9

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Kickers & Specialists

Overview: To kick off the next series of evaluations on AllGreenBayPackers.com, the ALLGBP staff are going to be analyzing each position group starting off with the specialists.  Overall, the specialists did a pretty good job keeping their names off the papers and blogs, outside of about 6 weeks of utter CROSBPOCALYPSE.

Where We Are Now

Here are the current suspects;

  • LS Brett Goode (Undrafted, 2008)
  • P Tim Masthay aka Ginger Wolverine (Undrafted, 2010)
  • K Mason Crosby (6th round, 2007)

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So that’s where we are.  Not much to report here; specialists are often drafted in the later rounds or not at all, and the Packers are no different, only using a 6th round pick on Crosby and picking up both Goode and Masthay off the free agent street.

  • Goode: Goode again finished the season without a bad snap and even recorded a tackle in week 9 against the Cardinals, a pretty hard feat considering Goode has the least idea of what’s going on on the field since his head is between his legs at the beginning of the play.  Goode was also not responsible for any blocked or batted kicks which overall for a long snapper basically is a job well done
  • Masthay: Tim Masthay ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of punting efficiency on ProFootballFocus, which can mostly be attributed to his lack of power, but Masthay makes up for that and more with his accuracy and hangtime.  Masthay uses his “aussie” style drop kick as well as his good directional skills to pin opponents back and usually never outkicks his coverage.  Outside of one misguided pass play that I wouldn’t really put as Masthay’s fault, Masthay had a consistent yet basically unremarkable season, but for a special teams unit that has been desperate for just an average punter after Jon Ryan’s departure, Masthay was a godsend.

9

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Quarterback

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, and the guidance of Mike McCarthy, the Packers are set at QB.

Packers quarterbacks:  That Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good. Should he ever get hurt for an extended stretch (God forbid), things could go south in a hurry. Most teams are in the same boat as the Packers when it comes to quarterback. If the starter gets hurt, they’re screwed. Fans like to get all worked up over the backup quarterback. “Bring in a good backup,” they yell. “I want someone with experience,” they cry. Well, if the backup QB was good, he probably wouldn’t be a backup in the first place. And bringing in a veteran? I’ll take a low-cost young guy with a high ceiling over someone with experience who is overpriced, washed up, and probably no good, anyway.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

Aaron Rodgers (1st round)
Graham Harrell (7th round)
B.J. Coleman (7th round)

Listen to expanded coverage of this topic using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Aaron Rodgers: The most physically gifted quarterback in the game. By now, we all know what Rodgers is good at. If we wanted him to be even better, I suppose we could point to his tendency to hold the ball and ignore underneath receivers. Sometimes it feels like Rodgers is almost too talented for his own good. He’s always trying to wriggle around the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, hoping a receiver comes open deep for a bomb. Sometimes you want to shake Rodgers and tell him that there’s nothing wrong with a “normal” five-yard pass every now and then. That’s getting really nit-picky, though. It’s not like Rodgers never throws underneath and always holds the ball too long.

Graham Harrell: Is Harrell the young QB who can be developed into something useful that I was talking about in the introduction? It didn’t look like it in 2012. Harrell’s arm strength is below average and he looks clumsy. But he’s still young. Real young. Matt Flynn didn’t look like much, either, at first. Don’t count out Mike McCarthy’s ability to make a bad young QB into a useful young QB. I wonder how long of a leash Harrell has. If he doesn’t show significant improvement over the summer and in training camp, do the Packers go with B.J. Coleman, or take another flyer on a QB late in the draft?

3

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Running Backs

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

As far as personnel, the Packers underwent more changes at running back than any other position. James Starks was the starter through training camp before the team signed Cedric Benson after the first preseason game. Injuries added up, allowing DuJuan Harris–a former used car salesman–to take over as the team’s feature back.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

DuJuan Harris (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2012)
Alex Green (3rd round, 2011)
James Starks (6th round, 2010)
Brandon Saine (UDFA, 2011)
John Kuhn (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2007)

Listen to expanded coverage of this topic using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Harris: For the 2012 Packers, DuJuan Harris (5-9 208) was a huge blessing in a small package. After starter Cedric Benson was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury, and reserves Alex Green and James Starks both battled injuries of their own, the team turned to Harris to be the lead back. Harris played in a total of six games last season and recorded a team-high four rushing touchdowns.

Green: After Cedric Benson was lost for the season while James Starks was already out of the lineup, Alex Green was the next man up. Green broke off a season-long run of 41 yards later in the game Benson got hurt but never grabbed hold of the starting job. For the season, Green averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.

Starks: As the starter in the Packers’ first preseason game, James Starks turned in a disappointing performance. Before suffering a turf toe injury which would cause him to miss half of the season, Starks also lost a fumble. He returned to the lineup and became a key part of the backfield rotation during the middle of the season, but his roster spot for 2013 is far from assured.

Saine: The second-year back out of Ohio State didn’t carry the ball once in 2012, as he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in week six against the Houston Texans. Saine has appeared in just 14 games the past two seasons, but he showed promise during 2011 in a limited role.

19

March

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Wide Receiver

Packers WR Randall Cobb will return as a top playmaker in 2013.

Packers WR Randall Cobb will return as a top playmaker in 2013.

The injury bug bit the position hard, but players continually stepped up and the offense didn’t miss a beat. James Jones has had his fair share of struggles with dropped passes, but he had the best season of his career in 2013, leading the league with 14 touchdown catches. Randall Cobb also had a breakout season, due in part to the absence of Greg Jennings for much of the season. With Jennings likely headed elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, more pressure will rely on the shoulders of Jones, Cobb and Jordy Nelson.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

Jordy Nelson (2nd Round, 2008)
James Jones (3rd Round, 2007)
Randall Cobb (2nd Round, 2011)
Jarrett Boykin (UDFA, 2012)
Jeremy Ross (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2012)

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen in using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Nelson: Coming off a breakout 2011 season, expectations for Jordy Nelson were high coming into 2012. Nelson will likely assume the subjective role of the Packers’ No. 1 receiver without Jennings in the fold. Although he missed four games due to injury, Nelson performed well when he was in the lineup. In a two-game stretch against the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, Nelson racked up 17 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

Jones: Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the team, Jones set career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013. With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson in and out of the lineup with nagging injuries, Jones started all 16 games for the team and led the league with 14 touchdown catches. He didn’t command much of a market as a free agent in 2011, and the Packers benefitted greatly from having him in the fold this past season.

Cobb: As a rookie in 2011, Randall Cobb was electric as a return man. But in Cobb’s second season, it became obvious fairly early in the year he was one of the team’s best offensive playmakers. In 15 games, Cobb led the team with 80 catches and 954 receiving yards, to go along with eight touchdowns. Cobb does most of his damage from the slot, but he’s capable of lining up on the outside, as well as running the ball out of the backfield. It should be more of the same from Cobb next season.

9

March

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Offensive Line

The Packers can always count on Josh Sitton on the offensive line.

Packers offensive line:  The Packers have invested a significant amount of resources into their offensive line over the last three years. Two first-round draft picks (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod), a notable free-agent signee (Jeff Saturday) and a few contract extensions (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang). Despite all that investment, the offensive line is still nowhere near the level of the Packers’ skill position groups.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

  • Bryan Bulaga (1st round)
  • Don Barclay (undrafted)
  • Josh Sitton (4th round)
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith (undrafted)
  • T.J. Lang (4th round)
  • Marshall Newhouse (5th round)
  • Derek Sherrod (1st round)
  • Greg Van Roten (undrafted)

 

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen in using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Bulaga: There are all kinds of questions swirling around Bulaga right now. Will he ever be the pro-bowler many think he’s capable of being? Will he move to left tackle in 2013? What do we make of his dismal start in 2012? Can he stay healthy? That last question is probably the most important. I don’t think Bulaga was 100 percent healthy to start 2012, and that was part of the reason he struggled so much early. Whether he moves to the left side depends on a lot of things: What is Derek Sherrod’s status? Does Mike McCarthy want a more physical line? Does Ted Thompson draft another tackle in April?

Don Barclay: Assuming Don Barclay doesn’t leave football in order to pursue a career as the next great wrestling jobber, he should get a shot at starting in 2013. Ideally, I think the Packers would like to use Barclay as the sixth man on the offensive line, sort of like Evan Dietrich-Smith has been used most of the last two seasons. But if Barclay has to start, the Packers probably won’t panic. Barclay is kind of a poor man’s version of T.J. Lang: Physical, goes all out, versatile, lacking a bit in pure talent.

Sitton: Plug him in and forget about him. As long as Sitton is healthy, he’s one of the better guards in the league.

28

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Safety

Morgan Burnett

Burnett returns as a leader of both the safety group as well as the Packers team as a whole in 2013

Packers Safeties:  One of the youngest groups on the current Green Bay Packers roster, this is a position that is expected to take a big step forward in 2013.  The team will be without long-time veteran Charles Woodson and will rely on Morgan Burnett to assume that leadership role.  Third-year player M.D. Jennings joins second-year player Jerron McMillian opposite Burnett with Sean Richardson likely in the fold as well.

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen to the podcast using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Morgan Burnett (3rd round)

M.D. Jennings (UDFA)

Jerron McMillian (4th round)

Sean Richardson (UDFA)

Burnett was a steady rock for the Packers in 2012, playing in all 16 regular season games and both playoff games.  After missing most of his rookie season of 2010 and being hampered by a hand injury in 2011, Burnett showed that he can be counted on and durable enough to play a full season.  His play improved both in coverage and run support.  The assumption is that he will continue that trend in 2013 and become one of the defensive leaders on this team.

Jennings platooned with the rookie McMillian opposite Burnett after Woodson went down.  He doesn’t have blazing speed but he has a knack for sticking his nose into the play and is not afraid to get after the ball.  He scored the team’s first interception return for a touchdown and had seemingly sealed a tough road win at Seattle before. . well, we all know that story by now.  Jennings will certainly be a part of the team’s plans at safety in 2013 in one capacity or another.  He is also a contributor on special teams so I fully expect him on the 2013 roster.  For an undrafted free agent, Jennings has, at the very least, matched the expectations he had when he was brought in.  He is trending upward and should continue on the path to exceeding them if he can stay healthy.

28

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Cornerbacks

Packers 2012 Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey HaywardPackers Cornerbacks:  All eyes were on the cornerback group during Training Camp in 2012. This unit, above all others, had some serious competition going on for a starting job. And the result was that this competition continued throughout the season until we ended up with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, and Casey Hayward as the clear leaders of the secondary.

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen to the podcast using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Tramon Williams (UDFA, 2006)
Jarrett Bush (UDFA, 2006)
Sam Shields (UDFA, 2010)
Davon House (4th Round, 2011)
Casey Hayward (2nd Round, 2012)
James Nixon (UDFA, 2012, Practice Squad)

How many teams can say that their top two cornerbacks went undrafted as rookies? The Packers can, though they can also say that their past two draft selections on cornerbacks are also beginning to make names for themselves.

  • Williams: After a horrible showing in 2011 thanks to an early shoulder injury, Tramon Williams was looking to get back to his championship form of 2010. Unfortunately, he only seemed to get about halfway there. He showed clear improvement but still came up short, especially in key moments. The big question is whether he’ll continue the upward trend or start falling again.
  • Bush: Can we be done with the Jarrett Bush experiment once and for all? He’s a key special teams player, but a starting cornerback he is not. His performance in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers had the coaches quickly backpedaling in their confidence, and in Week 2 Bush was no longer starting anymore.
  • Shields: The award for most improved player of the year could easily go to Sam Shields. He went from an abysmal 2011 season to legitimate shutdown corner status in 2012. Not only that, he found the will to tackle and play with more physicality. His size doesn’t help much, but at least the right attitude is finally there.
  • House: People seemed to forget about Davon House during the offseason until he started proving his worth in training camp. From almost nowhere, he became one of the favored starters next to Tramon Williams. A shoulder injury derailed those plans, but in a short amount of time, House has initiated a lot of hope for the future.