It’s time for Packers training camp. Soon, your Sundays will be filled with Packers football instead of whatever other boring thing you do on Sunday’s without football.
Before camp officially kicks off, here’s how I grade the Packers position group by position group. We’ll start with the offense this morning and check out the defense later today.
How different will these grades look after camp? Who knows, but for now, this is where the team stands in my eyes.
There’s not much more to say about Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP, that hasn’t already been said. Even if he regresses a little, Rodgers is still an ‘A’ quarterback. I suppose I could dock the Packers a little for having backups with no experience, but I’m not. I’m sick of that debate. Backup QBs with “experience” are usually just bad QBs. I’ll take my chances with a young guy that can still be developed.
Link: Ron Jaworski ranked Rodgers the No. 1 QB in the NFL during a top-to-bottom review of NFL QBs on ESPN. Check out a summary of Jaworski’s thoughts on Rodgers in Kevin Seifert’s ESPN NFC North blog.
Running Backs: C-
James Starks, the projected starter, is fragile and the two backups have a combined 21 NFL carries. On most teams, this would be a reason to freak out. On the Packers, it’s a reason to, I don’t know, shrug your shoulders a bit. Yeah, it’d be nice to have a 1,200-yard rusher, but it’s not necessary. If Starks and company stay healthy, pass block and do enough to help maintain leads late in games, that’s good enough. A ‘C-‘ sounds like a fair grade to me entering camp. It’s slightly below average because this group hasn’t done much to warrant an above-average grade. But it’s not a failing grade because in the Packers offense, running backs don’t have to do that much work to pass the class.
Link: If you would like a little more insight into the X’s and O’s in the Packers run game, check out Brian Carriveau’s examination of possible Packers scheme changes in 2012.
Wide Receivers: A+
Jordy Nelson had an absurdly good 2011. Greg Jennings was his usual consistent self. James Jones had a quiet-good season. Randall Cobb showed off some serious skills. And Donald Driver hung in there before hitting the dance circuit. If that’s not enough, the Packers have two practice-squad guys that supposedly have the talent to play for the real team. I’m done talking about how great the WRs are because it seems too good to be true and I don’t want to jinx anything.
Link: The depth and the ensuing battle for a roster spot and playing time at WR is examined by Acme Packing Company.
Tight Ends: B
While we’re all debating the latest whacky quote from Jermichael Finley (and yelling at him to catch the damn ball), the Packers are developing some intriguing tight ends. While Finley has the skills to enhance an already superb group of WRs, the other TEs posses talents that help the team in ways that might not appear on the stat sheet. This is a good group with the potential to be great.
Link: Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that Finley needs to have a big year.
Offensive Line: B
I want to see what this group can do with Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga together and healthy for an entire season. Like the RBs, the O-line doesn’t have to be dominant for the Packers to be good. But man, the Bulaga/Sitton combo sure seems like it could start wrecking guys on the right side. A good QB can cover for shaky pass protection, so Marshall Newhouse’s continued growing pains at left tackle don’t worry me so much. I expect teams to try and get more pressure up the middle this season, but with T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday and Sitton in there, it’s not going to be easy. This is another good group with a shot at being great.
Link: How good is the Packers offensive line? Ryan Van Bibber at SB Nation thinks its the best in the NFL.
Kick and Punt Returner: B+
If you watch the below return and don’t get excited to see Randall Cobb this season, you have no pulse.