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: Clifton provides exactly what he did last season. There’s a couple concerns about his health and durability at some point during the season, but when it’s all said and done, he comes to compete down the stretch. He’s not a dominating run blocker, but he helps to keep Aaron Rodgers upright and therein lies his worth.
- Worst-case scenario: Age and health have caught up to Clifton. He tries his best to fight through the pain, but the result is largely what happened in the Buffalo game last year. He just doesn’t have it any more. He’s eventually replaced by in the starting lineup by a younger and more effective tackle, and Clifton either ends up on injured reserve or plays out the season as a reserve.
- Best-case scenario: Lang proves the Packers’ choice to make him the starting left guard was the correct one. He takes a couple lumps, gives up some sacks and learns along the way. But his future is bright. He’s an upgrade over Daryn Colledge.
- Worst-case scenario: Inconsistent might be the best way to describe Lang’s season. There’s moments when he looks like a starting-caliber NFL lineman, and other moments when he’s lost. The Packers at one point bench in favor of giving a player like Derek Sherrod or Nick McDonald a look during the regular season. Despite his inconsistency, he’s still one of the eight best linemen on the team.
- Best-case scenario: Same old Scott Wells. He’s not going to make the Pro Bowl, but he’s perhaps the most consistent lineman on the Packers’ roster. He does a fantastic job in pass pro and has enough guile and technique to be effective in the run game.
- Worst-case scenario: Wells is still effective, but he has a hard time matching up against the big defensive tackles in the NFC North like Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Kevin Williams. The Packers have to take a long, hard look at getting a bigger center that can handle the mammoth defensive tackles next season.
- Best-case scenario: Sitton finally gets the recognition he deserves by being named a starter in the Pro Bowl and a first-team All-Pro. He’s the best offensive lineman on the Packers and perhaps the best guard in the NFL. He helps lead the way for a 1000-yard rusher and a 4000-yard passer.
- Worst-case scenario: Sitton continues to toil in obscurity. He has another solid season, but the accolades continue to elude him. He’s Pro Bowl-worthy, but fails to get voted to Hawaii.
- Best-case scenario: Bulaga picks up where he left off during last season’s playoff stretch by shutting down all comers and puts together a reputation that regconizes him as one of the best, young right tackles in the NFL. He and Sitton combine to put together one of the best right side combinations in the league. A Pro Bowl berth is not out of the question.
- Worst-case scenario: Though there are times Bulaga looks dominant, he looks more like the player who was inconsistent when he took over the starting right tackle job in the middle of less season and less like the one during the playoffs. There’s still reason to be encouraged by his play, and the Packers can be a winning team with him in the lineup, but inconsistency, penalties and giving up more than his fair share of sacks plague him in 2011.
- Best-case scenario: At some point either Chad Clifton or T.J. Lang go down with an injury over the course of the 2011 season, and Sherrod replaces them in the starting lineup for good. He had a rough start to training camp, but he continues to progress as the year goes on much like Bryan Bulaga a year ago. By the end of the season, he’s a starter on a playoff team.
- Worst-case scenario: Sherrod just can’t be trusted to play in the regular season yet. Marshall Newhouse makes the 46-man active game day roster more often than Sherrod, and the 2011 season is chalked up as a learning experience. He still makes his NFL debut at some point, however, and he’ll still compete to be a starter in 2012.
- Best-case scenario: Thanks to his experience, Newhouse is more consistent than Derrek Sherrod at this point in his career, and he makes the 46-man game day roster ahead of the rookie more often than not. He backs up both tackle positions, and performs rather well whenever he’s called upon. There’s a chance that the left tackle of the future is Newhouse and not Sherrod.
- Worst-case scenario: Just like last year, Newhouse makes the 53-man roster but isn’t active for a single game. His performance in the preseason at right tackle kind of typifies his season, just not ready for prime time. He’s worthy of keeping around, but he’s a liability if the Packers were forced to put him on the field. He enters 2012 as a make-or-break season.
- Best-case scenario: McDonald becomes the top back-up interior offensive lineman and is active every game day. It’s necessary that he’s the backup center, but because the Packers keep only seven lineman active on game day, he backs up both guard positions as well. He might be Scott Wells’ long-term replacement.
- Worst-case scenario: Even though he’s smart and durable, McDonald just doesn’t have the fight and bulldog mentality to be effective in close quarters. In other words, he’s no Scott Wells. They’re pretty much handcuffed into keeping him on the 53-man roster this year, but they’re looking for another backup center a year from now.
- Best-case scenario: The experience factor works in Dietrich-Smith’s favor. He captures the ninth and final roster spot because he can play all the interior offensive line positions and tackle in a pinch. He doesn’t see much if any playing time in the regular season, but he finds away to stick around.
- Worst-case scenario: The Packers just can’t find room to keep EDS around. He makes the most of his chances during the exhibition season, but in the end, they can’t justify keeping him in favor of the bigger Nick McDonald, who has the bigger upside.
- Best-case scenario: The rookie from Utah’s season peaks when he makes the 53-man roster. He’s inactive for every single regular season game, unless injuries dictate that he’s active, but just making the team was a positive. He enters 2o12 in a competition for more playing time.
- Worst-case scenario: The pro game just proves to be too much for Schlauderaff. Overmatched through much of training camp, the Packers can’t bring themselves to keep him on the 53-man roster. He’s one of the last and toughest cuts, but he’s cut nonetheless, though he’s asked to be part of the practice squad.
- Best-case scenario: He might not be cut out for tackle in the NFL, but he settles in at guard rather well. And the Packers like his size. He makes the team the 53-man roster as the ninth and final offensive lineman, though he doesn’t see much game action in his rookie year. However, there’s hope for the future.
- Worst-case scenario: Dominguez couldn’t cut it at tackle and can’t cut it at guard either. There’s a reason he wasn’t drafted, and he pretty much showed why. He’s cut and he’s either claimed on waiver or he’s not asked to be part of the practice squad. Either way, he’s not in Green Bay any more in 2011.
- Best-case scenario: The surgery forcing him out of action the past several weeks is just too much to overcome, which is a shame because he was progressing rather nicely. Campbell is still practice squad eligible, however, which is where he ends up with the Packers for a second consecutive season.
- Worst-case scenario: His injury was a case of bad timing. Had the injury not occurred, he might have been asked to be part of the practice squad, but as it is, the Packers decide to keep a rookie or two instead.
- Best-case scenario: Battles is remembered as part of Packers lore as a Wisconsin native who earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the practice squad last season. But his end with the Packers ends there. He’s cut on the final roster cutdown.
- Worst-case scenario: Battles is cut after the third preseason game as the Packers are forced to trim their roster down to 80 players.
- Best-case scenario: Genus is the Little Engine That Could. He doesn’t have ideal size, but he gets by on technique and tenacity. He’s asked to be part of the practice squad.
- Worst-case scenario: His run as a Packer comes to an end when they have to cut down from 80 to 53, and he’s not asked to be part of the practice squad.
- Best-case scenario: It’s viewed as a success when Sherman gets to audition for one extra week by not being part of the first mandated cutdown date. He gets to play in the fourth and final preseason game.
- Worst-case scenario: Sherman doesn’t get the opportunity to stick around for the extra week and is cut after the Indianapolis game when the Packers have to get down to 80 players.
Brian Carriveau is the editor of the Maple Street Press Packers Annual. To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.