In a draft-and-develop system, the draft is essential for the success of a team.
The last drafts of former general manager and now Hall of Fame member of the Packers, Ted Thompson, were not exactly successful. Not many players of these years are on the Packers’ roster. And with “these years” I mean all of them from 2012 going forward until last season, when GM Brian Gutekunst was introduced and had his first offseason in 2018.
Which veterans do the Packers have?
Let’s have a look at the players that are here: There are six players with 10 or more years of experience: Aaron Rodgers (15), Marcedes Lewis (14), Tramon Williams (13), Mason Crosby (13), Jimmy Graham (10) and Bryan Bulaga (10).
Next, there are only nine players that have five or more years on an NFL roster: Mike Daniels (8), Lane Taylor (7), David Bakhtiari (7), Billy Turner (6), Corey Linsley (6) and Davante Adams (6) and the three free agents that have joined the Packers this offseason, who all have five years of NFL experience: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos.
Why experience on a roster is essential
Now, you can argue that the average time of a player in the NFL is 4 years, so everyone who is longer on a roster means he’s better than the average. Also, you want to keep your roster young, because these players above have all been paid with second or even third contracts – and as you all know, rookie contracts are much cheaper than veteran contracts.
But every team needs veteran experience. A group of rookies needs the help of an experienced players to teach them techniques and basic stuff like how to watch film and what to look for, how to prepare for a game, how to train and how to behave in an NFL locker room. Things that only come with experience. So every position room needs and experienced leader and even if he might not be the best player on this particular position, he should teach the younger guys “how to do it”.
Now, the Packers have only 15 of 90 players (16%) with a second contract that can call themselves “veterans”. We all know the number will go up when many rookies will be released by the time the roster has to be cut to 53 players and we’ll likely see one or two cheap veteran additions via free agency, but let’s look at the roster how it is. These guys form the core of the 2019 Green Bay Packers.
Analysis of the experience by position groups
Let’s look at the position groups: 5 of the 15 players are offensive linemen. This group is well equipped with experienced players that can teach the young guys a little bit about techniques and stuff. Remains one quarterback for a small quarterback room of three people, a kicker, two tight ends, two defensive backs, two pass rushers and a wide receiver. We have no running backs at all in this group (which is okay, because Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are doing a great job) and no inside linebacker, where Blake Martinez would be the natural leader, as he’s also the one listening to Pettine’s defensive calls.
There are 12 cornerbacks on the roster with only one having an experience of more than four years. This is by any means not enough for this huge group of players. One player cannot care for 11 others. Yeah, this is not school, but especially the rookies need help at the beginning – something any rookie says after a few years in the league. Just look at Blake Martinez in his recent interview with Michael Cohen of The Athletic (Soundcloud) – he says in his first year he thought he knew it all, but now (he’s four years in the league) he says this were just the most commonly known basics.
There are ten defensive linemen on the roster and only one of them has earned his second contract – Mike Daniels, who could be traded, if you believe Tom Silverstein. Also, this is not enough experience for this group, containing the first pick of the Packers’ in this years draft.
There are 14 linebackers on the roster and we have – besides Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, both of whom will be learning a completely new system, just like the rookies and won’t have much time to spend – no veteran players on the roster. This is even more worrying than the D-Line and the cornerbacks.
There are eleven wide receivers on the roster and Davante Adams is the only one with more than four years of experience. Besides him, there are only Geronimo Allison and Trevor Davis on the roster (both 4 years) with more than two years of playing in the NFL. This is in my opinion the most concerning group on the roster. There is not much experience to be found in a position group that needs a year of learning before being able to get behind the routes and all the checks and changes the Packers’ offense will face. EQ and MVS played a great rookie season, but it was obvious they both made many rookie mistakes, something that can and will happen and is not a big problem – if you don’t have to rely on them too much; something the Packers needed to do in the last season. Just imagine Davante Adams getting hurt in one of the first games and being out for the season. Then Allison, EQ and MVS will likely be starters in this offense. Something I personally don’t want to experience.
All the other positions I didn’t mention have (in my opinion) enough experience in their respective room. But these four groops need more experience until the season starts or with a little bad luck they might get in trouble, just like they did last year.
And the one responsible for this lack of experience is not the current general manager, but the last one. He did have great years and great drafts with the Packers, but his star also fell a lot in his last seasons or maybe even a few years after the Super Bowl win in 2011.
It can all go well in 2019, but it also could go very wrong. With a little more experience and reliability on certain position groups, the Packers could minimize the risk of another losing season and maximize the chance of getting another trophy to the city where it belongs to – the city of Green Bay.Max Sachs is an international Packers fan from Germany. As a part of the Packers Germany, he tries to convince everyone around him to cheer for the greatest franchise on earth - or to start with, for American football in general. You can find him on Twitter @KaesekopfDE (the german translation for cheesehead).