Fresh Cheese: The 13 New Packers for 2012
It's that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter and the kids are going back to school. You know what that also means: football season. It also means the preseason is over and teams have cut down from 90 players to 53 players on their active rosters.
This year's Green Bay Packers team has 13 new faces on it for kickoff weekend. And remember, it wouldn't be crazy for Thompson to start signing new guys over the next week. The Packers have 11.6 million in cap space left and only seven offensive linemen. If that's not saying something then I am deaf.
Cedric Benson is probably going to be the new name that Packers fans will be hearing about the most this year. It's not like they are new to it though. Benson was the fourth-overall pick by the Bears in the mid-2000's and has ran for nearly 6,000 yards since.
I was pretty surprised that Thompson made this move to be honest. He will be 30 by the time this season is over and has been worked like a horse since he was breaking high school records in Texas. Throw that in with Thompson's past with running backs (late-round picks for both Ryan Grant and James Starks, and free agents like Samkon Gado) and you have a big question mark in Ted's thought process.
Either way Benson has shown glimpses of quick bursts in the preseason which pleased and surprised me. Coming off a season in which he didn't even run the ball a hundred times it felt like he had fresh legs for those few games he played. Benson will most likely be the starting running back this season with James Starks hurt, which was the reason he was signed in the first place.
One of the weirdest stories of the offseason had to be Jarrett Boykin. A record-holding receiver from Virginia Tech that didn't get drafted after being projected as a mid-round pick, Boykin eventually got cut following rookie camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After the cut the Packers called him up for a shot in a crowded corps filled with locks to make the roster (Jennings, Nelson, Cobb and Jones), an aging fan favorite (Driver) and two highly touted practice squad players from the year before (Gurley and Borel).
Boykin proved he belonged with the big boys as Gurley moved a state over and became a Minnesota Viking and Borel signed on to the practice squad for another season while Boykin was named the sixth receiver on the team.
Barclay, the three-year starting left tackle from West Virginia, most likely will have to swing from tackle to guard and back to tackle as the only non-center backup for this Packers team. Barclay, who was thought of as a late-round prospect by most draftniks, was undrafted before going to Green Bay for a camp tryout.
He showed enough to coaches to have him kept over some other impressive rookies including draft pick Andrew Datko who was left off the opening roster earlier this week.
And the most un-Thompson-like move of the offseason goes to Jeff Saturday who was added to the team at the ripe age of 36 (now 37) after Scott Wells left the team for more money in Tennessee.
Saturday was part of the house cleaning that Colts management did after finishing with the worst record in football last year. Saturday seems to be a two-year stopgap while McCarthy figures out a long-term solution for the center position (EDS?), but he's no chump. He snapped for some dude named Peyton Manning for a decade plus and went to five Pro Bowls doing so.
Worthy is a former first-round graded prospect that was lowered due to "taking plays off." Many draftniks think that the reason Worthy was "taking plays off" was due to the amount of plays that he was actually playing at Michigan State before getting picked up by Green Bay in the second round of this past year's draft.
Splitting rotational snaps with Pickett, Wilson, Neal, Merling and Daniels should help that problem a bit. While Wilson was named the starter for Week 1 of this year, I think Worthy will take over next season at the latest.
Merling was another former top-32 pick that has made it on the Packers roster. (Sidenote, he would have been a first-rounder at pick 32 but the Patriots had to go and lose their first round pick that year—so technically he was the first second-round pick at No. 32).
He came into the league as a possible 4-3 defensive end but has now gained enough weight that it seems like 3-4 DE is his calling. Many fans saw the Merling signing and didn't think much of it, let alone that he would make the roster. The final DL cut seemed to be down to him and Muir—who could also bump inside to nose tackle, something only Ryan Pickett can really do on this roster.
Merling will probably be the fourth defensive end behind Pickett, Wilson and Worthy until Neal comes back from his suspension.
One of the least impressive players to make it on the roster in my opinion was undersized draftee Mike Daniels. Most likely last on the depth chart in the DL rankings at this point in his career, I think Daniels is sticking around due to the price tag that was paid for him.
When Thompson picked him in the middle rounds of the 2012 draft there were a bunch of Packers fans looking at each other like, "Who is that?" and, with the Nick Perry selection a "hybrid 4-3/3-4" discussion sparked on plenty of message boards.
The 6'1" 280-ish lineman only started eight games before his senior season in which he had a team leading nine sacks.
Green Bay's first-round selection has proved out of the gate that he's been worth it. One of the top ranked 4-3 defensive ends going into 2011 ended up getting drafted to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 for the Packers.
(The Upshaw/Perry debate was heavy with fans on draft day when both of them started slipping). He's still acting a little like he's got his hand down sometimes but Week 1 will kick some rust out of the joints. Hopefully Packers fans see Perry lining up against another DE-turned-OLB Trojans star Clay Matthews for a long time. Get the contract done Ted.
Moses is a former Hawkeye that sat out the 2009 season so he could transfer to play ball at Tulane in New Orleans. At Tulane he sacked QBs 15.5 times, including 9.5 his senior year, but that wasn't enough to get drafted.
It got him a nod for camp though and Moses outworked most of the defensive players, rookie or not. He's probably my favorite UDFA for this year, it's too bad for him that the Packers have their OLB situation figured out for the next decade or so. It wouldn't surprise me to see Moses become a special teams monster or a rotational OLB/ILB during his time in Green Bay.
Another unimpressive draft pick, but this one had a huge confession after he made the 53-man roster.
Apparently Manning was playing very sick for almost the entire camp and was checked out for cancer and parasites (the ladder was found to be positive), but he never went public with it and still made the 53-man roster.
The former Wolfpack player will hopefully get better looks in the regular season, the Packers might need him with Desmond Bishop out for the year leaving a hole at the inside linebacker position.
The second second-round pick by Green Bay this year has had flashes of what his Vanderbilt stats reflect, but hasn't really looked like a second-rounder yet. Most likely he's the dime-corner with House hurt to start the season, but will move up a crowded corner depth chart in time.
Until then he will be used on heavy passing downs and special teams. Time for fans to think back on what could have been with (my man crush) Trumaine Johnson? Not yet. Not quite.
After Moses, Richardson has been my favorite new Packer to watch this preseason. The undrafted safety shared the defensive backfield with Casey Hayward at Vanderbilt.
Richardson will most likely earn his money this year with special teams play, but don't be surprised if he's a starter by year's end in a safety corps that had to be saved by Charles Woodson earlier in the offseason.
McMillian was the Packers nomination of the "I'm a draftnik and I've never heard of this dude" award this year. When people were screaming names of other safeties that they had seen in dozens of mock drafts, Ted Thompson took a guy no one had heard of from Maine, trolling all of Packerland.
McMillan hasn't shown that much in camp (besides his dreads, which you can't miss. Seriously why does half of this defense have dreads?), but his price tag has kept him on the roster, albeit not ahead of UDFA Sean Richardson in the depth chart.