Six Positions of Strength The Green Bay Packers appear to be loaded up for another run at a Super Bowl. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a deep receiver corps, new weapons at tight end and the potential for big-time improvement in the secondary, Green Bay enters the six-week break until training camp as one of the prime contenders to win a championship.
On Friday, we looked at the Packers’ five most concerning positions. Here are their top six positions.
Wide receiver: Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, Max McCaffrey, DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre. That talented group of players are merely the top contenders for roster spots behind the Big Three of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Now that’s what you call depth. Of that group of six, Allison is probably the closest thing to a lock, but Janis has been a special-teams demon, Davis has speed, McCaffrey runs routes, Yancey has size and Dupre impressed in the offseason. However you slice it, some difficult decisions will be looming at the end of training camp, even if the Packers keep seven.
“I’d like to think we have more than seven guys that can play in that group for sure,” receivers coach Luke Getsy said. “Circumstances dictate a little bit the way things go. I think there’s a lot of different angles that we can go with, but the thing I’m excited about is I feel we really do have more than seven games that can contribute to winning football games.”
Safety: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett form one of the top starting duos in the NFL, Kentrell Brice emerged as a key contributor during a hard-hitting rookie season, and fellow undrafted free agent Marwin Evans flashed intriguing potential during training camp and the preseason. That quartet alone would have gotten this group on our strongest-positions list. The addition of second-round pick Josh Jones puts this group over the top. Jones, with his combination of size and speed, had a tremendous offseason. If his strong practices carry over into the padded work and preseason games, he’s going to force his way onto the field.
Tight end: When Richard Rodgers, who caught 58 passes and scored eight touchdowns in 2015, might be the third-best tight end on the roster, that’s what you call depth. Green Bay might have the best tight end corps in the league with the free-agent additions of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Other than his former New England teammate, Rob Gronkowski, Bennett might be the best all-around tight end in the NFL. The sure-handed Rodgers had an exceptional minicamp.
Quarterback: Obviously, it all starts with two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who carried the team to the NFC Championship Game last season. “I thought he had an excellent spring,” position coach Alex Van Pelt said. “I think he’s in the best shape he’s been in. He’s lean, he’s muscular. He looks like he’s ready to go.”
Brett Hundley gives the Packers a talented backup with the potential to keep the team afloat should something happen to Rodgers. Missing most of last preseason due to an ankle injury was a setback, but Hundley has arm strength, athleticism, intelligence and work ethic, and he’s been coached well. This will be a huge preseason. Joe Callahan is back as the No. 3, though he’ll have to fight off a challenge from Taysom Hill, a talented and athletic prospect whose career was sidetracked continually by injuries at BYU.
Defensive line: This could be Green Bay’s best unit in years, though there’s some projection. It starts with Mike Daniels, a two-time member of NFL Network’s Top 100 team and a three-down impact player. The projection is with second-year players Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry and rookie third-round pick Montravius Adams. The arrows are pointing up for Clark and Lowry, who came on strong at the end of their rookie seasons and had strong offseasons. Free-agent acquisition Ricky Jean Francois and Letroy Guion add veteran presences, though Guion’s spot on the roster is in jeopardy due to a season-opening, four-game suspension. Brian Price and Christian Ringo are back, as well, after getting some playing time last year. That’s eight players at a position where the Packers usually only line up with two.
Cornerback: Again, there’s projection involved in this. Can Davon House play like he did with Jacksonville in 2015, or at times during his first stint in Green Bay? Can rookie Kevin King earn a key role and, if so, how long will it take? How good can Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins be if they can stay healthy? LaDarius Gunter, who was thrown into some impossible matchups last season but never backed down, returns and should be a key role player, if nothing else. Josh Hawkins is back, as is Herb Waters, who cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt spoke about in glowing terms this week.
“The way he was covering before he got hurt (and missed minicamp), it didn’t matter who he was covering. He was covering them all of the receivers,” Whitt said.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.
The Green Bay Packers will contend for a Super Bowl championship for reasons other than simply Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers.