There are some nasty rumors that the offense has plateaued. Let me reassure you that should not be the case. Aaron will be back to lead the offense and he will have a full compliment of weapons...and a running game to boot. They do have to rectify some positional depth issues. The offensive line could be an issue and could present a challenge for Rodgers to stay healthy all 16 games. Otherwise, they should be fine as long as they have no major injuries to their starters. Mind you they always start the year off slow because the regular season is the first substantial snaps the starters have taken with McCarthy’s light preseason workload. R-E-L-A-X...
Wide receiver: This is a position of need with the loss of Jordy Nelson. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are the starters. Adams has finally come into his own (74 catches, 885 yards and 10 TD’s in 2017) and earned a contract extension. The extension was the beginning of the end for Jordy Nelson. Adams suffered two severe concussions last year and there are concerns whether he will be susceptible to more. Cobb is a “jack of all trades” entering the last year of his contract. He does need to step his game up after a lackluster 2017 (only 4 TD’s). Geronimo Allison would be the #3 today (23 catches, zero TD’s in 2017) with no proven depth behind them. Trevor Davis is a not reliable route runner and needs to be upgraded. Michael Clark is a 6’6” project who has the tools but needs more time to develop. McCarthy utilizes three wide receivers sets on the majority of plays so it is crucial they draft or pick up a free agent or two so Rodgers isn’t throwing to practice squad players if any of them go down with injury.
Tight end: Depth is a concern with the loss of the unimpressive yet productive Richard Rodgers. Jimmy Graham was a big free agent pick up and expectations are high (10 TD’s with Seattle in 2017). He is strictly a receiver who attacks the ball with vigor but has no blocking skills. He ruptured his patellar tendon in 2015 that has sapped some of his lateral quickness but is still a tremendous red zone target. The talent is there for him to flourish in this offense and they desperately need him to. Lance Kendricks is a solid backup who did not perform well in 2017 and had too many drops (seven to be exact). Emanuel Byrd is an undrafted FA who showed promise but can the Packers rely on him if Graham or Kendrick’s are injured? Let’s go back two years - letting Jared Cook go was a mistake. He was the perfect tight end for this offense. We should be ok this year as long as we are injury free.
Running back: This is an over looked position because Jamaal Williams (828 total yards, 6 TD’s and zero fumbles in seven starts in 2017) and Aaron Jones (448 rushing yards, 5 TD’s in four starts in 2017) performed admirably and exceeded expectations as rookies. Ty Montgomery comes back at full health but has not put together a full 16 game season in his career. He is a weapon when healthy. Aaron Jones needs to prove he can be durable (missed four games in his first season). Behind your top three is unproven Devante Mays and a couple practice squad eligible players. In order for this offense to be ultra productive, we need a running game to compliment the passing game and make defenses honest. It will allow the vaunted “play action” pass to be a dynamic piece of the offense (remember the classic play action TD pass to Jordy against Seattle last year?) We need one more quality back up to shore up this position. At fullback Aaron Ripkowski is a terrific special teams player and adequate blocker. He fills a tremendous need because our current tight ends lack blocking skills. He is a good locker room presence as well.
Offensive line: There is no problem on the left side but there are issues on the right side. David Bahktiari is one of the best left tackles in the game and left guard Lane Taylor has filled the hole when Josh Sitton was let go. Corey Linsley is an above average center that is reliable and can be counted on to make the right line calls on the fly. The right side is in limbo. Bryan Bulaga will be back at right tackle but cannot be counted on. Since 2010, he has only one season (2016) in which he played all 16 games. He missed 11 games in 2017. There are concerns about his availability and durability. Jason Spriggs has not played to the level they expected when they traded up in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. He is coming back from a dislocated knee cap injury. He was starting to play better before going down against Minnesota. Kyle Murphy is strictly a back up in a pinch who is also coming back from knee surgery. Right guard is currently a glaring hole while Jahri Evans decides his future. Even if Evans comes back, his best days are behind him. Justin McCray performed well playing every position on the line last year and will be counted on to start at right guard. McCray is no TJ Lang and is a below average pass blocker but makes up for it with great effort. Lucas Patrick is a gamer who excels at run blocking. Adam Pankey is not going to scare opposing defenses. They need to invest in protecting the franchise player they sink or swim with (Aaron Rodgers).
Quarterback: This is the most stable position on the team as long as #12 plays a full season. Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league and the Packers literally sink or swim riding his greatness. His ability to read defenses “pre snap” is unparalleled and he rarely turns the ball over. He has never thrown more than 13 INT’s in his career and has thrown single digits INT’s in eight of his 10 years as a starter. There will be a battle between Brett Hundley and newly acquired DeShone Kizer to back up Rodgers. Hundley had three years to develop. His performance last year filling in for Rodgers after he broke his collarbone in week 4 was unimpressive in nine starts (12 INT’s) who lacked field awareness and ability to read defenses. These were all red flags coming out of UCLA. He had many opportunities to find open receivers. He never saw them because he keyed in to the “hot routes” and when they were covered he didn’t have the ability to process and react on his progressions. There is a belief that Hundley has reached his ceiling. Kizer is young and more talented with a higher ceiling. He had a rough rookie year leading the Browns to zero wins, but that wasn’t unexpected. He has a stronger arm and better pocket presence than Hundley and is just as nimble. The biggest difference is he processes game information quicker which is required in this offense. It should be the most interesting battle in training camp unless they sign an available veteran. Joe Callahan lacks arm strength and is not a viable option. They would be ill advised not to scour the free agent market for a veteran QB such as ex-Dolphin Matt Moore. As we saw last year, you can never be completely comfortable with what you have. It would be foolish to go into 2018 with only 2 QB’s. This years QB draft class is deep so expect them to draft one.
In general, the offense needs an infusion of speed at wide receiver, depth concerns need to be filled on the offensive line and another running back, tight end and possibly a QB to secure positional depth. Do not be surprised if they use a high draft pick at WR if they feel he is worth the investment at #14 or #45 and no defenders they want are there. Also, do not be surprised if they draft a guard or tackle if someone falls in the first round.