Rookie orientation camp is the first opportunity for first-year players to come to Green Bay. Think of it like freshman orientation in high school or college.
It’s as much about getting acclimated to the team’s facilities and their surroundings as it is about getting their first introduction into the team’s playbook and learning the Packers’ schemes.
Green Bay isn’t going to win the Super Bowl because of what happens this weekend in the Don Hutson Center, but this is the point when questions start to become answered.
With many players, the questions are complicated and answers won’t come to light until minicamp, training camp, maybe even into the season.
But here’s where each rookie on the Packers roster stands as they arrive in Green Bay on Thursday and hit the practice field each of the next three days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Defensive Lineman Datone Jones
Is Jones a three-down player in Year One?
As a first round draft choice, expectations will be higher for Datone Jones than any other rookie on the Packers roster. The reality of his situation is that he joins one of the deepest positions on the Packers roster, at least from a numbers standpoint. The roles for B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on the defensive line are pretty much firmly entrenched. But if Jones wants be on the field for both run downs and passing downs, he’ll be fighting with the likes of C.J. Wilson, Mike Neal, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly and perhaps even Jerel Worthy down the road. A heavy defensive line rotation is definite possibility, so Jones will need to be a monster if he doesn’t want to come off the field.
Running Back Eddie Lacy
Do Lacy’s health concerns affect his play?
First it was reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers passed on Eddie Lacy because of his toe fusion surgery, and then it was learned that the Denver Broncos were turned off by Lacy’s injury woes as well. As Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com wrote, “One team’s conclusion could be always be considered an outlier. But two? Then you’re getting closer to a trend.” Over the course of the last year, Lacy has also been affected by elbow, hand, knee, pectoral and hamstring issues to one extent or another. Despite all the injury concerns, however, the reality is that Lacy started all 13 games for Alabama in 2013, missed only one game in 2011 and missed two in 2010. He’s shown to be pretty durable during his college days.
Offensive Lineman David Bakhtiari
Can Bakhtiari cut it at left tackle?
At fractions over 6-4, David Bakhtiari doesn’t have prototypical height to play left tackle in the NFL, but from everything you hear and read, he does have the feet and movement skills necessary to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Now that Bryan Bulaga is moving over to left tackle, the Packers will be looking for his backup. Marshall Newhouse will likely get first crack at left tackle should anything happen to Bulaga, but the Packers will the looking at the long-term picture with Bakhtiari.
Offensive Lineman J.C. Tretter
Where does Tretter fit in on the offensive line?
Despite playing left tackle in college, Tretter admits most NFL teams were looking at him as an interior offensive lineman in the NFL. It’ a good thing that Tretter might be able to play all five positions on the offensive line in a pinch, but he needs to find a primary position. Whether that’s guard or perhaps even center remains to be seen. With Evan Dietrich-Smith playing under a one-year contract in 2013, the Packers could look to groom Tretter at center in case “EDS” departs next year.
Running Back Johnathan Franklin
Will Franklin be able to overcome his ineligibility for OTAs?
Because he hasn’t graduated and UCLA’s final exams don’t take place until mid-June, Johnathan Franklin is apparently ineligible to participate in the Packers’ Organized Team Activities this offseason. It’s not the worst thing in the world that Franklin misses a few weeks of practice in May and June, but he’ll be behind the eight ball compared to other rookies on the team. How quickly he picks up the team’s offense, terminology, schemes and blocking assigments will be crucial to how much playing team he receives in his rookie season.
Cornerback Micah Hyde
Can Hyde be anything more than the fifth cornerback his rookie year?
Cornerback is one of the deeper positions on the Packers with Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields and Davon House all ahead of Micah Hyde on the depth chart. If the Iowa product has any hopes of seeing the defensive side of the football in 2013, he’ll have a tall task ahead of him. Hyde might have to set his sights on becoming the team’s fifth cornerback and overtaking the role of special teams ace currently held by Jarrett Bush.
Defensive Lineman Josh Boyd
Is Boyd able to crack the 53-man roster?
There might be five Packers defensive linemen with contracts expiring after the 2013 season, but that means little for the season at hand. For a team that uses a lot of defensive sets with only two defensive linemen on the field at any one time, Josh Boyd is going to have to really impress to find himself as part of the defensive line rotation as a rookie. There’s already 10 defensive linemen on the roster fighting for maybe seven spots, if not six, on the 53.
Outside Linebacker Nate Palmer
How steep is Palmer’s learning curve?
Coming from FCS-level Illinois State, it’s going to be a major step up in competition for Nate Palmer. Granted, he did play in the Big Ten at Illinois before transferring for his final two seasons of college football. Playing at a position without a lot of depth in Green Bay, Palmer is conceivably the fourth-string outside linebacker on the roster behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Dezman Moses. That means he’s only one injury away from perhaps playing a significant role on defense.
Wide Receiver Charles Johnson
Is Charles Johnson better than Jarrett Boykin?
The top three wide receivers in Green Bay at pretty much set with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones. But for as much as the Packers spread the field with their four and five receiver sets, the fourth wideout gets plenty of playing time in Mike McCarthy’s offense. Jarrett Boykin might get the first opportunity to prove he’s the fourth wide receiver, but Charles Johnson’s impressive measurables and college production could indicate he has the ability to leapfrog Boykin on the depth chart.
Wide Receiver Kevin Dorsey
Is Dorsey better suited for the 53-man roster or the practice squad?
Despite taking Charles Johnson with their previous draft choice, the Packers thought highly enough of Kevin Dorsey that they couldn’t pass him up. He’ll be given every opportunity to prove he deserves to be part of the wide receiver rotation in Green Bay, but he’ll face deep odds with Johnson, Boykin, Jeremy Ross and any other rookies providing competition.
Inside Linebacker Sam Barrington
Where does Barrington fit at a crowded position?
Like a couple other positions on the Packers roster, inside linebacker is crowded from a numbers standpoint. Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Rob Francois, Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore fill the top six spots at a position where typically only two players are on the field at any one time. Barrington might have to be a special teams stud to earn a job.
The Packers have not officially announced any of their undrafted free agent signings, likely because their contract requires passing a physical, which will probably take place this weekend. The following list is comprised of players reported to have signed free agent deals, but may include a few more or less than listed here.
Quarterback Matt Brown
Does Brown inspire confidence as a potential No. 3 quarterback?
Tight End Jake Stoneburner
Can Stoneburner be the best receiving tight end on the roster behind Jermichael Finley?
Outside Linebacker Andy Mulumba
Is Mulumba NFL material or is he better suited for the Canadian Football League?
Safety Ben Ericksen
At a position thin on talent, can Ericksen be more than just a feel-good story as a Wisconsin native?
Center Patrick Lewis
Because the Packers convert so many tackles to interior linemen, might Lewis’ experience as a true center give him a leg up?
Defensive Lineman Gilbert Pena
Can Pena hack it at nose tackle if anything should happen to Raji or Pickett?
Guard Lane Taylor
Does Taylor’s beefy 320-plus lb. frame give him any extra advantage?
Wide Receiver Myles White
Can White be the Packers’ deep threat?
Fullback Ryan Roberson
Can Roberson give John Kuhn a run for his money as a younger and cheaper alternative?
Running Back Angelo Pease
After taking two running backs in the draft, can Pease be anything more than just a camp body?