It’s time for the fifth annual Best and Worst Case Scenarios for every player on the Green Bay Packers roster, a feature that goes back to the days when Railbird Central had its own domain.
I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition.
As one final note, I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not what’s best for the team.
- Best-case scenario: The days of being in consideration for the NFL’s Defensive MVP might be over, but that doesn’t mean Woodson still isn’t invaluable to the Packers. He’s arguably the best slot cornerback in the NFL from a standpoint that he’s fantastic in run support, blitzing and covering the flat. He finished with no less than four interceptions, at least one of them returned for a touchdown. And as has been the case pretty much ever since Woodson came to Green Bay, there’s one game this season the Packers couldn’t win without him.
- Worst-case scenario: Teams take advantage of Woodson when he’s on the outside as much as possible, no longer throwing to the other side of the field. Opponents know Woodson can’t turn and run with fast wide receivers any more, so he gets beat deep several times this season. The Packers do their best to minimize these types of situations by being in the nickel defense as frequently as possible. Woodson is still an effective NFL starter despite his limitations.
- Best-case scenario: With a season similar to last year, Williams throws his hat in the ring to be named among the league’s best cover corners, right up there with Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha. He leads the NFC in interceptions among cornerbacks and is named a starter in the Pro Bowl. He gets beat deep for a touchdown no more than once all season. The return game is also stable enough that Williams doesn’t have to field a punt at all in 2011.
- Worst-case scenario: Williams hit his peak in 2010 from a statistical standpoint. While he’s still an upper echelon NFL cornerback, he just can’t match the nine combined interceptions in the regular season and postseason. He’s a Pro Bowl alternate as long as he stays healthy.
- Best-case scenario: Shields takes another step up the career development ladder. He’s healthy and active for all 16 games and improves upon his two regular season interceptions from a year ago. He’s almost as effective as a lock-down corner as Tramon Williams, and Shield forces opposing quarterbacks to pick their poison when choosing where the throw the ball. The Packers are the best team against the pass in the NFL because of it.
- Worst-case scenario: Shields appears content with Super Bowl he achieved in his rookie year and kind of stagnates. He doesn’t have any legitimate competition to take away his nickel cornerback job, so he keeps that role all year. But there appears to be several lapses in concentration that lead to touchdowns. He’s the weak link of the secondary.
- Best-case scenario: He might not look the greatest in the preseason, but when the lights are brightest, Bush is at his best. He maintains his hold on the dime cornerback role and comes up with one or two big plays this season like he did in the Super Bowl last year. Bush is also the unquestioned best special teams player on the Packers.
- Worst-case scenario: Bush is still effective on special teams but negates some of the good will he created last year with a couple notable lapses on defense. When he’s pressed into action, he gets burned for a touchdown or two, putting him in the doghouse. He’s relegated almost exclusively to special teams by the end of the year.
- Best-case scenario: House seemingly gets better with every passing week. He plays sparingly if at all in the beginning of the season but is one of the Packers’ most-hyped rookies come January. His role increases on both special teams and defense as the year progresses and manages to nab an interception or two to help make an impression.
- Worst-case scenario: Unfortunately, House is blocked from playing time by an elite trio of cornerbacks in Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. He carves out a role on special teams late in the season, but he almost never sees action on the defensive side of the ball. It’s hardly his fault, however. The future is still bright.
- Best-case scenario: The Packers aren’t ready to give up on the former second-round draft choice and he makes the 53-man roster as one of the last players kept. When injuries necessitate playing time, he makes the most of them, just like he did in the Super Bowl last year. He doesn’t see the field with any regularity, but when he does, he doesn’t embarrass.
- Worst-case scenario: No longer can they justify keeping Lee on the team when younger and better options like Davon House and Josh Gordy are ready for their turn. He hits waivers, but some other NFL team will give him a chance.
- Best-case scenario: Gordy simply won’t be denied. Through stellar play throughout the preseason, he earns his way onto the 53-man roster and the 46-man game day roster too. He cuts his teeth on special teams, but whenever he gets a chance to play on defense, he impresses. Some observers think they have another Tramon Williams in Gordy.
- Worst-case scenario: Because the Packers are so deep at cornerback, they just can’t keep Gordy. He probably deserved a roster spot, but even if they did keep him, it’s not like he was ever going to see the field with Woodson, Williams and Shields ahead of him. He’ll show up on another NFL roster somewhere.
- Best-case scenario: The Packers can’t find a spot of the 53 for him, but they can find a spot on the practice squad. With any luck, he’ll be offered a futures contract and get another shot in 2012.
- Worst-case scenario: Once again, the Packers are so loaded at cornerback, they don’t even need to develop one on the practice squad. Ross is released, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.