Unlike some teams around the NFL, the Green Bay Packers hold open battles for almost every position each year. That is why their depth is always so good. They draft well and develop well. So which players on the roster have the best chance to reinforce that truth in 2013?
Offense – Johnathan Franklin
Every fan of the Green Bay Packers know what they’ll get from the offense. It will be Aaron Rodgers to a bevy of different receivers all day and all night. What many are anxious to see is if head coach Mike McCarthy can work some magic with the dormant running game. In 2012 the Packers did not have a rusher top 500 yards in a season. That discrepancy played a big hand in why Rodgers threw the ball so much, and also why he got sacked 51 times. The eyes of Cheese heads everywhere turn to 2nd round pick Eddie Lacy who brings his rich pedigree and national championship MVP award from Alabama to turn things around. What a lot of people overlooked was Green Bay added another talent in the fourth round is not only good, but may prove a better fit in the offense. Johnathan Franklin capped off a fruitful college career with a senior season that tallied 2,057 total yards (1,734 rushing and 323 receiving) with 15 touchdowns. He is short, compact and boasts 4.49/40 speed along with excellent cutback ability which the Packers love in their backs. Don’t be surprised if he sees a lot of carries, and does good things with them.
Defense – Micah Hyde
If there is one thing football fans have learned about Green Bay over the past few years, it’s to pay attention whenever they draft cornerbacks. Tramon Williams is a Pro Bowler. Casey Hayward was in the running for defensive rookie of the year last season with six interceptions and 21 pass deflections. On top of that they also have Sam Shields who had three interceptions in 2012. All were taken out of college and developed by the Packers. So when GM Ted Thompson selected Micah Hyde out of Iowa, people took notice. Scouts see him as a corner blessed with the mental aspects of the position. He reads receivers, plays the ball and breaks on routes very well. The one drawback claimed was his speed. Not that it matters. With Williams and Hayward on the outside, Hyde would make a perfect fit to replace Charles Woodson in the slot. Given how well Green Bay can bring along rookies, it’s fair to see him making a push for playing time early.
Special Teams – Giorgio Tavecchio
It might seem like competition on the outside, but the Green Bay Packers have no reason to feel any loyalty to kicker Mason Crosby. His 2012 season going 21 for 33 on field goals (63.6%) was the lowest of his career. He routinely struggled all season and probably cost the team one or two games that made a big difference in them missing out on the first round playoff bye. So when they brought in former California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, it wasn’t just for posturing. Tavecchio kicked at 75% accuracy in four years of college including 3-4 from 50 yards or more. That might not sound world beating to most, but to fans who watched Crosby last season it is a breath of fresh air. That battle is certainly one to watch in training camp.