Packers Depth Chart: Wide Receivers

After highlighting the backfield for the Packers, it’s time to move on to the perimeter. And that means for us an in-depth look at the group that disappointed most last season: the Wide Receivers. Our third chapter of the Packers depth chart breakdown will focus on that group that hauls in the passes from Aaron Rodgers the most.

For this series, which will finish by training camp starts, we will look at each and every player on the roster, breaking down their strengths, weaknesses, their role, and their best and worst case scenarios.  I will also project their role. Let’s dive into the depths of the Packers pool of talent.

Previous posts: Full Roster

Quarterbacks

Offensive Backfield

#87 JORDY NELSON

6’3” 217 lbs. Age 31 (9th Season)

Drafted in the 2nd Round (36th overall) in 2008 from Kansas State

Strengths: Much like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson’s strengths can be filed under “everything.” He runs phenomenal routes, has one of the best pairs of hands in the league, has great chemistry with Rodgers, and can hit the home run on any route, short and long. He also is a leader in the locker room and elevates his teammates.
Weaknesses:
The only glaring weakness is Jordy’s knee. After missing all of last season with a torn ACL, he looks to return to his 2014 form where he set a Packer record for receiving yards. But at age 31 we won’t know until he actually runs a route, plants, and takes a hit.

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Forecasting Three Storylines leading into the 2016 NFL Season

There are always a few central storylines that exist within the NFL offseason — and each NFL team is a microcosm of intrigue, each filled with its own quirky narratives. Here are three of MANY that will likely take place as the Green Bay Packers approach the 2016 NFL regular season:

The Packers will flirt with keeping seven receivers, but ultimately keep six

I can hear the cries to keep Jared Abbrederis already. And really, based on very palpable statistics, they probably should in lieu of Davante Adams. And I anticipate that in his third season, Abby will probably have a strong preseason. So right now, these are the seven receivers who will be in the mix to make the 53-man roster.

  • Jordy Nelson
  • Randall Cobb
  • Davante Adams
  • Jeff Janis
  • Ty Montgomery
  • Trevor Davis
  • Jared Abbrederis

It’s rare that a team keeps any number other than five or six receivers. In fact, 17 teams kept six receivers to start last season, while 10 kept five. Three teams actually only kept four receivers, leaving only two of the 32 NFL teams (the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills) as teams to enter the 2015 season with seven wide outs on the depth chart.

So it does happen – but the Bills and the Browns’ models are seldom wise to follow.

But the Packers will be faced with a tough decision – cut one of the seven guys listed above, or dedicate an important roster spot to an extra receiver.

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Bold Predictions: Jayrone Elliott will make the Pro Bowl

Jayrone Elliott enters his third season with the chance to make a major impact on the Green Bay Packers defense. The former Toledo star made the roster as a rookie long-shot after going undrafted. He had another great preseason last year to solidify his spot on the roster. He will have a chance to work into the pass rushing rotation with Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry.

See my list of breakout players for next season: http://packerstalk.com/2016/05/10/green-bay-packers-2016-breakout-candidates/

Elliott made huge strides in each of his first two seasons. Last season, Elliott had a terrific game against the Seahawks and showed flashes throughout the season, but was inconsistent overall. However, I believe his pass rush ability will allow Peppers and Clay to play in more versatile roles on 3rd down, and Elliott will get the opportunity to make impact plays. Jayrone has shown great instinct and work ethic, and I believe he will continue to develop his pass rush moves to take advantage of his physical abilities.

My prediction is that Elliott will get between 10-12 sacks, and make 3-4 impact plays (forced fumbles and interceptions). I get a little leeway because it’s so much easier for players to make Pro Bowls in an era where the league sometimes has to take their 3rd or 4th option. However, I feel Jayrone Elliott is going to help the Packers defense in transitioning from a good unit into a great one. 

Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig
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2017 Packers Free Agents: Who Will Stay and Who Will Go?

With news that the Green Bay Packers are about $9 million under the salary cap for the 2016 season after signing all of their draft picks, we can begin looking at how that money will be used. Most, if not all, of it will go toward re-signing the long list of players ready to hit the open market as free agents in 2017. Below I will look at each player and consider how likely or unlikely it is that they are a member of the 2017 Packers team.

Julius Peppers – Unlikely

Peppers is 36 years old and would be 38 by the end of the 2017 season. No doubt he has made a significant impact on the defense since coming to Green Bay two years ago, but even Peppers’ freakishly athletic body has to slow down at some point. That being said, Peppers is chasing a title. If the Packers fall short this year but Peppers retains a high level of play, it’s not entirely unthinkable that he could be back. I wouldn’t bet on it, however. Very few NFL players have pushed their career to 16 seasons, and most that have been able to do so are punters, kickers, and quarterbacks.

Josh Sitton – Coin Toss Trending Toward Unlikely

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Packers Depth Chart: Offensive Backfield

With just a short month between now and training camp, the Packers depth chart is still jam packed with talent. And with all that talent comes some players who need some of the spotlight to get fans excited about them. And now, with the second edition of this breakdown, we hit the offensive backfield.

For this series, which will finish by training camp starts, we will look at each and every player on the roster, breaking down their strengths, weaknesses, their role, and their best and worst case scenarios.  I will also project their role. Let’s dive into the depths of the Packers pool of talent.

Previous posts: Full Roster

Quarterbacks


#27 EDDIE LACY, RB

5’11” 234 lbs. Age 26 (4th season)

Drafted in the 2nd Round (61st Overall) in 2013 from Alabama

Strengths: Lacy is a true power runner in the mold of Marshawn Lynch or a poor man’s Earl Campbell, capable of running over any defender and usually leaving a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake. And in his first two season he could combine his power with great agility and good enough speed to break big runs. He is also a very good receiver out of the backfield though he needs help with his route running.

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Despite Inexperience, Packers’ Secondary Primed to Succeed

When the Green Bay Packers’ offense struggled in 2015, it was the defense that stepped up to help guide the team to another strong season, even if it did not end in a fifth straight division title.

A big reason for the defensive unit’s overall improvement was the play in the secondary. Just five years ago, the Packers’ pass defense ranked dead last in the NFL. Last year, led by a group of young playmakers, Green Bay rose to the sixth-best defensive backfield in the league.

Despite the relative youth of the secondary, the Packers’ unit has the potential to rank among the best in the league in 2016 by most defensive measures. Cornerbacks Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins and safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will serve as the anchors of a talented group of playmaking defenders.

The Packers elected to go with a younger group in the secondary after allowing Tramon Williams and Davon House to depart in free agency last year. That left Shields, still only 28 years of age, as the oldest and most experienced man in the backfield. Burnett, like Shields, will be entering his seventh year in the league, but the other three core members all have racked up less than three years of experience.

Green Bay selected Randall and Rollins with its first two picks in the 2015 draft, and they both exceeded expectations during their rookie seasons. The duo combined for five interceptions (including one pick-six apiece) and 20 passes defended. Both are due to have expanded workloads this season, especially with the departure of Casey Hayward.

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A Way, Way Too Early Roster and Depth Chart Prediction

The first day of the Green Bay Packers’ training camp is still over a month away. That means that predicting the final 53-man roster and depth chart is, frankly, pretty stupid. But it’s the time of the year when we have little to do but speculate. So, just for fun, let’s take a stab at it now. Back-ups will be in parentheses. Non-starting role players will be italicized. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Quarterbacks:

Aaron Rodgers (Brett Hundley)

Running Backs:

Eddie Lacy (James Starks, John Crockett)

Fullback:

Aaron Ripkowski

Tight Ends:

Jared Cook (Richard Rodgers, Kennard Backman)

Offensive Line:

David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, TJ Lang, Bryan Bulaga (JC Tretter, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Lane Taylor, Don Barclay)

Wide Receivers:

Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb (Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis)

Defensive Line:

Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Letroy Guion (Dean Lowry, Christian Ringo)

*Mike Pennel does not count against the roster for the first four games of the season due to suspension. I suspect that Ringo will be waived to make room for Pennel when he returns).

Outside Linebackers:

Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers (Nick Perry, Datone Jones, Jayrone Elliott, Kyler Fackrell, Lerentee McCray)

Inside Linebackers:

Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan (Blake Martinez – Dime ILB replacing Ryan, Joe Thomas)

Cornerbacks: 

Sam Shields, Damarious Randall (Quinten Rollins, Micah Hyde, Ladarius Gunter)

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