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?
This is the final piece in the 2016 edition of the 5GTHTBG series. You can read about Jared Cook and Jayrone Elliot on CHTV, and check back here on PackersTalk.com with Quentin Rollins and Jordy Nelson.
Inside linebacker and tight end may get more pub, but it’s quite possible that the swing tackle position has been the most important failure of the seasons since the 2010 Super Bowl. Injuries over the years to Chad Clifton, David Bakhtiari and most notably Bryan Bulaga would not have been such a big deal if not for the shortcomings of Don Barclay and the other backup tackles who have failed to produce in a way to keep the offense going without a hitch.
Enter Jason Spriggs, the most highly thought of offensive line prospect in Green Bay since Bryan Bulaga. Spriggs is definitely the best athlete on the Packers offensive line, and might have even been the most athletic lineman in the 2016 draft class.
At 6’6″+ and 300+ pounds, Spriggs is a mountain of a man, and that somehow comes with 31 reps on the bench, a shuttle time in the 4.4s and 115 inch broad jump. He is what an offensive line coach would draw up in search of the perfect left tackle.
Green Bay should be able to weather the storm of an injury to an interior lineman. JC Tretter is not only very good, but very versatile. Lane Taylor is someone the Packers think highly enough of to extend his contract, and Barclay should be passable at guard, at least more so than he was at tackle.
Protection on the perimeter is the concern. There has never been a greater example of this than the regular season game in Arizona a year ago. The offense was completely neutered and the team was destroyed. Rodgers was crushed again and again. So much so that we got to see some real live Scott Tolzien.
If Spriggs is a capable tackle as a rookie he’ll provide the depth on the perimeter that the team hasn’t had since they unknowingly had enough depth to insert David Bakhtiari into the left tackle spot before the 2013 season. They’ll have the depth to survive and maybe even thrive if something happens to Bakhtiari or Bulaga during the season.
If that happens and Spriggs acquits himself, it’s possible that the Packers could have something else that they need: leverage. Green Bay needs leverage, or at the very least, assistance in decision making when it comes to the expiring contracts of David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter, Josh Sitton and TJ Lang.
Jason Spriggs needs to be good so that if any of those players get too expensive to retain he can step in. He also needs to be able to step in this season in case of emergency a la Bryan Bulaga in 2010. Jason Spriggs needs to be good.