11

July

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to Become a Starter After Being a Backup Last Year

Green Bay Packer Most Likely to become a starter after being a backup last year

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Mike Neal – Neal wins this one, mainly because if he doesn’t the Packers will be in trouble up front.

Al: Mike Neal –  Neal was coming on strong in full beast mode when he went down for the season. I remember Washington coach Mike Shanahan remarking how good the Packers’ DL was after the Washington game and Neal was a big factor that game.

Chad: Mike Neal – You know it’s a good sign when there aren’t too many options for this category. How many starters are actually leaving, even potentially, next season? The only ones I can think of are Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, Mark Tauscher, Nick Barnett, Brandon Jackson, and James Jones (if you can count him as a starter). From that list, the only positions where a replacement starter wasn’t already seeing action are at defensive end and left guard. That being the case, I’m going to have to go with Mike Neal. His only real competition is C.J. Wilson; meanwhile, the left guard position is WIDE open right now.

Kris: Mike Neal - With Jenkings likely headed out the door in free agency, now is the time for Mike Neal to show us what he’s got.  He started showing flashes before his 2010 season came to a screeching halt due to injury, but the man definitely seems ready to stake his claim on a starting position for 2011.

Thomas: T.J. Lang – If anything T.J. Lang proved in 2009 that he can play in the NFL, whether he ends up being a backup or a starter in the future has yet to be decided but he definitely belongs in the NFL.  That can’t be said with any of the other potential starting linemen.  In my opinion Lang gets the first shot at left guard should Daryn Colledge leave.

Zach: Neal – With Cullen Jenkins on his way out, Neal should be a starter at defensive end. He’ll first need to beat out Howard Green, who played well down the stretch and applied the pressure that caused Nick Collins’ pick-six in the Super Bowl. But if Neal is healthy, and plays anywhere near the level he showed to begin his rookie season, it’s his job to lose.

5

July

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to Have a Breakout Season in 2011

Green Bay Packer Most Likely to Have a Breakout Season in 2011

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Jordy Nelson – It was between Nelson and Starks and I went with Nelson simply because the Packers will be throwing more than running.

Al: Morgan Burnett – As last off season progressed, I loved what I was reading about Morgan Burnett. Thrown in as the #1 thanks to Atari Bigby’s injury, Burnett mastered Capers’ defense and was even taking a leadership role. That doesn’t happen with too many rookie safeties. During the preseason games, I loved what I saw of Morgan Burnett. I was convinced that by the end of the year, he would be playing like veteran rather than a rookie. I look for Burnett to make that giant leap I expected last year and solidify his status as one of the best young safeties in the league.

Chad: Mike Neal – If there’s one guy who’s hungry and ready to make a splash this season, it’s Mike Neal. He is most likely going to be in the starting line-up when the season begins, and he’ll get every opportunity to wreak havoc on the line. Someone will need to fill Cullen Jenkins’ shoes, and I think Neal is just the guy to do it.

Kris: James Starks – Ryan Grant is no sure thing coming back from injury and Starks will take full advantage of his opportunity.  We only caught a glimpse of his potential in last season’s playoffs and he should shine with 16 games to showcase his talents.

Thomas: Andrew Quarless – It took Finley a while to get going and it might be the same thing for Quarless.  With more attention being focused on Finley and Jennings, Quarless has the opportunity to surprise everyone.  Also add in the fact that Quarless is a better blocker than Finley and he might see the field more as an inline pass threat.

Zach: Jordy Nelson – I feel strongly about Nelson’s potential impact for next season, and I’d be absolutely shocked if he didn’t see the third-most passes coming his way in 2011 (behind Jennings and Finley). That  alone should set him up for a breakout season. And while it’s probably never smart to rule out Driver, it’s Nelson’s time in the offense. He’ll build off his Super Bowl performance.

4

July

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to have the Best Season of their Career in 2011

Green Bay Packer Most Likely to Have the Best Season of Their Career in 2011

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Nick Collins — Collins is already good, but I still think he’s still on the upswing. Look for him to go from good to great in 2011.

Al: B.J. Raji — I think year three will be the breakout for B.J. Raji. After an injury hobbled first season, Raji played a ton of snaps last year and his improvement was accelerating in the post season. That trend continues, Jersey Boy Raji gets stronger and opposing centers feel the pain.

Chad: A.J. HawkThis is a tricky one. When you talk about the best season of a player’s career, you’re talking past, present, and future. So to hit this category, you’ve got to find the player that’s hitting their peak and not currently too early or too late in their careers. That being said, I think this is the year A.J. Hawk hits his high point. His production dipped a bit when the Packers switched to the 3-4 under Capers, but after finally taking the reins of the defense last year, I think Hawk’s sixth season will be his best ever.

Kris: Aaron Rodgers — Call me crazy but I’m going with Aaron Rodgers. 30 touchdowns and only 7 picks may be near impossible to beat, a career high in yardage isn’t out of the question.  I will even call my shot now and say he is the league MVP. That would be a career year for Rodgers.

Thomas: Jordy Nelson — In my opinion he’s already the number 2 receiver after Jennings and that will only increase his production as that becomes more apparent.  I think he has better hands than Jones (who is probably going to leave anyways) and Driver has declined to a point where Nelson is probably better.  Add that to the fact that Nelson has had pretty paltry numbers since being drafted (not his fault, there was just so much talent ahead of him), and there’s no way he doesn’t have a great statistical season.

26

June

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to Get a Contract Extension During the Season

Green Bay Packer Most Likely to Get a Contract or Extension During the Season:

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Sitton — Aaron Rodgers is a top three quarterback that needs as many quality fat guys blocking for him as possible. Sitton’s versatility makes him an ideal guard long-term for the Packers.

Al: Sitton – I suppose the top two possibilities here are Jordy Nelson and Josh Sitton. While I’m a Nelson fan, and the Packers certainly like him a lot, he’s not what you would call a “linchpin” guy that the Packers NEED to lock up for a long time. Sitton, on the other hand is on the cusp of Pro Bowl Status, does not get hurt and is the best lineman on the team. Easy one here.

Chad: This one is a no-brainer. Josh Sitton is entering the final year of his contract and has proven himself to be one of the best – if not THE best – offensive guards in the NFL. He has become an anchor for Green Bay’s offensive line, and for a pass-heavy offense with Aaron Rodgers under center, protecting the quarterback is a top priority. You can’t let a guy like this slip away, and I highly doubt Ted Thompson will. I fully expect him to have something close to a 5-year deal by the time the season is over and he hits free agency.

Kris: Sitton.  Ted Thompson is in the process of locking up his offensive line long term whilst getting younger at the same time and Sitton is a key cog in keeping Rodgers upright. By the time 2011 is well underway, Sitton will have earned that vote of confidence

Thomas: Nelson – Actually I’m kind of surprised that Nelson hasn’t already gotten a extension.  He’s got very little leverage since he’s either the 3rd or 4th receiver on the team and he’s shown he can produce as a number 2 receiver in the Super Bowl and playoffs.  With Donald Driver declining and James Jones likely to leave, now is the prime time to lock Nelson down.

Zach: Sitton: I have a sneaky suspicion that Nelson could be it because he’ll be easier to sign, but Sitton is the player who deserves it most. It’s going to be interesting though—Thompson has never signed a guard to a big contract, and Sitton is going to command a lot of dollars. I’d guess there’s very little chance he lets a player that he drafted and of Sitton’s cailber to hit the free agent market, however.

25

June

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to win Rookie of the Year

Green Bay Packer Most Likely to be Their “Rookie of the Year”

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Cobb — Cobb seems like the only rookie that could have a major impact his first year. Alex Green would be a good value bet, but Cobb has the best odds.

Al: Randall Cobb – It’s been two years now that I’ve been hoping for the Packers to draft an “impact” player who can take over the returning chores as well as contribute on offense or defense. Cobb is the answer to my prayers and all indications are that he is committed to intensive classroom and film study to accelerating his development. Sounds like a solid first-year contributor to me.

Chad: Who isn’t going to pick Randall Cobb for this one? Of the 10 new draft picks, he is in the position to see the most action next season, especially if James Jones leaves. The other rookies will have to contend with solidified starters in each of their positions, and even though Jennings, Driver, and Nelson will be ahead of Cobb, he will still get plenty opportunities because of his skill set and McCarthy’s pass-heavy offense. Not only that, Cobb could be Green Bay’s dynamic answer to a kickoff/punt return man.

Kris: Cobb. He will show plenty this year so the Packers won’t have to sweat out Donald Driver’s pending retirement. Throw in the brotherhood that is the Packers’ receiving corps and Cobb very well could hit the ground running. He has great teachers in Driver and Jennings.

Thomas: Cobb – Basically a process of elimination, Green isn’t probably going to see much time as he’s behind Grant and Starks, and also it takes a while for 3rd down backs to learn the protection schemes.  If Finley returns, he’s going to be the focal point for tight ends, and presuming Quarless is above Williams, he’s probably not going to see the field that often.  Cobb has the advantage of being probably the preferred starter for both returner positions already and probably will see time as the 3rd or 4th wide receiver especially if Jones leaves and/or Driver keeps inevitably declining

13

June

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to win Comeback Player of the Year

Award #5: Green Bay Packer Most Likely to Win Comeback Player of the Year:

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)


Adam: Grant — I’ve always like Grant, even though he basically just runs straight ahead as fast as he can. The Packers offensive line took a major step forward last season, which helps Grant’s cause.

Al: I really wanted to go with an off-beat pick here, and was leaning towards Mike Neal. I really think he was on his way to establishing himself as a full-time starter before being lost for the year. Then I was considering Grant, but with McCarthy’s token commitment to the running game and 3 options at RB, I don’t see Grant getting enough snaps. However, there’s one guy at a skill position that is sure to have more of an impact on the team if he stays healthy – TGIFinley. It can be nobody else.

Chad: When I started looking for a “comeback player” for 2011, I had to find someone who is a great player, had a drop in production the past year or two, and is in a position to return to his former glory next season. First and foremost, it’s a testament to the coaching staff and front office that I couldn’t find any players whose decreased performance wasn’t due to injury. So that left me with guys like Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, and Ryan Grant who could fit the category. Of these three, I’d put my money on Jermichael Finley. He was on pace to have over 1,000 yards receiving before his injury last year, and you can bet he’ll be coming back strong in 2011. He’s just too good of a player to be a disappointment.

Kris: Finley and it won’t be close.  Every fiber of my being says the man is in for a monster 2011. If he keeps his head on straight, the sky is the limit.  He is an athletic freak of nature and a bad matchup for any defense.  If he stays healthy, 2011 is the real YOTTO (year of the takeover, used by Finley on Twitter).

11

June

Packers 2010 Yearbook Awards: Player Most Likely to Hurt a Fan with his Lambeau Leap

Award #4: Green Bay Packer Most Likely to Hurt a fan with his Lambeau Leap:

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Neal. He’s athletic enough to actually make the leap and big enough to crush a fan when he lands.

Al: Quinn Johnson. Well, I’d have to say the odds of a lineman doing a Lambeau Leap are pretty slim. Even if we’re talking B.J. Raji dropping into coverage, I don’t see any lineman thinking they have the ups to actually make it into the stands. So who’s the biggest skill position player on the Packers? It has to be Quinn Johnson. The Mighty Quinn would be sure to pancake those poor fans in the first row.

Chad: Finley: It’s rare that a defensive player gets to make the Lambeau Leap. Sure, the Packers have a ball-hawking secondary, but if I’m going to pick the most likely player to injure a fan on their celebration jump, it’s got to be someone on offense. That’s why I’ve selected Jermichael Finley. He is one of the biggest offensive weapons and will hopefully be making the leap multiples times this season. Measuring in at 6’5” and 247 lbs., Finley’s big frame and wild, crazy nature certainly make him the ideal candidate to inadvertently take out a fan during his celebration.

Kris: Raji. That’s if he can even get into the stands.  If not, then Crabtree. Have you seen the size of his guns?

Thomas: Raji – I did the math and Raji can in fact theoretically do a Lambeau leap. The lowest wall where players typically do Lambeau leaps is 72 inches, and Raji is 70 inches tall with a vertical jump from the combine of 32 inches (from a standing position).  Presuming that your hips are roughly half way on your body and that Raji is going for the traditional butt first Lambeau Leap, that means that Raji should be able to “leap” 36 inches (half of his height) plus 32 inches, which is 68 inches.  My feeling is that if you give Raji a running start he should get at least 4 more inches.

Zach: Finley. I’m not convinced that any of the 300-pounders could make the leap, but Finley certainly can. He’s got the ups to get his entire 6’5”, 250-pound frame into the stands, and that’s not going to feel good if it lands directly on you. And hopefully, if he finally stays healthy for a season, he’ll be making frequent trips into the fans of both the north and south end zones.