were expecting him to continue being a reliable target in the passing game.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: An 11-catch, 178-yard game in week 2 against Washington tops Jones’ list of highlights. Catching an 83-yard touchdown against Detroit is also up there. Injuries and the loss of Aaron Rodgers caused Jones’ production to dip in the middle of the season. He also dropped a couple of tough, but catchable, passes against the 49ers in the playoffs.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jones averaged almost 2.5 more yards per catch in 2013 than he did during his breakout campaign of 2012. He seemed to be having more success getting downfield before he was slowed by the knee injury (he struggled to get separation the remainder of the season). When he was healthy, Jones was exactly what the Packers needed him to be: a tough, fundamentally strong, dependable receiver.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Jones’ performance against the 49ers is a game he’ll want to forget. He failed to come down with the ball on three separate occasions when he had a chance to make a big play. Each catch wold have been a difficult one, but it’s those types of plays that need to be made in the playoffs.

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B-

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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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13

February

Derek Sherrod 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

 

1) Introduction: The 32nd pick in round one of the NFL Draft, Derek Sherrod was supposed to be the stud left tackle in Green Bay for the next 10 years.  In my OT ratings for the CheeseheadTV Draft Guide, I ranked him as the second best tackle prospect, behind only Tyron Smith (a Pro Bowl Selection from Dallas this year). I was ecstatic when the Packers drafted Sherrod.

2) Profile:

Derek Sherrod

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 4/23/1989 in Chula Vista, CA
  • Height: 6’6″
  • Weight: 321
  • College: West Virginia
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:   Four words: GET ON THE FIELD. Recovering from the nasty broken leg he suffered in game 5 of his 2011 rookie season, had proven to be much more difficult than most imagined. Could Sherrod be ready for the start of the season?

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Highlight would have to be the six snaps he played at right tackle against Detroit in the Thanksgiving Massacre – his only 6 snaps of the season. Lowlight would be winding up on the PUP list almost two years after his injury.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Nil. Was active for eight games after coming off the PUP list. The pure definition of “bench warmer.”

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: None. Did not play.

Season Report Card:

It’s really not fair to grade Sherrod, so we’ll just give him an “incomplete” and hope he’s “grade-worthy” next season.

(inc) Level of expectations met during the season

(inc) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(inc) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  INCOMPLETE

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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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