Five Packers who are in the best form of their careers

Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

For the Green Bay Packers, as is the case with most contending teams, a good portion of their players are in the midst of their football primes.

Per Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice, the Packers roster has an average age of 25.7 years — the oldest roster they’ve had in 10 years. However, this is right around the age when most players enter the prime of their careers.

We won’t be looking at players who are still on their rookie contracts as they’re still naturally developing through their first four seasons. That includes the likes of AJ Dillon, Rashan Gary and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Davante Adams

Entering this season I did not expect Davante Adams to play as well as he did in 2020. Not only has he played just as well this year, he has arguably outperformed the sky-high benchmark he set during the empty stadium era.

Adams will earn just about every penny he wants this offseason. For him, it was imperative that he kept up his elite 2020 form through this season to prove to teams he’s worth the money despite entering his 30s soon enough.

On Sunday we saw the Baltimore Ravens commit two or three defenders to Adams on a large quantity of reps. Wink Martindale even gave a name to the game plan designed to slow down Adams — 17 Bulldog, perhaps a nod to Adams’ college days at Fresno State.

Preston Smith

This one comes as a surprise considering many were ready to part ways with Preston Smith as a cap casualty last offseason. In an expanded role, Smith has generated the highest pressure rate of his career and has excelled against the run too.

Preston had a pretty good final year in Washington before he cashed in during Brian Gutekunst’s shopping spree in the Spring of 2019. Smith followed that up with a terrific start in Green Bay later that year.

However this year slightly edges 2019 as his best. Smith started off lukewarm, then went cold for a few weeks, but he’s been red-hot ever since the Packers’ shutout victory of the Seattle Seahawks. Smith has five sacks in his last five outings.

Kenny Clark

It may have appeared as though Kenny Clark reached his high-water mark during his phenomenal 2018 season, when he was one of the few good things about the Packers.

Clark battled through injuries in both 2019 and 2020 which clearly hampered him to an extent. Fully back this season (prior to catching COVID), Clark has been superb manning the interior for Green Bay.

We saw a glimpse of just how valuable Clark is when he was no longer in the lineup this past week. He is still a premier pass rusher from the inside despite being the frequent attractor of double teams from opposing guards and centers.

De’Vondre Campbell

If you told me in August that De’Vondre Campbell would play the best football of his career this season I wouldn’t have been totally shocked.

Sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery and an adjusted role to play better football. What I didn’t expect was for us to be calling Campbell a Pro Bowl snub in December — to even be in that conversation is a testament to how far the former Cardinal has come.

The Packers defense is significantly worse without Campbell and luckily they’ve been able to keep him on the field all season unlike many others. As for the Pro Bowl, a strong 2021 season usually means that if Campbell can play halfway decent next year he will get Pro Bowl honors — because that’s how this weird popularity contest works sometimes.

Rasul Douglas

Let me set the record straight on Rasul Douglas: He was never a bad cornerback. I’m not sure where this false perception came from. I can’t for the life of me figure out how he couldn’t make an active roster this season before landing in Green Bay, but we’re here now.

Douglas was a pretty solid if unspectacular starting CB2 in Carolina last season. Before that he was a rookie member of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles roster where he played pretty well filling in for injured starters early in the season.

The following year in 2018, Douglas received a full-time starting role for Philadelphia and he was one of very few bright spots on that Super Bowl-hungover defense.

Now in 2021, Douglas is playing better than ever and this isn’t any small sample size fluke. Douglas now has over 500 snaps under his belt as a Packer, and has already come up with three game-altering plays. This guy is the real deal.

Honorable mentions

Aaron Rodgers

As Aaron Rodgers gears up in pursuit of a fourth MVP trophy we should, at the very least, consider him as someone who is currently playing his best football.

Rodgers is a different brand of player now compared to what he was prior to his collarbone injury in 2017, and I think the natural regression in his mobility and off-platform talent is what makes me prefer the earlier renditions of #12.

However, his late-career revival must be appreciated. Rodgers appeared to be on his way out of the elite in 2018 and 2019. That’s all changed. It’s been a comeback worthy of someone perceived in the top five all-time in his sport.

Aaron Jones

This is a difficult evaluation because Jones is seeing less of the ball than he’s been used to under Matt LaFleur. The Packers offensive line also hasn’t been run blocking as well as they had in Jones’ first four seasons.

I don’t think Jones has taken any actual steps back from the animal he was in 2019 or 2020, in fact his receiving ability is still growing, but the emergence of AJ Dillon isn’t doing Jones any favors from a production standpoint.

We’ve seen running backs fall off a cliff when they reach Jones’ age before. The Packers just hope they can extract every last drop out of Jones over the next year-and-a-half before the team option in his contract comes about.

Marcedes Lewis

To think we’re talking about a 37-year-old tight end possibly being in the prime of his career, the man known as “Big Dog” is beating the hell out of Father Time.

Lewis has been in the league since 2006, and has played over 10,000 career snaps, so we’ve got a lot of different years to choose from.

Marcedes was a Pro Bowler in 2010, and he was equally impressive the year prior. He’s not going to reach that level again, but his late-career renaissance with the Packers as a supreme blocker and a checkdown dump-off legend cannot go unnoticed.