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 it’s 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: With so many other receiving threats on the roster, it will be difficult for Jennings to surpass last year’s receiving statistics: 76 catches for 1265 yards and 12 touchdowns. But being at the very top his game, Jennings finds a way to eclipse those numbers, barely, with a season somewhere in the realm of 80 catches for 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Perhaps he’ll be more pleased with recognition that goes along with being considered one of the best receivers in the NFC by being named a starter in the Pro Bowl and earning first-team All-Pro honors.
- Worst-case scenario: There’s no doubt that Jennings is the best and most talented receiver on the team, but with Jermichael Finley and so many other receiving threats, Jennings’ statistics are down from a year ago. It’s more due to the fact there’s too many receivers and only one ball to go around. He barely gets to the 1000-yard plateau on 60 catches and fails to reach double-digit touchdown totals.
- Best-case scenario: Driver proves to all doubters that he’s healthy and the unquestioned number two receiver on the team. He’s able to top 50 receptions and 1000 yards receiving for the 10th and 8th times, respectively, in his career. He might be slower than he was a few years ago, but his strength, savvy and ability to go over the middle––not to mention his leadership and experience––are invaluable to the team.
- Worst-case scenario: Driver’s worst case scenario isn’t getting cut, but a severe dip in production is. It turns out Jordy Nelson, James Jones and even rookie Randall Cobb have passed Driver by, and he just can’t be on the field at their expense. He passes James Lofton to become the Packers’ all-time leader in receiving yardage in 2011, but that’s one of the few times he’ll make headlines all season long. It’s his last season in a Packers uniform, though it’s been a fun ride.
- Best-case scenario: In a contract year, Nelson picks up where he left off when he had nine catches for 140 yards in the Super Bowl by passing up Donald Driver as the team’s second option at wide receiver. He sets career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns in the regular season and exceeds 1000 yards receiving for the first time in his career. A nice, fat contract follows.
- Worst-case scenario: Nelson is another casualty of too many receiving options on the Packers. Though he’s talented, he can’t improve upon last year’s statistics that saw him catch 45 passes for 582 yards and two touchdowns. It doesn’t help that Driver has a bounce-back season that kept him as the team’s number two wide receiver.
- Best-case scenario: Jones rewards the Packers for their faith in him by having the best season of his career. He finally puts all the pieces together and doesn’t drop the ball nearly as often as he did a year ago. Jones has more than 60 yards and 1000 yards receiving for the first time ever, and he scores a half dozen touchdowns in the regular season to boot.
- Worst-case scenario: The same old problems plague Jones: dropped passes and inconsistency. As a result, he’s unable to get over the hump and prove he’s anything more than a third or fourth wide receiver in the NFL. He’s able to put up nearly the same numbers he’s averaged over his career, 40 or so catches, around 500-plus yards and a handful of touchdowns, but expecting more than that is just too much to ask.
- Best-case scenario: Cobb makes the Pro Bowl as the NFC’s return specialist in his rookie year, and at the same time, the Packers find he’s just too talented to keep off the field. He can’t come anywhere near the production of a Greg Jennings, but he takes snaps away from Driver, Nelson and Jones. He has somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 catches for more than 500 yards and four touchdowns. He’s considered as one of the best, young up-and-coming receivers in the NFL.
- Worst-case scenario: Cobb makes his mark as a kick returner in his rookie year, but has a hard time cracking a rotation on offense that includes some pretty talented receivers ahead of him. The Packers figure out a way to get him on the field in the slot to take advantage of some match-ups, and he sees a little bit of action in five wide receiver sets, but not a whole lot else. He approaches 20 catches on the year and hits paydirt once or twice, but his future is still very bright.
- Best-case scenario: The Packers find West is just too valuable to expose to waivers, so they decide to keep six wide receivers on their roster. He doesn’t see a ton of playing time during the regular season, but makes the most of it when he does by catching 10 or so passes and scores the first touchdown of his professional career. He takes over the special teams duties previously held by Brett Swain.
- Worst-case scenario: The Packers decide they have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL, and West wouldn’t see the field even if he was kept around. They cut him following the final preseason game and he is claimed on waivers by another team.
- Best-case scenario: Swain recovers from his current hamstring injury and sees the light. He puts more effort into practice and the remaining preseason games than ever before and impresses he coaching staff in the process. The Packers keep six wide receivers and Swain fills pretty much the same role he did a year ago, special teams ace with a few receptions here and there.
- Worst-case scenario: Even when he’s fully recovered from his injury, the Packers decide Swain is just not worth keeping at the expense of some of the more talented, younger receivers. He’ll be remembered in Green Bay for his contributions to a Super Bowl winning team, but the remainder of his career will be played out somewhere else.
- Best-case scenario: The Packers find out Gurley brings a new facet to the offense they haven’t had since Ruvell Martin as a tall, possession receiver who can win a jump-ball battle in the end zone. He struggles to contribute to the Packers in his rookies season, but he’s just too intriguing to let go. He adds a couple of receptions in the regular season, but it’s primarily a learning experience.
- Worst-case scenario: Though Gurley shows some skills, he’s a little too slow and raw for the Packers’ liking. With a receiving corps that’s already five deep, they can afford to let him go and not miss a beat. He finds a home on a practice squad somewhere.
- Best-case scenario: Randall Cobb gets injured and the Packers keep Smithson around as their return specialist and helps them improve that area of the game compared to a year ago. He only sees time on offense in five receiver sets, but it was an accomplishment just to make the 53-man roster to begin with.
- Worst-case scenario: Smithson isn’t the second-best return man on the Packers. In fact, he’s not the second-best either. As such, he has very little value to the Packers. He can’t escape the first round of cuts following the third preseason game.
- Best-case scenario: If he didn’t spend his entire college career as a quarterback, he’d probably be on the 53. But he’s just a little too rough around the edges to justify keeping on the roster. However, the Packers see his obvious talent and decide he’s worth developing on the practice squad. If any injuries occur mid-season, he’s available for a promotion.
- Worst-case scenario: Though he has talent, the Packers decide they are better off developing some of the true wide receivers like Tori Gurley or Kerry Taylor instead. Like some have suggested, Borel’s most-likely landing spot might be as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League.
- Best-case scenario: Taylor is able to build off the first preseason game against Cleveland when he tied for the team lead in receptions. He just keeps producing and the Packers ask him to stick around on their practice squad.
- Worst-case scenario: Taylor’s stay in Green Bay is a brief one. He’s cut and not asked to be on the practice squad.
- Best-case scenario: Making it beyond the first round of cuts is a success for Robinson. He sticks around for one more week, though he gets released in the final roster cutdown just before the regular season.
- Worst-case scenario: Robinson is released before the August 30 deadline to reduce rosters from 90 to 75 players.