We are in prime draft season. The combine is over, and the draft is in sight. But rather than debate over future Packers, I will discuss a current Packer who will shock us all.
It is always fun to predict next year’s breakout player. So shall we?
It is not Jermichael Finley, he has already had his breakout.
It is not a draft pick, not even Mel Kiper knows who Green Bay will pick.
Justin Harrell will be next season’s breakout player
This may be a shocker to most fans who have given up on this young talent. He has already been labeled a bust by many, and a poor pick by nearly all. But don't expect him to continue to disappoint.
Coming out of college Harrell was a physical specimen. His physical attributes as a whole rival those of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. His one downside, keeping him out of the top five to ten picks, was injuries. He missed a good amount of his career do to various injuries, and unfortunately he has had similar problems in Green Bay.
Luckily he is as healthy as he has been since being drafted, and is ready to make an impact.
In his short time on the field for the Packers he played very well. He showed a lot, so he simply must remain healthy. He has had chronic back problems, which unlike knee issues, can essentially be fully recovered from. If he is fully recovered he could be a dominate force for Green Bay.
McCarthy recently said, “He’s been in the weight room. He’s not 100 percent back, but the strength coaches and trainers have given me nothing but positive reports about him. I think we’ve turned the corner from a medical standpoint with him. McCarthy continued to say, "This is the best he’s looked since he’s been in Green Bay, I’ll say that." This could be false hope, but I doubt McCarthy would get our hopes up and risk disappointing us even more.
Think Of the Possibilities
If Harrell could play at a high level, Green Bay’s stout run D would be even better. The lineup of Cullen Jenkins, B.J Raji and Ryan Pickett alternating, and Harrell and Johnny Jolly alternating would be incredible.
Where Harrell will really stand out is the passing game. He will be a far more explosive rusher than Jolly. Harrell has the size to do his job of occupying the Lineman, but also has the ability to make plays himself. Assuming he has not lost his physical ability from college, he will be able to rush the passer much more effectively than the slower Jolly.
With or without Harrell, Green Bay's line will take a huge step forward next season. B.J.Raji will only get better and hopefully will begin to demand double teams.
Last season Cullen Jenkins was doubled most often, but it is ideal for the nose to attract the double teams. Cullen Jenkins will be freer to make plays in space, assuming he is doubled less often, and if Harrell becomes a forceful player he too might require double teams. Fortunately for Green Bay an offense can only focus on one player leaving to other studs free to make plays.
It is too soon to expect Harrell to be a game changing Pro Bowler, but we can expect him to be a major contributor. He has not played in a game for some time so it may take some time to adjust. Whether it is week one or the playoffs Justin Harrell has the potential to be a serious contributor and difference maker.
Keep in mind this is a prediction. Like all predictions, it is not fact. Harrell may, or may not, breakout next season. All Packer fans can just hope he will. So, please keep this in mind if you comment; I know this article is far-fetched, and maybe even flat-out wrong, so take it as it is.