Offensive Players on the Rise in 2017

Let's take a look at which Packers players on offense will take the jump in their development for the 2017 season. 

The 2017 season has already started for NFL teams and for the true fans. Throughout the spring, the conversation is largely about player acquisition. The talk is about which players will be re-signed in February, purchased via free agency in March and drafted in April.

I get as excited as anyone wondering about what new players the Packers will have next season. But, before all that excitement, before the offseason truly heats up I want to take some time to reflect on a couple players on each side of the ball who are already on the Packers’ roster that I believe can make a big jump next season and help this team reach the ultimate goal.

Player development is key for every team. The salary cap has made this even more true, as teams must get production out of players who are still working on a rookie contract. Which players dug out of the rough the last couple of years are actually diamonds? Which players can make the jump to being more consistent contributors, playmakers and, football gods willing, stars? Let me just bust out the old crystal ball here. Or gaze at my Cheesehead hanging on the wall for wisdom. Same thing, right?

Projecting a player’s development can be as unpredictable as free agency or the draft. But what’s the rush to get excited about a guy that is most likely not going to play for the Packers next year, when you have a guy with a name like Geronimo already on the roster? There’s the segue. Let’s talk about Geronimo Allison. I will not refer to him by his last name for obvious reasons.

I believe Geronimo is in for a big role next season and he is going to respond. He finished the regular season with 12 catches for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Players like Julio Jones and Antonio Brown put up those types of numbers in a single game, but we are talking of course about potential. According to Pro Football Focus, Allison’s final player grade was 70, which made him the 81st ranked receiver in 2016. For comparison, the Packers’ other top three receivers each got lower scores for their rookie year – Nelson (68), Cobb (66) and Adams (65). Through anticipated ups and downs, these players have improved over time and Geronimo will too.

Beyond just production, Geronimo was clutch. His touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of the last game of the season against the Lions with the NFC North championship on the line put the Packers ahead two scores. He didn’t shrink in a big moment. It also showed he has the end zone savvy to find a hole in the defense or just beat your man however you can when Aaron Rodgers breaks contain.  Speaking of Rodgers, by all accounts it seems he trusts Geronimo, which is so important on this offense. Geronimo was invisible in the playoff games against the Giants and Falcons, but overall he is off to a great start and I think he is on the rise and will be a boost to the Packers in 2017.

Geronimo has nice size at 6'3" 200 lbs. According to nfl.com's profile on Geronimo for last year's draft, he uses that size as a, "High point pass catcher who gets full extension when trying to pluck the throws." We also saw Geronimo go down low for some impressive catches as well, barely getting his fingers between the ball and and the turf. 

Geronimo has the intangibles it takes to succeed. I am aware he was charged with possession of marijuana, but I do not believe that in today's NFL that would damage a player's reputation amongst his peers unless it became a big problem that is really hurting the team, perhaps with lengthy suspensions or things of that nature. Also according to the nfl.com profile on Geronimo, he, "Grinds on film. [He was] voted team captain multiple weeks in 2015 and takes his role of team leader seriously." 

Ty Montgomery is next on the list and I am more excited to see him next season than just about anyone else on the team. Montgomery finished the 2016 regular season with 457 yards rushing and three touchdowns, along with 44 catches for 348 yards. The main reason I believe Ty Montgomery is on the rise next season is that he will have a full offseason program as a running back. He will have more time to expand his knowledge of the playbook, particularly in terms of the pass protections. Montgomery is highly intelligent, being a Stanford graduate, and an extremely dedicated player based on everything I have heard and read.

I remember watching an interview with Montgomery last offseason in which he shared about how many questions he was asking during the meetings to make sure he grasped the playbook. He said he wasn’t just asking what to do, but why. He even fretted he may be annoying to other players in the meeting. Give Montgomery six or seven months to study any subject, in this case the playbook from a running back’s perspective, and I have no doubts he’ll be as proficient, or more so, as anyone could be.   

Ty Montgomery played in just six games and had three carries from the backfield his rookie year before an ankle injury kept him out the duration of the season. Then to start 2016, he had five carries in the first five games. The coaching staff had identified him as having the potential to be a running back, but Eddie Lacy’s injury made a decision for them.

Some have questioned Montgomery's ability to take the physical punishment of a running back. The most carries he had in a game in 2016 was 16. Other than that, he never had more than nine carries in a game. A lot of factors could have played into this, but personally I have a hard time believing fragility is a reason. He is 6'0" 220lbs. Besides, we all know that the running back position has become a committee system all across the league, so frankly I am not looking for one back to average 20-25 carries per game. Even if they could, I’m not sure I would want them to in the interest of longevity. Whether it’s Eddie Lacy or a player acquired elsewhere, the Packers will certainly need one other legitimate running back for 2017. Regardless of who that is (my personal and very non-influential plug is for Lacy, as I have already written about) Montgomery is going to be a big factor for this offense moving forward.

In addition, Montgomery is a tackle breaking machine. He had 98 yards after contact in the win at Chicago. And who remembers that stiff arm he put on Seahawks safety Steven Terrell? Once Montgomery’s natural ability to run and bounce off defenders is combined with a thorough knowledge of the system, look out.

I think it is also important to note here that Ty Montgomery’s selection in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft came as a surprise because the Packers seemed loaded at the receiver position at the time.

I was actually riding in the car with my wife the night he was selected and she was giving me updates on the Packers’ picks. When she said it was a wide receiver, out loud I said, “Oh, ok. Interesting. Thanks for the update. Where do you want to eat?” However, I was thinking to myself, “Perhaps she’s not reading the position correctly because I know we didn’t take a receiver this high.” Credit to her, she read it correctly.

It is common for there to be minimal enthusiasm when a player first arrives, but within a couple of seasons you can’t imagine not having them. Montgomery is already impressive, and he will continue to show great improvement in 2017.  

When you look at the offense, who do you see making a big jump in 2017? Who will take their game to a higher level for the 2017 Packers? Next, I'll give my thoughts on the defense (I’m nervous already).

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Comments (18)

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4thand1's picture

February 19, 2017 at 01:36 pm

Geronimo may be facing a suspension and I don't like Montgomery taking a beating with a lot of carries. The offense needs to come out of the gates like they finnished the 2nd half of the season. The road to the SB needs to go through GB.

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EdsLaces's picture

February 19, 2017 at 06:19 pm

I'm with ya man I LOVE Monty, but him playing a RB for a full season,I just don't see him holding up. I would love it if it was him sharing the load with a trimmed down Lacy or one of the many stud rbs I'm this draft class however...

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Scott Stach's picture

February 19, 2017 at 09:45 pm

Curious why you feel this way about TyMo? Is there something specific or just a gut feeling? Have seen others comment on his size being less than ideal but he's just as big if not bigger than a lot of other RBs in the league at 6' 217lbs.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

February 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

I feel his vision is the best I've ever seen in a 1st year RB in GB. He also has a knack for being extremely elusive. He makes the right read, hits his hole and squirms out of sure tackles when meeting defenders head on. What's not to like about that? Its nice to have a runner like Ty working the short passing game, too.

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Since'61's picture

February 19, 2017 at 03:51 pm

I'm hoping that guard Lane Taylor takes a big jump. Protecting Aaron Rodgers is job one and the better Taylor becomes the better the OL as a group will be. I would also like to see Trevor Davis make a leap as well. He went into MMs dog house last season after fumbling a punt but we could use his speed on the outside to open up the passing game. If Jared Cook is retained and remains healthy he could also have a huge role in this offense. Thanks, Since '61

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Ferrari Driver's picture

February 19, 2017 at 05:03 pm

Thumbs up!

Nice article and well written.

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Bert's picture

February 19, 2017 at 05:17 pm

I am hoping Spriggs can add some muscle and bulk up a bit. Having him physically ready to play across the line and compete for a starting a job somewhere would be a big help. A jump from Geronimo would be very nice but I'm never sure just how high the UDFAs ceilings are. Hopefully he has a lot more growth potential. Just hope Ty can stay healthy for 16 games.

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Turophile's picture

February 20, 2017 at 02:55 am

I think Montgomery is close to what he always will be, which is a useful change up from the no.1 RB. Allison may get a little better, just as Adams might, but I think both are close to the top step already, in terms of step up. With a nod to Lane Taylor, I agree with Bert, Spriggs is the guy I expect to make a big jump. All he needs is to build up his strength and get reps.

The guy who hasn't had much shout out is Trevor Davis. He has the speed you can't teach (and that the Packers need), but has a way to go in many other areas.

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kevinmooney's picture

February 20, 2017 at 02:02 pm

I'm with you on that. We can only assume the Packers know which direction he needs to go in terms of his weight and strength (up and up if you ask me). But he has the perfect frame on which to build an offensive tackle and that's how you make the choice to draft him. One thing that worries me is hearing comments that he doesn't have a truly aggressive attitude. We can just hope that with time comes experience, and therefore confidence to be more aggressive.

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Chad Lundberg's picture

February 20, 2017 at 12:55 am

Still not sold on Geronimo Allison just yet, I was more sold on Jarrett Boykin, and he just completely flopped the following year. He could be good, sure. But I wouldn't be surprised if he just suddenly starts lacking.

People need to make more of an emphasis on the point that Monty isn't just going to be a good running back, but a pass catching running back as well. With him, Lacy and Ripkowski running the backfield together, they could form a deadly trio that has all the talents of the position.

Why didn't you talk more about Davante? It feels like he's going to be a really good player next year. Possibly REALLY good.

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kevinmooney's picture

February 20, 2017 at 01:59 pm

Thanks for the comments and questions Chad. I'll offer my two cents.

As far as Allison is concerned, I agree, and said above, that it is difficult to project exactly how a player will fare in the future. I put a lot of stock in intangibles such as leadership and being able to rise to the occasion in a big moment and I think Allison demonstrated that.

I think Montgomery is widely seen as a great threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Not being able to cite specific examples, but I would think there is more emphasis on his role as a true running back right now because he just made that switch. He was a receiver, so it seems to me like an obvious point but certainly important.

And to your question about Davante, I would say that he could certainly improve greatly, but I was thinking more of players that we have seen flashes from but at the same time have a relatively small sample size. Davante tied for second in the NFL in touchdown receptions last year. We already see him playing at a top-notch level. He could, of course, improve, but he's already in the upper echelon of wide outs if you ask me.

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Donster's picture

February 20, 2017 at 07:38 am

Montgomery looks to be the "Matt Forte" of the Packers. He is a dual threat that they have needed for awhile. I'd like to see Lacy back, the trimmed down version. Not giving up on John Crockett yet. See how he returns from his injury.

On Geronimo we will just have to wait and see. I still would like to see more speed at the WR position however. That is why I am hoping that Trevor Davis takes a big step forward this coming season.

I look at Spriggs as a possible bust if he doesn't improve significantly. I believe he was taken to high in the draft last year.

If the Pack can re-sign Cook, that would be great. But they still need to either draft a TE or pick up a decent free agent.

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Handsback's picture

February 20, 2017 at 07:58 am

Good job Kevin! In regards to Monty, he should be catching/running the ball 10-15 times a game. There still exist a need for another RB. In some mock drafts they have a RB going to Green Bay in the first round. It shows how wrong experts are in covering teams. The Packers need another RB but they already have the compliment w/ Lacy. I think they need to use both of them to see how the offense will function. Both can catch the ball and Lacy can be used in the 4th qtr to salt the game away. So that tandem would be new next year if Lacy is signed. I think Devante/Geronimo/Davis will see a lot of action and have strong years along with a healthy Cook. If you want to add depth or another weapon, I would think a short very fast WR could do the trick. It would give Rodgers plenty of targets.

The line is a question mark for me. Spriggs and Murphy need and should take that extra step-up next year. Bulaga isn't getting any younger, the Packers could lose both Lang and Tretter and replacing a starter and having adaquate depth will be a requirement with the injuries this team sees on a yearly basis. So adding more Oline guys will be a must. Who knows...maybe even a FA!

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sonomaca's picture

February 20, 2017 at 10:20 am

Apparently, Tretter is a hot commodity, so Lang might be back. His injury vs. Atlanta might lower the market price on him. If he's not signed, means the Pack have confidence in Spiggs and Murphy.

Wouldn't count on Allison, necessarily. He benefited from the presence of Cook, who is a question mark. Also, 2nd year receivers sometimes struggle as responsibilities increase.

If NE trades Garappalo for a 1st, I think Hundley will fetch a late 2nd, early 3rd. The Pack desperately need another high pick. They have to trade Hundley before his contract is up (unless Rodgers is planning to retire).

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Turophile's picture

February 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

I don't think Hundley generates much interest this year, even though I believe he is worth a late third right now. The reason for his modest value is mainly down to the conservatism of GMs, since he is only 23 and has looked very good in his rookie preseason. In his second preseason, f or those that have forgotten, he was injured.

Since his contract goes through 2018, I think his peak value will start from when GMs have looked at his 2017 preseason, up until May 2018, in other words just after the 2018 draft, but before camp. How high that will be depends on how well he does in the 2017 preseason, and if he gets to play meaningful snaps in the regular season (not wishing injury on AR), and looks good, he could rise quite a lot.

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sonomaca's picture

February 20, 2017 at 06:29 pm

You may be right, but given the weak QB class, trade values might be inflated. Also possible that the Packers think Hundley could be a star.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

No mention of Jeff Janis? Is he forever relegated to the role of ST gunner or will he see snaps on offense this year? Will he even make the 53 this year?

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kevinmooney's picture

February 20, 2017 at 02:09 pm

I would love to see him improve at the wide out spot. I can't say for sure he won't but I feel like I am understanding more lately why he hasn't gotten the opportunities we all want him to get. There is so much more to being a receiver than being able to run fast. He's a straight line runner. His route timing and breaks in the route are not clean. They don't trust him not to make mental mistakes. Physically you would think he could win jump balls over defenders, and if he had demonstrated the ability to do so in practice then surely he'd be getting that opportunity in games. He's very fast - but lots of guys are fast in the NFL. If he had the speed to run so far past every other defender, we would have seen that already.

I want to see Janis grow and I was happy to see the end around handoffs to him - which he made big plays on - because I thought it showed the coaching staff also realized he's a threat.

Again, I don't see what I've written as an exhaustive list by any means. That's why I asked for your input, so I appreciate you offering it up!

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