Content
X

Create Account

Or log in with Facebook

X

Log in

Or log in with Facebook

Grading The Packers Rookies: Week 2 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

By Category

Grading The Packers Rookies: Week 2 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1: Damarious Randall (Grade: B-, Overall: B-) – While Randall didn’t make his professional debut with as big as a splash as Rollins did last week, there was plenty to like about the Packers 1st round pick.  The biggest thing that struck out to me about Randall’s performance is just how fluid he is in his transitions and his footwork.  While Rollins might be the better cornerback from a pure measurables standpoint, Randall definitely has him beat in terms of technical refinement, much in the same way Davante Adams and Jeff Janis looked during their rookie seasons.  I think the Packers are a lot more comfortable with Randall at this point, who started with the 1st team offense as opposed to Rollins who worked with the #2 defense.  Overall, Randall showed good awareness on the interception and good open field tackling but needs to learn the finer points of playing cornerback like how to beat rub routes and passing off receivers.

Round 2: Quinten Rollins (Grade: C, Overall: B) – Rollins made a big statement last week and I suppose it’s natural that there was a bit of a letdown the following week.  I’m starting to think that a lot of Rollin’s splash plays from last week were more about poorly thrown balls by Jimmy Garapolo instead of good plays from Rollins.  Against Pittsburgh, two things were apparent: 1) I think I only saw him once actually get his hands on a receiver at the line of scrimmage so he can get beat by slants and quick passes, which happened a lot in the second half and 2) his recovery speed is questionable, which is compounded by the fact that he hasn’t been playing bump and run means that if a receiver gets past him, there’s not much Rollins can do at this point. 

Round 3: Ty Montgomery (Grade: C, Overall: C+) – First off, since Montgomery was drafted in large part (purportedly) for his return skills, what can you say about his performance so far?  Personally I think he’s being way to conservative for preseason games but on the other hand he’s leagues better than Janis.  Of course a 3rd round draft pick is supposed to do more than just field the ball cleanly, and I can’t say that I feel the return game is any better than last year.  As a receiver he tends to round off his routes, which is a big deal for a slot receiver looking to gain separation.  On the other hand he’s shown soft hands with several difficult catches so far.

Round 4: Jake Ryan (Grade: B, Overall: B-) – Jake Ryan had another solid but unspectacular showing with positives in run and pass defense as well as rushing the passer, where he recorded two sacks.  I still think he’s a little lost in coverage, there were a couple occasions where he looks unsure exactly where he’s supposed to be.  Given his history as a DE/OLB before switching to ILB, I wonder if Ryan will become the blitzer in Dom Capers’ Cross-A gap blitz that he loves to employ (see Desmond Bishop/AJ Hawk).  I’m not convinced that’s he’s ready to start week 1 but I can see him as a valuable rotational player midway through the season. 

Round 5: Brett Hundley: (Grade: C-, Overall: B-) – While there’s plenty that went wrong with Hundley’s 2nd preseason game (mostly due to the fact that the Steelers actually rushed him), the one fact I keep coming back to is that he looks like a West Coast quarterback.  I vividly remember watching Vince Young in the preseason go to his first read, drop his head and then find a running lane.  Hundley on the other hand has remained a passer even under pressure.   I think there’s a lot to like about his ability to play from under center, drop back in rhythm with his receivers and climb the pocket under pressure.  He needs to figure out when to just throw the ball away and when his line breaks down but those are things that only reps in the NFL will improve. 

Round 6: Aaron Ripkowski (Grade: D, Overall: D) – I think we’re seeing the “Carl Bradford” experience redux.   Last year, the 4th round pick saw surprisingly little snaps in the preseason and eventually it became apparent that Bradford wasn’t able to adapt to the NFL.  Over the 1st 2 preseason games Bradford saw 19 snaps.  Ripkowski has one upped him by playing a grand total of 12 snaps on offense in the last two games.  Again Ripkowski was again not asked to pass block and overall I get the sense that the coaching staff simply don’t trust him.  The flip side is that while Ripkowski has largely been invisible on offense has shown up on special teams, making 2 tackles against the Steelers.  Is the advantage of Ripkowski on special teams outweight Kuhn, who also plays special teams, can run block just as well and most importantly pass block?  I’m sticking with Kuhn.

Round 6: Christian Ringo (Grade: B, Overall: B) – Ringo hand another strong showing, pushing back the Pittsburgh offensive line multiple times and both harassing the passer as well as stuffing the run.  Ringo still only has one move, the straight bull rush but he is able to get good penetration with that move alone.  I’m not sure how well he’s do against a double team but overall he’s definitely one of the better players drafted in the back half this year. 

Round 6: Kennard Backman (Grade: C, Overall: C) – Backman has largely been average; he’s made the easy catches and been 50-50 with the harder ones.  He’s not a very good run blocker (what else is new with the Packers?) and surprisingly wasn’t asked to pass block the entire game.  At this point, Backman definitely fits the Jermichael Finley role as an oversized wide receiver rather than a H-back/TE hybrid like Quarless and Rodgers.  He hasn’t turned any heads really but as a 6th round pick I think he’s done what’s expected.  

UDRFA: Ladarius Gunter (Grade: A-, Overall: B+) – Mr. August does it again with another fantastic showing against another team stocked with speedsters.  Gunter played well with the 2nd team defense and was in position to knock away a couple of passes and was generally the only rookie cornerback that consistently showed the ability to play lined up close to the receiver and in off coverage.  At this point I don’t think there’s any question that Gunter will make the team, it’s more a question of how well Gunter will fare in the regular season should he play. 

UDRFA: Alonzo Harris (Grade: C+, Overall: C+) – Harris wasn’t able to show as much this time as the first preseason game, only getting one rushing attempt, which went for 3 yards.  On the plus side, he was inserted as the 3rd running back, ahead of Rajion Neal, which shows how well the coaches thought of him against the Patriots.  On the downside, Harris missed two catchable passes when he tried to turn before securing the pass.  At this point I’m guessing it's a two horse race for the 3rd running back spot behind Lacy and Starks.  While Harris is probably the best pure runner of the backups, Neal offers a lot of versatility, as both a wide receiver and a potential special teams player.   

 

  • Like Like
  • 0 points

Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Do you have Rollins and Randall backwards in the Randall critique? I mean Randall's measurables are much better than Rollins, and Rollins looks more proficient in his technique to me.

hobbes's picture

While Randall has a slight lead on Rollins in regards to combine numbers, while watching the replay I get the feeling that Rollins is definitely the more physical of the two (like when defending the ball) while Randall has a smoother transition and backpedal.

Dan Stodola's picture

Randall made an INT, that's more than Rollins made. Playing outside Randall doesn't have the opportunity to make a tackle like Rollins did w/ the RB he took down.

I would say Randall made more of an impact than Rollins did in his debut. An INT trumps a couple pass breakups in my opinion.

hobbes's picture

To be honest I like them both, both have a ton of potential and very different playing styles. I'm not sure the Packers will be better at CB this year than last but I'm willing to bet they will be by next year.

Dan Stodola's picture

We all loved Tramon, but his QB Rating against over 100 shouldn't be too difficult to improve on. Hayward was the best CB last year on QBR against. The rookies will be the dime CB unless an injury forces them on the field. Even so, I think one or both could best Tramon's QBR against.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dan, what you wrote is true, but is not necessarily relevant. GB put Hayward in situations where he could excel (good coaching there), namely slot and playing zone, and he was great. Now we're talking about being on an island outside. GB will lose the 426 high quality snaps Hayward gave them in the slot (the snaps but probably not the excellence will be replaced by one of the rookies) and Hayward will replace the decidedly so-so 1000+ snaps that Tramon provided, assuming that Hayward is capable of playing 1000 snaps in the NFL w/o getting hurt and assuming that he can play outside at Tramon's 2014 standard, outside, which I think is possible.

MarkinMadison's picture

I agree, but I'm also thinking that Gunter is part of that equation.

Evan's picture

100%. It's no longer a question of if he makes the team. It's now a question of does he play ahead of Rollins and Randall.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm wanting to see how he looks against better competition. Is he just a role player? Could he start? Can he be stuck on Calvin Johnson and hold up? This year? Next year? He the most intriguing UDFA this year by far.

Evan's picture

He held his own against Antonio Brown last week, fwiw.

aj's picture

I have to disagree with your rating of Ripkowski completely. His role this year was always to be a special teams dynamo with the potential to replace Kuhn next year. He's very athletic and is simply learning the finer points of the FB position. Did you really expect him to outperform Kuhn this early when Kuhn might be the only person to know the offense better than Rodgers? Ripkowski has done very well imo.

Spud Rapids's picture

I agree with you AJ... I'm not sure that because he only played 12 snaps of offense that indicates anything. How many formations have fullbacks in them that the Pack uses? Also maybe there going to focus on evaluating him in the last 2 preseason games and will call more plays for him.

hobbes's picture

The Packers are actually 3rd in the league in running the football out of 2 back sets but that's sort of dodging the question since the vast majority of the time the "2nd back" is actually a tight end instead of a fullback. I'm not sure that's really applicable since preseason games aren't played the same way as a regular game and coaches will call plays not to get a 1st down or point but to see their players in certain situations; given that if the Packers really wanted to see what Ripkowski could do as a fullback, they would put him in regardless of what they'd actually do in the regular season.

hobbes's picture

I agree with you, I'm just not sure that it makes sense to keep Ripkowski over another tight end or another running back. The way I see it there's two factors: 1) Ripkowski is no good right now and the Packers don't trust him and/or 2) the Packers are trying to hide him on the practice squad and don't want him to show anything to other teams (this argument is a little more tenuous since it presumes teams are interested in fullbacks, which obviously isn't the case since plenty of teams operate without a fullback). I'm not saying I think Ripkowski was a wasted pick, I am saying I don't see how the team can justify keeping him on the 53 man roster this year given the amount of experience he's getting.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thomas, I was and am against keeping two FBs. I am not against keeping a ST ace who happens to be a FB. GB kept core ST players who were listed as TEs but couldn't play TE for years. Anyway, that would be my justification for keeping Rip on the 53.

Dan Stodola's picture

Completely agree. Ripkowski's only meaningful role this year will be on ST. And on ST he has already shown he's going to be a dynamo. He'll be lucky to have a role on offense.

I give RIP a B+, for his expected role.

Kuhn will be on the roster this year and mentor Rip to be the starter next year.

hobbes's picture

That's the million dollar question; is Ripkowski's ST ability outweigh Kuhn's versatility? Furthermore, does Ripkowski's ST ability outweight carrying another tight end or running back? Will the Packers carry a 2nd fullback again? Given the inherent weakness at TE it's a distinct possibility; I wonder if they would keep Ripkowski and then switch him with Quarless after his suspension is over.

Dan Stodola's picture

No million dollar question. Both Kuhn and Rip will make the roster. I would carry Rip on the roster and not bother w/ a #3 RB who probably won't add nearly as much as Rip on ST. Jordy's injury gifts a TE or 3rd RB a roster spot, since I don't see a 6th WR making it now. My guess is the TE over the #3 RB.

Turophile's picture

The coaches have to make a decision on Kuhn and Rpkowski.
Let's lay it out.

1) Kuhn looks as good as last year, despite his age.
2) Few teams employ a FB
3) Ripkowski has not seen much work on offense.
4) Because of 1,2,3, I think Ripkowski is stashed on the practice squad, with a good chance of NOT being claimed to another teams 53 man squad.

So that is what I think the Packers do. Hope he doesn't get claimed, then, with more time to refine his game, he takes over from Kuhn in 2016.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't think this is Kuhn v. Rip thing at all. Ripkowski isn't going on the practice squad, he'll be a game day active because of what he brings to ST, much like Bush used to do. It is Rip v. a back-up TE.

croatpackfan's picture

I would like to back up opinion from aj & Spud Rapids. It is not fair to grade player as you did. You expected to see Aaron blocking in pass and run and he did not do it. Did you consider, maybe he was not asked to do it? He might did exactly what coaches asked him to do. And because he did not play as you expected you decided to gave him grade D. Total unfair. But, I'm glad that Mike McCarthy has completely different (opposite) grade from you when we are talking about Aaron Ripkowski...

hobbes's picture

On the flip side, maybe he's doing exactly what the coaches are telling him to do because they don't trust him to do any more. If this were a regular season game, then I would agree with you; if he only plays ST and doesn't play on offense then that's his assignment. But since this is the preseason and the whole point is to evaluate his talent, why are they not evaluating his talent?

Let's put it this way: John Crockett, an undrafted rookie free agent who is at best the 5th running back on the roster and is almost certainly not going to be on the 53 man roster has gotten 15 snaps on average (and done poorly to boot). Ripkowski on the other hand was drafted and has seen 6 snaps per average. Something is amiss.

croatpackfan's picture

I understand your argument. But, on the other side, maybe Aaron showed enough on practice and during the meetings so coaches do not need him to play at the moment, because they need to evaluate other players who came as UDFA, like John Crockett. I do not expect Aaron will play much this year on O, but I think he will be on 53 roster. To be honest, from 6 TE, I do not see more than 3 to be kept on the roster. The rest are good candidates for PS. Also, Packers need good ST players and Aaron is that. So, he should be graded by his contribution to the ST, because I can't remember that I saw John Kuhn much while O was playing! Playing in formation with FB is something what, I think Packers are hiding from opponents this preseason...

4thand1's picture

The screen pass Harris dropped was huge. It would have gone for 20+ easy, maybe even a score. The name Ripkowski alone gets at least a B, you can't grade him a "D". So far he looks like a ST's beast from I've seen.

hobbes's picture

I thought Harris had surprising good hands against the Patriots but he really did lay a dud against the Steelers. I'm beginning to see that I don't value special teams contributions nearly as highly as many of the commenters, which is fine to each their own. While special teams is important for rookies, I think they also have to show something on the regular units to really stand out.

Clay Zombo's picture

I suspect until this year the Packers felt the exact same way about STs hence their pitiful ranking there the last couple of years. Im sorry but STs is 1/3 of the game and having players who play well on STs is important, moreso than a 3rd/4th TE or 2nd FB.

Im of the mind that with your Kicker, Long snapper and Punter all teams should keep a 4th specialist for those units if they have one thats that good. Right now I would say Ripkowski fits that bill no matter what he does at FB, anything we get from him at FB this year should be considered a bonus.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I get your point about STs being 1/3rd of the game. Technically, in 2014 GB ran a total of 2591 snaps: 1092 defensive snaps, 1050 offensive plays, and 449 STs snaps (source: Football Outsiders). 449 ST snaps of 2591 total snaps is 17.3%, a bit more than 1/6th. Forgive me if this came off snarky, since I would keep Rip as an STs ace (assuming he continues to show proficiency there) for the same reasons you appear to have in mind. Besides, I think Ripkowski's lead blocking might well improve in the 2nd half of the season when he is more comfortable and understands the offense better, which might come in handy.

ES 1957's picture

Considering that the Packers were dead last in the NFL in ST last season, I'd say Ripkowski should make the team on ST alone. A stud ST player is worth a lot to this team. Plus, Ripkowski and Kuhn may both be on the field in short yardage. He may not see the field for many plays, but the roles he was drafted to fill are important. Let the 3rd or 4th TE sit on the practice squad until they're needed.

Clay Zombo's picture

Sorry ES didnt mean to jump ahead of your post by replying to Hobbes. I did not read your post before writing mine but I can see we were thinking the same thing.

Log in to comment, upload your game day photos and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.

Or log in with Facebook

 
 
 

Quote

"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."