How Good is the Green Bay Packer Roster?
Sept 24, 2010 ~ by Rolfe Lindberg, Guest Columnist
~Many football experts have commented on the solid job that Ted Thompson has done in building the Green Bay Packer roster. Aaron Rodgers is now among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and Clay Matthews is turning a lot of heads with his eye-popping start this season.
The team went 11-5 last year (7-1 in the second half) and Thompson has been proven to have made the correct decision on the Favre/Rodgers controversy.
I decided to try to quantify the strength of the roster and look into the future to see how good we might be.
I took the roster at the beginning of the year ranked 1 through 53 per Bob McGinn (Ranking the 2010 Packers from September 9, 2010) and placed them into three groups (group 1: rank 1 through 18; group 2: rank 19 through 35; group 3: rank 36 through 52).
I excluded Justin Harrell because he will probably never play for the Packers again. For those of you who haven’t read the article, the ranking was based on how important each person is to the Packers in 2010 (performance, position, and how big of a fall the team would take it the player went down with injury (Aaron Rodgers was ranked 1 and Nick McDonald was ranked 53).
I then applied a trend to each player – trending up for a player that is in the improvement part of his career (like a Jermichael Finley); stable for a player that should continue to perform at about the same level for the next few years (middle career guys like a John Kuhn); trending down for a player whose performance is likely to drop off over the next few years (like a Chad Clifton or Brett Favre).
Best-case scenario would be a team with a good record in 2009 and most of their players on the rise (better yet if their best players are on the rise). Worst-case scenario would be a team with a poor record in 2009 with most of their players in the stable to down portion of their careers.
For the Packers, their top tier players (group 1) break out as follows:
Trending up (9):
Rodgers, Matthews, Finley, Collins, T Williams, Sitton, Raji, Burnett, Neal
Jenkins, Jennings, Wells, Barnett
Trending down (5):
Woodson, Grant, Clifton, Driver, Tauscher
Overall, I pegged the players as follows:
Trending up (29)
Trending down (8): the five players listed above plus Pickett, Donald Lee, Poppinga
In the top 14, nine players are trending up, while only two (Charles Woodson and Ryan Grant), are players that I would consider to be on the downside of their careers. Contrast that with a team like the Vikings where many of their top players (Brett Favre, Pat Williams, Steve Hutchinson) are clearly on the downside of their careers.
Not only do we have a strong roster today as evidenced by the team’s 9-1 regular season record over the past 10 games, but we also have an abundance of players on the upside of their careers.
More importantly, half of our top-tier players are in the improvement phase of their careers. For those players that are trending down, we already have solid replacements in place for all except potentially Ryan Grant. (Even though I have Woodson as trending down, he should perform at a high level for the next few years).
And, Ted Thompson has accomplished this without mortgaging the future. We have all of our draft choices in 2011 and will probably get a compensatory pick for Aaron Kampman. With a break or two, a Super Bowl Championship in the near future is well within reach.