5 Green Bay Packers Veterans on Verge of Losing Jobs Heading into 2014 Season
The Green Bay Packers have had great success at finding rookies who can come in from day one and make a positive impact. Last year, it was running back Eddie Lacy who was dominant right from the start. The year before that, it was cornerback Casey Hayward, and the year before that, it was wide receiver Randall Cobb.
The only potential downside from getting production from rookies is that a veteran has to lose his job in order for that to happen. That veteran player is now fighting for not only a spot on the final 53-man roster, but sometimes he's even fighting for his career.
With the Packers having an extremely successful draft and signing a handful of key undrafted free agents, there are some veterans who need to be looking behind their backs this offseason. Let's take a look at five of these veterans who are on the verge of losing their jobs heading into the 2014 season.
DuJuan Harris, Running Back
DuJuan Harris is the forgotten running back in Green Bay. In fact, many thought he'd see significant playing time last year before a knee injury knocked him out for the season.
Now Harris finds himself behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks on the depth chart. It's possible he's also behind Johnathan Franklin, depending on who you ask.
The problem for Harris is that he isn't even guaranteed to be the No. 4 running back on the depth chart. While the Packers didn't draft any running backs, they did add two talented undrafted free agents. Both Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins have a legitimate shot at overtaking Harris on the depth chart.
What makes Neal and Perkins so intriguing as prospects is their ability to make an impact in every aspect of the game. They can run, block and catch passes out of the backfield, and do it all with consistency.
Had Harris stayed healthy last year, there is no way we are even having this conversation right now. Unfortunately, he's struggled with injuries and could now see his job lost to an undrafted free agent.
Jarrett Boykin, Wide Receiver
It was only a couple months ago that wide receiver Jarrett Boykin was the reason the Packers didn't make a serious run at re-signing James Jones. Boykin was coming off a breakout year and was expected to have no trouble replacing Jones' production.
Then the 2014 NFL draft happened, and the Packers went out and drafted three wide receivers with nine of their picks.
The biggest threat of those picks to take Boykin's job is second-round receiver Davante Adams. He's an extremely talented receiver with great hands and a huge amount of upside.
However, Boykin could also see his name passed over on the depth chart by fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis. While Abbrederis doesn't have the high ceiling like Adams, he is an extremely polished route-runner who can make plays after the catch.
Despite a strong showing last year, it's possible that we could see Boykin drop from the No. 3 receiver to the No. 5 receiver before the regular season starts.
Andrew Quarless, Tight End
One of the most exciting positions to watch in Green Bay this offseason is tight end. This wasn't the case a month ago, but a lot has changed the past 30 days. And that's not the best of news for Andrew Quarless.
For starters, the Packers used a third-round pick on an athletic tight end by the name of Richard Rodgers. The former California tight end looks very similar to Jermichael Finley coming out of college. While he's still extremely raw, he could overtake Quarless if he develops quickly.
However, the real excitement is going to come from Colt Lyerla, an undrafted free agent. He wasn't selected in this year's draft due to off-field issues, but there is no denying the immense amount of talent and potential he has as a prospect.
If Lyerla can get back into playing form after missing all of last year, he also has a legitimate shot at becoming the starting tight end in Green Bay.
While Quarless still has a rather firm grip on his starting job as of right now, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him replaced with either Lyerla or Rodgers by the time the regular season rolls around.
Brad Jones, Inside Linebacker
One of the main defensive players that every Packers fan wanted to replace in the NFL draft was inside linebacker Brad Jones. This really shouldn't be surprising, as Jones struggled mightily last year, especially against the run.
While the Packers didn't draft any true inside linebackers, they do have some intriguing options at the position. For starters, there's fourth-round pick Carl Bradford, who could certainly make the switch from outside to inside linebacker. He'd be a slight upgrade over Jones thanks to his nonstop motor and his ability to make plays all over the field.
Then there are two undrafted free agents who could potentially move Jones down the depth chart. Both Jake Doughty and Joe Thomas are tackling machines who can put pressure on quarterbacks. They both possess a high ceiling, too.
Other veterans might be mourned if they lose their jobs to rookies. However, that wouldn't happen with Jones, as he's quickly become one of the weaker links in the Packers defense.
Morgan Burnett, Safety
The last veteran on our list who could lose his job also happens to be the most shocking veteran in this slideshow.
Morgan Burnett is not a bad player. In fact, it was only two years ago that he was expected to become a legitimate star in the NFL. Unfortunately, Burnett is coming off a disastrous season that saw him finish as the No. 63 safety in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
His biggest threat, however, isn't necessarily from a rookie. While we could see Tanner Miller or Charles Clay push Burnett out of his starting job, it'd be a major, major surprise for that to happen.
No, Burnett's biggest threat comes from Micah Hyde, who'll likely be making a position switch from cornerback to safety. Hyde proved last year he has the physicality and playmaking skills to be an impact player in this league. Teaming him up with rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would give the Packers a potentially dominant deep secondary to build around.
It may be a stretch to say Burnett is on the "verge" of losing his job, but there's no doubt he'll be facing quite a bit of pressure heading up to the regular season.