Ranking the Packers from 1 (Guess who?) to 54

Discussion in 'Green Bay Packer Football' started by Da-news-now, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. Da-news-now

    Da-news-now RSS Reporter Reporter

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    Here is my annual analysis of the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster plus WR Geronimo Allison, who is serving a one-game suspension. The rankings were decided on the basis of each player’s value to the team as of Monday, Sept. 5. Sometimes a player was downgraded because he plays a position with so much depth that his absence wouldn’t be significant. Others were upgraded because of the importance of their positions as well as the shortage of depth behind them.


    Ranked as the NFL’s second-best player by Pro Football Weekly and the sixth-best by the MMQB. He has been No. 1 in this exercise for 10 straight years. Played in two exhibition games, one more than in 2016, and had 26 snaps, the same total before his poor start last year. Maintains that practicing in a red (no-touch) No. 12 jersey is more valuable than facing a live rush. Determined to become the greatest ever, but needs some more Super Bowl rings to get there.


    Entering the prime of his career as a fifth-year starter protecting Rodgers’ blind side. A big personality, Bakhtiari has never lacked for confidence. The difference in his year-to-year improvement has been strength and weight gains. He’s actually a tad undersized for the position (6-4 ½, 315) but plays much bigger than that. Scouts that missed didn’t catch his strain of toughness amid all that losing at Colorado.

    3. MIKE DANIELS, 3-tech

    Looked more than ready for the season with a dominant 25-snap performance in Denver. Didn’t play as well last year as he did the year before. Highly emotional, he serves as the heartbeat of the locker room. At times, he has gone too far and infuriated some teammates with his in-your-face style of leadership. Where once there were Julius Peppers, Datone Jones or Mike Neal to join him inside in the sub rush, now there is nobody proven.


    Ranked right about where he always is: No. 3 in 2016, No. 2 in ’15, No. 4 in ’14, No. 2 in ’13 and ’12, No. 3 in ’11 and ’10, and No. 22 as a rookie in ’09. Based on his daddy and granddaddy’s track records, his career should just be getting started. The presence of Ahmad Brooks could lighten his early-down load and make him fresher for the money downs.


    Brings a bad ankle into his third season of the five-year, $33.75 million extension that he signed in March 2015. Played just 27 snaps this summer. Last year, he was more consistent blocking for run than pass. Played 97.3% of the snaps in 2016 but still left four games early because of various injuries. Will be challenged by Lions newcomer Ricky Wagner for primacy at RT in the NFC North. Ranked 11th here in 2016 and seventh in both ’15 and ’14.


    Rarefied territory for a player who entered last season ranked No. 42 as the fifth of seven wide receivers. Despite the No. 88 jersey, he looks the part of a running back, pushing 225 pounds and with a shredded physique. If he can move in and out of the backfield with ease, his route-running skill could put the offense over the top. The $64,000 question is: will he hold up?


    With JC Tretter now starting in Cleveland, Linsley is the guy at center for the first time. At this time last year he was on the physically unable to perform list (torn hamstring). He ranked 13th in ’15 and 18th in ’14. He just kind of muddles along, like most good centers do, and doesn’t make waves. Somewhat undersized, Linsley has to stay on the field this season.


    Highest ranking yet after going off at No. 9 in 2016, at No. 18 in ’15 and at No. 28 in ’14. Darren Perry, the ninth-year safeties coach, always used to say Nick Collins wasn’t there yet. The same holds true for Clinton-Dix, who in his third season continued to make too many miscues in coverage. Last year, there was too much guesswork in his game, and it affected the defense.


    The topsy-turvy arc of his career is reflected by his rankings: No. 30 last year, No. 11 in ’15 and No. 35 in ’14. Day in and day out, he might have been the most impressive player in camp this summer. To reach a higher level, he can’t drop nine passes (he had 12 in ’15 when his career was in reverse) as he did a year ago. When it comes to 50-50 sideline balls and red-zone slants, few are more effective.

    10. KEVIN KING, CB

    Depending on which scout you ask, King already is really good or really just developing. The Packers have little or no time for development. You can’t win the Super Bowl without a No. 1 corner, and King has the best chance to be that player. A late groin pull could complicate the situation.


    B.J. Raji was 24 in 2010 when he made his second season by far the best of his seven-year career. Raji, almost a non-factor behind Ryan Pickett as a rookie with 385 snaps, played 1,070 snaps in 20 games the next year to earn a Super Bowl ring. Playing 414 snaps as a rookie, Clark apprenticed behind Letroy Guion. He’ll turn just 22 in October. Holding the point is one thing, but Raji also was a productive pass rusher in his season of glory.


    The coaches treaded lightly with Nelson all summer. He’s 32, in his 10th season, and there was no need to wear him out. Thus, he made little impact in camp or 34 exhibition snaps (two games). Two years removed from reconstructive knee surgery, he should have a chance to regain some of his old explosiveness after the catch.

    13. LANE TAYLOR, G

    Taylor never once embarrassed himself as a first-year starter in 2016. Still, there wasn’t any doubt that he was the fifth-best starter. With Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang cast adrift by management, the Packers on Tuesday rewarded Taylor with a three-year contract extension that averaged a reported $5.5 million. The coaches obviously think he has room for improvement. Now he needs to prove it.


    After signing a new five-year, $60 million contract in March he enters the season ranked four notches higher than his previous best of No. 17 in both 2012 and ’13. He was 42nd in 2014, 35th in ’15 and 19th last year. He probably was the team’s most valuable player last year before suffering a broken hand in Game 12. Power pass rusher always has set a jagged edge against ground games.


    During a 10-year career that includes five teams, Bennett understands that nobody remembers August. He bided his time, looking somewhat disinterested on occasion and appearing to let his focus wander during a few long practices. None of that matters now. His point-of-attack blocking should help the run game and his big body should help the possession pass game.

    16. JAHRI EVANS, G

    Last year, Evans was released by the Saints on Feb. 8 and then by the Seahawks on Sept. 3. Then 33, it looked like his illustrious career might be over. Four days later New Orleans brought him back. Sixteen starts later, he remained an unsigned unrestricted free agent for almost seven weeks before finding a home in Green Bay (one year, $2.25 million) to try to be a worthy successor to Lang. Evans has lost some bend and body snap but usually got his man blocked this summer.


    He played 44 snaps in the 49ers’ first two exhibition games before being cut. Last season, he played 79.8% of their snaps as a 16-game starter. His lone Pro Bowl season was 2013. As a 49er, he played behind Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson for three years before becoming a starter in 2011. Then 49ers VP Scot McCloughan was responsible for claiming him off Bengals waivers Aug. 31, 2008.


    This No. 18 ranking is his highest since 2011 (No. 20). Before Clinton-Dix arrived in 2014, Burnett was all the Packers had at safety and went off No. 3 in ’13. Now the Packers are five deep so Burnett’s importance is marginalized. He’s 28 and entering the final year of his contract, and there are three legitimate candidates to replace him on the roster. No one, however, can direct a secondary like Burnett.


    My grades for House in his first four seasons as a Packer were incomplete (played just two games due to injury) in 2011, C-minus in ’12 and C in both ’13 and ’14. Played 89.2% of the snaps (1,035) for Jacksonville in ’15 before logging just 25.3% (272) in ’16. His rankings here were 50th in 2011, 34th in ’12, 42nd in ’13 and 27th in ’14. He is expected to play well now even though a hamstring pull limited him to merely three snaps in exhibition games.

    20. DEAN LOWRY, 5-tech

    His August was cut short after 28 exhibition snaps by a knee injury. He’s a tall, girthy player with short arms (31 inches), but at Northwestern and in this training camp he demonstrated a knack for slipping or powering through blocks and making tackles. The Packers are thin on the D-line so Lowry has to come through.


    Could hardly have played much worse in 2016 after slipping badly down the stretch as a rookie following a solid start. He has ball skills and speed. What isn’t known if he can stay on the field and become any more competitive. Without considerable improvement in durability and want-to, his career in Green Bay as a first-round draft choice will be short-lived.


    A true professional who didn’t complain when his holder (Jacob Schum) was let go and his long snapper (Brett Goode) wasn’t re-signed. Finally, management came to its sense, ended the experiment at snapper and summoned Goode from his home in Arkansas. He hit three of four field goals (miss from 61) in exhibitions while averaging 65.27 yards and 3.84 seconds on 17 kickoffs.


    Enjoyed an injury-free, encouraging training camp after being buffeted by an assortment of injuries in the last two seasons. Moved well all summer, albeit in a limited role (35 exhibition snaps). This marks his highest ranking since his rookie year. He was 17th last year, fifth in ’15, 11th in ’14, sixth in ’13, 18th in ’12 and 32nd in ’11. Cobb has absorbed heavy punishment as a receiver-runner-returner. If slippage shows, Geronimo Allison is primed to pounce for playing time.


    State high-school and collegiate product practiced hard even though it’s his seventh NFL training camp. Listed at 250, he looks five to 10 pounds lighter. Regardless, you wouldn’t think anything of it because his blocking was consistent and persistent. Won’t threaten the seam or turn flat passes into sizeable gains like Jared Cook did but he certainly runs better than Richard Rodgers.

    25. JAKE RYAN, ILB

    He was 22nd last year, 37th as a rookie. There’s things to like about Ryan given his toughness, quick trigger and competitive fire. His 4.65 speed always will be an issue but in the difficult one-on-one coverage drill against running backs he held up well. In two seasons (1,018 snaps) he has just one takeaway play.


    Made marked gains in strength and confidence from year one to year two and outplayed 2016 draft-class mate Jason Spriggs to rank as the third-best tackle. Can he become a starter? One scout thought so, another one didn’t. They say feet, balance and athleticism are his best traits. His weakness, they say, remains strength.


    He logged more snaps (127) than any of the 10 cornerbacks after playing just 23 during a mistake-ridden, dreadful rookie season. “He can play,” said one personnel man. “He’s quick, fast and can play the ball. He’s better than (Quinten) Rollins.” If Hawkins can keep his wits about him and continue to tackle as well as he did this summer, he could play extensively.


    Joe Kerridge caught the ball well and blocked well. He’s bright and eager on special teams. Still, he never really had a chance because Ripkowski demonstrated as a rookie that with him as a one-back the offense wouldn’t fall apart. Kerridge definitely will get other looks from fullback-needy teams once his calf heals but this was going to be Ripkowski’s job all the way.


    Williams probably enters the season as Montgomery’s chief backup but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. One scout called him “a poor man’s James Starks,” but Starks (6-2) is two inches taller and a shade faster. Not unlike Starks, Williams is an upright ball carrier with minimal pick and slide. He’s an old-fashioned workhorse whose forte now is pass protection.


    Brice didn’t bat an eye or back down at all after Josh Jones was drafted in the second round. No one on the team is a more violent, reckless hitter, and his physical gifts (4.43 40, 42-inch vertical jump, 21 reps on the bench press) befit a second-round pick just like Jones. Now he must play at a faster pace and without the hesitation that dogged him as a rookie.


    After handing Vogel a $5,000 signing bonus within minutes after the draft, the Packers stayed with this Drew Rosenhaus client from the University of Miami and never signed another punter. He ranked fourth in net average (43.5 yards) and 18th in gross average (45.7). From first game to last, his average hang times were 4.29, 4.02, 4.58 and 4.71 for a respectable 4.38 in 24 punts.


    An undrafted rookie in 2015, he ended up playing 85.7% of the snaps last year as the No. 1 corner by default. With his blitzing and tackling skills, he prospered from the slot in the latter half of camp. Gunter might not play much early; he might even be inactive. But the coaches know he’ll fight and be physical if called upon.


    Another improved receiver was Allison, the towering ex-Illini player who figures to be back after serving a one-game suspension. There is a concussion suffered Aug. 31, however. Other than Adams, he probably made more acrobatic receptions than anyone else. At 6-3 ½, his 40 time of 4.59 is adequate. He’s playing quicker now, too.


    He hasn’t been back since suffering a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot in the first camp practice. A third-round draft choice from Auburn, Adams flashed initial quickness in the no-pads work of May and June. He fits as a 3-tech because of first-step explosion. If Adams plays as hard as he did in 2016 after dogging it earlier in his career, the Packers might have an interior sub rusher to pair with Daniels.


    The problem at inside linebacker is that all three players are nondescript. Take Martinez. He doesn’t have a single trait that would suggest he’d be the short-term answer, let alone long-term. He’s tough and plays hard, but he also has trouble shedding blocks and was shaky in coverage as a rookie, especially in the play-action game.

    36. JOSH JONES, S

    Has shown signs of being a prototypical strong safety. He’s a wonderful testing athlete with remarkable speed (4.40) for a 220-pounder. Despite missing Game 2 with injury he played 145 snaps in the other three preseason games. Even with the sensational speed, he’s best in the box and timing blitzes to stop the run. Look for Dom Capers to get him involved early in the season as a pressure player.


    Due to injury and disappointing play by Ryan and Martinez, Thomas played every snap in six of the last 11 games in 2016. He was the best of the inside backers but that wasn’t saying much. At his size (6-0 ½, 230), he gets knocked between the tackles. He led the club in missed tackles (13) and was exposed at times in coverage. His role this year: to be determined.


    A fifth-round draft choice in 2016, he made some mistakes early and was banished for weeks at a time. This offseason Davis added needed weight and strength, and the result was a more aggressive running style both after the catch and as a punt returner. His blazing speed (4.41) shouldn’t be underestimated, either.


    Rodgers is playing much lighter than in 2014-’15, making him more of a receiving threat. No matter what he weighs, his blocking always has been well below average. That alone is going to curtail his playing time. Rodgers practiced much of camp with a broken finger.


    Attempting 76 preseason passes, Hundley finished 30th in the NFL with a passer rating of 88.8. In 2015, he had 65 attempts and finished second at 129.6. If there was improvement over 24 months, it certainly wasn’t dramatic. After studying tape it’s doubtful any team would be clamoring for Hundley to be their starter. He still hasn’t played a meaningful snap in the regular season, and until he does his value will be modest at best.

    41. JEFF JANIS, WR

    This is the final year on his contract. Barring injury, he’ll not approximate the 265-snap opportunity he received in 2016. When the results as a receiver this summer weren’t overly promising, Janis made the team again almost solely because he’s like a linebacker covering kicks. He’s just a big, stiff, straight-line speed guy.


    In truth, safety might be his best position but the Packers don’t need one of those. Rollins’ 4.54 speed limits his ability to press outside. He isn’t effective locating deep balls on the boundary and the ball skills that he displayed for one season in the Mid-American Conference haven’t translated. He played better early in this camp, especially from the slot.


    Jean Francois (6-2 ½) is listed at 313 pounds, 19 more than he weighed at the 2009 combine. He ran a 5.21, bench-pressed 25 times and tested OK athletically. Long arms (34) and large hands (10 3/8) probably are a major reason why he has lasted nine years. Three of his four highest play-time seasons have been in the last four years. His high was 60.6% as a Colts starter in ’14. In four seasons for the 49ers his highest snap total was 287 in 2012.


    Spriggs put on some badly needed weight in the offseason. As a result, he wasn’t getting knocked off balance as easily as a year ago. His problem this summer was terrible hand placement and allowing rushers to beat him routinely inside. The Packers need to find the secret to unlocking this player’s potential.


    He’s smart, athletic, fast and quick. That’s why he was drafted in the third round last year. He’s also relatively weak at the point of attack and has no power rush. He does have a way of slipping past blocks from tackles that haven’t seen him often.


    He logged 172 preseason snaps, most by a defensive player. Based on his exceptional size (5-11 ½, 211), terrific speed (4.47) and overall improvement, there seemed to be little doubt he would make the team for a second year. He’s not as good as Brice or Jones, but his future is bright. He’s the first player from Milwaukee (Oak Creek High School) to play for Green Bay in a long time.


    It was fairly obvious Odom was headed for waivers in Atlanta, which is five deep at defensive end with Takkarist McKinley, Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed, Derrick Shelby and Courtney Upshaw. A late bloomer, he didn’t become a starter at Arkansas State until his senior year. If it’s between Fackrell and Odom for a uniform on Sunday, Fackrell’s much better speed and agility gives him the edge.

    48. JUSTIN McCRAY, G-C

    A guard by trade, McCray sewed up a roster berth by playing all 68 snaps at center without a bad snap against the Rams. His 215 preseason plays from scrimmage led the team. Other than allowing 1 ½ sacks, he had very few terrible plays. “He looks awful but he played pretty well,” said one scout. “He’s competitive and a good snapper.” He was cut by the Titans late in their 2014 and ’15 camps.


    At 5-10 ½ and 230, Mays’ build typifies the modern-day power runner. He probably has the most physical ability of the three rookie backs. Despite tiny hands (8 5/8) and merely two receptions in two seasons at Utah State, he didn’t look out of place catching the ball. The key to Mays’ chances for playing time will be whether the coaches trust he’ll be where he’s supposed to be.


    He’s shorter than Mays (5-9 ½) and 22 pounds lighter. However, Mays ran the better 40 (4.51 to 4.58). Jones is built low to the ground and is hard to tackle. He’s also more elusive and a far more skilled receiver than Mays. Ball security (nine fumbles) was an issue at Texas-El Paso and in camp.


    He didn’t play football at Mansfield, Texas, until his senior year. “I was a pretty boy,” he said. “I ran track and played basketball.” He played bump-and-run for two years at Louisiana-Monroe and Cover 4 last season at Oklahoma State. His size (6-0, 202) and speed (4.46) fit the Packers’ man cover scheme.


    The Packers were about to jeopardize their field goal-extra point game with Derek Hart, an unknown long snapper one year removed from James Madison. Fortunately for them, Goode was still unsigned Aug. 12 when the SOS call went out. Two years removed from ACL surgery, he should be good for another few seasons if the Packers just leave well enough alone.

    53. CHRISTIAN RINGO, 3-tech

    The Packers went with Ringo (126 snaps) over Brian Price (131), who was promptly claimed by Dallas. Ringo is quicker than Price but much smaller. Last year, Ringo failed to generate a pressure in 75 snaps. He’s the same height as Daniels (6-0 ½) but the comparison ends there.


    Classic bull-in-a-china-shop player. He wades and barges around until he runs into somebody, and then the body banging begins. After a poor game in Washington he bounced back with a solid showing in Denver. Joins this list as the last man in these rankings over the last decade: QB Joe Callahan in 2016, RB Alonzo Harris in ’15, ILB Carl Bradford in ’14, TE Brandon Bostick in ’13, ILB Terrell Manning in ’12, TE D.J. Williams in ’11, G-C Nick McDonald in ’10, C Evan Dietrich-Smith in ’09, T Breno Giacomini in ’08 and CB Tramon Williams in ’07.

    The post Ranking the Packers from 1 (Guess who?) to 54 appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

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