Analyzing the Future of the NFC North: Green Bay Packers
Part 1 of 4
The NFC North is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL today, but for how long will the competition in the northlands remain so tight? I will be looking at the teams in the NFC North and attempting to analyze power rankings, not for this year, but for the next 3 to 5 years.
Let’s begin with the Green Bay Packers. Many sports analysts are saying the Packers will be a top 10 team this year. The Packers are also one of the youngest teams in the league with only 5 players over the age of 30; Al Harris and Donald Driver are 35, Chad Clifton and Charles Woodson are 33, and Mark Tauscher is 32. Other serious potential losses in the next year or two include Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly, whose contracts are up after the coming year. Although those seem to be some pretty heavy losses in the coming years the Packers depth at offensive line and cornerback mitigate some of the potential damages. The Packers offensive line has great depth, especially after the 2010 draft. Players like Josh Sitton, Brian Bulaga, Allen Barbre, and Marshall Newhouse are younger guys who will be ready to step up in a couple years. Aside from Harris and Woodson the oldest corner on the Packers is Tramon Williams on a roster that also includes guys like Brandon Underwood, Will Blackmon, Jarret Bush and Pat Lee. Unless some of these guys improve their game play and prove themselves to be suitable replacements for Harris and Woodson the Packers may have to look to either free agency or the draft to fill holes in their secondary. Another need the Packers may have in the coming years is a solid number 2 receiver to fill in for Driver at some point in time. Jordy Nelson would be the obvious choice, but his numbers in the last couple seasons have left something to be desired (22 receptions, 2 td, 3 fumbles in 09).
Aside from those potential losses the Packers have a very solid young team. There are only 22 players over the age of 26 on the roster. They have arguably the best young QB in the league in Aaron Rodgers and a solid 27 year old Ryan Grant running the ball. Greg Jennings is an excellent receiver, and as long as Rodgers is throwing him the ball he will continue to improve. Defensively the Packers have a young and electrifying squad. Dom Capers will make good use of young talent such as Clay Matthews III, AJ Hawk, BJ Raji, Nick Barnett and Nick Collins. There is a ton of young talent with the potential to become solid starters in the NFL over the next couple years. Only time will tell if these young guys grow and mature in this system, but the Packers history of grooming NFL starters indicates they will.
Overall the Packers are a young, solid team with a few potential holes in the near future. This team will be a serious contender over the next few years, not only in the NFC North, but also throughout the entire NFC.