The NFL draft understandably steals the headlines. The incoming class of rookies are expected by many to be the key contributors in their first seasons. However, it’s more common that second year players make a jump in productivity and establish themselves in the league. In order to be Super Bowl contenders in 2022, there are a few second year Packers who will need to take a large leap forward this season.
TJ Slaton had flashes during his rookie campaign. There were moments where he looked like he could be a disruptive presence along the defensive line on all three downs. However, as is common with rookies, he disappeared for long stretches of games. This season the Packers are counting on Slaton to take a big leap forward and become a key part of the rotation.
If the Packers intend to continue their trend of playing with fewer players around the line of scrimmage, Slaton will be counted on during early downs. A player with his size, strength and leverage is essential for the defense to work as intended. Beyond that, Slaton’s development would lower the total snaps fellow lineman Kenny Clark plays, likely increasing the entire unit’s effectiveness in 2022.
The 2021 season was not what Amari Rodgers hoped it would be. The former third round pick couldn’t break into the offensive rotation at wide receiver and also struggled to get comfortable on special teams as a punt returner. When he was on the field, Rodgers looked unsure of himself and nothing like the play maker he was at Clemson. This all being said, it’s much too early to write him off as draft bust.
Rodgers enters 2022 with opportunities abound at receiver. He has a mastery of the playbook and a strong mentor in veteran Randall Cobb. The Packers offense is tailor made for his skills and run after the catch ability. If he can regain the confidence in himself that he had in college, then he could provide the Packers with a dynamic and versatile receiver.
Coming to the Packers early in the 2021 season during an in-season transaction, the Packers are excited to see the development Tyler Davis. Coupled with the unknown status of Robert Tonyan and the age of veteran Mercedes Lewis, there are more questions than answers at this point for the tight end position. This gives Davis a clear path to meaningful playing time.
The 6’4” 250-pound tight end has ideal physical traits for the position and flashed during limited snaps last season. He’s an effective blocker and also seemed to have the trust of Aaron Rodgers. If he can demonstrate that he can be a consistent threat on offense, it would unlock a Packers offense that will look radically different in 2022.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.