It's true you need to wait three full seasons before you can truly judge a draft class. But it's also true that in today's NFL, teams need at least one or two of their rookies to provide instant production. The Packers had several players provide help at one point or another last season. From Brandon Jackson to James Jones to Korey Hall and Aaron Rouse (not to mention Mason Crosby) the Packers seemingly had talent popping up everywhere.
This years rookie class has yet to make any impact outside of Jordy Nelson's touchdown in Detroit and his nine catches for over a hundred yards on the season. (And unfortunately, several of those came in garbage time against Dallas) The Packers, if they are to right the ship after two sub-par performances and after a slew of injuries have left the team's available talent depleted, have several unknowns from the draft class of 2008 that should be given a chance from scrimmage from here on out.
To begin with, Patrick Lee can build upon his solid showing against Tampa. Lee was targeted once or twice by Brian Griese and more than held his own. Even more encouragingly, Lee did not seem overwhelmed when Sanders called for a rare zone coverage, keeping perfect spacing on his side of the field in what looked like a Cover 2 shell during one fourth quarter play. With Al Harris out for at least a month, and Jarrett Bush less than reliable (to put it charitably) Lee has a chance to show the coaches he can be trusted in more than just the dime package.
Secondly, Jermichael Finley should start making a contribution on offense. The Packers took him in the third round knowing full well it would take time for the 21 year old to mature into a productive role, perhaps even several years. Well, how about several games? The Buccaneers played a lot more Cover 2 than anyone expected them to and it played havoc with the Packers short passing game. Finley's athleticism and soft hands would be the perfect counter to what will no doubt be a prevailing defense employed to stop the Packers offense. (A defense that is used on the majority of snaps by all three of the Packers NFC North foes)
Also, it's about time for Jeremy Thompson to show what he can do. Admit it, you forgot all about Thompson, who has yet to be active for a game. With the team in dire need of some quality snaps at the defensive end position, it would be a revelation if the Packers found even modest production from this fourth round pick who by all accounts has the tools necessary but has yet to 'put it all together'. This would be a good week for him to start doing just that.
Finally, there's Matt Flynn, who can show everyone exactly why he was chosen to be Aaron Rodgers' backup over Brian Brohm if he is called upon this weekend. I know a lot of people have the Packers down for a 'L' if Flynn takes the field. But let's at least see him take the opening snap before we deem him a failure.
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