Green Bay Packers: Predicting the Season-Opening Starters on Offense
Who knows when the season will start. The NFL and the NFLPA* have been said to be getting closer and closer to a deal now, for months. But yet again, we still hear of no sure deal in the books. When will it happen? Only time will tell.
One thing for sure though, is that the Green Bay Packers game day roster will be ready to play football when the time comes, regardless of when the lock-out ends. Who will be the starters on the offensive squad?
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
Super Bowl XLV's most valuable player, Aaron Rodgers, will be holding down the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future for the Packers. He's easily a top five QB in the league, and has just entered his prime. He was nearly flawless in the 2010-2011 NFL playoffs, throwing for 9 touchdowns and rushing for 2 more, while only giving up three turnovers in 4 games.
Simply put, he will be the starter, for a long time in the green and gold.
Running Back: Ryan Grant
Before the injury took him out, he was easily a top ten, and quite possibly a top five running back. While everyone else thinks the competition is close between him and James Starks, I think differently. He had 2,400 yards and 15 touchdowns over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, being the type of power running back we needed to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands.
While he is turning 29 during the 2011 season, and he will be a free agent after the season, I see him being the starter this year. He may not get 250 touches since he will have to split time with Starks, I could see him impressing teams enough to give him a hefty contract after his time as a Packer ends.
He's a high character guy, and I'll hate seeing him leave Green Bay. You never know, though, what will happen.
Wide Receivers: Greg Jennings & Jordy Nelson
Greg Jennings is a stud; he's 27 and will have at least seven extremely productive seasons ahead of him. Since he's came to Green Bay, he's been impressing everyone, whilst being very underrated. The last four seasons combined, he's had 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns. He seems like one of the most likable guys on the squad, and while he wants people to realize his talents, he's humble about it.
The second wide receiver spot isn't a lock. Donald Driver is only getting older, but every season he wants to prove more and more that his age does not matter. Will he be a starter against the Saints (or whomever they face once the lockout ends)? I don't think it'll happen.
I've always been more fond of James Jones than Jordy Nelson; I feel that he could be one of the best wide receivers if he keeps back on his drops. But his contract is up and a team will be paying him starter money. He will be productive for whichever team picks him up. But hakuna matata for the Packers, because Jordy Nelson also has huge potential to develop into one of the best in the league, maybe one day creating one of the best duos at wide receiver with Jennings.
Tight End: Jermichael Finley
Twenty four years old.
Too big and physical for a corner. Too quick and athletic for a linebacker.
Not to mention, he can block pretty darn well.
This man has an incredible drive to match huge potential. And as I said, 24 years old. He's not even in his prime and everyone's already scratching in 1,000+ yards on his stat sheet for the 2011 season.
Will he live up to the hype? In my opinion, he will.
But this isn't about how good the starters are, it's why they are starters. The other four tight ends on the roster; two of them 2nd year players and the other two being rookies have no chance of dethroning Finley as the starter. I do believe, though, that just about all of them could develop into being really good tight ends, for the Packers or maybe even another team.
Offensive Line: Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga
At left tackle, Chad Clifton will be the starter. The Packers have given him starter money, and after the outstanding season last year, he will be looking to protect Aaron Rodgers' blind side, possibly for the last season as a Green Bay Packer. Derek Sherrod will not be the starter unless Clifton gets injured.
Daryn Colledge, an average left guard for the Packers over the last 5 years is leaving via free agency after the lockout ends. That was all but confirmed when Ted Thomspon & co. drafted Caleb Schlauderaff. The Packers already have about a handful of guards on the roster that could play at the level or even higher than Colledge. T.J. Lang, who stepped in for Clifton multiple times when he was injured the last two years, will be getting the starting spot. He's seen a lot of playing time and seems to have a little favoritism by the coaches over the other players.
Our center of the last six years, Scott Wells, has been one of the least talked about men on the roster, along with Ryan Pickett. Maybe that's a good thing, though, since centers are usually remembered only when they play the position badly. He's been an above average starter, and has at least a few more years ahead of him at the same level; possibly getting better with even more experience under his belt.
Josh Sitton has gotten the recognition he deserves recently, but he still missed the Pro Bowl this year. He will be the starting right guard for the Packers at the beginning of the season. It worries me, though, how much men like himself and Finley have contracts up... How much will they demand? Whatever the numbers may be, they both will be well worth it. Josh Sitton is only 25 and is a monster... Just entering his prime, how good can this man get? Time will only tell.
Bryan Bulaga was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft; most people said he didn't have long enough arms to play a left tackle in the NFL. Maybe so? We'll probably never know, though. After playing his first season at right tackle, starting 12 games, the Packers saw enough out of him playing that position. They drafted an offensive tackle in the 2011 draft, making it back to back seasons they drafted one in the first round.
Our whole offensive line looks to be stacked for the next decade, with Sherrod, Sitton, and Bulaga all to be definite starters. Not to mention, we have a plethora of other young linemen that look to only get better and become starters.