29

July

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.

5

April

According to Hobbes: Packers Offseason Primer on the NFL Combine: Offensive Interior Linemen

Offensive Interior Linemen: Here’s the sixth of a series of articles and final for the offense, looking specifically at the NFL combine and the Packers’ drafting tendencies. (read here for the rationale for this serieshere for quarterbackshere for running backs, here for wide receivershere for tight ends and here for offensive tackles).  This article will use the combine numbers from previous players drafted by GM Ted Thompson as a guide for what offensive interior linemen are likely to fit into the Packers’ scheme.

Again, this is merely an attempt to make a best guess based on statistics at which players the Packers might be interested in, game tape naturally trumps combine numbers, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  But I believe it will make for some interesting discussion.  Also listed below are also two offensive interior linemen in this year’s draft who I think fit the Packers scheme the best, based on their combine numbers.

Statistics of offensive interior linemen drafted by the Packers:

Name Height Weight 40-Yard 3-Cone Shuttle Vertical Broad Bench
Junius Coston 6’3” 317.00 5.31 7.93 4.64 29.50 102.00 21.00
Will Whitticker 6’5” 338.00 5.35 7.90 4.75 29.50 97.00 29.00
Daryn Colledge 6’4” 300.00 5.05 7.46 4.60 32.50 110.00 21.00
Jason Spitz 6’4” 310.00 5.40 7.82 4.56 28.50 102.00 25.00
Tony Moll 6’4” 285.00 18.00
Josh Sitton 6’4” 320.00 5.30 7.55 4.50 29.00 108.00 28.00
Marshall Newhouse 6’3” 319.00 5.00 7.40 4.60 25.00 97.00 25.00
Average 6’4” 312.71 5.24 7.68 4.61 29.00 102.67 23.86
StDev 0.69 16.77 0.17 0.23 0.08 2.41 5.43 4.02

What the Packers are looking for: Offensive interior are considered incredibly safe picks, perhaps even more than offensive tackles; offensive linemen are the most likely to start as rookies of any position and probably command the cheapest contracts of any 1st round pick.  I’ve decided to combine offensive guards and centers together since it seems like many of the players that the Packers use have the ability to play any one of three positions.

Thompson has never traditionally been very high on interior offensive linemen, the average draft pick for an offensive interior linemen is in the middle of the 4th round, and it always seems as if a undrafted rookie free agent offensive interior linemen sneaks onto the active roster, with Evan Detrich-Smith getting in last year and Nick McDonald getting in this year (both who were developmental guard-centers that the Packers think highly of).