In the next two weeks, I’m going to take a look at the 10 most important players for the Green Bay Packers in the 2009 NFL season. They may not be the best players, but their roles have a distinct impact on how far the team can go.
Is Justin Harrell a bust? Ask any Packers fan and they’ll most likely say yes. The third-year pro and 2007 first-round pick has been hounded by injuries for the later part of his college career and first two years of his pro career. Was he worth that first-round pick? So far, no. Harrell went off the board with Pro Bowl players such as Michael Griffin of the Tennessee Titans and Jon Beason of the Carolina Panthers, and solid pros Aaron Ross of the New York Giants and Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs still available. This season is crunch time for Harrell to make good on his first-round pick billing.
With Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji in competition for the starting nose tackle job, Harrell figures into Dom Capers‘ 3-4 defense as a defensive end. At 6’4″, 320 pounds, he has enough size to take up two blockers on the line. However, having those capabilities and actually being able to do that are two totally different things. Harrell’s history of back injuries is a major red flag, as the back is one of the most important parts of the body. You need that to be able to do anything athletic. If he keeps having back problems, that renders him nearly useless.
Packers fans mostly want to see Harrell justify his status. We’ve been watching this guy sit on the sidelines for two years, when he was supposed to be an anchor of the Packers defensive line. The defensive line in 2009 will need all the help it can get, as most of the depth is unproven. If Harrell can get it together and make the transition to the 3-4 smoothly, it would do wonders for the team, on both offense and defense.
Justin Harrell, step it up in 2009.