The Green Bay Packers pride themselves on being a draft-and-develop team, and have shown time and time again that they are willing to force young players into big roles in their first year in the league.
Last season, rookies Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Corey Linsley, Davante Adam and Richard Rodgers all had major impacts on the team. With the exception of Adams who has been hobbled by an injury, all have continued to develop this year.
This season looks to be very similar in terms of rookies having an immediate impact. Seven of the eight players the Packers selected in this year’s draft are currently on the team’s 53-man roster, with many of them making significant contributions to the team so far in 2015.
First round pick Damarious Randall has quickly developed into an above-average cornerback for the Packers. Randall currently ranks seventh on the team in tackles with 19. He is still searching for his first career interception, but has the second most pass break ups (7) on the team. None of those defended passes was bigger than the one he had against the Chargers, knocking down a ball that sealed the Packers’ victory over San Diego.
Quinten Rollins has also been an important part of the Green Bay secondary. He has appeared in every game, and has seen his playing time increase with Morgan Burnett out of the lineup. Rollins’ best game came against the St. Louis Rams, in which he was a major reason why the Packers won. With the offense struggling, Rollins recorded two of Green Bay’s four interceptions and returned one 45 yards for a touchdown.
Ty Montgomery has had the biggest impact among the Packers’ offensive rookies. With Jordy Nelson out for the year and Davante Adams and Randall Cobb hurting, Montgomery has been on the field a lot for Green Bay. He has 15 receptions on 18 targets for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns through six games. Like Cobb, he has shown versatility by coming out of the backfield and is averaging 31 yards per kickoff return, which is the second best mark among players with at least five returns.
Jake Ryan and Aaron Ripkowski have not had impacts as significant as Randall, Rollins, and Montgomery, but they are still gaining experience. Ripkowski has been most prominent on special teams and has been solid in return coverage. Ryan has recorded just three tackles, and will continue to take a backseat to Nate Palmer and Joe Thomas for now.
Sixth-round pick Christian Ringo is the only member of the Packers’ draft class who did not make Green Bay’s opening day roster. Brett Hundley made the team as the third string quarterback and has not seen the field, but gives the Packers a viable backup for the future. Kennard Backman, like Hundley, remains on the roster but has yet to see significant playing time.
To get major impacts from three separate rookies is a huge advantage for the Packers. Rollins and Randall were drafted to immediately help the secondary after losing Tramon Williams and Davon House, and through six games they have succeeded in doing so. Montgomery was not expected to be a huge factor on offensive before the season began, but injuries have made him a key part of the Green Bay offense.
The Packers’ rookies should only to continue to improve as the season progresses. But as Green Bay enters its bye week, it is clear that the team’s first three selections from the 2015 draft have had immediate impacts and are making their presence known on the Green Bay Packers.——————
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 .