Prior to preseason, we sat down and took a look at the entire 80 man-roster on the Green Bay Packers and assigned each of them a grade. With preseason coming to a close and the team making their final roster cuts to get down to the 53-man limit, it’s time to revisit those grades and make adjustments based on what we have seen from the players during training camp.
Quarterbacks Before Training Camp: A+
After Training Camp: A
There’s not a whole lot more to be said about the Packers QB room that hasn’t been said already. Back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers will keep the Packers in the hunt for a playoff spot even without Davante Adams on the team. However should he go down at any point and not be good to go can the Packers rely on Jordan Love to win games? While the answer isn’t a resounding yes, there is still some confidence in Love being able to win games with the team around him. Jordan Love was given the equivalent of two whole games of playing time this preseason to show what he has learned sitting behind Rodgers. While he only won one game as a starter this preseason, he did look like a better player and limited mistakes, despite what the box score says. If the Packers needed him to beat one of the weaker teams in the NFL, Love could easily step in and win those games for them. The Packers will likely only keep two QBs on the roster, so Danny Etling’s time as a Packer is most likely over as another team will almost certainly claim him thanks to his extraordinary preseason performance.
Running Backs Before Training Camp: A
After Training Camp: A+
The two AJs in the backfield (Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion) will be a dominant duo this season and will take some of the stress off of Rodgers to perform with the new look receiving corps. Jones and Dillion will become the best running back duo in the league by season’s end. With solid depth at this position now thanks to the emergence of stud rookie running back Tyler Goodson and with Kylin Hill returning after week four, the running back group as a whole has the potential, if it already isn’t, to be the most complete in the NFL. Aaron Jones as the premier elusive/receiving back; AJ Dillion as the tough, power back with an underrated receiving ability; and Goodson and Hill able to perform in their stead to give them rest, should the Packers elect to keep both Goodson and Hill.
Wide Receivers Before Training Camp: D+
After Training Camp: C
Prior to the preseason, I believed that none of the Packers’ first year receivers would have the same impact as Jamar Chase and Justin Jefferson have had. Romeo Doubs changed my mind. While I don’t think he will perform as well as Chase and Jefferson did in their first year, Doubs still has the potential to be a star in this offense and have a great rookie campaign. Randall Cobb will continue to be a reliable weapon for Rodgers to make big plays when needed. Allen Lazard, and Sammy Watkins didn’t play in the preseason, but have had solid camps and made some great plays at family night. To round out the rookies that will for sure make the roster, Christain Watson also didn’t play in the preseason, but he was also limited in training camp too due to injury, so there are still question marks surrounding how well he will perform in the offense. The final lock to make the roster, Amari Rodgers, had a quiet preseason, but the Packers experimented to find ways to get him more touches in the offense; hopefully they will continue to do that in the regular season.
The Packers will likely keep seven wide receivers on the roster, so the WR7 spot comes down to between Samori Toure or Juwann Winfree. Both are solid options for the Packers, Toure has had a stronger preseason and has more upside, but Winfree has a better understanding of the offense having been with the Packers for a couple years. My prediction is for Toure to take that WR7 spot and for Winfree to get relegated to the practice squad, but whoever they chose, the hope is the other will clear waivers and be re-signed to the practice squad.
As QB1 said himself: R-E-L-A-X, Relax. If there is anything we can take away from this offseason it’s that the wide receiver corps with Rodgers will be just fine. The focus of this preseason was without a doubt on the wide receiver corps for the Packers. Obviously the regular season is a different story for how players will perform, but I for one am much more confident in the receiving room after watching them play a couple games.
Tight Ends Before Training Camp: B
After Training Camp: B
Not much has changed for the TE room except for Robert Tonyan’s return. Tonyan has looked great in his recovery and will likely be good to go early in the season which will be huge for Rodgers. Mercedes Lewis had a great camp as well, but we know what to expect from him at this point in his career. Josaiah Deguara will be a solid TE3/fullback option for the Packers as well. With the release of Dominique Dafney due to injury, the Packers are likely to keep Tyler Davis on the roster, who had a solid camp, but quite simply a terrible preseason. This move is likely due to Davis’ role in special teams, where he actually performs quite well, so we will most likely not see Davis much in the offense, which is for the best.
O-Line Before Training Camp: A-
After Training Camp: A
The Packers offensive line has some great depth. Starters David Bahktiari and Elgton Jenkins are looking to return to the starting lineup early in the season, with Jenkins likely to start week one. Josh Myers had a great preseason and could turn out to be one of the better centers in the league. Yosh Nijman had a stellar preseason and might be one of the best back-up left tackles in the league. Pair that with how he played last season and we know he will hold down the blindside until Bakhtiari returns. Starting guards Royce Newman and Jon Runyan played well in the preseason and will serve as solid pieces on the offensive line should the Packers move Jenkins to right tackle.
Once again, the Packers found a stud offensive lineman in this rookie class in Zach Tom. The 4th round pick has been stellar this preseason, posting at least a 75 pass blocking grade in every preseason game, and an 82+ in two of them, according to PFF. 7th round pick Rasheed Walker was good in his lone game against the Kansas City Chiefs, posting a 71.5 overall grade and an 83.6 pass blocking grade. Walker played well enough for the Packers to be confident in cutting Caleb Jones, the undrafted free agent rookie out of Indiana who himself had a great preseason. Hopefully he will make it through the waivers for the Packers to resign to the practice squad, however his play will most likely result in him getting claimed by another team. The final rookie in this class, Sean Rhyan, had a rough start to the preseason to say the least, posting no higher than a 17.6 pass blocking grade, but ended strong with a 77.9 grade against the Chiefs.
The Packers starting offensive line unit, I predict, will be Bakhtiari and Nijman and left and right tackles respectively, Jenkins and Newman/Runyan at left and right guard, and Myers at center. This setup has all the best lineman on the field at one time in positions they can have the greatest impact on. The depth at this position is great and there is little doubt in my mind that this offensive line will perform at a high level this year and remain a top five unit in the NFL.