On September 4, the Packers are going to have to settle on 50 non-specialist players from a much larger group of large gentlemen. Between now and that date the Packers are going to have a lot of young men vying for these spots.
This post will try to offer a this pre-draft brief break down and encourage discussion about what Packers are potentially going be unsuccessful in their quest to be part of the final 53. I will update it after the draft because as Tony Moll will tell you, the seat can get a lot hotter after the draft. However, as Allen Barbre is hoping, the Packers may completely ignore a position during the draft, and in the unusual circumstance the seat can cool down. But I digress, I’ll do a post April 24 update.
This post will only focus on players that made the 2008 & 2009 roster. It just seems like a waste of time to talk about how Brett Swain, Brandon Underwood and Evan Scott-Dietrich probably feel the need to prove themselves again. Players on the hotseat will be given 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.
Offensive Line: This is probably where the most heat is. The unit underperformed and is slated to receive some early attention on draft weekend. Further, the 2009 roster allocated nine roster spots to the group, and there are ten players who were on the 2009 roster trying to make the 2010 roster. Also, the masses of mock drafts point to the Pack taking linemen with some high value draft picks later this month. I believe that will result in at least two guys from the 2009 roster won’t make the 2010 roster.
Allen Barbre: 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.
Breno Giacomini: 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.
Daryn Colledge: 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 Evan Scott-Dietrich can make a leap in his second year, Lang is allowed to compete at LG and Spitz’s recovery. Heat: Humidity.
Jason Spitz: 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.
Tight Ends: The Packers allocated three roster spots to this position last year and are probably planning to expend three again this year.
Donald Lee: 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.
Fullback: 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.
Korey Hall/John Kuhn: Both 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.
Defensive Line: The Packers allocated six roster spots to this position and probably planning to expend the same again. Currently, there are five players who made the opening day 2009 roster seeking to make the 2010 roster. While the Packers do need to add another strong DE to the roster, it seems unlikely the Packers will feel the need to take a DE in the top half of the draft.
Justin Harrell: 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.
Linebackers: The Packers allocated nine roster spots to this position last year, and could perhaps try and get by with eight; especially given the fact they had problems in the secondary last year and may try and carry an extra db this year. But given how important LB’s are to the special teams unit, I think it is reasonable to assume that nine LB’s will be part of the 53 man roster again.
Brady Poppinga: 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.
Jeremy Thompson: 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.
Cornerbacks: On the 2009 roster this position group took up six spots of the 53, and there is no reason to think it will be any less this year. During 2009 this unit gave up some big plays. The blogsphere can debate whether the big performances by Favre, Roethlisberger and Warner were because of the lack of pass rush or coverage breakdowns. Regardless, the Packers will surely draft one or two cornerbacks in the draft, with some mocks have the Packers devoting the first round pick to it. However, I don’t believe the competition for roster spots will be as severe due to 2009 injuries. Three cornerbacks, Blackmon, Harris and Pat Lee were placed on injured reserve in the 2009 season. There is a strong chance that Harris could begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. That being said…
Jarret Bush: 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.
 Mark Tauscher was signed mid-year and Jason Spitz was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter.
 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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