10. DE Cullen Jenkins: His injury woes sometimes overshadow how good of a football player he is, but Jenkins is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.
Equally solid against the pass and the run, Jenkins has the versatility to play several positions along the defensive line. This past season, he played both defensive end and on the inside during passing downs, and was effective in both situations.
That package of talents will make Jenkins a wanted man once free agency starts. At 30 years old however, the Packers might not be willing to pay Jenkins what it takes to keep him in Green Bay.
9. TE Jermichael Finley: In a matter of two short years, Finley transformed himself from a immature rookie to the NFL’s most feared tight end.
While injuries have kept him from completing a full season, no tight end can make claim to the athletic package that Finley possesses. That skill set could see him shoot up this list in the coming years.
He needs to stay healthy and put together a complete season, but the sky is the limit for Finley in the Packers’ offense.
8. S Nick Collins: His pick-six in the Super Bowl put him momentarily in the spotlight, but Collins is one of the NFL’s most underrated safeties.
While not a monster around the line of scrimmage like Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu, Collins does his best work manning the back of Green Bay’s defense. In that role, Collins has 17 interceptions over the past three seasons and could probably have 5-10 more if he had better hands.
Overall, his range and play recognition have gotten better every season he’s been in the league.
7. NT B.J. Raji: For the better part of his first year and a half in the NFL, Raji wasn’t living up to his 9th overall selection in 2009. An ankle injury during his rookie season was one of the primary causes for his early struggles.
To the Packers benefit, Raji really came on in the second half of the 2010 season and was one of the NFL’s most dominant players during that stretch. He posted 6.5 sacks and the Packers couldn’t get him off the field (played 85 percent of the total defensive snaps).
Nose tackles in 3-4 defenses rarely get much publicity, but Raji figures to be a poster boy for that position.
6. G Josh Sitton: Simply put, there may not be a more underrated offensive lineman in the NFL than Sitton.
He’s a mauler in the run game and unquestionably the Packers’ best player up front. The fact that he wasn’t given an invite to the Pro Bowl this season was downplayed by the fact that Green Bay made the Super Bowl, but his play more than deserved a trip to Hawaii.
At just 24 years old, Sitton will have plenty of chances to earn himself the individual accolades that certainly are coming his way.
5. CB Tramon Williams: His career path is something straight out of Hollywood. Once an undrafted free agent, Williams has progressed into one of the top cover corners in the NFL.
And like Sitton, Williams deserved a Pro Bowl nod this season. However, it was after the regular season when Williams really stamped his name among the best cornerbacks in the game.
His interception in Philadelphia sealed the Packers’ Wild Card win, and his two picks against Atlanta helped put away the Falcons in the first half of their Divisional matchup.
4. WR Greg Jennings: If you consider his entire body of work, Jennings probably had the best 2010 season of any NFL receiver. Including the four playoff games, Jennings caught 97 passes for 1,568 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Even so, Jennings is typically underrated in most circles because he lacks the diva personality that puts so many receivers in the headlines. However, you’d struggle to find a receiver as polished running routes and explosive after the catch as Jennings is.
It also probably goes without saying that Rodgers-to-Jennings is one of the premier connections in the NFL today. The scary part? Both are just 27 years old.
3. CB Charles Woodson: Despite being 34 years old, Woodson continues to be a disruptive force for the Packers defense.
No corner in the NFL has his mix of versatility and play-making ability, and that’s been on full display over the past two seasons. During that time in Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense, Woodson has 11 interceptions, four sacks, four touchdowns and nine forced fumbles.
He may not continue that kind of pace as he continues to get older, but Woodson will remain the heart and soul of the Packers defense as long as he dons the green and gold.
2. LB Clay Matthews: With his 2010 campaign, Matthews could have, and possibly should have, been Defensive Player of the Year. Despite facing double teams on most plays, Matthews continually got to the quarterback and made big play after big play for the Packers defense.
A shin injury slowed Matthews during the middle portions of the season, but you could make the argument that he was the best pass rusher throughout the NFL year. His 2010 stats—17 sacks and 55 total pressures—back that argument.
At just 25 years old, he should only get better as time goes on. As the most important player on the Packers’ defense, the future is bright for Matthews.
1. QB Aaron Rodgers: Could it really have been anyone else?
While a slow start to the season negated any chance for regular season MVP, there was simply no player on the planet as good as Rodgers to finish the year.
He put together two of the best quarterback showings in Packers (or even NFL) playoff history against Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and Rodgers also threw for over 400 yards against the Giants in a Week 16 game that had to be won.
The Super Bowl MVP is just entering his prime now, and the Packers should be in contention every season that Rodgers is at the helm of this team. By this time next year, Rodgers could be staking claim to another top player ranking—not just for the Packers, but for the entire league.
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2