November 1, 2012

Packers’ Future Developing on the Field – Rating Green Bay’s Young Guns

We’ll soon find out just how prepared the Green Bay Packers are for the future. A fast-forwarding of sorts is happening right now as injuries to key players (and their backups) are piling up. This is the time "no-namers" begin developing into household names, so let’s examine who those candidates on the Packers might be.

Filling up the stat sheet with four interceptions in four games has put Hayward on the map. College coaches describe him as having a nose for the ball and for now, that’s carried over to the NFL. Learning from the likes of Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson never hurts and his size (6’2’) and jumping ability, means he plays the ball like a wide receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, opponents have completed only 44.8 percent of the passes thrown his way this season. It’s still early for Hayward, but his initial play has Packer fans hoping he’s the starting CB of the future, opposite Tramon. He already has an award on his mantle: defensive rookie of the month for October.

Household name potential: High (8/10)

The rookie outside linebacker has shown a nice burst and ability to get to and hit the quarterback. He’s certainly had trouble in coverage, but that’s to be expected of a player making the transition from end to linebacker. Perry’s raw talent and explosiveness are what should excite Packer fans. His motor churns fast, aggressive and with power – that’s the kind of combination that smells of long NFL career. Plus, you have to think he’ll continue playing alongside all-pro Clay Matthews – that won’t hurt.

Household name potential: Medium (6/10)

Green’s struggles are well documented. Minus a handful of 10+ yard bursts, Green’s vision, instincts and ability to break tackles has been lackluster. But give Green some time. The Packers offensive isn’t built to swap running backs in and out, especially when you have an antsy coach, new offensive coordinator and the best QB in the NFL. McCarthy clearly sees something in Green, in trusting him with 20-plus carries the last few weeks. Green has shown elusiveness on screen plays, perhaps it’s time for Green Bay to use him more in that capacity as a quasi-run substitute.

Household name potential: Medium (5/10)

Injuries to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and  Jermichael Finely have forced Cobb to play a key role in the offense; Packer fans are not complaining. Cobb wasn’t a true no-namer coming out of college, but most casual NFL fans didn’t know him at the start of 2012-13 season. Rodgers has completed 37 of the 43 passes he has targeted second-year receiver Randall Cobb on this season. That completion percentage of 86.0 is the highest in the NFL for a quarterback to a receiver with a minimum of 30 attempts. Just nasty. Cobb has the potential to be the Packers’ x-factor for many years to come; that one guy all teams game-plan against, but can never stop. Look for Cobb’s role, touches and maturity to increase exponentially in the next year.

Household name potential: High (9/10)

Any other Packers young guns you think have the potential to be household names? Disagree with my rankings? Chime in below in the comments!