The second round of Packers’ organized team activities (OTA’s) are about to get underway, meaning full-fledged training camp isn’t far off! What are some of the big questions facing the Packers? I asked GPN contributor Mike Jacquart to share some thoughts about four questions, several of which were also asked in a previous post, but which bear addressing again.
BA: Can rookie Jason Spriggs compete for the starting right tackle job or will he stay a backup?
MJ: He probably “could,” but I’m hoping he doesn’t because that probably means David Bakhtiari or Bryan Bulaga are either hurt or drastically underperforming. At 6-6, 301 pounds, he would appear to have the perfect build for the job (similar to former standout Chad Clifton), but I have to believe Ted Thompson is looking at the rookie from Indiana as either a possible replacement should Bakhtiari leave in free agency in 2017, or at the least, as the swing tackle this year. Given how troublesome that spot was last year with Don Barclay, I think TT did the wise thing in drafting a tackle. You can never have too many good offensive linemen – they are just too important to Aaron Rodgers’ health!
BA: Is Jared Abbrederis’s roster spot in jeopardy?
MJ: Yes I believe it is. I know as a former Badger he’s already a fan favorite, but at 6-1, 195, Abbrederis was injury prone at Wisconsin, and that trend has unfortunately followed him into the pros. I know he came on at the end of the year, and he also offers potential as a kick returner, but there are other Packers who could also do that job: Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, and possibly even Trevor Davis, to name a few. We know Jordy and Randall Cobb are locks, Davante Adams, probably, which leaves a max of three more receivers on the roster because even if the Pack goes light at tight end or fullback, there is just no way they are going to keep more than six receivers. Montgomery is a good bet as the 4th WR, which leaves three receivers: Janis, Davis, and Abbrederis fighting for two roster spots. Someone will have to go.
BA: Will the Packers really be able to fill the gap vacated by B.J. Raji?
MJ: I believe so. Personally, I believe he is overrated: a good player, certainly, but not elite. Consider that while the Packers were a respectable 15th in the league in defense last year, they were only 21st in rushing according to Lindy’s Sports Pro Football Draft magazine. So my question is: if they were only 21st with Raji, how could he have been that good? It’s very true that Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel, and Josh Boyd would have left a real gap, but it’s a gap that I believe Kenny Clark can fill. The same magazine listed the 6-2, 310-pound rookie from UCLA as having prototypical strength for the position. Provided Clark is healthy, I’m not concerned about Raji’s retirement.
BA: With Barrington back, who will be the complement at ILB?
MJ: With a year’s experience under his belt, I would think that Jake Ryan is probably the frontrunner, but I hope that Blake Martinez can step in and start. At first, I was disappointed that the Packers didn’t draft Missouri’s Kentrell Brothers when he was still on the board, but the more I read about Martinez, the more I liked him. For one thing, Martinez is listed at running 4.79 40, which is actually faster than Brothers (4.86). Second, while Martinez isn’t a classic thumper ILB, I believe a healthy Barrington can fill that role. The Packers have really needed an inside LB with coverage skills, and that is an area where the rookie excels. So I’m saying Blake Martinez.
Well there you have Mike’s thoughts on four crucial questions that begin and continue to be answered up through the preseason. What are your thoughts? What questions/competitions are on your mind as the Packers get back to work? Let us know in the comments below or back on the Facebook Fanpage.