Monday, July 27, 2015

Building The 53 - Ranking Former Members of The 53

Before I take my annual look at how I think The 53 should shake out for the Green Bay Packers, the first place to start is to look at the players that are no longer with the team that were on the final 53-man roster or injured reserve when the Packers suffered their heartbreaking loss to the Seattle Seahawks in NFC Championship game last season.  While the Packers "lost" 13 guys, you will see that most of the players that have moved on were not top-end guys.  These rankings take into account age, productivity, potential cost, positional strength, and runs in reverse order:

Aaron Adams (T): While the Packers look to have bookend tackles in David Bakhtiari (LT) and Bryan Bulaga (RT), the Packers really have struggled to develop a quality backup tackle for the last few seasons.  Sure, Don Barclay looked like he would fit that void but let's not forget that Barlcay missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL so how well he will perform in 2015 is one of the big questions going into training camp big question.  Adam must be far from game form because the Packers kept him on injured reserve for the entire 2014 season but didn't have a spot on the 90-man off-season roster for him.

Jarrett Bush (CB): Tough off-season for Bush given that he was NOT only arrested for public intoxication but he was also suspended from the NFL for testing positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs.  Bush was always the first one at practice and the last one to leave.  Unfortunately because of the off-season incidents, Bush's reputation will forever be tainted and I would be shocked if another team took a chance on him, which (most likely) brings to a close one of the more interesting careers of a Packer from from the last decade given some of the high's (interception in Super Bowl XLV and consistent special teams player) and low's (inability to regularly play of defense because of his limited skill set, which made him a lightning rod with fans).

Matt Flynn (QB): By all account Flynn is a great locker room guy that parlayed one record-setting NFL start against the Detroit Lions thanks to the fact that the Packers already clinched a playoff birth into almost $20 million in career earnings.  Work ethic seems to be an issue for Flynn though so with three younger and more hungry quarterbacks in the fold in Scott Tolzien, Brett Hundley, or Matt Blanchard...Flynn is clearly expendable.  The only caveat to that is Flynn still might give the Packers a better chance to win a game or two this season if starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets hurt but the Packers need to develop Tolzien, Hundley, or Blanchard into a capable backup.  I would much rather suffer growing pains with one of the three young guys even if it costs the Packers a win or two in 2015 since it will help them much more in 2016 and beyond.

Brad Jones (MLB): There is no doubt that Jones will go down as one of the most disappointing Packers starters of the last decade because there were too many underwhelming plays out of Jones after he signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract with $3 million guaranteed.  While the Packers do NOT seem to have a ton of ready made candidates to replace Jones, it is almost addition by subtract at middle linebacker.

Jamari Lattimore (MLB): One of the guys that looked like a potential Jones replacement was Lattimore before his ho-hum performance in 2014 that was cut short by a season ending ankle injury.  There is no question that Lattimore showed flashes of being a disruptive force throughout his tenure of Green Bay, the problem was those flashes were few and far between so despite the fact that middle linebacker is a position of need the Packers decided NOT to pay Lattimore what amounts to the veteran minimum next year to see if he can show more flashes of being a violent presence in 2015 and beyond.

Luther Robinson (DT): I must be the last guy on Robinson Island that remembers Robinson's hit on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder on Thursday Night Football that lead to a pick-six for Julius Peppers.  While the Packers look to have a number of more effective options on the roster, I wish the Packers would have kept Robinson around given that they only owed him $510,000 for 2015 so he is a very cost-effective back-up defensive lineman option.

Brandon Bostick (TE): There is no question that Bostick's Bill Buckner-esque gaffe at the end of the NFC Championship game against the Seahawks will be what he is remember for most, which is too bad because Bostick showed flashes of being a poor man's Jermichael Finley throughout his tenure in Green Bay. Sometimes the negative baggage is just too much though so the Packers cut Bostick despite tight end being a position of need.  The Vikings claimed Bostick because they take any chance they can to get their hands on a former Packer, even if he is essentially T.J. Rubley 2.0.

DuJuan Harris (RB): Same goes for Harris given that he is currently a member of the Vikings too.  I know Harris struggled in the return game but he seemed to show enough in 2013 to merit at least a look for the 3rd running back spot behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

Kevin Dorsey (WR): Some might be surprised to see Dorsey this high on the list given the depth the Packers have at wide receiver (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, and Myles White) but given the fact that Thompson just drafted Dorsey in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft and that he has a slightly larger framer than some of the wide receivers just mentioned, I thought Dorsey was at least worth keeping around for training camp.  Clearly Thompson disagrees.

A.J. Hawk (MLB): After Rodgers there is a chance that Hawk is the guy that I've written about most in this space.  Some of that has to do with the amount of time that Hawk and Rodgers have been on The 53 but mostly I've written about Hawk because he never "lived up" to the lofty expectations associated with his draft status.  While the Packers will NOT miss his play on the field, they will definitely miss his locker room presence and how good of a guy he is off the field (check out Hawk's Locks for Kids).  I know those seem like no big deal but Hawk will go down as one of the best human beings to ever play for the Packers so from this point forward I will do my best to stop killing Hawk for his ho-hum performance on the field throughout his tenure in Green Bay.

Jarrett Boykin (WR): Much of what I said about Dorsey applies to Boykin but you can point to actual NFL production in 2013 (49 receptions for 681 yards and three touchdowns) followed by a down season in 2014 (three receptions for 23 yards and no touchdowns) to back up my argument that Boykin merits at least one of the 90 off-season roster spots.

Davon House (CB): We've finally gotten to the show ponies.  House is nowhere close to American Pharoh but he clearly has the most upside of 13 former Packers on this list.  Given that the Jacksonville Jaguars gave House a four-year, $24.5 million contract with $10 million guaranteed they will need him to NOT only stay healthy, which has been a problem during his tenure in Green Bay given that he appeared in 40 of a possible 64 regular season games but will also need House to blossom into a starting cornerback, again something he never really was in Green Bay.  Bottom line, the contract House signed with the Jaguars was way too rich for me.

Tramon Williams (CB): Sad to see Ole' Faithful go.  For how much House was a question mark, Williams was the exact opposite.  Despite suffering what seemed to be a debilitating shoulder injury midway though his eight year tenure in Green Bay, Williams only missed one game.  Sure Williams never had as many highlight plays as his counter-part Charles Woodson, let's not forget that he did intercept 26 passes as a Packer.  While Williams struggled in bump-in-run coverage following his shoulder injury, he adapted his game to still merit a starting spot on defense throughout his entire tenure.  Given that Thompson drafted two of the cornerbacks of the future in Randall and Rollins with his first two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams would have been a perfect mentor for 2015 but the Cleveland Browns broke the bank for him when they offered him a three-year, $21 million contract with $10 million guaranteed.  Congrats to Williams and his family on such a lucrative deal, which feels about $6 million too rich.  It was so much of an overpay by the Browns that I would be shocked if Williams played through the 2017 NFL season under that contract for the Browns.

With my "In Memoriam" post in the books, I will turn my attention to the 88 players currently employed by the Packers and vying for one of the coveted 53 roster spots on The 53.  Check back tomorrow when I give my locks* to make The 53.

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