Cory's Corner: Packers Must Address Depth

More games means more capable bodies. 

There will be 17 regular season NFL games next year.

Who knows what will happen to the preseason, but regardless, it is time to prepare.

Depth is going to be stressed even more from this point on. Only 12 Packers played all 16 games last year and of those, three started a total of nine games and that doesn't even include Mason Crosby and JK Scott. 

This team desperately needs depth, and not just at key positions like quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and running back. 

What about tight end? Marcedes Lewis turns 37 in May and started 15 games. Robert Tonyan is the trendy pick to take a massive step forward in 2021 and then there's Jace Sternberger. Who is Sternberger and what are his expectations? He has played 18 games in two seasons and has been targeted a grand total of 16 times. The 2019 third round pick needs to be that depth piece or else the Packers desperately need to draft another tight end or grab one in free agency. Even with Josiah Deguara coming back for his sophomore campaign, the Packers will need more bodies in the tight end room because there's a chance that Lewis calls it a career after 15 years as a pro. 

Then, what about quarterback? Jordan Love may be on the roster, but how confident is coach Matt LaFleur to insert him or Tim Boyle if Aaron Rodgers has to miss a handful of games? This may seeem odd for two guys that were drafted in the first round in the same season, but Alex Smith would be an excellent backup and he would also provide another ear for Love's development. Smith started six games this past season, led Washington to a 5-1 record in those games and brought Washington an NFC East title. Obviously, it would be weird because Smith was taken first overall and Rodgers was taken 24th in 2005. But after 17 surgeries and even nearly losing his leg to infection, Smith has become the poster child perseverance and toughness.

We all know that the defensive line needs plenty of help, but that's nothing new. Every NFL team covets bigger and better bodies up front. But the key isn't settling for quantity and getting solid quality. The only quality defensive line players the Packers currently have is Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary. The only way that changes is if the Packers cut the fat and find some interesting cheap options in free agency while drafting some building blocks for the future. 

Depth is something that isn't talked about very often, but depth is what wins games. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (33)

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stockholder's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:40 am

Depth will come from waiver pick-ups. Just like last year. If Rodgers goes down. The Packers are done. We've known that since 2010. The only three leaving are King, Jones, and Linsley. So on to the Draft.

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mrtundra's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:53 am

I'd add Jamaal Williams to the gone list, unless something recently came up saying he is staying with the Packers. I have faith that Boyle could lead this team for a few games, if Rodgers went down. He is not a long term replacement for our MVP, but he is serviceable at QB. I think we should keep an eye on him and Love in camp this year. I'd definitely say NO to Alex Smith.

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Guam's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:50 am

Alex Smith - seriously? We have a #1 draft choice carrying a clipboard and you want the Packers to sign Alex Smith as a backup? No, just no!

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scullyitsme's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:53 am

Well if you listen to most of the commentators and writers on this site our crappy wide receivers are all stars and even if we did want someone, we can’t possibly spend any money. So guess the off season will just suck. :). We got a lot of draft picks though. So see ya then.

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mrtundra's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:59 am

Our WRs are a lot better than anyone gives them credit for. Yeah, MVS drops/ whiffs on passes, in crucial situations, but so do other WRs around the league. Ask Jaire Alexander why that is.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 02, 2021 at 10:40 am

MVS had a 50% catch rate from an MVP QB who completed 70% of his pass attempts last year.

It's amazing posters on here believe he is a legitimate #2 NFL receiver.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 02, 2021 at 11:58 am

It is amazing. It’s either that or they are the “we don’t need a number 2 “ crowd. Because in today’s nfl it’s all about running, or it’s the “ Rodgers would never throw to a good #2( cause I guess he’s an Idiot). Or the best one is that we had the number one offense in the league last year( who needs receivers) that would be every super champ in recent history. At least I haven’t heard the “ rookie receivers all suck for a couple years anyway” that’s still probably coming.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 02, 2021 at 12:57 pm

MVS brings value to the team as a legitimate deep threat. But he is way too inconsistent and has way too many drops to be considered a #2. He has right around a 50% catch throughout his 3 year career. Again, this with an HOF QB.

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Coldworld's picture

March 02, 2021 at 02:34 pm

You are familiar with D Adams? James Jones, to name a couple?

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PeteK's picture

March 02, 2021 at 01:14 pm

I think many insightful posters are looking at the receiving unit as a whole ( RBs 78 & TE 52 #1 WR 115 ) and surmising that the unit is extremely successful and that there are weaknesses that need to be addressed. Balance

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 02, 2021 at 03:23 pm

As a whole, the Packers receiving unit is a success, but take away Rodgers and you likely have a severe drop off. Even Adams will leave much on the field. The question is will Boyle or the hoped for drafted wonder Love, achieve with this receiver group, and that answer would be a resounding no. They may get by in some games, but neither will replicate the Rodgers effect at the moment.

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PeteK's picture

March 02, 2021 at 05:41 pm

But how wonderful would it be if we strike gold again with Love, and the most appropriate name.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 02, 2021 at 06:00 pm

It would be awesome, and would be more so, if we get more than one SB from him. Having 45 years of HOF QB talent with one SB win each would be pretty damn abysmal. So many Division Titles though, yippee!

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PeteK's picture

March 02, 2021 at 06:47 pm

The blues sung by many HOF QBs, Brees the most recent. Only 10 have won 2 or more and one was a Packer. Yes, it has been frustrating because we have been so close many times.

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Since'61's picture

March 02, 2021 at 04:27 pm

We did have the #1 offense in 2020. We also ranked #1 in the league in yards lost (552 yards) due to dropped passes by receivers not named Adams. I would say Lazard is a decent #3 and that MVS is a #4 or #5 receiver if we had a legit NFL caliber #2 WR.

MVS is good to bring in as a deep threat in a 4 or 5 wide set and have him works against the defense # 4 or 5 CB.
He would probably get separation deep against a nickel or dime CB. if he is targeted on the play it's still a 50/50 chance if he will make the catch or not.

MVS will entering his 4th NFL season in 202. Either he improves or he gets chucked. 13-3 with him, 13-3 without him. Thanks, Since '61

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PeteK's picture

March 02, 2021 at 08:23 am

I think the TE cupboard is well stocked, and when you draft a QB in the 1st round he better be your backup in year two. Also, agree with Stock, with all the players leaving and with cap issues, the chickens have come home to roost, a very good draft is a must. Starting CB, a solid T, DT, RB, repeat, and then slot WR instead of RB and an ILB. (magic poops just popped up in an advertisement from this site, hahahaha)

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Guam's picture

March 02, 2021 at 09:49 am

PeteK: You raised an issue in a prior thread wondering about whether Runyon and Stepaniak (and maybe Nijman and Hanson) were good enough to allow the Packers to not have to draft an OT early. Given that the Packers released Wagner prior to the draft I think you may be on to something. I doubt the Pack would let Wagner (and Veldheer) go without some confidence in the players currently on the roster. The draft can be such a crap shoot as to who is available when that I would be surprised if the Packers were banking heavily on the draft for an OT.

The draft will tell the tale, but if the Packers don't go OT early, they must really like the young guys they have.

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PeteK's picture

March 02, 2021 at 01:23 pm

I'll give credit to Jersey Al for that ,especially the Stepaniak & Hanson part, but it presents a very interesting and hopefully a fortunate scenario that would enable us to pick a DT and CB early. You're right , putting a young T on an island that early could prove disastrous even though it did work out with Bulaga and Bak.

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Handsback's picture

March 02, 2021 at 08:07 am

I would look at Short as a DT for FA pickup. Maybe another CB if cheap, but not a lot of money for new pickups.

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Coldworld's picture

March 02, 2021 at 08:19 am

Sometimes I think one can fish too hard for something to write about. Ironically, I can see some cheap veteran additions later in the year, simply because I think there will be more serviceable role players on the market if the cap is reduced. Mostly, however, depth is cheap, especially on a team with a huge QB salary. I understand that Lewis has said he’d like to come back, which seems to suggest it is a team decision.

One thing Gute has been very active in is finding talent from everywhere to add depth, and sometimes more (Lazard, Sullivan maybe Dafney,for example). I doubt that changes this year, certainly see no reason that it is likely to.

As to QB, I think it is particularly unlikely in a cap-strapped year. What we do have to spend would seem better spent on retention or FA depth at positions like CB, OT, or DL, if we do anything.

Might Smith help if Rodgers was injured? Maybe, but how much would his experience bring that Love or a retained Boyle wouldn’t through athleticism? Some perhaps, but not much.

At this point, if we can’t make the playoffs without Smith we have problems. Looking at the other teams, it’s weak this year most likely. If we do make the playoffs, I highly doubt Smith could carry us far. As such, why?

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marpag1's picture

March 02, 2021 at 09:28 am

"Sometimes I think one can fish too hard for something to write about. "

I would argue that some don't fish nearly hard enough. Or else just aren't very good at fishing.

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Since'61's picture

March 02, 2021 at 08:54 am

Every team needs depth. It is pretty much a league wide issue and it is why we see such poor levels of play especially when teams lose their first string players to injury. The CBA lack of practice time really has an impact on the backup players learning the game and their positions.

Now we are going to into a 17 game season!!?? In a year when players salaries will be compromised due to a reduced cap environment which they did not create. More importantly how will it be determined where game # 17 is played? In other words, will the Packers have 8 home games and 9 road games or vice-versa? How is that fair to the teams which will play 9 road games? Many unanswered questions here. But plenty of Madness>

Where is the NFLPA??? Are they going to allow a 17 game season without an increase in roster size? If yes, why? More importantly does the league understand or even care about the implications of extending the season. Aren't there enough injuries in a 16 game season already? An extra week offers the potential to water down the playoff teams before the playoffs even begin. This looks like another move by the league that has not been very well thought out. Just money, money, money. This why you can't fault players like JJ Watt for choosing the highest bidder for their services.

I'm guessing/hoping that there will only be 2 preseason games. Last year pretty much proved that the preseason games mean nothing.
It would be better to have more practices and limited contact scrimmages to prepare for the regular season. Leave it to the NFL to screw up a good thing. Goodell can ruin a wet dream. Thanks, Since '61

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 02, 2021 at 11:02 am

If the NFL will agree to keep the changes made to PS eligibility and call-ups going forward this will help. No way will they allow unlimited IR returns but the 3 week IR window + call-ups should both stay, with maybe an increase of IR returns from 2 to 3 or 4?

Lack of rookie preparation is an issue for sure, but any team who is relying on their rookies to make week 1 impacts has other problems.

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Since'61's picture

March 02, 2021 at 06:54 pm

Agree the changes made for the 2020 season will help and that the IR returns should be increased. Increasing the roster size would make sense also. Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

March 03, 2021 at 07:48 am

Personally, I’d just go with making last year’s rules permanent. It worked just fine last year from a competitive point of view. It allows younger players to get a foothold and gives older vets a chance to hang on or return. The effect is somewhat similar to a larger squad, but with more earning something and, in the absence of developmental leagues and a lot of players missing or having diminished final college years, I think the rules would help notwithstanding a Covid resurgence.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 02, 2021 at 02:16 pm

Move it back to 14 games and let the kid's in free for the pre-season walk-throughs. The greed curve is getting a bit out of hand and Vegas has Draft Kings to back their bottom line.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 03, 2021 at 02:44 am

The NFL's right to add a 17th game was already bargained over in the current CBA. Nothing for the NFLPA to talk about.

The NFL has the option to introduce the 17 game season in 2021 or 2022. That is simply so they can squeeze some money out of the National TV broadcasters since I doubt the NFL is going to allow them to televise an extra week of regular season football without paying extra for it.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 02, 2021 at 10:40 am

Alex Smith? I mean, the hot takes you usually propose are almost always a week behind the NFL news cycle and slightly off the wall.

But this?

Cory. What the hell are you smoking?

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Leatherhead's picture

March 02, 2021 at 10:51 am

Sorry, Cory, our backup QB will be Love. I think we’re well stocked at TE, and Lewis will return. We will get a starter on the DL in the draft.

We need at least 5 good CBS. How many do we have? What’s the plan if Dillon can’t play? Have we bolstered the offensive line?

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 02, 2021 at 11:04 am

The mentioning of Alex Smith.

How does one even find the miniscule of ridiculous to offer such as a plausible possible fix of a need that hasn't an iota of there, there.

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ricky's picture

March 02, 2021 at 11:52 am

Tonyan is a "trendy pick to take a great step forward" next season? He had eleven TD's, caught 88% of the passes thrown his way, and averaged over 11 yards a catch. Yep, he really needs to make a vast improvement to prove he has some value to the team. It is Sternberger who has several things to prove. That he can stay healthy; that he can be a reliable target, and that he can be a good blocker. I hope he takes the kind of leap Tonyan made in his third year. That would be worthy of being a "trendy pick".

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GatorJason's picture

March 02, 2021 at 07:55 pm

Here is the 2021 Packer Depth Chart:
QB: Rodgers, Love, Boyle. NCIH for Mr Smith
RB: Jones, Dillon, Rookie (R3). Jones T-tagged
HB: Dafney, Deguara
TE: Tonyan, Lewis, Sternberger
WR: Adams, Rookie (R4)
WR: Lazard, Taylor/St Brown
WR: Scantling, Rookie
RT: Turner, Nijman
RG: Patrick, Stepaniak/Baden
OC: Hanson, Patrick
LG: Taylor, Runyan
LT: Jenkins, Mayfield (R1) , Bakhtiari IR
RE: Keke, Previlon
NG: Clark, Harrison
LE: FA Vet, Rookie (R5)
OLB: Gary, Garvin
ILB: Barnes, Rookie (R6)
ILB: Martin, FA
OLB: Z. Smith, Rookie (R7)
WCB: Alexander, Hollman
WCB: Trill Williams (R2), Jackson
Slot: Sullivan/Nickerson
SS: Amos, Greene
FS: Savage, Black/Scott
P: Scott
PK: Cosby
LS: Rookie (R8)

Player/Player means competing for same roster spot.
P Smith could come back at DE if he took a wicked pay cut.

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barutanseijin's picture

March 02, 2021 at 09:40 pm

Jackson and Sternberger were healthy and yet did not play late in the season. Looks like the coaching staff is not as high on them as some fans. On top of that, Sternberger has a lengthy injury history. There is a high probability that one or both get cut before the final roster is set.

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