Ryan Pickett: B
Quieted doubts about his ability to fit the scheme. Was a first-rate run stuffer and more than held his own against constant double teams. Set to be a free agent, the team is currently in discussions with his agent to bring him back. A big (no pun intended) positive in the locker room.
B.J. Raji C+
Hampered by injury earlier in the year, Raji was never the difference maker the team was hoping it was getting. Extremely versatile, Raji did everything he was asked, including playing downfield in coverage. The problem was he didn’t do any one thing extremely well. It will be very interesting to see what an offseason spent in Dave Redding’s program will do for his conditioning.
Cullen Jenkins B -
Feasted on inferior competition while disappearing against the better offensive lines the team faced. Allayed most fears about his ability to stand up to the down-after-down pounding the 3-4 end position requires. Supplied pressure on the quarterback, which is always a luxury from a 3-4 end.
Johnny Jolly B
By almost any measure, Jolly had an excellent season. The worry, of course, is how much of what was on display was the dreaded ‘contract year’ doing the motivation. Given his perceived attitude both on and off the field, it’s impossible not to color all examination of his play this year with that brush. That said, his play was superb across the board.
Jarius Wynn D +
Wynn (friend of the show, though maybe not after he sees his grade…) was pushed around in the run game and offered next to nothing on passing downs. Needs an offseason to define the mass he has. The bigger problem? Doesn’t seem to have a motor at all.
Michael Montogomery D –
Barely played. For a reason.
Justin Harrell I
The man fans love to hate who’s name isn’t Jarrett Bush.
Clay Matthews B +
Ok. Mark this down: I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Matthews was worth every bit of draft real estate that Thompson gave up to get him. An incredible motor. A welcome addition to a defense with far too many terrible tacklers. And most importantly – provides a pass rush for a team that was desperate for one. A star in the making.
Brad Jones C
Jones only saw the field after a series of injuries to the players in front of him but when he finally played, he showed he could more than hold his own. Not flashy and not a physical specimen, Jones gives you solid play every down.
Brady Poppinga D +
Lost the starting right outside linebacker job to Matthews after the first month of the season. What you see is what you get – a physically limited athlete with an intensity that causes him to play out of control on occasion. OK against the run, offers nothing in the pass rushing department.
Cyril Obiozor I
Never got a chance to show anything during the regular season. Made some plays in preseason and has a chance to be a factor if he can make noise early in camp next year.
Aaron Kampman C -
‘Miscast’ is too big an understatement. Gave everything he had to make the transition from 4-3 end to 3-4 OLB work. He just doesn’t have the tools necessary. Would be a shock to see him back with the Packers next year, but his injury makes it impossible to tell what will happen this offseason.
Jeremy Thompson D
Seeking second and third opinions about the ongoing ‘stinger’ issue. Fell from the top of the depth chart when the team was in shorts to unable to get on the field when the games mattered. Has the tools, but the switch just won’t come on.
Nick Barnett B
Made an amazing recovery from a 2008 Week 10 season-ending knee injury. Limited snaps early in the year slowed his transition into the 3-4, but Barnett did an excellent job once he got acclimated to his new surroundings. Was at his best when slipping past offensive guards when rushing the passer – was at his worse when matched up with backs in coverage.
A.J. Hawk C +
The ultimate hot-and-cold player. Hawk would look like a man on a mission one week and then look like his 2008 version the next. Was phased out of most passing packages with Brandon Chillar’s ascension in preseason, but was back on the field nearly full time once Chillar went out with injury. His lack of consistency is maddening. I know fans think he might be cut or traded this offseason – I doubt either of those things are happening.
Brandon Chillar C
Looked to make the leap and to be pushing Hawk for the starters job early in camp and at the start of the season. His play trailed off after the first month before getting injured. Didn’t make a play after coming back. The team must like what it sees, due to the contract extension, but I think the team vastly overrates his ability. For a supposed ‘coverage’ player – was beaten repeatedly by lesser tight ends and backs.
Desmond Bishop C -
Not ready for prime time. That sums up Bishop, the peoples choice over Hawk and Chillar in camp (and yes, I was on board that train). Came in during the second Vikings game and was promptly exposed – again. Did some nice things in the Psycho package and was a stalwart on special teams.
Charles Woodson: A
Simply the best player on the team, Woodson played the corner position better than anyone has ever played it in a Green Bay uniform, with the possible exception of Herb Adderly. Quarterbacked the defense, played corner, safety and linebacker, sometimes all in one game, and shut down the opposing teams’ top receiving threat week after week. Yes, except when he was getting pushed to the ground. (sigh)
Tramon Williams B –
A good cover corner being asked to play way too much zone, Williams did a better job this year of not gambling for interceptions. No, he didn’t snag as many, but he also (mostly) stopped giving up the big play that repeatedly killed the team last year. Did a nice job of rebounding from a terrible game against the Ravens that would have shook the confidence of a lesser player.
Jarrett Bush D
The man fans love to hate who’s name isn’t Justin Harrell.
Brandon Underwood D +
Looked absolutely lost in preseason and did not look much better when he cracked the dime package later in the year. Was serviceable down the stretch and improved his technique but needs a good offseason in the weight room. Also needs to work on moving his feet when tackling – way too much arm grabbing.
Josh Bell D
Midseason pickup. Got his shot in the dime against the Steelers and blew it. Anxious to see what he looks like after a full offseason with the team. Did not look terrible when he was in Denver last year. If coaches can get through to him, has the skills to be a player.
Al Harris B -
There was much hand-wringing last offseason regarding Harris' ability to play the zone coverages required by Dom Capers' defense. Harris was successful, for the most part, and even did a good job of keeping his famous temper-in-big-games in check. (Though he did explode on Martin in MIN - but Martin deserved it.) Lost for the season to injury the week of the 49ers game, Harris has promised to be back for training camp. After he came back from a ruptured spleen last year, I would never bet against the man
Will Blackmon I
Unable to stay healthy yet again. People talk about him as if he were an excellent returner. He’s better than average, but special. Didn’t really get to see what he could do from scrimmage in the scheme as Capers didn’t go to the dime package until after Blackmon was on IR.
Pat Lee I
The secondary’s answer to Justin Harrell. Simply can not stay on the field. I contend he’s got the ability to be a decent corner. The jury is most definitely out.
Nick Collins: B +
Not as good as he was the first 8 games of ’08 but much more consistent all the way through the year. Proved to be a true ballhawk and a better tackler than last season, possibly a testament to the coaching he’s getting. One of the most important ‘in limbo’ players when it comes to the CBA, Collins has earned a new contract, but probably not the one he and his agent think he has.
Atari Bigby C
Injured for part of the year (again) Bigby was nearly invisible for a good part of the year. Tough to tell how much of that is scheme-based and how much is Bigby just being slow to the play. Made a big hit or two toward the end of the season, but really is ‘just a guy’ at this point.
Matt Giordano D
Midseason pickup. Inactive most of the year. Nothing special in any capacity.
Derrick Martin D+
Was a catastrophe from scrimmage but was the best special teams player on every coverage unit. His intensity was a big bonus on teams and was definitely missed when he went out with injury later in the year.
Mason Crosby: C –
Maddeningly inconsistent. Had major issues with field goal attempts from the right hashmark that were never solved. The miss in Detroit on Thanksgiving (from 43 yards in a dome) should have been the big wakeup call for the coaching and personnel staffs that this kid needs to be broken down and built back up. Slocums’ advice to ‘call other NFL kickers for advice’ rather than having Crosby see a kicking specialist is some kind of sick joke. Right?
Jeremy Kapinos D
The worst punter in the league, both statistically and in the eyeball test. The guy is terrible. Should not be on an NFL roster.
Brett Goode Pass
In my class, long snappers are graded pass/fail because, well, they either do the one job they are supposed to do or they don’t. Goode did, with only one real bad snap, that I can remember, all season.
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