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2011 NFL Offseason: Green Bay Packers

Draft Grades, Season Previews, Offseason Needs, Free Agents

Green Bay Packers (Last Year: 10-6) - Buy Tickets

2011 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
Early Draft Picks:
OT Derek Sherrod, WR/KR Randall Cobb, RB Alex Green, CB Davon House, TE D.J. Williams.
Offseason Losses:
RB Brandon Jackson, OT Mark Tauscher, G Daryn Colledge, C Jason Spitz, DE/DT Cullen Jenkins, DE/DT Justin Harrell, OLB Brady Poppinga, ILB Nick Barnett, ILB Brandon Chillar, SS Atari Bigby.

2011 Green Bay Packers Offense:
So, this Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has gone from Brett Favre's possible replacement to arguably the top NFL quarterback in just a span of three years. In his past two seasons, Rodgers has thrown for 8,356 yards, 58 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions, while scoring nine times on the ground. He was even more brilliant in his playoff run; in four games against the Eagles, Falcons, Bears and Steelers, Rodgers went 90-of-132 for 1,094 yards, nine passing touchdowns, a pair of rushing scores and two picks. That's a completion percentage of 68.2 and a YPA of 8.3. Pretty sick stuff.

Rodgers has many talents, but none are more useful than his ability to evade defenders in the pocket, and either scramble for a first down or dance around and locate one of his receivers downfield. Rodgers took 31 sacks this past season, but it could have been a lot more.

The scary thing, at least for the other NFC teams, is that both Rodgers' receiving corps and offensive line have been upgraded. Beginning with the former, Green Bay gets stud tight end Jermichael Finley back from injury. Finley caught 21 passes for 301 yards in five games before going down with a knee injury. It was surgically repaired, but all reports indicate that Finley is 100 percent and ready to go.

Meanwhile, Greg Jennings (76 catches, 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns) has been working hard this offseason, as he's trained with Larry Fitzgerald to improve his speed. He and Finley will work with Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver, though the former is the favorite to emerge as the No. 2 wideout. From the Atlanta playoff game on, Nelson caught 17 balls for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Jones is talented as well, but he has issues with drops. The 36-year-old Driver, meanwhile, probably won't contribute much.

As for the offensive line, Green Bay's top two linemen, right guard Josh Sitton and center Scott Wells, are back, but the other interior position has been changed. The Packers spent their first-round pick on tackle Derek Sherrod. Since Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga are currently serving as the two tackles, Sherrod will play left guard as a potential upgrade over the mediocre Daryn Colledge.

Concerning the aforementioned pair of tackles, Bulaga surrendered 13 sacks as a rookie, but only one in the regular-season finale and the playoff run. Something clicked, so the Packers are hoping that Bulaga can maintain that high level of play. Clifton also improved down the stretch, matching Bulaga's surrendered sack total in the same span.

The running back position is the only area in question on Green Bay's offense. It's not a matter of talent, however; it's figuring out who's going to start. Ryan Grant is currently getting the nod because of his experience. Grant is good enough to carry the load, but he may soon relinquish his job to the more talented James Starks, who has packed on some muscle and bulked up to 225 pounds this offseason.

2011 Green Bay Packers Defense:
The Packers are stacked on offense and equally loaded on defense. The unit that finished 13th in run defense (4.1 YPC), sixth in pass defense (6.6 YPA) and first in sacks (57) returns 10 starters, with the only exception being defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who missed five games and then played just two downs during the Super Bowl run.

Jenkins' replacement up front should be 2010 second-rounder Mike Neal, who was solid in limited action as a rookie. The only concern with Neal is that he's coming off shoulder surgery, but he's been giving medical clearance to play. If he suffers a setback, 2010 seventh-rounder C.J. Wilson or Howard Green will take his spot. Both did a decent job filling in for Jenkins last year.

Of course, it's easy to look good when surrounded by Pro Bowlers everywhere. Nose tackle B.J. Raji is an absolute stud, shutting down the run and generating tons of pressure on the quarterback (6.5 sacks). The other end, Ryan Pickett, is terrific two-down run-stuffer.

The face of Green Bay's defense is Clay Matthews, who totaled 13.5 sacks in his second NFL campaign despite dealing with a stress fracture in his lower leg during the latter half of the year. The Packers would be downright scary if they could find a consistent pass-rusher across from Matthews. Erik Walden and Frank Zombo will battle for the job, but not much is expected from either of them.

While Matthews gets all the glory, the unsung hero of Green Bay's Super Bowl run is inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, who put together an All-Pro-caliber year despite not even starting until Week 5. If he has a similar year in 2011, he should be discussed as the top player at his position in the league. Oh, and his running mate, A.J. Hawk, isn't too bad himself; Hawk just received a brand-new 5-year, $33.75 million contract this offseason.

It doesn't stop in the secondary; Green Bay is overflowing with talent there as well. Charles Woodson is the famous name, but Tramon Williams was the better cornerback last year. Williams picked off nine passes and surrendered a ridiculously low completion percentage of 45.5. Woodson's numbers weren't nearly as good (2, 61.5%), and it appeared as though he was slowing down. Woodson will be 35 in October, so perhaps it's time. If it is, second-year Sam Shields (4, 57.4%) has proven that he has what it takes to excel as a starting corner in this league.

The only hole in the Packers' secondary is at strong safety; Charlie Peprah just isn't very good. However, top-three free safety Nick Collins easily makes up for it.

2011 Green Bay Packers Schedule and Intangibles:
Green Bay is 115-38 at home since 1992 - the year Brett Favre first became a Green Bay Packer. Aaron Rodgers is continuing the tradition; he's 13-3 as a host the past two years. If the Packers have homefield advantage in the playoffs - and it's almost scary to think that they were the No. 6 seed last season - they'll be very difficult to beat.

Mason Crosby has never hit at least 80 percent of his field goals in his career. Last year, Crosby was 22-of-28, though he was up to 2-of-4 from 50-plus (2-of-6 from there in 2009).

The Packers had major punting problems once again in 2009, so they brought in Tim Masthay, who held a decent 43.9 average with 25-of-71 attempts inside the 20.

Green Bay's special teams need to improve. The team was outgained by 3.1 yards on punts, surrendering a touchdown in the process. They were also outgained on kickoffs, albeit by a slimmer margin (1.7).

The Packers have a pretty balanced schedule. Easy non-divisional games include Carolina, Denver, Oakland and Kansas City. More challenging non-NFC North foes are New Orleans, Atlanta, San Diego and Tampa Bay.

2011 Green Bay Packers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):

Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2011 Green Bay Packers Analysis: The Packers are the best team in football. Outside of New England, no one else has an argument.

However, this does not mean that Green Bay will repeat as Super Bowl champions. The team must avoid complacency. Cheesehead fans may scoff at the idea that their team won't give 100 percent, but the Who Dat faithful said the same thing about their beloved Saints last year. It's so tough to match the same intensity two years in a row, especially since every team loves to give it their best when battling the defending champions.

Green Bay should win the NFC North, but will the same fire and determination be there that helped propel them to claim the Lombardi Trophy in Dallas?

Projection: 13-3 (1st in NFC North)

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2011 NFL Season Previews


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WyattBurp 06-03-2013 06:49 pm (total posts: 1)
44     8

Evening, Cheeseheads! I'm a Detroit Lions fan. I have to admit, the Packers are showing the rest of the NFL how it's done. Mike McCarthy is a great head coach. Dom Capers and Tom Clements, fantastic coordinators. From top to bottom, I can't think of anything they did wrong in this draft. Heck, they probably didn't even NEED to draft anyone. They're a class operation. Wisconsin can be proud.

That's all I have to day. All I know is that the Detroit Lions will make the playoffs in 2013. Packers? They'll be at or near the top of the divsion, and will certainly make the playoffs.

That's my prediction. I can say no more.
KB 05-17-2013 05:27 am (total posts: 3)
61     43

no way Lacy makes it with GB line. Not any better than what they already have. want better running get a better center and guards - Kevin

What a stupid comment. Better guards? Are you even aware GB has one of the best guards in the NFL in Josh Sitton. Since he started in the NFL he has been a top 5 Guard every year according to PFF. Also according to PFF Lang in 2011(His first year as a starter) was a top 10 LG. EDS is still up in the air. After he took over at Center for Saturday he gave up 1 single pressure and was a positively graded run blocker.

Another thing people don't realize is after week 10 GB gained 100 yards on the ground 6 out of 8 games and were actually an above average team on the ground. That was with green and Harris. Imagine what this team does with a better stable of backs and more competition on the offensive line plus possibly every single position will have a different starter week 1.
Danny 05-04-2013 07:23 pm (total posts: 1)
30     6

One of the great things about having so many picks is that you have the luxury of double dipping at a position of need. The Packers did this at RB with Lacey and Franklin. Both these guys are solid prospects, and one of them should pan out as the Packers go-to ball carrier. They turned a glaring weakness into a position of strength.

Datone Jones has been massively underrated throughout the entire draft process. I'm shocked GM's were not higher on him and lasted until #26. I have a strong feeling that when we look back in a few years, he will be one of the top 10 players from this draft.
Objective Observer 04-29-2013 03:43 pm (total posts: 1)
81     241

No question that Thompson is a good GM, but you might want to take a wait-and-see approach over the Lacy pick.

A team source tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Steelers "wouldn't touch" new Packers RB Eddie Lacy because his big toe "had been fused."
The Steelers were viewed as an ideal landing spot for Lacy because of their need at running back, but he apparently wasn't even a consideration. Two days removed from his surprising slide, we're starting to get a pretty good idea of why Lacy fell. His attitude turned teams off, but his 2012 toe/foot operation turned out to be a bigger concern than the draft community ever realized.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Apr 28 - 1:50 PM
Gong Show 04-29-2013 11:20 am (total posts: 1)
14     6

Thanks Walt, feelin' the love. There is a youtube vid on Charles Johnson worth watching. That dude can jump!
RohnnyJocket 04-29-2013 03:16 am (total posts: 2)
104     48

They seemed to stop AP just fine in the playoff game
JohnnyRocket 04-28-2013 11:45 pm (total posts: 1)
170     610

So Thomspon is a genius for drafting two RBs, which he had to do because the back he took in round 3 two years ago (top-100 pick Alex Green) flopped? Some genius. Lets not forget the need to draft DL for that crappy Packer defense because Worthy, Neal, Justin Harrel, and theincarcerated Johnny Jolly couldn't get the job done. How about drafting someone who can tackle AP? Or is the plan to let All Day run for another 400 yards next year?
tlv 04-28-2013 10:41 pm (total posts: 2)
30     8

clearly GB is going to make some changes and the selection of two talented RB's puts Alex Green and James Starks on edge, which is good for the entire offense! They don't need to rush the ball 30 times a game but they need other teams to at least respect the guy they hand the ball to, that he won't trip and fall down half the time on his own, or run right into his blockers...
RJ Esquire 04-28-2013 05:37 pm (total posts: 1)
91     47

LOL. I love the comment from the Vikings fan about the Packers making a bad choice by drafting the top 2 rated running backs in the draft, because adding another dimension to the 'obvious passing game' that everyones defense is cheating on will somehow hurt the GB offense.

The only thing I see really questionable is a couple of the 6th-7th round picks, but theres not much diamonds to be found there.
Caleb 04-28-2013 04:51 pm (total posts: 1)
41     22

All your draft are belong to Ted Thompson.
Vikes 04-28-2013 02:55 pm (total posts: 1)
105     31

American IPA is just mad he doesn't have a quarterback so they can't throw the ball.
dolphan @walter 04-28-2013 02:56 am (total posts: 1)
17     13

I can see who's ur team now. ur a packers fan.
Saad 04-27-2013 11:36 pm (total posts: 4)
28     10

lotts of negativ enargy en hair
fuk yall
pauseitivnes plezz!!!
@ Below Me 04-27-2013 08:48 pm (total posts: 1)
90     14

Are you drunk, high, from Chicago, or just a moron?
The Pack is Back 04-27-2013 07:10 pm (total posts: 1)
7     9

Wow, some real harsh comments on these young men. Most of us just measureables and stats. Some players were drafted to start, some to just compete, all though I see shouldn't be in the hooskow!They'll work hard for the Pack and try to make the team. No Qb?

2011 NFL Draft Grades:

Ted Thompson is one of the elite general managers in the NFL, so it's not shocking that he pieced together one of the top 2011 NFL Draft classes.

With his first two picks, Thompson improved Aaron Rodgers' pass protection and gave his quarterback an intriguing weapon to work with. Later, Thompson found help on defense with great values like Davon House, Ricky Elmore and Lawrence Guy.

The only selection I didn't like was Alex Green. I'm not saying Green is going to suck or anything, but running backs are really a dime a dozen, so you can obtain a quality back at any round in the NFL Draft. I would have rather seen Thompson find a front-seven player at the bottom of Round 3.

Having said that, this grade is still an A+ because of the multiple trade-downs that Thompson orchestrated. Thompson just flat out ripped off a couple of teams during Draft Weekend.

Overall 2011 NFL Draft Grade given on 5/1/11: A+

2011 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

32. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
This pick surprises me because Derek Sherrod doesn't fit the appearance the Packers usually look for in their offensive linemen. But Sherrod is a great selection. He should have gone somewhere in the 20s. Ted Thompson just improved Aaron Rodgers' pass protection, which is definitely a good move. (Pick Grade: A)

64. Randall Cobb, WR/KR, Kentucky
Ted Thompson just makes the NFL Draft look easy. Randall Cobb was a potential late first-round prospect, so getting him at No. 64 provides immense value. With Donald Driver retiring soon and James Jones heading for free agency, Thompson had to find a new weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Cobb will be a great addition to this offense, and he'll also contribute as a kick returner. (Pick Grade: A)

96. Alex Green, RB, Hawaii
I know the Packers had to find a third-down runner to complement James Starks and/or Ryan Grant, but I'm not crazy about this pick. I just think it's a slight reach. I feel like Green Bay could have acquired an equal running back at the bottom of Round 4. There were bigger needs and better prospects available. (Pick Grade: D)

131. Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
I love this pick. Davon House could have gone at the end of the second round, so Ted Thompson is getting major value with the final pick in Round 4. Cornerback is not an immediate need, but Charles Woodson is not going to be around forever. (Pick Grade: A)

141. D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas
This is good value for D.J. Williams, who probably would have been a second-round prospect if he were a couple of inches taller. The Packers like to run multiple-tight end sets, so Williams fills a need. (Pick Grade: A)

179. Caleb Schlauderaff, G, Utah
Caleb Schlauderaff just sounds like a Green Bay Packer, doesn't he? Mike Mayock said he had Schlauderaff as a Round 5-6 prospect, so that's good enough for me. The Packers were expected to draft two linemen this weekend. (Pick Grade: B)

186. D.J. Smith, OLB, Appalachian State
An undersized linebacker (5-11, 239), D.J. Smith is a project. I don't think anyone had him as a draftable prospect. (Pick Grade: D)

197. Ricky Elmore, DE/OLB, Arizona
I thought the Packers would draft a rush linebacker earlier than this. Ricky Elmore provides very good value; many thought he'd go in the fourth or fifth round. (Pick Grade: A)

218. Ryan Taylor, TE, North Carolina
Another tight end? Meh, I'm not crazy about this pick. I feel like there were better prospects available. (Pick Grade: C)

233. Lawrence Guy, DE/DT, Arizona State
Another steal for the Packers. Lawrence Guy could have went two rounds earlier. He might be able to compete for a starting job depending on what happens with Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly. (Pick Grade: A)

Season Summary:
The Packers deserve major credit for overcoming their massive amount of injuries and still winning the Super Bowl. Things looked bleak when they fell a bit short of New England without Aaron Rodgers, but Green Bay essentially won six playoff contests in a row to claim the Lombardi trophy.

Offseason Moves:
  • Titans sign S Anthony Smith
  • Rams sign OLB Brady Poppinga
  • Packers re-sign WR James Jones
  • Packers re-sign FB John Kuhn
  • Bills sign ILB Nick Barnett
  • Eagles sign DE/DT Cullen Jenkins
  • Packers cut ILB Nick Barnett
  • Packers cut OT Mark Tauscher
  • Saints sign FB Korey Hall
  • Eagles sign TE Donald Lee
  • Packers cut ILB Brandon Chillar
  • Jaguars sign C Jason Spitz
  • Browns sign RB Brandon Jackson
  • Packers cut DT Justin Harrell
  • Packers cut OLB Brady Poppinga
  • Cardinals sign G Daryn Colledge
  • Packers re-sign K Mason Crosby
  • Packers sign WR Tori Gurley
  • Packers tender ILB Spencer Havner
  • Packers re-sign S Charlie Peprah
  • Packers re-sign ILB A.J. Hawk
  • Packers cut ILB A.J. Hawk

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Rush Linebacker: Clay Matthews is capable of moving continents with his bare hands, but there's nothing across from him. Erik Walden has played well at times, but is not the answer. Green Bay will look at guys like Jeremy Beal, Sam Acho and Brooks Reed during the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft. Drafted Ricky Elmore

    2. Left Guard: Daryn Colledge is a free agent, but needs to be upgraded anyway. Danny Watkins fits the scheme and appearance the Packers like from their offensive linemen. He can be obtained in the second round. Drafted Caleb Schlauderaff

    3. Defensive End: Cullen Jenkins is a free agent, while the troubled Johnny Jolly will be entering his contract year. Green Bay may consider Corey Liuget or Muhammad Wilkerson at the bottom of the first round. Drafted Lawrence Guy

    4. Running Back: James Starks is unquestionably projected as the running back of the future. However, he has a long injury history. Meanwhile, Ryan Grant is entering his contract year and Brandon Jackson is a free agent. A Round 3-4 selection can be used as a change-of-pace back for Starks. Drafted Alex Green

    5. Offensive Tackle: Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga will start next year. However, Clifton is nearing retirement, so the Packers will think about bringing in a future bookend for Bulaga. Drafted Derek Sherrod

    6. Wide Receiver: If Donald Driver retires, Green Bay will need some depth at wideout. Luckily, this draft class is deep at the position. Drafted Randall Cobb

    7. Kicker: Mason Crosby is a free agent.

    2011 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina. Age: 23. -- Signed with Packers

    Green Bay Packers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: No cap.
    1. A.J. Hawk, ILB, Packers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Packers (5 years)

      A.J. Hawk wasn't worth a top-five pick, but he's a very good linebacker who played a key role in Green Bay's Super Bowl run. Hawk will probably return to the Packers for less money.

    2. Nick Barnett, ILB, Packers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Bills (3 years, $12 million)

      The Packers cut Nick Barnett because he was overpaid and didn't have a spot in the starting lineup with Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk playing ahead of him. Barnett is a solid starting-caliber inside linebacker who thrives in run support.

    3. Cullen Jenkins, DE/DT, Packers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Eagles (5 years, $25 million)

      Cullen Jenkins dominates the line of scrimmage when he's on the field. Unfortunately, Jenkins is often injured; he has missed 17 games in the past three years.

    4. Mason Crosby, K, Packers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Packers (5 years)

      Mason Crosby has a strong leg, but isn't very accurate. He hasn't hit 80 percent of his field goals in any of his four NFL seasons.

    5. James Jones, WR, Packers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Packers (3 years)

      James Jones has enormous talent and potential. Will he ever put it together to become a reliable starter?

    6. Atari Bigby, SS, Packers. Age: 29.
      Atari Bigby is an above-average safety who always seems to be hurt.

    7. John Kuhn, FB, Packers. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Packers (3 years)

      John Kuuuuuuhn is a strong blocker and the team's goal-line back.

    8. Daryn Colledge, G, Packers. Age: 29.
      Signed with Cardinals

      Daryn Colledge can be upgraded, but the Packers could do worse at left guard.

    9. Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Browns (2 years, $4.5 million)

      Brandon Jackson caught 43 balls in 2010. He's a dependable third-down back.

    10. Charlie Peprah, SS, Packers. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Packers (2 years, $2.3 million)
    11. Mark Tauscher, OT, Packers. Age: 34.
    12. Justin Harrell, DT, Packers. Age: 27.
    13. Brady Poppinga, OLB, Packers. Age: 31. -- Signed with Rams
    14. Brandon Chillar, ILB, Packers. Age: 28.
    15. Korey Hall, FB, Packers. Age: 28. -- Signed with Saints
    16. Jason Spitz, C, Packers. Age: 28. -- Signed with Jaguars (3 years)
    17. Spencer Havner, ILB, Packers. Age: 28. -- Tendered by Packers
    18. Anthony Smith, S, Packers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Titans
    19. Donald Lee, TE, Packers. Age: 31. -- Signed with Eagles (1 year)
    20. Josh Bell (RFA), CB, Packers. Age: 26.

    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon

    Divisional Rival History:
    Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is 1-4 against the Packers.
    Detroit Lions: The Packers have won 18 of the last 21 meetings. Detroit beat Green Bay at home in 2010, but Aaron Rodgers missed half the game.
    Minnesota Vikings: The Packers had won seven of 10 in this rivalry; nine of 10 if you exclude the 2009 season.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2011 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings

    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /

    2011 NFL Offseason Pages

    Fantasy Football Rankings - July 22

    2015 NBA Mock Draft - July 1

    2015 NFL Mock Draft - June 10

    NFL Free Agents

    NFL Picks - Feb. 2

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