Can the Packers effectively run the ball?
-@BrianTrettin on Twitter
Simply put, yes. If the offensive line is healthy (see more below), then there’s no reason the Packers can’t be a good running team. They’ll never shine statistically because pass will always be options A and B, and Rodgers quick throws are as safe as a running play.
It was very entertaining watching Jahri Evans pancake Broncos defenders all over the field on Saturday. I think running behind Evans and Bulaga on the right side will bring success. Lane Taylor has also turned himself into a really nice pull blocker, and I think solidifies running lanes on the left. Linsley and Bakhtiari will never be confused for maulers, but they both have the effort and technique necessary to be efficient. The Packers also acquired the best blocking Tight End in the league in Martellus Bennett.
I think the Packers will probably be in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards, but near the top in rushing average. If they are efficient enough to bring a 7th player in the box consistently, Aaron Rodgers will be due for a huge season.
How good can the defense be this season?
-Keith in Rhinelander
There are two main variables on the defense.
#1 Can Clay Matthews and Nick Perry stay healthy?
The pass rush hasn’t been good the last few seasons, and those two make a really big difference. With Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark pushing the pocket, they outside rushers have to get home. I really like Jayrone Elliott, but if he has to start they have zero depth. I’m over Kyler Fackrell at this point, and hope there is a player cut by another team who can replace him (maybe a reunion with Datone Jones if the Vikings are done with him?).
#2 Can Green Bay find 3 CBs who can cover NFL WRs?
The problems on the outside continue. Davon House still can’t get healthy, and Kevin King is having very predictable problems as a rookie CB. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Damarious Randall, and Josh Hawkins may have earned a roster spot. There is only one major concern I have with this roster and it is the Cornerback position.
Any recommendations on what Packers to target in my fantasy draft?
-Cameron in Peshtigo
I’m always of the belief that Packers players tend to be overpriced in leagues with Packer fans (just like Patriots are in Boston, etc). People like to draft players they get to watch and root for every week. If you can get Aaron Rodgers at a decent position, he is the best QB in the league. In a 12 team league he is a great value in the late 2nd or early 3rd round. Jordy and Davante could both be WR1s. Good luck figuring out the Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams situation – I certainly can’t. And avoid the GB Defense. I like their turnover potential, but I fear they are going to give up a lot of points.
Are the Packers in trouble if there is an injury on the offensive line?
-Kim in Green Bay
It always depends on where the injury is. Kyle Murphy has looked good at Tackle, and could probably move inside if necessary. While Jason Spriggs has certainly struggled, I’m not ready to give up on the guy yet. If Spriggs does end up being a bust, I’m reminded of the Brian Brohm/Matt Flynn draft. Yes, Brohm was a bust, but it was offset because they got such a good player in the 7th round.
I can’t believe I’m about to write this: Don Barclay’s health is going to be a major factor going forward. While he’s not a guy I want starting every week, he is the most versatile guy they have on the line and I would have confidence in him filling in when the game is on the line.
That’s all I have for this week. Remember to submit your questions for next week.
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 host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig