Green Bay Packers: Early Rookie Progress Reports
Following a slow period after the NFL draft, the offseason for the Green Bay Packers ramped back up with organized team activities. While there are plenty of things to be excited about for the start of OTAs, the most exciting is the first look at the 2014 draft class.
Like most years, this incoming group of rookies brings quite a bit of promise. From first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a bevy of receivers, the Packers potentially knocked this year's draft out of the park.
Today we're going to bring you an early progress report from the rookies. We'll focus mainly on the nine drafted players but will spend a little time on some notable undrafted free agents too.
Key Undrafted Free Agents
Adrian Hubbard, OLB
Many felt that Hubbard probably should have been drafted, even if it was in the later rounds. His length and athleticism give him an extremely high ceiling as a pass-rushing specialist.
They definitely got a steal in that guy. He plays fast and he’s a very smart guy. He knows the defense probably already here coming out of the system we came out of. He’s ahead of a lot of people, so I think they got a steal. He’s going to work hard and do whatever it takes.
That's good news for the Packers, who could really use a boost in production at outside linebacker this year. Look for Hubbard to continue to impress right up until the regular season starts.
Colt Lyerla, TE
No rookie on the Packers, and perhaps in the NFL, is as intriguing as Lyerla. While his background plays a part in the intrigue, it's really his potential that sets him apart.
Had Lyerla stayed in school and out of trouble, he would have likely been an early-round pick in this year's draft. That didn't happen, but he's ready to move on from that, as are the Packers.
In fact, Lyerla was one of the crowd favorites, earning huge cheers when he stepped onto the field, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lyerla has a legitimate shot to make some real noise at tight end as long as he can stay healthy.
Jeff Janis, WR
It's not often that seventh-round picks make an impact as rookies, but wide receiver Jeff Janis could be different. He was originally considered more of a project player heading into the draft, but his incredible athleticism could help him peak sooner than later.
Even general manager Ted Thompson was overly impressed with Janis' athleticism. Thompson and the Packers graded Janis as the second-ranked athlete out of all the draft prospects, according to Michael Niziolek of MLive.com.
His level of competition during college wasn't the best since he played at Saginaw Valley State. However, he has all the tools to be an extremely productive receiver early in his career.
If Janis can continue to develop, the Packers could potentially get the steal of the draft.
Demetri Goodson, CB
The main word that's going to be used to describe cornerback Demetri Goodson throughout the offseason is raw. This is because Goodson simply hasn't been playing competitive football as long as the rest of his rookie teammates.
Goodson is a former point guard who played at Gonzaga. While this gives him great instincts and solid hands, it also makes him a 25-year-old rookie. He also still needs to learn the little nuances that go along with his position.
OTAs aren't a great place to see just how developed Goodson really is. During training camp is where we'll really know whether or not the Packers made a major reach with their sixth-round pick.
Jared Abbrederis, WR
After playing his college football at the University of Wisconsin, Jared Abbrederis likely felt right at home in Green Bay during OTAs. In fact, Abbrederis received some of the loudest cheers from the crowd, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
With the Packers having so much depth at wide receiver already, Abbrederis ultimately needs to stand out elsewhere to ensure he makes the final 53-man roster. That's why it was good to see him making impacts in other areas of the game during OTAs.
Abbrederis was returning kicks, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This was something he did while at Wisconsin, and it also happens to be a position of need for the Packers.
Don't be surprised if Abbrederis gets his start as a return specialist before working his way up the depth chart at the receiver position.
Corey Linsley, C
For the fourth straight year, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be taking snaps from a different starting center. It's almost ridiculous for a premier team like Green Bay to run through centers this quickly.
After losing Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency, the Packers definitely needed depth at the position behind assumed starter JC Tretter. That's where fifth-round pick Corey Linsley comes in; he's the first true center the Packers have drafted under Thompson.
Linsley is an experienced starter from Ohio State who will give Tretter all he can handle during training camp. While starting center is Tretter's job to lose, it really wouldn't be too surprising to see Linsley take it from him in training camp simply because of his overall skill set.
Even if Linsley doesn't win the starting job, the Packers will be thrilled to have extra depth at such a valuable position.
Carl Bradford, LB
One of the most intriguing rookies in this year's draft class is linebacker Carl Bradford. The big question surrounding Bradford is whether or not he'll be viewed as an outside or inside linebacker by the Packers.
Well, the first few days of OTAs gave a little insight to that question. Bradford was playing outside linebacker, and Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel broke down why:
At one point last fall, he [Arizona State coach Todd Graham] started drawing up different defenses that included dropping Bradford into coverage and doing different things. And then he basically crinkled it all up. In the end, Graham realized Bradford was best rushing off the edge. He needed to maximize the relentlessness, the burst. That's what separates Bradford. At Thursday's OTA, it appeared Bradford was working at OLB. Would think the Packers would want him to do what he does best -- rushing the QB.
While it's still possible that Bradford could make the switch to inside linebacker, the Packers seem content with keeping him on the outside rushing the quarterback. This makes sense, especially with the fact that Green Bay needs more production from that position this year.
If Bradford can show that he has what it takes to consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he'll definitely get a chance to play as a rookie.
Richard Rodgers, TE
Much like Bradford, tight end Richard Rodgers brings a ton of intrigue to the Packers roster. He played all over the field while in college, including mostly as an inside wide receiver last year for Cal.
Rodgers' athleticism is reminiscent of Jermichael Finley, as is his rawness entering the league. While Rodgers definitely showed flashes of who he can be as a finished product, he needs to become more consistent before he can truly make an impact.
The good news is that Rodgers appears ready to do whatever he needs to in order to help the Packers. In an interview with Paul Imig at FoxSports.com, Rodgers had this to say:
I kind of just do whatever they ask me to do. That's my mentality. I'm just going to come in and do my job, whatever that is. If it's special teams, if it's blocking, punts, whatever I can do to help the team, that's what I'm going to do.
That's a great mentality for a young player to have. Even if Rodgers doesn't see much playing time at tight end, he should be able to get on the field for the Packers in one way or another as a rookie.
Khyri Thornton, DE
One player that would have been nice to see in OTAs was defensive lineman Khyri Thornton. Unfortunately, Thornton was a part of the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles.
The rookie premiere is a media event for the NFL with some of the top rookies around the league. While it's nice to see Thornton go to an event like this, it would have been even better to see him on the field with his teammates. That would have given us a better idea of how the Packers plan on using him.
Thornton's progress report is incomplete, but we should be expecting some big things from him as the season progresses.
Davante Adams, WR
Davante Adams' progress report is also incomplete for the same reason that Thornton's was. Adams was a part of the NFLPA Rookie Premiere this year, just like Thornton.
While some might think this will put him even farther behind Jarrett Boykin on the depth chart, that simply isn't the case. The Packers know what they have with Adams, and he'll have a legitimate shot at winning the No. 3 receiver job in training camp.
It would have been nice for him to get a little extra time with Rodgers, but his absence shouldn't be too worrisome at all.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
There's no doubt that Clinton-Dix is going to be the crown jewel of this year's draft class. He was the top prospect at his position, and he filled a major need on the Packers defense.
However, Green Bay isn't ready to hand him the starting job just yet. Clinton-Dix worked with the second-team defense during OTAs, according to Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel.
Does this mean that the Packers made a huge mistake in drafting Clinton-Dix in the first round and that he's not ready to start from day one? Not at all; it simply means that they want him to work and earn his starting job instead of it being an assumed reality.
This should ultimately be good for the former Alabama safety in the long run. Look for Clinton-Dix to be starting at free safety once Week 1 of the regular season rolls around.