Green Bay Packers quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (12) (left) Graham Harrell (6) (center) and B.J. Coleman (9) (right) are announced to the crowd prior to the family night scrimmage at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
As OTAs are about to begin this month, here at LombardiAve we have decided it would be a good time to take a closer look at each position on the Green Bay Packers roster. Over the next few weeks we will break down each position and discuss which players are safe from being cut, which players will be fighting for a job, and which players will have a long uphill battle to make the roster.
Of course, it is all speculation at this point. That is part of the beauty of the NFL offseason programs. Players who look like long shots for making the final 53-man roster prove themselves in workouts and camp and make the final cut.
Even though it’s too early to predict the final 53-man roster at this point, we will begin breaking the players down into three categories heading into OTAs with the understanding that things are susceptible to change as the offseason progresses.
For the first installment of this series, we will begin with the most important position on the field — quarterback.
Safe – in fact, a lock: Aaron Rodgers, 6-2, 225 pounds
Aaron Rodgers during the game against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Green Bay has invested a lot of money in Rodgers this offseason, $110 million to be exact, but for good reason. Rodgers is simply the best player at the most important position in the league — if not in all of sports. Rodgers has played at an elite level for several years. He has led the league in passer rating the past two seasons and has been a top five quarterback since he took over the starting job in 2008.
The Packers’ success relies on the arm of Rodgers, and despite the acquisitions in the running game this offseason and efforts to improve the defense, that is the way it will be until Rodgers decides to hang it up someday. As long as Rodgers stays upright, Green Bay will continue to be in the mix as Super Bowl contenders. Let’s just cross our fingers that Rodgers stays healthy in 2013.
Beyond Rodgers things remain uncertain at the position. Harrell was the number two last year after Matt Flynn’s departure to Seattle, but Harrell did very little to help his cause last preseason where he struggled to sustain drives in the first three games.
Harrell put up good numbers in the fourth preseason game against Kansas City, where he threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Harrell looked like a different quarterback in that game and showed a good command at the position, but it was the fourth and least significant preseason game, so take away from it what you will. Harrell shows a good understanding for the Green Bay offense, but may lack the arm strength and fearlessness required to succeed at the position.
B.J. Coleman throws a pass during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field last summer. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
There is still very little known about Coleman. He was subpar in his preseason appearances last year, but after spending the 2012 year on the practice squad, Mike McCarthy has stated that Coleman demonstrated a much better understanding of the playbook and command of the huddle during rookie orientation last weekend.
Coleman seems to be a new quarterback this offseason and could challenge Harrell for the top backup quarterback position. Coleman has a stronger arm than Harrell and may have more upside, but for Coleman to take Harrell’s spot on the roster, Coleman needs to prove to his coaches that he can handle all the responsibilities of the position during a game.
This will be one of the more interesting position battles to track over the offseason. At age 27, Harrell may have already reached his ceiling as a player, so I think it is safe to say we know what we’re getting out of Harrell at this point. However, Coleman is still young and has plenty of room to improve, so if he shows significant improvement this offseason he may just be the Packers new backup quarterback.
Long Shot – Matt Brown, 6-3, 225 pounds
I have to admit I know very little about Brown. In his senior season at Illinois State, Brown threw for 3,370 yards and 27 touchdowns with a 65 percent completion rate. These look like pretty good numbers, but some wonder about the level of competition he faced on a regular basis in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Brown could be a wildcard at the position and push Coleman and Harrell, but more than likely, he remains the fourth quarterback during camp. And if Brown shows some potential, he could win a spot on the practice squad and become a player Green Bay develops over the next few years.
Last year, the Packers kept two quarterbacks (Rodgers and Harrell) on their 53-man roster and one on the practice squad (Coleman). Will they retain three quarterbacks on the roster this year? Will Coleman or Harrell be the top backup behind Rodgers? Will Brown be a surprise player at the position?
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out this offseason.