Green Bay Packers: Players Most Likely To Win Individual Awards in 2011
After their victory in Super Bowl XLV, the Green Bay Packers are poised to make a serious run for a repeat and bring the Lombardi Trophy back home again. There is no doubt that they will be the favorites in the NFC once the season gets underway and they begin to defend their title.
On an individual level, many Packers players also have a legitimate shot at reeling in the multiple pieces of hardware the NFL gifts to its most talented and respectable players at the end of the season.
In this slideshow, I'll examine the most likely candidates on Packers to win each award in 2011 and the chances that they actually will.
Offensive Player of the Year
Aaron Rodgers' 2010 regular season wasn't extremely eye opening, but if his 2011 campaign is anything like last year's playoffs, Packers fans are in for a treat.
Barring concussions, Rodgers should easily surpass 4,000 yards and 30 TDs unless his production suddenly spirals downward.
Green Bay is full of offensive playmakers, but Rodgers is the match the makes the offense explode. He is the ultimate offensive weapon with his ability to torch defensives with his arm and further frustrate opponent's with his legs.
Probability: 25 percent
Defensive Player of the Year
I'm sure Matthews will like his Super Bowl ring much better, and he was more than willing to give individual glory the backseat in favor of team success.
However, that doesn't mean the relentless long-haired linebacker won't be contending for the honor again once the season starts at Lambeau.
Unless the 2009 DPOY winner, cornerback Charles Woodson, has another dominant defensive campaign in 2011, Matthews should again be the closest Packer to the prize this coming season.
In fact, if he repeats or betters last year's stat line of 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception, it will hard for anyone to compete with Clay for this award.
Probability: 35 percent
Offensive Rookie of the Year
There are overwhelming odds that the Offensive Rookie of the Year will be a running back, but if the Packers' third-round pick, Alex Green, sees the field in 2011, it will be in the limited role of a third down back.
An offensive lineman has never won the award so that also knocks off the Pack's first-round selection of Derrek Sherrod.
Instead, we must turn to the versatile wide receiver, Randall Cobb, who was selected in the second round by Green Bay and looks to make an immediate impact as a returner and slot receiver.
Cobb has often been compared to the Vikings' Percy Harvin who won the award in 2009, and he is the Packer with the best chance to win in it 2011.
Probability: five percent
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Linebackers have become the Defensive Rookie of the Year more than any other position.
Whenever training camp begins, Ricky Elmore will be competing to line up opposite Clay Matthews and start at outside linebacker.
If he does win the starting job, Elmore will have a very small chance to win the DROY award if he can keep up his collegiate production.
Although the odds against the Arizona alumnus are great, he's one of the best defenders in the Pack's 2011 draft class and has the best shot to have a stellar rookie campaign.
Probability: two percent
Comeback Player of the Year
Packers fans were devastated when Jermichael Finley was sent to the IR with a knee injury early last season, especially since he was off to such a great start in what was expected to be a breakout season for the athletic young tight end.
The good news is that Finley says the knee feels brand new, and he's excited to take to the field again.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to a player who didn't play the previous season and shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, such as a season-ending injury in Finley's case.
Tom Brady won the award in 2009 after suffering a similar injury the year before and if Finley can have an impressive comeback campaign as well, he'll be a prime candidate to be the first tight end to win the award. That is, if Tony Romo doesn't perform up to par in his return.
Ryan Grant is another Packer possibility, but his job security is threatened by the emergence of James Starks.
Probability: 30 percent
Coach of the Year
Not that there are many other options on the Packers to win this award, but I still felt it was still worth noting.
The NFL Coach of the Year Award is given to the coach who has done the best job working with the talent at his disposal. That statement seems like a direct definition of Mike McCarthy last season.
If it wasn't given based solely on the regular season, McCarthy would have been the unanimous selection to be gifted with the award.
If he feels slighted, one look at the Lombardi will quench all of his negative thoughts. McCarthy is already on to next season, and if he can lead the Pack to an impressive regular season including a division title, he'll no doubt be considered for top coach honors.
Probability: 30 percent
Walter Payton Man of the Year
The winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is not only an outstanding player on the field, but a charitable volunteer off the field as well. Each team chooses a nominee, and eventually, the nominees are narrowed down to a single humanitarian.
Nick Collins was the Pack's nominee last season and has the best chance to be nominated again.
Collins has volunteered often since college. Recently, he was involved in a charity basketball tournament, and his Jump Start Foundation is also actively involved in assisting the less fortunate.
Probability: 10 percent
"Whizzer" White Man of the Year
This award is similar to the Walter Payton Man of the Year award as it is given based on service to the community, team and country.
Donald Driver has his own foundation which assists children in need and the homeless. In addition to donating to local charities, Donald himself has made hundreds of charitable appearances.
Earlier in his career, he was awarded a Community Service Award by the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, and there's a chance he could also add this honor to his selection.
Probability: seven percent
Most Valuable Player
The MVP award is usually given to a quarterback and occasionally a running back. Only twice has it been gifted to a defensive player.
So even if Aaron Rodgers wasn't the most valuable player to the Packers, which he certainly is, he still would be the favorite to place this award next to the Super Bowl MVP that is already on his trophy shelf.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have combined to win the NFL MVP in each of the last four seasons, and if Rodgers wants to pull himself up on their pedestal, he must take his turn to go out and grab it as well.
After his phenomenal postseason, Rodgers has now established himself as an elite quarterback and a true team leader—two attributes that are very valuable to a team with lofty goals.
Many people have already made him their early prediction to win the most prestigious award in professional football, and now, all he has do to is prove he deserves it.
Probability: 40 percent