Friday, May 25, 2012

Talented Yet Not Perfect Roster

By Matt Bove

Mike McCarthy set the bar very high for his team on the
first day of OTA's on Tuesday.

“This is clearly the most experienced
football team in conjunction with the most talent that I've had a chance to
coach,” McCarthy told his team prior to the Packers’ first practice during
organized team activities.
It is easy to see why McCarthy would think
this and I do indeed think he is correct. The Packers have the best Quarterback
in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers backed up by perhaps the best receiving core in the
NFL. They have a newly stocked defense
with 6 new rookies to help bring competition and stability back to it. They
have a great combination of players who played on the Super Bowl team 2 years
ago that are just entering their prime and new players who are hungry to get
that first ring.
This team has the
potential to be even better than the Super Bowl team from 2 years ago. That
should make for a fun training camp with guys battling for roster spots
especially on defense. Nobody will be able to coast like some guys did last
The training camp competitions at WR, TE,
DL, OLB, and S will be intense. It is sounding more and more like Donald Driver
will return on a restructured contract so Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel will have
to prove valuable enough to be kept as a 6th WR assuming there are
no injuries. Ultimately I don’t think Andrew Quarless will be ready to start
the season and the Packers will end up keeping Gurley and only 4 TE’s rather
than the 5 that they did last year.
However, if they do not that B.J. Coleman
can be slipped onto the practice squad they will probably want to keep him,
which could throw a wrench into things as they have not been keeping 3 QB’s on
their roster lately. Although, that is just a guess without training camp
taking place yet, so take it for what its worth.

The competition on the DL will
be crazy with only B.J Raji, Ryan Pickett, Jerel Worthy, and probably Mike
Daniels as locks to make it. That leaves Anthony Hargrove, Mike Neal, C.J.
Wilson, Jarius Wynn, Lawrence Guy, Phillip Merling, and Daniel Muir to battle
it out for probably 2 spots if they keep 6 DL as they did last year. The locks at LB are Clay Matthews, DesmondBishop, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, and probably Terrell Manning and D.J. Smith.
That leaves Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Robert Francois, Vic So’oto,
and Jamri Lattimore to battle it out for 4 spots in the keep 10 LB’s as they
did a year ago. Despite all of this talent this roster is not perfect. I do see
troubling holes at safety and backup QB.
I personally cannot live through another
year of Charlie Peprah starting at safety. I get a feeling the Packers feel the
same way. Whenever Mike McCarthy has had a chance to complement Peprah this
offseason the best he can come up with is talking about the high number of
snaps Peprah has played for the Packers over the last 2 years. That is not
exactly a glowing rendition of Peprah. Teams targeted Peprah last year and he got
lost in coverage and burned numerous times.
In fact he and Morgan Burnett
allowed the most TD’s out of any safety duo in the NFL last season. Peprah’s
athletic shortcomings are obvious on tape and offensive coordinators will
continue to try to expose them if he is in there. Loosing Nick Collins was by
the biggest injury last season and was more significant than anybody they lost
during on their Super Bowl team. This
year’s NFL draft was very weak in safeties so there was not much Ted Thomson
could do. Perhaps Jeron McMillian can start right away, but that would be a
tall order coming out of Maine.
People forget even Nick Collins had growing pains in his first 2 or 3 years.
M.D. Jennings had an interception of Aaron Rodgers on the first day of OTA’s
and can compete as well as practice squad safety Anthony Levine.
If Aaron Rodgers were to go down with an
injury last year the Packers still would have made the playoffs with Matt
Flynn. The same cannot be said this year for Graham Harrell or B.J. Coleman.
Harrell has been in the Packers system for 2 years now, but does not inspire
much confidence that he could lead the Packers to victories. Even Matt Flynn
was not ready to when he first went it if you remember when he went in for
Rodgers in Week 4 of 2008 against Tampa
Bay. Harrell had a record
breaking college career, but has looked less than stellar in his pre season
action. Coleman has a big arm and huge upside but his very raw coming out of
Tennessee- Chattanooga. Any lengthy Aaron Rodgers injury will probably kill the
season this year, so keeping him healthy will be of utmost importance.
This Packers team is the most talented and
experienced team that they have in the McCarthy and Thompson era. However, as
last year proved that doesn’t mean anything. A 15-1 team had one stinker game
and that was enough to cost them their season. It is not a perfect roster and
plenty of players will have to step up.
It will be interesting to see how far the talent and experience can go
this year.

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