Green Bay Packers

Grading Every Green Bay Packers Starter's 2013 Regular Season

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIDecember 30, 2013

Grading Every Green Bay Packers Starter's 2013 Regular Season

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    Aaron Rodgers was clearly the best player for the Green Bay Packers this year.
    Aaron Rodgers was clearly the best player for the Green Bay Packers this year.Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Green Bay Packers' 2013 regular season has come to an end. It was a dramatic end thanks to a playoff-clinching 33-28 win over the Chicago Bears.

    While the Packers will be heading to the playoffs to face off against the San Francisco 49ers, now is the perfect time to hand out grades for every starter on the Packers roster this season. The way we'll hand out grades is by how the player performed on the field and what he meant to the team.

    We'll be looking at each unit individually and grading every player who started at least once this season. Here are the grades for the Packers starters following the 2013 regular season.

     

    *All season statistics courtesy of NFL.com.

Quarterbacks

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    Aaron Rodgers

    There is little doubt that if Rodgers hadn't gotten injured, the Green Bay Packers would have locked up the NFC North weeks ago. However, he came back in Week 17 to lead a dramatic win over the Chicago Bears.

    Rodgers finished the season with 2,536 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Overall, it was an impressive season for Rodgers, even with him missing seven whole weeks of football.

    Season Grade: A

     

    Matt Flynn

    Flynn certainly had an up-and-down season as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. His high point was a comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15.

    Unfortunately, his low point was a trashing at the hands of the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, and that game was far worse than the Cowboys game. Flynn ultimately did his job on the season, but there was definitely room for him to play better.

    Season Grade: B-

     

    Scott Tolzien

    Tolzien only started one game this year, and it was against the New York Giants back in Week 10. He was rather terrible on the year, with five interceptions and only one touchdown. That ultimately led to the Packers signing Flynn and starting him.

    There may be a future for Tolzien, but he didn't have an impressive regular season when he was on the field.

    Season Grade: D

     

    Seneca Wallace

    Wallace also started one game, but he was knocked out of that game early with a groin injury that ended his season. It's hard to grade Wallace on such a small amount of playing time, but he wasn't overly impressive anytime he was on the field.

    Season Grade: D-

Running Backs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Eddie Lacy

    No one could have expected Lacy to have the type of season he had for the Green Bay Packers this year. He finished the regular season with 1,178 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

    The most impressive part of Lacy's season is the fact that he was probably the MVP for the team. He ultimately held the offense together and put the Packers in position to win football games. 

    Had Lacy not been on the roster this year, it's likely that the Packers offense would have been much, much worse. This is why Lacy earns such a fantastic grade on the season.

    Season Grade: A+

     

    James Starks

    Few players on the Packers are as underrated as Starks. Despite seeing less playing time than he deserved, Starks managed to have a big impact in nearly every game he played.

    His vision has improved in a major way this season, and it's ultimately why he's been able to play so well. Look for Starks to get a bigger role as the Packers head to the playoffs and through the 2014 season.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    Johnathan Franklin

    Franklin was another rookie, but he saw limited action. In fact, the only game in which he had much of an impact was in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

    In that game, Franklin had 103 yards and a touchdown, but he also had a key fumble that resulted in a touchdown for Cincinnati. It'll be interesting to see how the Packers use Franklin in the future.

    Season Grade: C

Wide Receivers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jordy Nelson

    People always seem to forget how talented Nelson is. Despite playing without his starting quarterback for the better part of eight weeks, Nelson still managed to record 85 receptions, 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Nelson is a legitimate top-five receiver in the NFL. He does so many things well and is one of the best offensive players for the Green Bay Packers.

    Few offensive players were as consistent as Nelson this season for Green Bay, and his grade reflects that.

    Season Grade: A-

     

    Randall Cobb

    Had Cobb played more games, it's likely that he would have had a career year. Unfortunately, a broken leg suffered in Week 6 kept him out until the most recent game against the Chicago Bears.

    In that game, Cobb only recorded two receptions, but they both went for touchdowns and a total of 55 yards. Cobb is the most dangerous receiver on this roster, and his return means big things for the Packers heading into the playoffs.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    James Jones

    Jones finished the year second on the team with 59 receptions and 817 yards. His three touchdowns were also tied for the second most on the team.

    There is no doubt that Jones had a decent year, but it wasn't nearly as good as his 2012 campaign. Jones still brings quite a bit to the team, but it's possible that the Packers move on from him following the season.

    Season Grade: B

     

    Jarrett Boykin

    If we were giving out unit MVPs, Boykin would win it for the receivers. Sure, he doesn't have the statistics of Nelson, but the way he stepped in for Cobb was simply unbelievable.

    No one could have expected Boykin to have the type of impact he had. In fact, he played so well that there is little doubt that he'll continue to be a big part of the offense moving forward.

    Season Grade: B+

Tight Ends

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    Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

    Jermichael Finley

    Had Finley not gotten injured, there is no doubt that he would have had his best season since becoming a member of the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately, a concussion knocked him out early in the season, and a serious neck injury ended his year.

    Finley finished the year with 25 receptions, 300 yards and three touchdowns.

    Season Grade: B

     

    Andrew Quarless

    Quarless actually stepped up in a big way for the Packers once Finley got injured. Sure, he had some struggles early on, but he finally hit his stride over the final few weeks of the season.

    In fact, Quarless' play ultimately made the future of Finley extremely unclear. Quarless' best performances came in back-to-back games where he recorded a total of 12 receptions, 132 yards and two touchdowns.

    Season Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    David Bakhtiari

    When Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season in training camp, no one really knew who would step in at left tackle. Few thought it'd be a fourth-round rookie.

    However, Bakhtiari hasn't just stepped in; he's played incredibly well for the Green Bay Packers. Sure, there have been some growing pains at times, but for a rookie offensive tackle, Bakhtiari had a solid season.

    Season Grade: B-

     

    Josh Sitton

    The switch from right guard to left guard hasn't affected the overall play of Sitton at all. He's been just as good as he's even been for the Packers this season.

    Sitton remains one of the premier guards in the league. While he rarely gets the national attention he deserves, it's truly been an incredible season for Sitton.

    Season Grade: A

     

    Evan Dietrich-Smith

    Dietrich-Smith was another unknown for the offensive line heading into the season. He could have been the weakest link, but he turned out to be a valuable player.

    Where Dietrich-Smith really thrived this season was in the ground game. He consistently opened up holes for the running backs and got to the second level to get blocks down the field. It's his run blocking that ultimately resulted in such a solid grade this year.

    Season Grade: B

     

    T.J. Lang

    Much like the rest of the offensive line, Lang had his struggles at times. However, there was definitely more good than bad with Lang this year.

    Lang did an excellent job with pass protection this season. Heading into Sunday's game, Lang had only given up three sacks and five quarterback hits on the season. Lang is another member of Green Bay's offensive line who simply doesn't get the credit he deserves at times.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    Don Barclay

    Barclay was another new starter on the offensive line, and like the rest of the unit, he played well for the majority of the season.

    The reason Barclay gets a lower grade than the rest of his teammates is because he gave up eight sacks on the season and had his difficulties with run blocking.

    Season Grade: C

     

    Marshall Newhouse

    Newhouse had to start a few games due to injuries across the offensive line. Let's just say that we can all pray that it never happens again.

    He was absolutely horrid anytime he stepped on the field, and it's unlikely the Packers will keep him on the roster moving forward.

    Season Grade: D-

Defensive Line

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

    B.J. Raji

    Raji used to be an elite talent for the Green Bay Packers. He used to be extremely stout against the run and able to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    This year, unfortunately, hasn't been the best of years for Raji. He's been consistently beat at the point of attack and has looked like one of the worst defensive linemen in the league. 

    With him becoming a free agent this offseason, it'll be interesting to see just what the Packers do with Raji after such a poor performance.

    Season Grade: D+

     

    Ryan Pickett

    Despite being the oldest member of the defensive line, Pickett sure didn't play like it this year. While he wasn't great at pass rushing, he was extremely solid against the run.

    Pickett played hard all year long and deserves a strong season grade because of it.

    Season Grade: B-

     

    Johnny Jolly

    Few stories were as incredible as Jolly's story this year. For starters, it was an absolute surprise that Jolly made the final 53-man roster after being out of football for nearly three years.

    However, it was even more impressive that Jolly locked down a starting position and that he played as well as he did. He was often the lone defensive lineman making an impact during games. It's unfortunate his season was cut short.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    Mike Daniels

    Daniels didn't actually start until late in the season when Jolly got injured, but he was easily one of the best defensive players for Green Bay this year.

    He always seemed to make an impact when he was on the field, and he truly looks like he's a star in the making. Look for Daniels to build off a strong 2013 campaign next year.

    Season Grade: A

Linebackers

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    A.J. Hawk

    It was truly an impressive season from Hawk. He finished the season with 118 total tackles, five sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

    However, it was more than just statistics for Hawk this year. He was the leader of the defense and made a positive impact in every game he played this season.

    This was a career year for Hawk, and he absolutely deserves a great grade.

    Season Grade: A

     

    Clay Matthews

    Had Matthews stayed healthy for the entire season, it's likely that he would have been one of the best outside linebackers in the league. Unfortunately, Matthews missed a ton of time with a broken thumb.

    While he was on the field, Matthews was extremely solid against the run and at rushing the quarterback. The only area where he struggled at times was in pass protection.

    Matthews gets docked a little for being injured so often this year, but he was still one of the premier defensive players in the league when he was healthy.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    Brad Jones

    The problem with Jones is that he never really makes the type of play that makes you say, "Wow." In fact, he has you scratching your head wondering where he is more often than not.

    Jones struggled the most against the run and in pass protection. He also struggled with injuries for a good chunk of the season. There is definitely room for improvement in Jones' game after this season.

    Season Grade: C

     

    Mike Neal

    Neal made the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker this year. While it wasn't always pretty, Neal played much better than anyone could have expected in his first year at the position.

    He finished the year with five sacks. He also has much room for improvement, but he gets some slack with his grade due to the fact that he's so new to his position.

    Season Grade: B-

     

    Nick Perry

    Many expected Perry to have a breakout campaign during his second season in the league. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

    In fact, Perry took a big step backward this year in his development. He often made numerous mental mistakes in a game and still hasn't figured out how to get after the quarterback on a consistent basis.

    It was truly a difficult season for the second-year player.

    Season Grade: D

     

    Jamari Lattimore

    Lattimore was forced into the lineup due to injuries to Jones at inside linebacker, and he played rather solid when he was on the field.

    Sure, he wasn't great, but this was the first real action he's seen since joining the team two years ago. Lattimore proved to be a valuable asset for the Packers and should be a part of the defensive plan moving forward.

    Season Grade: B

Cornerbacks

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Tramon Williams

    It wasn't the prettiest of years for Williams. He was supposed to be finally recovered from his shoulder injury of two years ago and back to "elite" status.

    However, Williams struggled in more games than he played well in. Too often would he get beat by wide receivers, and he only finished the season with three interceptions.

    Williams was far from the only problem in the secondary, but his play was far from where everyone expected it to be before the start of the season.

    Season Grade: C-

     

    Sam Shields

    Much like Williams, Shields had a rather up-and-down season for the Green Bay Packers. However, there was more good with Shields than there was with Williams.

    Shields also finished the year with three interceptions, but he also had some extremely impressive games against top receivers. For example, Shields did a fantastic job at slowing down A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.

    It was performances like that one that ultimately led to Shields getting a positive grade this year.

    Season Grade: B

     

    Micah Hyde

    Hyde isn't necessarily a "starter," but with Casey Hayward injured for most of the year, Hyde was forced to play a lot of nickel cornerback this year.

    His start to the season wasn't great, but Hyde really got in rhythm as the year went on. In fact, by Week 17, Hyde was looking like he'd be a key contributor to the Packers defense for a number of years.

    Season Grade: C+

Safeties

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Morgan Burnett

    No player for the Green Bay Packers was as disappointing as Burnett this year.

    He was supposed to be a playmaker and the anchor of the secondary. However, he turned out to be a major liability in both the passing and ground games. 

    What was worst about Burnett, and why he gets such a low grade this year, was his tackling. He missed so many open tackles this year that it was laughable at times.

    Season Grade: D+

     

    M.D. Jennings

    Much like Burnett, Jennings certainly had his struggles this year. In fact, he had way more struggles than he had good plays for the Packers defense.

    Jennings rarely made a positive impact in a game. He couldn't stop the run, and he couldn't slow down passing attacks. It's hard to see the Packers moving forward with Jennings as a future starting safety.

    Season Grade: D-

     

    Jerron McMillian

    McMillian was forced into the lineup early in the season when Burnett was injured. Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well.

    In fact, Green Bay was so displeased with the overall play of McMillian that they released him during the season. 

    Season Grade: F

Special Teams

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Mason Crosby

    After a rough 2012 season, it seemed like no Green Bay Packers fan wanted Crosby back as the kicker. However, he completely turned things around this year and was one of the most accurate kickers in the league.

    Crosby only missed four field goals all year and finished the season with an 89 percent field-goal completion rate.

    Season Grade: A-

     

    Tim Masthay

    It seems that Masthay remains the lone constant on special teams for the Packers. While he doesn't have the biggest leg, he's extremely accurate and does a good job at pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory.

    Masthay also proved to be a valuable member of coverage teams by making a handful of touchdown-saving tackles this year.

    Season Grade: B+

     

    Micah Hyde

    While it ultimately took Hyde some time to grow into his role as a return man, he was quite solid by the end of the season.

    He did return one punt for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, and he made a number of big returns against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16.

    Season Grade: C-

     

    Jeremy Ross

    Sure, Ross is now having a ton of success with the Detroit Lions, but he was absolutely putrid with the Packers.

    He made constant mistakes in the return game and was so bad that the Packers had to release him.

    Season Grade: F

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