Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Should Happen - 2012 Green Bay Packers 1.0

The Green Bay Packers started the 2012 NFL Draft with 12 draft picks.  After general manager Ted Thompson traded up three times (you read that correctly), 8 new players were added to the roster.

Following the draft, the Packers signed a number of undrafted free agents* (roster sizes increased from 80 to 90 this off-season) and offered open tryouts as well**.  Although there is always a chance an undrafted free agent makes the opening day roster (think Sam Shields or Frank Zombo), we don't have enough information on those guys yet so I am not going to give them one of the coveted 53-man roster spots.  Here are my thoughts on the 53 guys that I would keep if I were Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson:

Cut: B.J. Coleman and Nick Hill
Keep: Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell
Analysis: It's hard to say how the Packers should proceed until all four quarterbacks go through McCarthy's vaunted quarterback camp.  Unfortunately last year Harrell was unable to participate in the quarterback camp because of the lockout but since Harrell spent all of the 2011 season with the Packers, he looks much more prepared to take meaningful snaps if Rodgers gets hurt as opposed to Hill or Coleman.

Running Back:
Cut: None
Keep: James Starks, Alex Green, and Brandon Saine
Analysis: News reports last week claimed the Detroit Lions were interested in signing Ryan Grant.  Not sure whether those reports are true or if Grant's agent was just trying to drum up interest in his client.  Either way the Packers do not run the ball very much so if Alex Green returns healthy from a torn ACL, they should be fine with the young three-headed monster of Starks, Green, and Saine.

Cut: Jon Hoese
Keep: John Kuhn
Analysis: Since the Packers kept five tight ends last year it would make sense that they would do something silly like keeping two fullbacks.  You've been warned.  All kidding aside, the Packers love Kuhn's versatility so his roster spot is guaranteed.

Tight End:
PUP: Andrew Quarless
Cut: None
Keep: Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor, and Tom Crabtree
Analysis: Quarless suffered a gruesome knee injury at the end of last season so I would be shocked if Quarless recovered enough to go full speed by the start of the 2012 season.  Fortunately the Packers have a ton of young depth at the position and with Finley locked down through at least 2013, the Packers should not miss a beat even if Quarless misses the first part of the season with an injury.

Wide Receiver:
Cut: Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley, and Shaky Smithson
Keep: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Randall Cobb
Analysis: The Packers refuse to comment on whether DD will play for the team in 2012.  I get that DD may only have a few years left but he was the 3rd most reliable wide receiver (behind Jennings and Nelson but ahead of Jones and Cobb) on the team last year.  It would be a public relations nightmare if the Packers cut DD as callously as they cut Clifton and Collins last week, especially while DD is on Dancing with the Stars.  I devoted this much discussion to DD because he offered to take a pay cut so if I were in charge, DD would be playing for the Packers next year. May be on raw talent alone Borel, Gurley, and Smithson are superior to DD but for his veteran locker room presence alone the Packers should keep DD instead.

Cut: Chris Campbell and Herb Taylor
Keep: Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, and Andrew Datko
Analysis: Absent injuries the Packers have right tackle covered with Bulaga.  The big question is how the Packers will proceed at left tackle.  Chad Clifton was supposed to attend Packerpalooza 2012 at Will's Northwoods in Chicago but he was unceremoniously cut earlier in the week.  When you factor in salary and health, I can't blame Thompson for cutting Clifton but its never east to see your blind-side protector cut after such a successful decade plus in Green Bay.  I agree with the move, I just wonder whether Newhouse can make drastic improvements from 2011 to 2012 because although he logged a bunch of reps in place of Clifton, Newhouse was far from perfect.  Add in that the other guys I kept are either coming back from a serious injury (Sherrod - broken leg) or trying to prove they can stay healthy (Datko - smattering of injuries throughout college) and you can see that left tackle is far form settled.

Cut: None
Keep: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, and Ray Dominguez
Analysis: I could see Lang playing any position besides left tackle next year thus Lang is turning into the Poor Man's Marshall Yanada, which gives the Packers a ton of versatility along the offensive line.  The real question is whether we will see the impressive 2010 version of Sitton or the disappointing/injured 2011 version of Sitton.  Obviously we are hoping for the 2010 version because if not, the entire line will suffer.

Cut: Sampson Genus
Keep: Jeff Saturday and Even Dietrich-Smith
Analysis: I am not surprised that Thompson let Scott Wells leave via free agency but I am shocked that he turned to Saturday.  Not often do the Packers let a younger player leave in favor of an older player.  Saturday had a ton of success letting Peyton Manning fondle him but I question whether Saturday has anything left in the tank.  Plus the Packers do not have a legitimate back-up center, which is one of the only positions on the roster without an up-and-coming guy so the Packers are putting a ton of faith in Saturday despite the fact that he is a few years away from collecting social security checks.

Defensive End:
Suspended: Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal
Cut: Lawrence Guy and Johnny Jones
Keep: Jerel Worthy, C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn
Analysis: After Saturday, the second most perplexing off-season signing is Hargrove.  There is no denying Hargrove's talent as a penetrating pass rush, which can neutralize offensive lineman, but the Packers knew he could be suspended because he was the NFL's informant for Bountygate.  Add in Mike Neal's suspension for using PEDs and the Packers were looking thin at defensive end heading into the 2012 NFL Draft.  Luckily the Packers were able to add Worthy in the draft so once he hits the rookie wall, Hargrove and Neal should be returning from their suspension.

Defensive Tackle:
Cut: None
Keep: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Daniels, and Daniel Muir
Analysis: It will be interesting to see how many of the second-tier defensive lineman (Wilson, Wynn, Daniels, and Muir) actually make the opening day roster.  Right now I have the Packers keeping all four guys but my guess is that  two, may be three at most actually make the opening day roster.  I would rather roll the dice with Daniels and Muir because I think we've seen the ceiling on Wilson and Wynn.

Outside Linebacker:
Cut: Erik Walden and Jamari Lattimore
Keep: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Brad Jones, Vic So'oto, and Frank Zombo
Analysis: 2011 was supposed to be a breakout contract year for Walden but he ended up having arguably the worst 2011 of any Packer.  Right as Walden was accused of domestic abuse he started to struggle on the field, which totally eviscerated his free agent value so he signed a non-guaranteed one-year contract instead of a lucrative long-term contract.  That is a long way of saying that I don't see Walden beating out Jones, So'oto, or Zombo unless he has a radical transformation.  In fact I think Lattimore has a better chance of making the roster than Walden.  Claymaker and Perry have the only guaranteed roster spots so it will be interesting to see how the Packers actually fill out the rest of the roster at outside linebacker.

Middle Linebacker:
Cut: Robert Francois
Keep: Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, and Terrell Manning
Analysis: I know it seems crazy but I would totally support the Packers cutting the Business H.J. (A.J. Hawk) and letting Smith, Manning, and Francois fight for the other starting linebacker spot opposite Bishop.  Unfortunately I don't see that happening, which made it even tougher to cut Robert Francois after how well he played last year.  Manning looks like Brandon Chillar 2.0 so his versatility gives him a leg up over Francois.

Cut: Brandian Ross
Keep: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Casey Hayward, and Jarrett Bush
Analysis: 2011 was not kind to Williams (injured shoulder), Shields (inconsistent play), and House (injured). With the addition of Hayward, the Packers looked stacked at cornerback but those guys will have to prove it on the field because they were sieve-like in 2011 when they yielded the most passing yards in NFL history.

Cut: Anthony Levine
Keep: Morgan Burnett, Charlie Peprah, Jerron McMillian, and M.D. Jennings
Analysis: People are clamoring for the Packers to move Woodson to safety.  Although that makes sense on paper, the Packers still need to develop safeties because I actually think Woodson's best position is to rove between cornerback and safety. With the Packers cutting Collins because they feared for his long-term health, they are essentially starting over at safety opposite Morgan Burnett.  McMillian is guaranteed a roster spot because he was a fourth round pick.  After that, it will be a totally open competition.

Cut: None
Keep: Mason Crosby (K), Tim Masthay (P), and Brett Goode (LS)
Analysis: Absent injury the Packers are set at kicker, punter, and long snapper for the next five years so let's warp this up since this post is getting rather lengthy.

If there is one thing I hope Thompson takes away from the lengthy discussion above, its that DD's locker room presence alone will be a huge boost for the 2012 Green Bay Packers so don't you dare DD.  Despite going 15-1, the youth movement keeps on trucking...I just hope DD is not a casualty.

Related Posts:
- Sunday Funday - 2012 Green Bay Packer Draft Picks
- Quick Thoughts - 2012 NFL Draft Day 2 Packers Preview
- Quick Thoughts - 2012 NFL Draft Day 1 Packers Preview
- Cheesehead Sports Nut's 2012 First Round NFL Mock Draft
- Wednesday What (Should) Happen - 2012 Green Bay Packers Schedule
- Sunday Funday - 2012 Free Agent Shopping Guide for Ted Thompson
- Wednesday What (Should) Happen - Advice for Ted Thompson

* = Don Barclay (G/T, West Virginia), Duane Bennett (RB, Minnesota), Jaymes Brooks (G, Virginia Tech), Nic Cooper (FB, Winston-Salem St.), Tommie Draheim (C, San Diego St.), Cameron Ford (TE, Wake Forest), Eric Lair (TE, Minnesota), Mike McCabe (T, Holy Cross), Dezman Moses (OLB, Tulane), Dale Moss (WR, South Dakota St.), Sean Richardson (S, Vanderbilt), Marcus Rivers (WR, Buffalo), Dion Turner (CB, Southern Utah), Mark Tyler (RB, USC), and Drew Vanderlin (DE, Michigan Tech).

** = Tyler Butzler (OT, Wisconsin-Stout), Casey Casper (LS, Wisconsin-Whitewater), Grant Cook (DL, Arkansas), ElToro Freeman (LB, Auburn), Andrew Lambert (OT, Indiana), Luke Lambert (LB, Missouri), Jaymar Latchison (DE, New Mexico), and Dave Nadeau (K, Minnesota-Duluth).

No comments:

Post a Comment