3

September

Packers Pulling Off Some Trades: Quinn Johnson, Caleb Schlauderaff

Green Bay Packers Trade Quinn Johnson

Green Bay Packers Trade Quinn Johnson

As many have speculated, Packers players being cut today are coveted and in demand by other NFL teams. Ted Thompson has been fielding offers and has managed to pull off some trades, in effect getting something back for players that were just going to be cut anyway. Here’s what we know so far:

FB Quinn Johnson - The Tennessee Titans are reported to have made a trade for Packers fullback Quinn Johnson. As reported on Twitter by Jim Wyatt, Titans FB Ahmard Hall has been suspended 4 games for violation of policy on performance-enhancing substitutes. Hence, The Titans came knocking on Ted Thompson’s door and the two teams were were able to work out a trade for an undisclosed future draft pick.

Entering his third season with the Packers, Johnson was facing what was probably a make or break preseason for him. He had to show that he could be more versatile than just being a run blocker. There was no evidence to show that he had, so the handwriting was on the wall for Johnson. Luckily for him and the Packers, he now has a new team to play for.

G Caleb Schlauderaff - The Green Bay Packers sixth round draft pick, who was released today in the final round of roster cuts, has been traded to the NY jets for a conditional draft pick. This was reported on twitter by Chase Callahan of Rep1Sports, Schlauderaff’s agent.

In preseason games, Schlauderaff seemed a bit overmatched in the running game, which does not come as a big surprise. His strength was supposed to be pass blocking but did not distinguish himself there either. He would have been a good practice squad candidate for the Packers, but the Jets came calling with a trade and Schlauderaff is now a Jet.

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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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22

August

The Worst of the Best: Who is the Packers Least Valuable Player (LVP)?

Mason Crosby is the Packers LVP.

Mason Crosby is the Packers LVP.

Lets take a couple of minutes and get negative. I know we’re all fired up for the season and ready to see if the extremely talented and deep Green Bay Packers can repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Packers proved in 2010 that depth wins titles, and they look almost as deep in 2011.

But no team is perfect. Every team has a couple of players that make you groan as soon as they run onto the field. Who is that player for the Packers? Who is their Least Valuable Player (LVP)?

First, some ground rules:

  • Only starters or players fighting for a starting job can be considered. I’m not going to break down how terrible Jarrett Bush is compared to Pat Lee. Nobody cares.
  • Only kickers, punters and returners are considered on special teams.
  • Just like the MVP, the LVP can mean different things to different people. Some analysts base their LVP votes on statistics, others on boneheaded plays or failure to reach potential. Selecting the LVP is not an exact science.

Without further ado, here are the candidates:

James Jones
Forget about concussions on the field, how many Packers fans will have long-term health issues due to concussions suffered after smacking their heads every time Jones drops an easy TD pass? Jones’ talent exceeds the level of a typical LVP candidate, but the drops and failure to utilize all that talent puts him on the ballot.

Quinn Johnson
Fullbacks typically go unnoticed, but Johnson has been invisible his entire career.

TJ Lang
This is a controversial nomination. There are high hopes for Lang and he appears to have the edge in the LG position battle. Lang is probably a decent enough player, but he’s the most replaceable players on the OL. I’ll be nervous if Chad Clifton, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton or Bryan Bulaga goes down with an injury. I won’t be as nervous is Lang goes down.

Frank Zombo/Brad Jones/Erik Walden
All three of these guys get a single nomination because if one of them goes down, the other one will likely step in and play at a similar level. We also are not really sure if any of these three are any good in the first place.

19

July

The Packers New Evolutionary Chart: From John Kuhn to D.J. Williams

One of the little quirks that set the Packers apart from any other team in the league at the moment is the Packers’ extensive use of fullbacks.  Where else but Green Bay can a fullback have the fans screaming his name every time he gets on the field?  Last year, the Packers turned some confused heads by keeping three fullbacks on the roster when some teams only keep one, that’s something straight from the Vince Lombardi and Jim Taylor era.

The Packers use the fullback position as something of a jack-of-all-trades player; for instance, John Kuhn alone played the role of blocking fullback, wing-T fullback, short yardage back, halfback, blitz pickup 3rd down back, personal protector on punts, kickoff jammer and to add to that he was a threat on the red zone as a receiver.

Unfortunately, in the Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers era, this plan backfired a little. In essence, the 3rd fullback stole a roster slot from the halfbacks, and when starter Ryan Grant went on IR after the season opener, the Packers were left scrambling for depth behind Brandon Jackson. The Packers managed to hide the issue with a late surge from James Starks and consistent short yardage from fullback turned folk hero John Kuhn. But the problem still remained, the Packers running game was never the same.

But lessoned learned, and probably in a way that many might not have considered; in the 2011 NFL draft, the Packers selected tight end DJ Williams from Arkansas in the 5th round and Ryan Taylor from UNC in the 7th round.

DJ Williams is an interesting prospect because other than the fact that he lacks the prototypical height and size of an elite tight end, he has the skills to be very successful in the NFL and save for his height probably would have been drafted considerably higher.  The winner of the Mackey Award and Disney Spirit Award in 2010 left the collegiate ranks as the leader in catches and receiving yards for tight ends and translates best in the NFL as a “move” tight end or H-back in a west coast offense.

Ryan Taylor, while not as accomplished a receiver as Williams is also a H-back; he set a single-season record at UNC for a tight end with 36 receptions and is also known for his special teams prowess as a former linebacker and special teams captain while at UNC.

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.

23

June

Looming Questions for the Packers in a Post-Lockout NFL World

With NFL owners set to meet Tuesday in Chicago, a very important week in the sport’s labor situation is about to unfold. Optimism is starting to take hold in this lockout, and while I’d hesitate to say an agreement is imminent, things are finally starting to look like football will be played next season without interruption.

If an agreement is reached—and most of the NFL big-wigs, including Peter King and Adam Schefter, think sometime in July is the best bet—then the Packers and the rest of the NFL will have training camp as scheduled and the 2011 season will be played in its entirety. That also means that we will finally have some answers on the variety of questions about the team that we’ve all pondered over this lockout-striken offseason.

Let’s dive into the biggest questions surrounding the Packers in a post-lockout NFL world, starting with some obvious ones but ending with the most important question of all. And considering I already touched on James Jones in a previous post, I won’t touch that question again in this one.

 

Might the Packers Keep Five Tight Ends on the Roster?

The Packers are no strangers to having uncommon numbers at certain positions, as they’ve recently carried three fullbacks when most NFL teams only have one or two. Could next season see the Packers repeat this trend, but at the tight end position?

They certainly have the talent on board to pull it off.

Jermichael Finley’s spot is secure, and Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree return from 2010. But the Packers added two more tight ends in April’s draft, selecting D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor in the fifth and seventh rounds, respectively. Williams should be a lock, and Taylor appears on paper like the kind of versatile special teams player the Packers favor.

If the Packers don’t decide to keep all five, training camp should feature some kind of roster battle. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that group forced the Packers to keep all five players.

 

Where Will Nick Barnett be Playing in September?

There’s been plenty of discussion over Barnett’s future, but the lockout has robbed us of any clear answer on which way it could play out. I’m not positive that once the lockout ends there’ll be a quick resolution of the situation either. It’s a tough call for the Packers, and one that’s loaded with factors.

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.

24

March

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Running Backs

In this second installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the running back positions (HB and FB) currently stand. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#25 Ryan Grant
28 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#44 James Starks
25 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2013

#23 Dmitri Nance
23 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

#45 Quinn Johnson
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#32 Brandon Jackson
25 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

#30 John Kuhn
28 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

#35 Korey Hall
27 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (no tender offered)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

Having both Ryan Grant and James “Neo” Starks in the backfield next season is an exciting situation for the Packers. Though Mike McCarthy will always run a pass heavy offense, this “one-two punch” could be just what the doctor ordered at running back.

Grant is a dependable workhorse who carried the load for the Packers before his injury, amassing 1,200 rushing yards in both 2008 and 2009. In his first year with Green Bay, he was just 44 yards shy of hitting the 1,000 mark.

Starks, meanwhile, rose to the occasion during the Packers’ playoff run this past year. He showed good vision and was often able to gain a little extra yardage after contact and in undesirable situations. Starks has the potential to be the “primary” back in the near future.