The Green Bay Packers selected eight players in the 2015 NFL draft, and the Packers expect that each of them will contribute on the field during their rookie season. While Green Bay already has a roster that is loaded with proven talent at many positions, many, if not all, of the Packers’ rookies must establish themselves as dependable players for the team to be successful.
Expectations are particularly high for the Packers’ first four selections, defensive backs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, wide receiver and return specialist Ty Montgomery, and linebacker Jake Ryan.
The hype that comes with being an early-round pick could weigh heavily on these players, but it is essential for them to live up to the standards that the Packers have put on them. Green Bay is already regarded as one of the top teams in the league, and if these rookies can turn into solid contributors it will only help the Packers’ chances.
Green Bay selected Randall to fill a need at cornerback. After losing Davon House and Tramon Williams to free agency, the Packers found themselves thin at the position. Casey Hayward has proven himself as an excellent slot corner, but his ability on the outside remains unknown. While Randall might not start initially, he will see plenty of snaps and have the chance to make an immediate impact. The Packers would love to see him prove himself worthy of a starting cornerback spot.
Rollins has similar expectations. After playing just one year of college football, he is viewed more as a raw talent with a ton of potential. In that one season, Rollins showed he was special on his way to winning Defensive Player of the Year in the Mid-American Conference. The Packers are set at safety, but they need to utilize Rollins’ athleticism. When given the opportunity, he will have to show that he warranted a second round pick.
Montgomery will likely make more of an impact on special teams for the Packers. After having one of the NFL’s worst special teams units in 2014, he could play a major role in improving Green Bay’s league ranking. He is a dangerous return man, and the Packers will hope that he shows off his explosiveness while fielding punts and kicks. Montgomery will also compete for the fourth receiver spot, so he could impact the offense as well.
Ryan was drafted to fill the inside linebacker position, which was the Packers’ biggest offseason need. He might not start immediately, but Green Bay needs to see significant steps toward becoming a starter over the course of the season. If Ryan can progress enough to take over at inside linebacker and allow Clay Matthews to focus on pass rushing, the Packers’ defense would be much better.
The Packers got significant contributions from a number of their rookies in 2014, and would be very lucky to see the same immediate success with this year’s rookie class. But for the Packers to take the next step and return to the Super Bowl, the impacts from Randall, Rollins, Montgomery and Ryan will be very important.
The Green Bay staff is very high on its draft picks. Even the later round picks are likely to make their presence known on special teams. It might not happen exactly the way the Packers hoped, but all eight of the Packers’ rookies need to contribute in some way over the course of the season for Green Bay to contend for another title.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .