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Opportunities will be aplenty for Packers rookies

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Opportunities will be aplenty for Packers rookies

The sky is the limit for the Packers and their 2017 rookie class.

While their 10-man class holds the key to deciphering whether or not general manager Ted Thompson's board was a strong one - when in reality, that'll take a few years to truly judge - there shouldn't be much of a battle for playing time amongst the young draftees.

Players such as cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones who is arguably the Micah Hyde reincarnate and outside linebacker Vince Biegel don't have specific roles. In fact, none of the new additions do. They may not even have one by the end of the season.

If history is any indicator, it may take a year of accommodation for this group to fully settle into their new digs.

The Packers had a prominent need in their secondary last season after Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins both suffered through injuries seemingly week in and week out. It's a spot where King may be able to come in handy.

Randall, drafted in 2015, played 755 (71.8 percent) of the Packers' defensive snaps in his rookie season whereas Rollins was several hundred below at 323 or 30.7 percent. Both of the young corners proved to be serviceable in their first NFL campaign.

In that sense, it's looking good for King, who may immediately step into the season as a back-up. With LaDarius Gunter, Davon House and Randall all more likely to be lead dogs in that rat race, the 6'3" King won't be a bad option to have waiting in the wing.

However, that all depends on the Packers' rotation and what the opposing offensive personnel on the field is at the time.

Biegel, meanwhile, may not be so lucky.

Even after briefly injuring his hand during the rookie orientation practices a week ago, it was reported by two members of the ESPN staff, Adam Schefter and Rob Demovsky, that Biegel underwent foot surgery.

Biegel's injury, described as a "Jones fracture," had once nagged him during his final year at Wisconsin. He had a screw inserted into his foot in hopes of repair, but after his short first stint with the Packers, Biegel will be sidelined for presumably six-to-eight weeks.

Vince Biegel runs through drills during the Packers' rookie orientation camp. (PHOTO: Mark Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)

Biegel may even miss the start of training camp, which begins July 27th. Over the last few seasons, though, outside linebackers haven't seen very much work in their first season with the Packers.

Kyler Fackrell, drafted in 2016, played 161 defensive snaps (15.6 percent) last season. A majority of those only in a rotational formation with Jayrone Elliott on the opposite edge in certain situations.

After being drafted in 2012, Nick Perry was on the field for 200 snaps on defense, good for 18.4 percent at the time. The odds were against Biegel from the start, especially with Clay Matthews and Perry both spearheading the majority of snaps on the edge.

The same can be said of Montravius Adams, the defensive tackle drafted in the third round by the Packers.

The last defensive tackle drafted by the Packers was just a season ago; first-round selection Kenny Clark. He played 32.5 percent of defensive snaps in 2016, and even despite this, has shown promise with his ability to set the edge at 6'3", 314 pounds and his tendency to blow up screen plays.

Clark was drafted to help rebuild the hole left in the absence of B.J. Raji, who retired unexpectedly at the end of the 2015 season. Now, they're a little less in dire need of talent there. The Packers also signed Ricky Jean Francois from Washington to fill the void.

A void whose substance has dramatically increased with the added talent along the interior of the defensive line.

A little further back in the Packers' 3-4, Clinton-Dix's first three seasons in Green Bay can prove as a stepping stone.

Even for Jones, the safety taken out of North Carolina state in the second round, all you would have to do is consider the circumstances.

Hyde, now in Buffalo, leaves the Packers down one less human Swiss Army knife in their secondary. Hyde's versatility was criminally undervalued, but now with Jones in the fold, he offers a quick replacement.

It's an unnamed position where Jones, despite being a safety, could even play in the box as a linebacker like Morgan Burnett has done over the last two seasons. He'll also have a full offseason with Darren Perry to help mold his game.

In his rookie season, Clinton-Dix fit right into the fold, playing 86.1 (941) percent of defensive snaps. Only Burnett (943, 86.3 percent) and Tramon Williams (1,012, 92.6 percent) played more on the Packers' defense in 2014.

While some rookies don't come in and make immediate impacts, the Packers do have players who may be able to flip the script and turn some heads this upcoming season. In a success-starved defense, that kind of fortune would come at the perfect time.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Handsback's picture

I think the combination of King and Jones will be either starting or playing a ton of snaps. Adams will be playing about 25% of the time and maybe by the end of the year could make the all rookie team.

DesertPackFan's picture

I don't see a way Jones is starting this season. King will if not to start the season at some point. Jones on the other hand isn't going to start at Safety. He probably isn't the nickel CB, that should be Randall or Rollins. He won't start at ILB, that will be Ryan and Martinez.

Jones should definitely see plenty of snaps in both nickel and dime situations, either at ILB or after the top 3 CB in dime. If Burnett leaves in FA after this season, he'll start at Safety next year.

Starting Lineup
2 DL - Daniels and Clark
4 LB - Matthews and Perry outside, Ryan and Martinez inside
3 CB - King, House and Randall
2 S - Clinton-Dix and Burnett

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This makes sense. I do think Jones will get more snaps than Hyde did as a rookie (419 snaps), maybe as part of the big nickel package.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree with your starting lineup.

CB likely will be the position that could change the most amongst starters.

King, House, Randall, Rollins all could be starters. I could see any combination of those 4. Training Camp and preseason will be huge for these guys.
Another guy who isn't being talked about and kind of forgotten is Gunter. While I don't think is suited to be a starter, if he has a lights out preseason he could earn a bigger role or even a starting role. I don't see it happening, but he shouldn't be ruled out completely either.

DesertPackFan's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if Gunter doesn't make the roster. If he does, he should be at best a #5 CB among this group. I just don't see any upside in him, his athleticism is just too pedestrian.

RCPackerFan's picture

Unless someone really steps up I don't see him not making the 53.

He maybe maxed out talent wise. That being said he has played some good football. I don't think he will be a number one by any means but he can be a #3 or 4.
Ideally he would be the 5th CB. That would mean that the 4 ahead of him are playing really well... I'm just saying lets not completely rule him out either.

DesertPackFan's picture

What you've seen is what you get. I don't see him getting better. If they have a prospect w/ better upside, I would keep the prospect and let Gunter go. No questions asked.

Finwiz's picture

Gunter is yesterdays news, and has no business being in the NFL. He's just to slow.
I fully expect he will be cut in training camp, and if he's not, it will be an indictment of the development or effectiveness of the other DB's.

Since '61's picture

Fin - I agree with you. Between our draft picks and UDFAs, one of them has to be better than Gunther. Gunther should have been chucked already IMO. If he wins a spot in TC it doesn't say much for the new players we have brought to this year's camp. If everyone stays healthy we should end up with King, House, Randall, Rollins and Hawkins/Waters/Pipkins or a UDFA at #5 CB. With another of the last 3 on the PS. We need better players than either Gunther or Goodson. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

Randall is drafted to be outside CB. Not slot. And he will bounce back and play at high level. He is faster than House and have better ball hawk abilities. He played poorly last season because of the nagging groin injury (the worst soft tissue injury for CB).
I expect Rollins in the slot with Gunter as back up. Also, we will see if someone from last season PS or maybe from UDFA jump to the 53...

Since '61's picture

Croat - Randall may have been drafted for outside CB but he is better suited to play in the slot. His skill set matches up better as a slot CB in the NFL. Having said that it's possible that Rollins beats him out as the slot CB and Randall ends up as our #4 CB with King and House starting on the outside. House was drafted to be an outside CB and actually played the position well in 2015. King may be good enough to start out of the gate in Week 1, especially at home against the Seattle WR group. The key for this group is to stay healthy. Thanks, Since '61

Finwiz's picture

Right '61, I think Randall looks lost in man coverage with no help, but he looks like a natural in the middle with safety double. I keep going back to that INT last year where he closed the gap on the receiver down the middle and came out of nowhere. He looked like a prototypical free safety on that play. For that reason I think he would thrive in the slot where he's likely to have help in the middle of the field. That being said, I do think the Pack will be reluctant to move him given his speed and physicality, and I'm sure they view Rollins as the better slot guy because of his lack of length. Time will tell.

Bearmeat's picture

Agreed with Handsback. King and Jones will have every opportunity to be meaningful contributors early. Less so with Adams.

I'd also argue that 1 of the 3 rookie RBs will be a major contributor. Don't know which one obviously yet.

Tundraboy's picture

Liked Hyde a lot but I sure as hell hope Jones is not Hyde reincarnate. We need special and Jones may be just that.

cuervo's picture

Ditto----Hyde was not "criminally undervalued" as stated in the article, if anything after he has left he's been "overvalued" and made out to be the second coming of Woodson. Hyde was a very average player who could play different positions although he wasn't really great at any of them...but he was servicable. Thanks to the glut of injuries the Packers always had, he got to play alot.
I'm happy for him getting the big contract, but Buffalo overpaid big time.

DesertPackFan's picture

Its possible, maybe even likely, Hyde was undervaled while he was playing for the Pack, but has since become over-valued by many fans after leaving in FA. I've always considered him a valuable and versatile role player, but a role player nonetheless.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't think you can really compare Hyde and Jones. No one was talking about playing Hyde at ILB. Jones is bigger, faster and stronger. We'll have to see how much he can absorb during the pre-season before I'd dare to make a prediction regarding how much he plays,but at a minimum I think they will find some packages where he plays a significant role.

If King can perform as well as he measures he will be starting on the outside. Interesting to see how fast he develops. The strength of NFL WR's to beat the press could be an issue for him. I'll be curious to see how his coverage skills translate.

I hope the starting DL will be Daniels-Clark-Lowry. They each bring something to the table. I don't see Adams as more than a rotational player for passing downs this year.

Biegel is in a hole with the foot surgery. Hopefully, he gets fully mended. This may be basically a red shirt year for him. If he is picking up by December that would be perfect. Fresh legs for the playoffs.

You want to see a rookie make a real impact? Let's see which one of these RBs emerges. My money is on Mays.

DesertPackFan's picture

The Packers won't be starting 3 DL. Last year they started only 2 all year. That is likely to continue for the foreseeable future IMO. Daniels and Clark will start on the DL, w/ 4 LB, 3 CB and 2 Safeties.

MarkinMadison's picture

They were also heavy at OLB with playing Jones and Peppers at Elephant. Those guys are gone now. You may see the Packers get heavier up front to compensate for their departures plus the probability of seeing Burnett and Jones play more ILB.

RCPackerFan's picture

I could see that as well..

Possibly doing a 3-3 look. 3 DL, 3 LB's basically with Mathews playing an ILB/OLB combination.

MarkinMadison's picture

That's what I'm thinking.

zerotolerance's picture

Three DL started the early season Dallas game - Daniels, Guion, and Clark. I knew my record keeping would someday come in handy.

RCPackerFan's picture

I really think we will see 3-4-5 rookies playing a lot early on. Maybe not starting but playing a lot early.

King, Jones and Williams I think will play the most early.

I think Adams will be a rotational guy getting 5-10 snaps a game or so to begin with. He has a lot of players ahead of him, but he does have really good skills and could push his way into more playing time.
Biegel might get in a rotation as well. Maybe he will be used in specific packages. Probably will be a core special teams player early.

Don't be surprised if Aaron Jones plays early as well. I could see him being in the mix as a KR, and could also be a 3rd down type of RB very early. His receiving skills and speed are really good.

I really like this draft class. I thought Thompson and staff did a great job.

stockholder's picture

THE SCHEDULE SAYS 50%. The packers were lucky to get kevin King, and especially Jones. Capers is going to move the secondary around. I'm going to say that Adams gets more time than any other rookie. ( Especially with Guion.) And they may move Clarke outside like Raji. The DL is going to be interesting. With this new and improved secondary. BRICE HAS TO SHOW HIS FEET. And his smarts this year. Hitting won't do it. I'm still not sold on any of those WRs. The RBs better not Fumble!

RCPackerFan's picture

In a normal year I think King would have went much higher. The CB spot was deep this year.
Jones many thought should have went a lot higher.
Adams many said if he was more consistent throughout his whole career had first round talent just wasn't consistent enough.

At least to start unless he takes off right away. I don't think Adams plays ahead of Daniels, Clark, Francois, Lowry. By the end of the year he could earn a bigger role though.

I really like Brice. But with Jones he is going to have a harder time getting more playing time. But I love watching Brice hit people. The 2 hits that standout the most are the hit on the Dallas WR, and the Falcons RB at the goal line. Most players that would have been and easy TD (he had a 20 yard head start) and Brice absolutely stoned him.

sonomaca's picture

Jones and Brice both know for punishing style of play. That, along with speed, clearly a priority.

RCPackerFan's picture

The speed upgrade will be huge for the defense.

Packer Fan's picture

I agree the sky is the limit for the rookies. But looking at it practically, my hope is that about 5 or 6 of them are making significant contributions by year end. Otherwise, I don't think the Packers have the depth without them to have a deep run for the playoffs. Rodgers with the two new tight ends will get them there though.

First either King or Jones needs to be starting CB's by the end of the season. And the other at least a significant contributor in sub packages.

Second, Biegel and Adams need to be contributors by years end. Fackrell and Elliot will have lots of opportunities to show what they can do. Biegel will be coming along slowly because of his surgery.

Then the RB's will have to contribute. Montgomery will get nicked up. Expect some starts from them.

The balance of the rookies shouldn't have to contribute a lot. Unless there is a lot of injuries. Hmmm, that has happened.

Worztik's picture

Tough competition should eventually make all players better; both rookies and veterans. Lack of competition will surface if players are continually hurt or have lost their passion for the game! I hope we can all remain healthy and that the passion is still there for some older players!!! I think we're in for a WILD RIDE!!! Just sayin'...

The TKstinator's picture

"just sayin'"?

Since '61's picture

I think King, Jones and Williams will have the biggest impact this season. Adams and Biegel will contribute as well. The remaining draft picks will need to compete for their spots on the roster. Since the Packers need depth at RB, Aaron Jones and D. Mays both have a shot to stick. Amichia should stick based on the versatility he brings to the OL. The WRs will have a more difficult cracking the returning WR group but one of them should be able to beat out Janis out least. Interesting TC coming up. Thanks, Since '61

Somedumbname's picture

I concur.

Somedumbname's picture

I concur.

RCPackerFan's picture

The WR battle should be fun to watch.

Janis brings extra value as a special teams player. But hasn't been able to add the value to the offense yet.

Davis is a guy who could be their main returner and has the speed to get deep. If he takes a step it could be huge for the team.

Yancey is a guy who could really impress. He reminds me a lot of James Jones coming out. He could definitely earn a roster spot.

Dupre is very interesting. He played in an offense that was geared towards running the ball first, and never played with great QB's. He knows how to get deep and get open in the redzone. Definitely going to be fun to watch him.

Michael Clark is an interesting UDFA. He is 6'6 and 2016 was the first time he played football since his freshman year of highschool. He was a former basketball player and you can see that while he plays. He highpoints the ball really well. He ran the 40 in 4.53 which is really good for a 6'6 player. In his onlyear of college football he averaged over 17 yards per catch and had 5 TD's.
He is definitely a guy to watch because the Packers have no one like him at WR.

croatpackfan's picture

I think M. Clark will finish at PS. He played for small college, so he'll need time to adjust himself top speed and strenght of the NFL...

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, I agree. Only playing 1 year of college football will definitely mean a steep learning curve for him. I am not saying he will make the 53 or anything like that. Just saying I am looking forward to seeing him.

But his size/speed ratio is really good. And the way he uses his body is very, very good. Can definitely see his basketball background on the field.

Since '61's picture

At 6'6" it could be that we keep Clark around just to catch Rodgers Hail Mary passes when we need one. Thanks, Since '61

sonomaca's picture

Receiver battle will be really fun to watch. They should keep Janis for special teams contributions, but try him as a DB.

RCPackerFan's picture

Janis will be tough to be taken off of the special teams units. Though he does need to find a way to get on the field more on offense.

I have seen a number of people suggesting he goes to DB. If its taking him this long to learn WR, how long would it take him to learn DB?

The TKstinator's picture

Too long.

Finwiz's picture

Right, if he can't learn the offense, how's he going to learn all of Capers complex schematic adjustments? He'll be out of position ALL the time and it'll be quick six. We have enough of those "sieve" DB's without creating a new problem.

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