With every down season for a team in the NFL, the opportunities for young players to get play time and improve is something that is very valuable. The Packers have taken full advantage of letting young players play and grow in the past few weeks, and it has shown that the future is bright in Green Bay.
Let’s start with offense and one of if not the most important positions, the position of quarterback. In the limited action Jordan Love has played this year, mostly against the Eagles, he showed flashes of being the next great Packers QB. His arm strength, poise in the pocket, and accuracy, among other things, made him look like the perfect replacement for when Aaron Rodgers decides it’s time to hang up the cleats. Love has not had the most ideal start to his career but being able to sit behind one of the greatest QBs in NFL history has clearly helped him in the long run, and once it’s his time to shine, he is going to perform like no other. Another very important position is WR, and the Packers WRs this season have come on like no others. Before becoming injured, rookie WR Romeo Doubs had 31 catches, 314 yards, and 3 touchdowns in 9 games, while making a lot of crucial catches. Doubs will look to pick up where he left off before the injury, as he’s expected to be back in the next week or so. Other rookie WR Christian Watson on the other hand, started the season with a few injuries and it looked like Packers wouldn’t get to receive a true look at the Packers 2nd round pick. Then in week 10, he burst onto the scene. Since that week 10 game, he has been arguably the best rookie WR, and looks like the next superstar WR.
Among all NFL players, he is tied for 10th in touchdowns, is tied for 3rd in touchdowns by WRs with 9 and leads all rookie WRs with 7 receiving touchdowns and 2 rushing tds and has scored 8 of those touchdowns in his last 4 games, with the first game vs the cowboys being the first game where he played most of the game. Another amazing rookie this season has been Zach Tom. Tom has played both at LT and at LG and has been one of the few bright spots on the Packers online. A 4th round pick this past year, the Packers have seem to have found a gem, and he could one day take over a starting spot on the O-line. He also leads all rookie in pass block efficiency with a 98.0.
And now for the defensive side of the ball. Rookie LB Quay Walker has really stepped up for the Packers in the past few weeks and his progression has really shown. After a slow start to the season, it’s very easy to tell that his technique has improved, and he has flashed potential that he could be the next star linebacker. While he is still making mistakes, you can clearly see the improvement he has made, and it seems as if he’ll be leading the Packers defense in years to come. Speaking of making improvements, Eric Stokes took a major leap from his rookie season. A questionable pick at the time when the Packers needed a WR, he has since become a great young CB3, behind Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas.
While it sucks to have him injured, Packers fans were able to see the leap he made from last year to this year, and he will look to make an even bigger leap next year. And finally, the player who may be the centerpiece to the whole defense, Rashan Gary. Before his season ending injury, Gary was a disrupter on the field, posting 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 27 QB pressures, which is still 4th in the NFL today weeks after his injury. Gary is only 25 and was in the discussions for DPOY before his injury. Gary, once he comes back, will look to improve off of an already fantastic season, and he might be the key next year to the Packers making it back to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.