Looking into the Packers Crystal Ball: Future Help at the Center Position

Packers Center Jeff Saturday

Packers Center Jeff Saturday – Who’s Next?

Now that TJ Lang has signed his contract extension, the Packers have 3 of their 5 linemen secured for the foreseeable future.  He joins Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga as the 2 other pieces of the OL who are at least signed through 2014.  If the team wants to capitalize on the gangbuster talent on the offensive side of the ball, the O line will be key.  So 3 of the 5 pieces are set.  The left tackle position remains in flux with Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod battling injuries and rookie Andrew Datko very green so far this camp.

The Pack brought in veteran free agent center Jeff Saturday this offseason.   Saturday is signed for 2 years and can hopefully remain durable and effective.  But it goes without saying, the team will need to find someone to step in when Saturday retires.  It also goes without saying that the offensive center is invaluable in a pass-heavy offense.  Let’s take a look at a few prospects the Pack may have their eye on this Fall and as they prepare for the 2013 draft.

While Barrett Jones (Alabama) will be at center for the Crimson Tide this year and is a Jacobs Blocking and Outland Trophy winner, he is not part of this discussion.  He is projected as a Guard in the NFL so let’s focus on a few guys who very likely remain at Center when they get to the next level.

Khaled Holmes, USC (6’3”, 310 lbs) – The book on Holmes is that he’s a much better pass blocker than run blocker.  In the Pack’s offense and as long as #12 is QB, that may be enough to warrant a long look.  He’s not very athletic and has trouble bursting off the line but is a smart player.  He displays very good footwork in pass protection and gets set quickly.  Holmes is said to be very good on the outside running the screen.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Pack’s screen game got a boost.  Early projections have him going late in round 1, right where the Pack hope to and should be come next year’s draft.



Center Rankings: Packers 2012 NFL Draft Prospects

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

With Scott Wells gone and Jeff Saturday a 2-year stop-gap at best, one would expect that the Packers will be drafting a developmental offensive center in 2012, probably on day three of the  draft. Of course, so much depends on who’s available and when, so expectations may or may not be realized.

If  Ted does pull the trigger on a center, however, you’ll want to know where that player stands among his peers.  I doubt that most of you are intimately knowledgeable about offensive centers (I surely know that I’m not).

So, in this post we’re providing you with the official 2012 center rankings from the scouting organization the NFL teams use to supplement their own scouting.

As an extra bit of knowledge, here’s their thoughts on Peter Konz:

…some teams consider Wisconsin’s Peter Konz to be the top center in this very limited class. While he is an impressive looking athlete, there are several red flags, including medical, that concern me. This is a player with less than adequate natural strength. Was he “hidden” behind the Badgers’ quality offensive guards like Kevin Zeitler and John Moffit (Seattle) in the trenches?

 I can’t be pleased about a medical report that tells me this is a player with lots of issues, starting with blood clots in his lungs in 2009, a severely sprained ankle in 2010 and a left ankle dislocation in 2011 that sidelined him for far too many games. If anyone on my front wall needs to be out there on every offensive snap, it’s my center. Continuity with other blockers on the line, chemistry with the quarterback all make me wonder how that can be accomplished if I draft this kid and the injury bug continues.

 Konz does a nice job of playing on his feet and maintaining balance. He shows good body control with impressive quickness to get through to the second level. Despite lacking ideal strength, he can get out of his stance and adjust on defenders working over his head. Even with his leg issues, he can bend his knees and play at a good pad level to prevent defenders from attacking his feet.



Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp: Previewing the Offense

Let’s take a quick look at how the Green Bay Packers offense stacks up heading into training camp by breaking down each position individually. Packers training camp starts Saturday, July 30th in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

The Packers head into the 2011 season with likely the best 1-2 combination at quarterback in the NFL. Starter Aaron Rodgers put up fantastic numbers for the third consecutive year, throwing for 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while narrowly missing out on becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in his first three seasons under center.

He didn’t let up once the playoffs started, as he threw for three scores in a win over Philadelphia then thrashed the Falcons in the NFC Divisional round with one of the more impressive playoff performances in Packers playoff history. He completed 86.1 percent of his passes that night (31-for-36) for 366 yards and three touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Rodgers took home MVP honors for his 304-yard, 3-touchdown masterpiece against the NFL’s No. 1 rated defense. He’s a bonafide regular season MVP candidate heading into the season.

Concussions were Rodgers’ kryptonite, however, as he suffered two (at Washington, at Detroit) during the regular season. The latter kept him out of a huge matchup with the New England Patriots, but that allowed backup Matt Flynn to showcase his ever-improving skill set in primetime. Flynn put up Rodgers-like numbers, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss that turned out to be a jumping-off point for the Packers playoff run.

There was talk that Flynn, who will be a free agent after the ’11 season, might be traded to a quarterback-needy team this offseason, but the Packers seem intent on holding onto him as a valuable backup. With Rodgers’ injury history, that could turn out to be an important non-move. Even he if does leave after the season, he’s worth more to the Packers this year as a backup than a mid-to-low draft choice.

If they would have dealt him, any injury to Rodgers might have thrown Graham Harrell into the starting mix. While he put up huge numbers and was fourth in the Heisman voting his senior year at Texas Tech, Harrell is obviously raw in many areas. He went undrafted in ’09 and spent sometime in the CFL before latching on in Green Bay. The league’s lockout also cost him valuable time in Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school. The Packers chose not to draft or sign any quarterback this offseason, so his No. 3 spot on the depth chart seems somewhat secure.