Throughout the offseason, I’ll be answering reader questions in a weekly mailbag here at PackersNews.com. If you’d like to submit a question in the future, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One week of OTAs in the books, a few more to go, then minicamp and then ... the only real down time on the NFL calendar. No down time here at PackersNews.com, though, as I sort through my email -- some serious, some, uh, not so much. (You know who you are.)
Let’s get to it.
From Winglebert Humptiback:
Can you pick one player on offense and defense that will exceed expectations? Please make up a name for me if you use my question because my dad has the same name and he's being weird about it. Thanks.
No problem on the name front, Winglebert.
As for your questions, I tend to think Trevor Davis has as good a chance as anyone to surprise. The guy virtually never gets mentioned when people talk about the receiving corps. Most observers tend to focus on the Big Three (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams), then talk about Geronimo Allison and the rookies.
For whatever reason, Davis has gotten lost in the offseason conversation. Now, part of that is due to his long disappearance down the stretch last year when the coaching staff kept him inactive for months after his muffed punt in Tennessee. But he put some really promising things on tape before that. If he’s attacking this offseason in the weight room, he has a chance to surprise some people.
As for the defensive side of the ball, I’ve said all along I think Damarious Randall is going to make people forget his disastrous 2016 campaign. The guy has a ton of talent. He just needs to stay healthy and be consistent with his play on the field. If he does that, he should have a Davante Adams-like bounce back in 2017.
From Matt Fisher:
Who do you think wins the #2 RB job behind Montgomery and do all three have a legit shot at the #2 job? I am really high on Devante Mays, I think if healthy he could be a real steal for the Packers at 5'10" 230 he is a good athlete for a man his size and a physical runner who doesn't shy away from contact. A lot of reports suggested that if he had more carries this past season at Utah State and wasn't injured he could have easily went ahead of Jamaal Williams. Now I know Williams seems the favorite because of his draft status but the concern for me is lack of athleticism,vision and lack of speed to get to the outside on runs. Your thoughts?
Not sure I agree with your assessment of Williams, Matt. While he certainly is an upright runner and not exactly a burner, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other skills. The guy has every chance to be as effective as a young James Starks in the Packers' offense, which as you undoubtedly know is pretty darn effective.
That said, I think all the new running backs, including the two undrafted guys, have a chance to take hold of a roster spot. Now, whether that’s as the second or third guy will be determined once the pads come on, but after last year, the Packers know they simply can’t skimp on the position numbers-wise.
It undoubtedly will be one of the more competitive and scrutinized training-camp battles and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
From Kevin Kulas:
Really a two-part question: I have always thought that Capers' most successful schemes are when he can mix up pressure from DBs. Do you see them playing even more "dime" as a percent of snaps with King and Jones on board? And although an UDFA last year, do you see Brice as an integral piece of the D, or more a core special teamer that might be caught in a numbers game to get on the field?
Great questions, Kevin. First off, I very much agree with your assessment of Dom Capers and his pressure schemes. Whether it was Shields on a “Cat” blitz or Woodson crashing in from the slot, he has a long history of success when utilizing his secondary guys to pressure quarterbacks. (Now, is this due to not having guys at outside backer that can get the job done on their own? That’s another conversation…)
Yes, I absolutely think we’ll see more dime this season. It’s no secret that teams continue to get more and more pass catchers on the field and keep spreading things out, and getting more athletes on the field to combat them is the way most defenses are going. The Josh Jones selection speaks to that when it comes to the Packers.
That leads into your second question. I actually think one of the reasons they will be able to play so much dime is because of Brice. He had a very solid rookie season. If he takes the step forward they are undoubtedly expecting, his presence allows them to do lots of creative stuff with Morgan Burnett and Jones.
Obviously, a lot has to play out once the pads come out for this all to come to fruition, but the building blocks are certainly there for Capers to employ a bunch of different pressure packages featuring his secondary.
From Adam Smith:
After reviewing the Packers draft as well the undrafted free agents, there is one player that sticks out to make the 53 from the UDFA side. I feel Jonathan Calvin of Mississippi State has a legitimate shot at the roster. I see him as being similar to Jayrone Elliott with better size. In addition, he put up good numbers in the SEC. With the uncertainty of Biegel's health, I see Calvin being able to seize a roster spot. What do you think? Thanks!
Nice observation, Adam. I tend to agree with your assessment here and I think it was smart of Calvin’s representatives to get him into Green Bay’s camp. After the draft, edge rusher certainly stood out as a possible place a prospect could make some headway in camp.
The thing to like about Calvin is that he really seems to be one of those guys who was just starting to come into his own his last year in the college game.
Your nod to Jayrone Elliott is a smart one, too. He’s the perfect example of a guy who just kept making a play pretty much every day in camp his rookie year until the coaches pretty much couldn’t ignore him. If Calvin is going to have a shot, that’s going to be his ticket. Do something each and every day that makes the coaches take notice. It doesn’t have to be a big play, just something that shows he’s taking the coaching he’s getting and applying it to the field.
That and tearing things up on special teams. That’s his ticket to the roster or, more likely, a practice squad spot.