PFF: 5 Guys That Have to Be Good- Quentin Rollins

This marks the fourth offseason of my 5 guys that have to be good series.  This list is not a top five list of most important Green Bay Packers.  Not only will you find that elsewhere, but ultimately it’s the players on this list that just might define the season.

Aaron Rodgers, Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews are going to play well.  If the offensive line stays healthy, it’s going to play well.  HaHa Clinton-Dix is going to play well.

It’s the players that are “in the margins” that can make the difference between another 11 or 12 win team with a heartbreaking playoff loss and a 14th World Championship.

My old lists are a telling tale.  My 15 guys that have had to be good either weren’t or got hurt for the most part.

2013: Terrell Manning, Greg Van Roten, Bryan Bulaga (ACL), Jeremy Ross, Datone Jones

2014: BJ Raji (torn biceps), Brad Jones, Jared Abbrederis, JC Tretter, Datone Jones

2015: Jared Abbrederis, JC Tretter, BJ Raji, Casey Hayward, Sam Barrington (broken ankle)

These are the guys that needed to be good for the Packers to get back to the promised land.  They weren’t, and Green Bay didn’t.  Who needs to step up for a return to Titletown?

Casey Hayward signed a relatively conservative three year, $15 million dollar contract in the 2016 offseason with the San Diego Chargers.  Hayward was one of the finest inside cornerbacks in the league, and he will certainly be missed.  His inability to hold up outside both limited his earning potential and possibly ended his Packers tenure.



If you’re reading this article, there’s a very good chance that you’re an avid Green Bay Packer fan.  You’re the kind of fan that takes in Packers related media as much as you can.  You’re probably the kind of fan who has listened to Green and Gold Today, formerly hosted by Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson.

Bill Johnson has had a theory about Eddie Lacy for a number of years and it’s starting to come to fruition.  His theory is that Lacy will either disappoint again in 2016 and not be given a serious contract offer from the Packers or he will excel and price himself out of Green Bay.  One way or the other, it’s hard to see Lacy in a Packers uniform in 2017.

It’s for this reason that I believe Green Bay should make Lacy their top priority for a training camp extension, ahead of TJ Lang, Nick Perry, Datone Jones and David Bakhtiari, even ahead of Josh Sitton.

Let’s say the 2017 cap is $166,000,000.  That’s what Spotrac has projected it to be.  It looks like Green Bay will roll over about $8 million into that season.  Setting aside ~$6 of that to sign the 2017 draft class and you’ve got an adjusted cap of $168 million.  Green Bay has $141 million in liabilities before considering any releases or veteran reconstructions.  That’s $27 million in cap room to get deals done.

It’s certainly possible the team could release James Starks or restructure Jordy Nelson in 2017 to find intermediate cap relief.


Packers Depth Chart: Quarterbacks

Just over a week ago, we went through my personal projections for the Packers Opening Week 53 man roster. Now it’s time to break it down. And we start with the most important position on the field: quarterback.

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.


6’2” 225 lbs. Age 32 (12th Year)

Drafted in the 1st Round (24th Overall) in 2005 from California

Strengths: To put it succinctly, everything. Rodgers it the best pure quarterback the league has seen in many years. Able to throw on the run and from a standstill in the pocket, there is no better passer in both. He has a cannon for an arm and a beautiful, accurate deep ball that rarely gets picked off. Already the most efficient quarterback in NFL history, Rodgers is a master of ball placement, making unbelievable sideline passes look easy.

Weaknesses: If there is any weakness to his game, it’s his patience and willingness to take sacks and heavy hits. A touch customer in the pocket, Rodgers is less willing to throw the ball away and would rather buy time with his feet, risking a major hit.

Underrated attribute: Leaving his feet on throws outside the pocket to avoid leg injuries.



Keeping seven wide receivers is almost unheard of, but the Green Bay Packers certainly could make a case for it this upcoming season.  All seven receivers that seem to be in contention for the roster are Ted Thompson draft picks, and the one with the worst draft pedigree just might be the most talented.  This conversation of course eliminates talented undrafted receivers Geronimo Allison and Ed Williams (from a season ago).

One of the things I want to make clear is that doing this is certainly going to require one thing: keeping three total running backs.  That would make the battle for the final roster spot in the non-tight-end skill positions John Crockett vs. Aaron Ripkowski.  Crockett is a very talented back and showed as much against the Lions, but Ripkowski is seen as the heir apparent to John Kuhn, and the Packers look to still use at least one fullback.

The reason that this idea could work, and how the idea of seven wide receivers is even feasible, is because of two players: Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery.  Both Montgomery and Cobb have the versatility and ability to affect the game as “third down backs”.  Both players can play running back in the no huddle and both run exceptional routes from out of the backfield.  It’s certainly possible that they could sneak Crockett back on to the practice squad and plan on using him in 2017, with Eddie Lacy and James Starks both playing on expiring contracts.



The legend of Jeff Janis is a fascinating one.  Janis, an athletic freak, quickly became a fan favorite in Green Bay because of his seemingly unlimited potential and strong preseason performances.  People are all over the map on Janis.  Casual fans are so excited about Janis that there has been palpable backlash from the “football” community.

Whether you’re part of one extreme or the other, reality is more than likely somewhere in the middle.  Janis is not an incapable receiver without upside that won’t ever be able to run routes or understand the nuance of the Packers offense.  He may never be Jordy Nelson in that regard, but Nelson himself only had 686 receiving yards during his first two seasons.

He’s also not the “Great White Hope” of the offense, or at least he wasn’t a season ago.  So many fans a season ago pleaded for Janis last season when Nelson succumbed to injury and the remaining Green Bay receiving corps couldn’t get open.  The reality is that the receiving corps was evaluated every day in practice, and Janis did not earn reps.  He was forced into the Arizona game because of injury, and 101 of his 145 yards in that game came on two very fluky plays.  He wasn’t ready.

What Janis actually is is a third year developmental receiver.  This is the season that Janis should start to show real gains in his offensive production.  Historically, receivers in McCarthy’s offense take a big jump in year three, though not many receivers the Packers have selected were as raw as Janis when selected.  With Nelson returning, and Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery definitely playing in front of him, Janis is under little pressure.


Packers 2016 Position Evaluation: Safety

The 2015 season was a good one for the Safety position on the Green Bay Packers, and even better things seem to be on the horizon in 2016.

Morgan Burnett took another step towards becoming a Pro Bowl Safety in the NFL. While he didn’t receive the recognition his play deserved, he has continued to improve throughout his career, and I believe is ready for a breakout year. HaHa Clinton-Dix is entering his third season which is historically the season Safeties make their greatest strides. Since the Packers don’t play with a Free or Strong Safety, having two players who can interchangeably play in the box against the run and break up deep passes is crucial. Clinton-Dix has shown steady improvement in the pass game to add to his stout run support.  

Chris Banjo will provide depth at the position. Banjo is an excellent Special Teams player, who has been solid when he has had the opportunity in pass packages. He will need to prove he can step in full-time if there is an injury.

Micah Hyde is listed as a DB on the Packers official depth chart, which reflects the position fluidity he possesses. Hyde is good at a number of different things, but isn’t great at any one thing. He could be a short term solution is anything happened to Burnett or Clinton-Dix, but having him in the starting lineup consistently would take away from his primary role of covering Tight Ends on 3rd down.


BREAKING: Green Bay Packers select Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford, 200

Analysis (Taylor O’Neill): The Packers grab another PAC-12 player. Murphy was first-team all conference during his senior year, having moved over from playing right tackle his junior year, where he was second-team all conference. At 6’6″ and 305 lbs he definitely has the size to play tackle in the NFL. He also has good arm length at 33.5″.

Murphy has good lateral movement and consistently picks up blitzes. He’s a reliable player that looks relatively polished at the tackle position, especially for a late-round pick. He does lack elite strength (he put up only 23 reps at the bench press) and can struggle with stronger, bull-rushing defensive linemen, however.
While Murphy’s better in pass protection than run-blocking, he can hold his own in the run game. While strength isn’t his strong suit, he gets low and drives his opponent back. He’s not extremely athletic but can be expected to make blocks at the second level on running plays.
Scouts have him playing everywhere in the NFL from left tackle, to right tackle, to guard. That being said, if he can bulk up and add some strength to his game, many see him as capable of being a potential starter someday at the professional level.

Team Fit (Ross Uglem): Most of who produced Packers draft content these past few months indicated the need for Green Bay to take two offensive linemen because of the contract situations of Sitton, Lang, Tretter and Bakhtiari.  Murphy is the second of those players.  Murphy, like Spriggs before him, is a college tackle that Thompson will have McCarthy and Campen move around the offensive line.