6 Green Bay Packers Players Who Should See Their Roles Expand in 2014
There are a handful of players who should have expanded roles for the Green Bay Packers once the 2014 season rolls around. The good news is that many of these players are ready for those new roles.
The reasons that the following individuals could see their role increase can vary. It could be due to losses in free agency opening up spots or the fact that they played well in limited time last year. Whatever the reason, these players will need to be ready to step up in their new roles.
Here are six players who should see their role increase in 2014.
Johnathan Franklin, Running Back
Some, myself included, expected running back Johnathan Franklin to challenge for Eddie Lacy's starting job at the start of last season. Well, we all saw how that eventually played out.
However, just because Franklin didn't get much playing time as a rookie doesn't mean he doesn't have talent. His quickness, agility and ability as a receiver are all traits that make him a different running back from Lacy.
There's also the possibility that Franklin could see his role increase on special teams. He returned a handful of kicks last year, and since Green Bay still needs a return man, it could give Franklin a try in that position.
While Franklin may not see his role increase in a major way, it should definitely be more than his near nonexistent role as a rookie.
Jarrett Boykin, Wide Receiver
Jarrett Boykin saw his role increase in a major way last year when fellow wide receiver Randall Cobb was injured. He should see an even bigger increase in 2014.
With receiver James Jones now a member of the Oakland Raiders, Boykin should become the No. 3 option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He should see plenty of targets come his way with teams having to focus their attention on Cobb and Jordy Nelson.
The only way that Boykin could see a decrease in his role is if the Packers decide to draft a wide receiver early. With so many other needs, however, that seems unlikely, and Boykin's increased role seems rather safe.
Brandon Bostick, Tight End
The one offensive position for the Packers that is really lacking talent right now is tight end. There's a lot of depth at the position, but not a lot of talent.
That's why a player like Brandon Bostick has the potential to see his role increase. While he only recorded seven receptions, 120 yards and a touchdown last year, he definitely showed flashes of his high ceiling.
In fact, even head coach Mike McCarthy feels that Bostick can step up and be a bigger part of the offense, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. He'll certainly need to step up if the Packers head into the 2014 season with their current group of tight ends.
If Bostick does improve in a major way and become that No. 1 tight end, the Packers offense will be nearly unstoppable.
Datone Jones, Defensive End
There were quite a few individuals out there who thought defensive end Datone Jones was going to be the savior of the defense in his rookie season. Unfortunately, that wasn't even close to happening.
Jones struggled to get on the field throughout his rookie year and finished the season with a grade of negative-7.6, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). However, Jones did make some major strides as the season progressed, and that ultimately points to his stock rising in 2014.
Jones' athleticism and size make him a very difficult player to defend for offensive lines. As long as he can play with more consistency, he should be ready to have a breakout campaign during his sophomore season.
Mike Daniels, Defensive End
Few players enjoyed a more quiet breakout season than Mike Daniels did last year. Despite being the sixth-best 3-4 defensive end according to Pro Football Focus, no one ever seems to talk about just how good Daniels is.
Part of that was due to the fact that Daniels only played in 517 snaps last year while guys like J.J. Watt and Sheldon Richardson played in over 900 snaps. However, with the Packers moving B.J. Raji back to nose tackle, Daniels should see a major increase in his overall playing time.
With his ability to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback, Daniels is a legitimate three-down lineman. Look for Daniels to enjoy a fantastic year and some national recognition in 2014.
Micah Hyde, Cornerback/Safety
When the head coach says you deserve the chance to be an every-down player, it's likely that you're going to see an increase in playing time. That's what Mike McCarthy said about Micah Hyde, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
What's interesting about that statement is that there aren't many places on the defense where Hyde could play every down. With Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward at cornerback, it'd be hard to get Hyde on the field every down at that position.
So that basically leaves Hyde playing alongside Morgan Burnett, or a rookie the Packers draft, as a safety. That'd be an interesting position switch for Hyde, but he showed last year in limited time that it might be the role best suited for him.
While it's unknown exactly where Hyde will be lining up as an every-down player, the fact that he'll be on the field more means his role will increase in a major way in the upcoming season.