Packer fans surely remember the days of highly-mediocre offensive skill personnel from the early 2000s. While GM Ron Wolf did supply Brett Favre with Pro Bowlers like Ahman Green and Donald Driver, the gunslinger’s next best options were often Bubba Franks and Robert Ferguson. Compare these supporting casts to those of the Ted Thompson era, which have been loaded with talent and versatility. The offensive skill personnel of 2014 will likely be no exception but may look noticeably different from recent years.
Just weeks ago the Packers organization was informed that second-year running back Johnathan Franklin’s neck injury would force an abrupt end to his career. A similar (yet not quite as severe) scenario could play out with tight end Jermichael Finley, who also suffered a neck injury last season and appears far from football condition. Finally, the Packers lost long-time No.3 wide out James Jones to free agency in the offseason, initially leaving the offense thin at receiver.
Though these three departures would frighten many franchises, the Packers still look like a Top 10 offense on paper, a title they’ve held every year of the Mike McCarthy year except for one. The emergence of power back Eddie Lacy and wide out Jarrett Boykin helped the team finish third in the NFL in total offense last season, despite being without Aaron Rodgers for seven games. Additionally, some faces that weren’t present in 2013 could prove instrumental in the rebuild of the Packers’ backfield and receiving corps.
While it is certainly a shame that we will never see what Franklin can amount to as a third-down back, many fans forget that the Packers have a version of him in DuJuan Harris, who turned in several impressive performances in 2012. Harris was injured before the 2013 season began and watched all 16 games from the sidelines, which could have easily ended his stint in Green Bay. Instead, Franklin’s injury has opened the door for Harris’s return to the offense, this time playing a more complimentary – but still important – role.
Thompson also added several potential contributors in the May NFL Draft, starting with Fresno State receiver, Davante Adams. Adams is expected to contribute similarly to Jones and Greg Jennings during their rookie seasons, playing the majority of snaps out of the slot. Joining Adams in the 2014 rookie class is fellow slot receiver, Jared Abbrederis, and big-bodied tight end, Richard Rodgers.
It’s hard to tell whether the product of these moves will be a net-positive in the long-run. But, knowing Thompson’s strong resume with offensive skill personnel, one has to imagine that the resources for success in 2014 are already on the roster.