Green Bay Packers June Scouting Report
This report will focus on Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory Minicamp which have just been completed. I will look at both sides of the ball, the overall scheme trends, and position groups in terms of depth chart and deployment. Access for reporters to these practices has been very limited. Most of the information comes from players and coach interviews – and – some reading between the lines. So here it goes.
Offense – While HC LaFleur sends the message that the run will be used to set up the pass and be a priority in his offense, the amount of time spent in these early practices seems to favor the passing game. And LaFleur has said multiple times that putting guys in a position to succeed is important. Some reports indicate that some plays in the offense will be the same while others will be different. We will have to watch some games to know how it will look. However, the quarterback group is the same except for one undrafted free agent – in addition to QB Aaron Rodgers, QB DeShone Kizer, and QB Tim Boyle; QB Manny Wilkins has been added as an undrafted free agent. Wilkins is more of a running quarterback at Arizona State. Rodgers is the fantasy quarterback of interest and he wants to have the offense down pat by the time training camp starts so he can focus on other things. Timing patterns are the order of the day and Rodgers is being made to throw them on time. The individual coaching going on indicates that how this offense works is different than the previous one. At running back, RB Aaron Jones is the clear number one guy. RB Jamaal Williams is the clear number two guy. Both Jones and Williams have changed the way they look. Both look leaner and want to be faster. The Packers did add RB Dexter Williams in the draft and he has been getting significant reps with good results. It shows what they think their depth and RB Kapri Bibbs, and for that matter RB Tre Carson. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots at this point – the three they will keep are Jones, and the two Williams. How valuable Jones will be as a fantasy player will be determined by the work split between him and J. Williams. At fullback the Packers still have two on the roster. FB Danny Vitale will win the job over FB Malcom Johnson. However, FB will not be a fantasy concern. At tight end the Packers have TE Jimmy Graham, TE Mercedes Lewis, TE Robert Tonyan, TE Jace Sternberger, and TE Evan Baylis. Graham vows to have a much better season next year than last year – during which he was on a pace to set Packer records for catches and yards in a season until he injured his hand. Rodgers thinks it will happen too. So Graham should be your Packer fantasy tight end. Lewis was lightly used last year and Tonyan was hardly used. Sternberger is doing well with the pass catching part so far, but will have to grow into the blocking role. Until he does he may not be on the field much. Leading the pack at wide receiver is WR Davante Adams followed by WR Geronimo Allison. Those two are your primary Packer fantasy wide receivers. WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling and WR Equanimeous St. Brown are gaining ground as well. WR Jake Kumerow who also did well last year when healthy and had a chance should adapt well this year. A bit more of a mystery is WR Trevor Davis who needs to stay healthy and play more consistently, WR J’mon Moore is getting better comments this spring but as we found out last year it isn’t a guarantee, WR Allen Lazard and WR Teo Redding who were added during the off season, haven’t made the news. Finally, the Packers added free agent WR Jawill Davis and undrafted free agent WR Darius Shepherd. Shepherd is a true slot receiver and return candidate. We will see how it all goes in training camp. I know the offensive line is not a fantasy position group, but they enable quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers to do their job. So you should know if they will be any good or not. It appears that the OT David Bakhtari, OC Cory Linsley, and OT Bryan Bulaga have starting jobs tied up assuming they don’t get injured. For now it looks like the right guard is new free agent OG Billy Turner and the left guard position will be a competition between incumbent OG Lane Taylor and new draft pick OG Elgton Jenkins. That means at least two of last year’s line guys as reserves. Also, last year’s draft pick, OG Cole Madison reported this year and could add depth or potentially start – but at least he is in camp this year. This group will be better than last year’s group given some reasonable health.
On the defensive side of the ball, it appears that the line between a strict 3-4 or 4-3 alignment will be blurred a lot. Players listed at their positions may not play those only. Guys will need to be flexible and play multiple positions. Creating turnovers and playing tough up front and on the backend are themes so far in camp. Last year’s injury turnstile hopefully is in the past. At defensive line those destined to make the team should be familiar names. Those include DL Dean Lowry, DL Ken Clark, DL Mike Daniels, and DL Montravius Adams. Adams is improved by all accounts. Another two that may make the team is DL Tyler Lancaster and DL Fadol Brown – both did really well last year when they had the chance. This is a good group and will only be better this year. At outside linebacker the Packers added OLB Preston Smith and OLB Za’Darius Smith in free agency. They drafted OLB Rashan Gary and OLB Kingsley Keke. This adds to OLB Kyler Fackrell and OLB Reggie Gilbert. Personnel wise they have fixed this position and are now much more dangerous. At inside linebacker the Packers have ILB Blake Martinez, ILB Oren Burks, and ILB James Crawford. They drafted ILB Ty Summers. Then they added undrafted free agents ILB Randy Ramsey and ILB Colton Bolton. The Packers are obviously banking on Burks taking the other starting spot. But Crawford has also impressed this spring. We will see how the others do in training camp. At corner back the depth has grown to 12 guys. So the Packers have moved 2 of them to safety. The starters are CB Jaire Alexander and CB Kevin King. Returning from last year is CB Tony Brown (who eventually played well), CB Josh Jackson, and veteran CB Tramon Williams. Added to the mix are undrafted free agents CB Kabon Ento, CB Javien Hamilton, CB Nydair Rouse, and CB Chandon Sullivan. I haven’t heard how the group is doing. At safety the Packers added S Adrian Amos via free agency and S Darnell Savage via the draft – and expect them both to start. S Raven Greene came to camp in better shape this year. But S Josh Jones has decided it is in his best interest to not report and hold out for a trade. So if he is done with football in Green Bay it now leaves the Packers shorthanded. There is still S Tray Matthews on the team – but nothing is said of him. So the Packers went out and got S Mike Tyson, then moved former corner backs CB Natrell Jamerson and CB Will Redmond from the crowded cornerback depth chart to safety. Jamerson has some experience playing safety from his college days. I will say I am more excited than I have been in a while about the Packer defense. Their effectiveness still hinges on health. At this point I would recommend the Packer defense for your fantasy league, along with QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Davante Adams, and WR Geronimo Allison. There haven’t been many reports on special teams but I would include K Mason Crosby – he had one bad game but still made over 80% of his field goals last season. Of course opportunities will be the key thing for him. Training camp is a little over a month away. If you have any vacation trips to take, now might be the time – lots of NFL dead time coming. Next month will be a pre-training camp report. Have fun...
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