Last April, I did a post regarding who is on the hot seat before the draft. The post only focused on players that were on the 2008 & 2009 roster. Players on the hotseat were giving three “heat” ratings. “Spring Fever,” a condition where things feel warm, but in reality it is just a sunny March day; objectively not that warm, and you should probably put pants back on. “Not the heat but the humidity,” where it feels really hot, but it’s not actually the heat, however you should still get into some air conditioning. Finally “Working road construction in August,” enough said.
On a side note, between the April post and this post, I’ve gotten engaged, set a wedding date and painfully worked through a guest list. It got me thinking that deciding who makes the 53 man roster and who makes the final wedding list of a small wedding seems to be a similar process. In both circumstances, the last couple choices are always tough and it is a process where multiple parties have input and opinions (53 man roster, owner, coach and GM; Wedding List, you, her, parents). However, some things are different; if a player doesn’t make the 53 man roster you can always invite them to the practice squad. There is no practice squad in wedding planning. It’s difficult to imagine what the “wedding practice squad” would entail, but if it meant no bar privileges, I doubt you’d have any takers.
Before I get to a substantive discussion, here is a comparison of several close calls on the Packers squad and how they are like close calls on a wedding list. The first close call, Donald “we used to be really good friends” Lee. Lets face it, the NFL and guest lists are what have you done for me lately kind of things. There are people who you may have been really tight with back in 2007, but for the last few years, it is hard to remember hanging out with them or remember them catching touchdown passes. The second close call, Justin “the doubtful attendee” Harrell. Weddings are all about people showing up, so it is hard to use the last spot on someone that you doubt will show up. Their failure to attend is not their fault, they have lots of obligations, they live far away, or maybe they have had multiple back surgeries. The third close call, Brady “It’s not you, its…” Poppinga. A wedding guest isn’t an island; they usually come with their own circumstances attached to them. Whether those circumstances are a spouse who drinks/argues politics, or a non-starting football player in a scheme that doesn’t suit them with 2.3 million dollar salary, those circumstance can sometimes doom an otherwise deserving guest/player. Finally, there is the wedding guest invite that all the other guests look at and wonder, “What the hell is this guy doing here?” Jarret Bush is that guy.
Offensive Line: Pre-Draft offensive line looked to be where the hottest competition for roster spots was going to be. Three players from the 2009 roster will need to be cut, if we assume that the Packers will keep the same number of offensive linemen as 2009 and that Bryan Bulaga and Marshall Newhouse both make the roster. My prediction is that Breno Giacomini and Allen Barbre are cut and Newhouse and Evan Scott-Dietrich fight it out for the last roster spot.
What I wrote in April: This 2007 fourth round draft pick does not have a lot to show for his three years on the roster. Handed the starting job last year, he was an instant disappointment. His great speed and athleticism did not equate with the ability to keep himself between the defender and the quarterback. His supporters point to his improvement as the season went on; however his roster spot is definitely contingent on his ability to learn from his mistakes in the offseason. Heat: Road Construction.
What I write now: The Bulaga and Newhouse picks pretty much sealed any chance this player had of coasting into a roster spot. Things are going to have to break his way and he’s going to have to show major improvement to be on the team. Heat: Road Construction.
What I wrote in April: This 2008 fifth round draft pick hasn’t even given fans a reason to learn how to pronounce his name. All you need to know about him is that the coaches felt that he would not have done as well as Barbre. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I have to believe that Breno had more healthy scratches from the 45 day active roster more than any other 2009 Packer. Supporters would point to his exceptional size (6’7), the fact he is a project being a converted tight end and missed the 2009 offseason workout program with an ankle injury as reasons to hope for improvement. But, I can’t think of a scenario in which both he and Barbre make the roster, and it’s very possible both of them don’t. Heat: Road Construction.
What I write now: See what was previously written about Barbre. Heat: Road Construction.
What I wrote in April: This 2006 second round draft pick has been widely inconsistent. He was one of the worst performers in the 2009 campaign, consistently allowing pressure up the middle. However, Colledge has started 44 of 48 games and was considered one of the team’s best offensive linemen after the 2008 season. His decision to boycott the 2009 offseason program may end up hurting him if Scott-Dietrich can make a leap in his second year, Lang is allowed to compete at LG and Spitz’s recovery. Heat: Humidity.
What I write now: Colledge isn’t the lock to make the roster that he was in 2009. He is going to be competing with Spitz for the starting LG spot. Colledge could be the odd man out if he never puts himself into contention for the starting spot, there are now enough young players on the team that if all of them step it up. Although the probability of all the aforementioned young players stepping it up is unlikely and he will certainly be traded rather than cut. Heat: Humidity.
What I wrote in April: This 2006 third round draft pick has been a constant presence on the offensive line, but has never really shined. Also, Spitz is trying to recover from a back surgery, so it will be interesting to see what type of shape he is in at the start of camp. Like Colledge, his future will depend on the play of others, including Colledge. Heat: Humidity.
What I write now: Spitz isn’t a lock for a spot either. He is recovery from a season ending back surgery. Ask Harrell what that is like. As with Colledge, if Spitz never competes for the starting Center against Wells or LG spot against Colledge and the younger players step up big, he could be released. Heat: Humidity.
What I wrote in April: Jermichael Finley has supplanted him as the starter and Havner made strides in the position last year. Further, Lee’s production dropped for the second straight year and he made some very noticeable drops in the end zone area. Doesn’t sound like a guy who deserves a two million dollar salary, does it? Finally, the Packers have already signed three street free agents at the position. But, Lee has two really good things going for him though. First, even after the season, Havner, a converted linebacker and special teamer, can’t be trusted to be the #1 TE in the event of a Finley injury. And this was before Havner’s stupid alleged drunken driving accident. Second, tight end is not slated to be a high priority in the draft and his successor is probably going to have to come from the street free agent department, making the fact he faces tough competition improbable. Heat: Spring Fever.
What I write now: Donald Lee was looking like a near lock for a roster spot until Anthony Quarless was drafted in the Fifth Round. This put either Havner or Lee in a position to be cut. During mini camp, McCarthy said that the battle would come down to special team play, which is Havner’s specialty. However, Quarless isn’t a lock for a roster spot. Being drafted in the fifth round by the Packers, doesn’t mean an individual will make the final roster, just ask David Clowney or James Merideth. If Quarless can play up to potential and Havner is available (legally and health wise), Lee could be cut in a nice cost saving move. Heat: Construction.
Korey Hall/John Kuhn:
What I wrote in April: The Packers definitely stood out last year having three full backs and three half backs on their roster last year. I believe that the Packers will take a developmental QB on the third day of the draft, and if ESPN would have you believe it, it could be Tim Tebow. Carrying three QB’s will mean another position group losing a roster spot and I think that FB might be that position. Kuhn and Hall are relatively reliable players. However, absent a training camp meltdown, I think the Packers will give a Quinn Johnson another year on the roster to learn the position and the playbook. Look for one of these players to be sacrificed to make way for the developmental third QB of the future. Heat: Construction.
What I write now: Nothing has changed and Hall, Kuhn or Johnson is getting cut/traded. Heat: Construction.
What I wrote in April: Do I even need to state the reasons why this 2007 first round draft pick is going to have a hard time making the roster? Even though the release of Michael Montgomery created a natural roster spot that has to be filled, Harrell is going to have to do a lot to prove himself worthy of that spot. While some may say that he’s built to play 3-4 DE, it is unclear if he has the spine to play professional football anymore. Pun intended. Heat: Construction.
What I write now: Things have really changed for Harrell. The Packers added two DE’s in the draft, second round Mike Neal and seventh round C.J. Wilson. That changed for the bad for Harrell. However, Johnny Jolly is now gone for the entire year, this means that there are two natural roster spots to be filled by DE. This means that if Harrell can outwork Wilson, he can earn a roster spot, although part of that work will involve him convincing the coaching staff that he can go the entire season.
What I wrote in April: This 2005 fourth round draft selection did not transition well to the 3-4 defense. Despite being a collegiate defensive end, Brady just doesn’t seem to be able to bring the outside pressure, which is crucial in this system. When Aaron Kampman went down injured, there seemed to be no thought that he should step in and start. This doesn’t sound like someone with a 2.3 million dollar salary does it? Brady has three things going for him, 1) departure of Kampman created a natural roster spot, 2) Jeremy Thompson could be dismissed before him, and 3) he’s a character guy which Ted apparently is willing to pay for. Heat: construction.
What I write now: When I put Poppinga on the hot seat last April it assumed that a top half draft choice would be used on an OLB and that Jeremy Thompson would be on the roster to compete. Two natural roster spots were created by Thompson’s retirement and Kampman’s departure. This would mean that assuming the Packers keep nine LB’s on the roster, three undrafted free agents would have to make the roster to take away Poppinga’s job. Heat: Spring Fever.
What I wrote in April: This 2008 fourth round draft selection has only distinguished himself by being the first (and only one of two) player that Ted Thompson ever traded up for. However, that is where the distinguishment ends, because while some may say that Thompson has skills, he does not have the skill to be on the field on a consistent basis. While Thompson may have been ripping it up during the 2009 OTA’s last year, that practice excellence never translated into 2009 game time ability. However, Thompson is still young and the switch to OLB is something that just began last year. Heat: Spring Fever.
What I write now: A neck injury caused an early end to Thompson’s career. From everything I read about him he seemed like a class guy and I wish him the best of luck in his post-football life. On a side note, if you are in the Canadian border area next Memorial Day weekend, please feel free to attend my wedding.
What I wrote in April: Jarret may be the second most criticized Bush in America. There is not enough room in this entry to re-post the complaints Packer fans have of Bush. Bush probably usurped Justin Harrell as the most hated Packer last season. However, Bush has three serious factors helping him make the roster. First, health concerns may let him make the roster. If there are six roster spots for the position, if no rookie makes the roster, Harris will have to come back, Blackmon will have to fully recover and Pat Lee will have to recover and Underwood, Bell, or Ford will have to beat out Bush to keep him off the roster. Second, even if Bush isn’t the sixth best corner, his versatility may allow him to keep his roster spot as the fourth best safety. Finally, he does play special teams well; so the Packers may just move him to tight end. Heat: Humidity.
What I write now: Things have fallen into place for Bush to seem like a virtual lock for the 2010 opening day roster. Underwood has gotten into trouble which uncovered indications that the Packers didn’t think that much of his long term attitude anyway. The Packers did not address the position in the draft. It seems like a virtual guarantee that Harris will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, which may mean that Bush could be on the opening day roster, but be cut in the middle of the season. Heat: Spring Fever.
 This post assumed that Thompson would make a 100% recovery from his neck injury. However, even if Thompson cannot return for the season, I am very confident that the Packers will just place him on injured reserve as Thompson is signed throughout the 2011 season.
 Not making a political statement, just saying.
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