Green Bay Packers: Report Card For Every Projected Starter On the Roster

Michael KimbleContributor IIISeptember 2, 2011

Green Bay Packers: Report Card For Every Projected Starter On the Roster

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    Going into their fourth and final preseason game, the Packers have had their players who have shined and their players who have struggled.

    The starting roster is beginning to take shape, with many starters from last year continuing their role, but also with a few former backups who are expected to go in and fill some big shoes.

    Here are the grades so far for all of the players who are projected to start for the Green Bay Packers on opening night against the New Orleans Saints.

Aaron Rodgers: A

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    Besides the offense sputtering a bit at the beginning of games, the Packers offense has looked good under Aaron Rodgers as usual.

    He has made a number of big time throws to spark the momentum and keep the offense in a rhythm.

    Probably what is most impressive though is the way he has managed the no-huddle offense.

    The Packers have scored the most under the no-huddle, with Rodgers making accurate throws down the field and driving the Packers offense to points.

    Rodgers certainly seems ready to start next week against the New Orleans Saints, but of course, this is no surprise.

Ryan Grant: C+

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    It is somewhat unclear who is going to start at running back, but it will likely be Grant.

    He has started for the Packers for the last four seasons, despite getting sidelined with a knee injury last year.

    Ryan Grant is said to be healthy and ready to go for next year, but hasn't really been too impressive this preseason. Part of this may be due to the fact that he hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities, as the Packers are also seeing what they have in James Starks, Alex Green, and Dmitri Nance.

    Grant will likely be ready for the opener next week, but if he isn't, there are several other talented running backs behind him that may be able to take the reins.

Greg Jennings: A

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    Greg Jennings has made all the catches this preseason, including a couple of fantastic touchdown connections to Aaron Rodgers. The chemistry between Rodgers and Jennings is quite apparent, and hasn't missed a step since last season.

    Jennings will be ready for the season, and it's a good thing that he will be; he is a vital cog in the Packers' potent passing game.

Donald Driver: A-

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    Donald Driver may get less receptions because of all the young talent on that receiving corps.

    So far in the preseason, Driver has proven that he is still a productive receiver, and he can still contribute as a starter to the Packers' passing offense.

    Driver hasn't gotten as many looks as Jennings this preseason, but he's still made some big-time catches that will certainly help him stay on the starting roster for 2011.

Jermichael Finley: B+

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    Jermichael Finley is one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets, and so far in the preseason, he has performed solidly coming out off a season-ending injury last year.

    This includes a spectacular touchdown grab he made against Indianapolis last year. But like Grant, he seems to have been gradually eased back into this offense, as he hasn't had as much playing time as some of the other starters have.

    Despite this, Finley has had a good camp, and will be ready for the Saints next week.

Chad Clifton: C

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    Chad Clifton and the entire Packers offensive line has looked rough so far this preseason.

    In Indianapolis last Friday, Clifton in particular looked bad, constantly getting beaten by Dwight Freeney.

    Although Freeney is certainly a formidable foe, Clifton will need to step up on this offensive line if he wants to keep his quarterback upright and healthy for 16 games.

T.J. Lang: C+

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    T.J. Lang has been embroiled in a competition with Derek Sherrod all preseason long, and has prevailed.

    Although this isn't a huge accomplishment, Sherrod has struggled greatly in the left guard position.

    However, Lang has performed solidly so far in the preseason, but like the entire offensive line, he needs to improve if he wants to keep the most important member of their team healthy.

Scott Wells: C+

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    Scott Wells is going to be the starting center, despite the fact that the Packers have been looking at Nick McDonald quite a bit in the preseason.

    However, while McDonald has struggled, Wells has performed well, although it has still been a struggle for the entire offensive line.

Josh Sitton: B

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    Josh Sitton has been said to be one of the best guards in the NFL today, and while there has been some controversy on the offensive line, he has been the one constant.

    Sitton should be entrenched at the right guard position for a long time, and is certainly ready to play the Saints in a week.

Bryan Bulaga: C

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    Bulaga has all the potential that you would expect from a first round pick.

    However, he is still learning the position, and has had his stumbles in both his rookie year and in the preseason this year. Bulaga's biggest problem seems to be with penalties, but this is something that should improve with time.

    Bulaga will be a consistent, solid offensive tackle for some time. But he is still playing a little sloppy and needs some time to learn.

Mike Neal: Incomplete

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    Mike Neal is supposed to be the defensive end of the future after the departure of Cullen Jenkins, but Neal has been hampered with injuries for most of the preseason.

    It is a shame, as Neal appears to have great potential, but it is still unclear how he will perform at the position.

    The Packers may have to start someone else at the position at the beginning of the season. This will likely be Jarius Wynn or Howard Green.

Ryan Pickett: B+

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    Ryan Pickett may be aging, but he is a solid defensive end who has shown this preseason that he can still be a force on the defensive line.

    Although the Packers lost Jenkins in the offseason, they were able to keep Pickett, and regardless of whether or not Mike Neal will perform, we can be assured that Ryan Pickett will perform.

B.J. Raji: B

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    B.J. Raji hasn't seen a lot of time in the preseason, but has continued to do what he does best, and that's to take up space and stop the run.

    Raji will keep this defensive line solid for a very long time, despite the loss of Cullen Jenkins, and although he hasn't made a lot of noise in the preseason, he certainly will be ready for New Orleans.

Clay Matthews: Incomplete

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    Clay Matthews never makes a lot of appearances in the preseason, especially when his hamstring flares up like it has this year.

    But not to worry, Matthews will be ready for the regular season, and should be a force on that Packers linebacking corps.

A.J. Hawk: B

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    Like Raji, A.J. Hawk hasn't exactly been flashy in the preseason, but he has been solid, and hasn't indicated in any way that he isn't ready for the season.

    Hawk has always been an underrated but solid contributor to the Packers' defense, and was one of the few constants last year amidst all the injuries.

    He should be good to go for the regular season.

Desmond Bishop: B+

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    Bishop took the job from Nick Barnett last year after Barnett went down with an injury.

    The Packers haven't looked back.

    Bishop played very well at the position, and was one of the many backups who stepped up because of the injuries.

    Forgetting his identification and not being able to enter the White House when the Packers visited early August has been Bishop's only misstep thus far this preseason. On the field, Bishop has looked good, and his spot on the Packers' starting roster should not be questioned.

Erik Walden: A-

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    Erik Walden is one of the few projected starters that has prevailed from a position competition thus far in training camp, so far beating out Frank Zombo and Ricky Elmore.

    Walden made a name for himself in the final game of the regular season against Chicago, where he pressured Jay Cutler all game long, sacking him twice, and getting 11 tackles on the game.

    In the Packers post-season run, he continued to be a solid contributor despite not even being on the Packers roster for most of the 2010 season.

    Walden has continued to prove himself a starting outside linebacker, and so far, has won himself the job.

Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams: A

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    Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams are the unquestioned starters at the cornerback position, and nothing this preseason has changed that.

    Both have very different stories, with Woodson being a seasoned veteran, and the unquestioned leader of the defense, while Williams is a rising star, and a proven playmaker.

    Both Woodson and Williams have performed well in this preseason so far, and there should be no doubt that they are ready for the regular season.

Nick Collins: A

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    Nick Collins is the anchor to the Packers' backfield, and like Woodson and Williams, is the unquestioned starter at his position.

    Collins is one of the most underrated, but one of the best safeties in the league, and has had a solid preseason.

    Of course, like many of the veterans on the roster, he didn't have to do much, as he is a lock for his position.

Morgan Burnett: B+

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    Morgan Burnett has a lot of potential, and seemed to be a star in the making before his season-ending injury last year.

    So far, Burnett has had a great camp, and seems ready to contribute for an entire season this time.

    If things don't work out for him, though, backup safety Charlie Peprah proved to be a solid replacement last year.

Mason Crosby: A

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    Mason Crosby received a big contract this offseason, and so far, is proving that he is worth it.

    Although Crosby's field goal percentage is sometimes questioned, he is still a solid kicker that makes all the easy kicks, and many of the difficult ones.

    Many teams struggle with an inaccurate kicker, and the Packers do not seem to have that problem with Mason Crosby.

Tim Masthay: A

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    It appears that the Packers have finally found their punter of the future.

    After struggling to find a punter for several years, the Packers brought in Masthay to compete against fellow punter Chris Bryan last year, and Masthay won out. Last year, Masthay proved his worth, consistently punting the ball inside the 20-yard line.

    This year, the Packers didn't bring in any competition, but they didn't need to, as Masthay has continued to thrive in Green Bay.