2021 NFL Offseason: Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers (Last Year: 13-3)

2021 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Randall Cobb, OT Dennis Kelly, LB De’Vondre Campbell.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Eric Stokes, C Josh Myers, WR Aamri Rodgers, G/OT Royce Newman. Packers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Jamaal Williams, OT Ricky Wagner, G Lane Taylor, C Corey Linsley, DT Montravius Adams, DT Damon Harrison, LB Christian Kirksey.

2021 Green Bay Packers Offense:
Aaron Rodgers rocked the NFL landscape hours prior to the 2021 NFL Draft when he announced that he would not be returning to the Packers. Green Bay had already been in trade negotiations with the 49ers involving Rodgers, but talks ended abruptly. Rodgers, frustrated that he wouldn’t be headed to San Francisco, voiced his displeasure publicly for the first time.

This was not a surprise. Not only have the Packers failed to find receiving talent to help Rodgers; they also drafted his replacement the year before in Jordan Love. Had the Packers selected a talented receiver instead of Love, they may have won the Super Bowl in 2020, but fell just a bit short in the NFC Championship. Rodgers has vowed not to play for Green Bay again, but he changed his mind. He officially showed up to training camp, so this season preview has been altered.

Rodgers will be back for one more year, but the same problems remain. Save for the All-Pro Davante Adams, the Packers don’t have much at receiver. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have posted some nice stats in several games, but only did so because of Rodgers. Green Bay used a third-round choice on Amari Rodgers, so he’s a wild card.

Believe it or not, the Packers’ offense had grave concerns beyond Aaron Rodgers’ holdout threats and the poor receiving depth. The offensive line, which was a strength in some games last year when most of the blockers were healthy, lost three starters this offseason. Center Corey Linsley, one of the top players at the position, Lane Taylor and Ricky Wagner have all departed. Making matters worse, Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL in December, so he may not be 100 percent by the 2021 opener. Even if he is, the Packers will have to use the pedestrian Billy Turner as a bookend for Bakhtiari unless fourth-round rookie Royce Newman can steal the job.

As for the interior, the Linsley and Taylor departures will hurt greatly unless second-round rookie Josh Myers can thrive despite his inexperience. Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick will likely be the starting guards. Both were mediocre players in 2020.

With worse blocking, the Packers will find running the ball to be more difficult. This is bad news for the Packers, who paid big money to re-sign Aaron Jones this offseason. Jones is a talented back, but his production will take a huge hit if Rodgers leaves. Second-year A.J. Dillon will eat into his touches as well.

2021 Green Bay Packers Defense:
Despite the lack of talent beyond Davante Adams at receiver, the Packers were nearly able to defeat the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. The primary issue for them in that game was the play of Kevin King, who was torched relentlessly. King wasn’t 100 percent, but the Packers were still obligated to find an upgrade across from Jaire Alexander, who is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. The front office used its first-round pick on Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, a tall cornerback who figures to be an improvement over King. The mediocre Chandon Sullivan will continue to man the slot.

The Packers also have an elite talent at safety, as Adrian Amos was one of the better safeties in the NFL last year. The other safety is a very skilled player as well, as former first-rounder Darnell Savage covered very well this past season.

If Green Bay can generate lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, it’ll be very difficult for the opposition to generate a consistent passing offense. Za’Darius Smith can definitely generate heat; he has tallied 26 total sacks in the past couple of years. However, the Packers will need to get a better pass rush elsewhere. Both Rashan Gary and Preston Smith were mediocre producers this past season. Gary is a recent first-round pick, so perhaps he’ll be able to emerge as a superior player in the near future.

The Packers’ other outstanding player in the front seven is Kenny Clark, one of the better nose tackles in the pros. Clark saw his sack total drop to two after recording a total of 12 in the prior two years, but he was still dominant in the trenches this past season. Clark will be flanked by Tyler Lancaster and Dean Lowry, two average players who aren’t quite liabilities.

Speaking of liabilities, the linebacking corps is the weak point of Green Bay’s defense. Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin are the favorites to start with Christian Kirksey gone. It’s worth noting that the Packers won’t miss Kirksey very much because he struggled last year.

2021 Green Bay Packers Schedule and Intangibles:
Green Bay is 150-53-2 at home since 1992 – the year Brett Favre first became a Packer. Aaron Rodgers continued the tradition; he’s 76-16-1 as a host the past 12 years. It remains to be seen if Jordan Love will do just as well following the 2021 campaign.

Mason Crosby had a great year once again, hitting a perfect 16-of-16 attempts in 2020, including 4-of-4 from 50-plus.

Green Bay wasted a fifth-round pick on a punter in 2018. JK Scott finished 27th in net average as a rookie and “improved” to 24th last year. He was even worse in 2020, ranking 28th.

The Packers had poor special teams in 2020, surrendering two touchdowns while scoring none themselves.

Green Bay has a middling schedule. Its divisional opponents won’t be too difficult to beat, but it’ll have to navigate through the NFC West and AFC North.

2021 Green Bay Packers Rookies:
Go here for the Packers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2021 Green Bay Packers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2021 Green Bay Packers Analysis: The decline of the Packers’ offensive line was going to make it difficult for the team to win the Super Bowl this year. However, anything is possible with a motivated Aaron Rodgers under center. With Rodgers returning for one final season, the Packers will be in the Super Bowl mix. Ultimately, however, the lack of receiving depth and the offensive line departures will catch up with Green Bay in the playoffs.

Projection: 11-6 (1st in NFC North)

2020 Projection: 7-9. 2020 Actual Result: 13-3.
2019 Projection: 12-4. 2019 Actual Result: 13-3.
2018 Projection: 11-5. 2018 Actual Result: 6-9-1.
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 7-9.
2016 Projection: 12-4. 2016 Actual Result: 10-6.

NFL Draft Team Grade: F Grade

Goals Entering the 2021 NFL Draft: The Packers seem determined not to help Aaron Rodgers. They didn’t upgrade receiver across from Davante Adams in the 2020 NFL Draft, and they allowed three offensive line starters to walk in free agency. Rodgers won MVP last year, and yet he’ll need to be even better in 2021 to reach the NFC Championship again unless the Packers make some great selections in the 2021 NFL Draft.

2021 NFL Draft Accomplishments: What in the world are the Packers doing? A year ago, they were in a position to take one of several talented receivers – Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, Brandon Aiyuk, etc. – which may have put them over the top, yet they drafted a quarterback. Leading up to the draft, they reportedly tried to trade Rodgers, only to have the 49ers nix the deal. Now, Rodgers has declared that he’s never playing for the Packers again. Talks suggest that the Broncos will likely trade for Rodgers after June 1, but this only allowed the arch-rival Bears to land Justin Fields because Denver would have selected Fields if it didn’t have the opportunity to acquire Rodgers.

The Packers were charged with building around Jordan Love, which they botched in the first round when they reached a bit on Eric Stokes. They finally got on track on Day 2 when they obtained a center and a receiver, followed by another offensive lineman at the end of the fourth frame. Despite adding two blockers in the first four rounds, I don’t think they did enough to improve their collapsing offensive line. Meanwhile, Amari Rodgers, like Stokes, was a bit of a reach where Green Bay chose him.

I liked some of Green Bay’s later picks, but this entire ordeal was a disaster for them. They largely failed to address needs; they reached on players; they allowed the Bears to land a franchise quarterback; and they drove Aaron Rodgers out of town. How is that not worthy of a failing grade?

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

29. Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia – C Grade
I don’t think the Packers needed to force a receiver with this pick because there aren’t any great options available. However, I think the Packers needed to do something to make Aaron Rodgers happy, and that would entail selecting a blocker to help an offensive line that lost three starters in the offseason. Furthermore, if Rodgers is traded to the Broncos, as rumored, Patrick Surtain could’ve been included in the deal. That’s obviously speculative, but it’s still something that should be considered.

62. Josh Myers, C, Ohio State – A Grade
Finally, a pick Jordan Love can like. The Packers lost three offensive linemen this offseason, which doesn’t even count David Bakhtiari coming off an injury. One of those free-agent departures is Corey Linsley, so Green Bay had to replace him. I thought there was a chance Josh Myers could go earlier, so I’m a big fan of this pick.

85. Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson – B Grade
The Packers weren’t kidding when they said they were going to have A. Rodgers on their team next year. It’s nice that they finally obtained a receiver, and Amari Rodgers is an explosive athlete who can go the distance whenever he touches the ball. I had Amari Rodgers in the fourth round, so this is almost the right range.

142. Royce Newman, G/OT, Ole Miss – B Grade
Aaron Rodgers has to be loving all the help the Packers are getting for Jordan Love. Royce Newman played tackle at Ole Miss, but some in the NFL believe that he’ll have to move to guard in the pros. Either way, the Packers need help at both positions. I had Newman in the fifth round, so the range makes sense.

173. Tedarrell Slaton, NT, Florida – A+ Grade
I love this value. Tedarrell Slaton has some concerns with possible weight issues, but he’s drawn some comparisons to D.J. Reader. He’ll be a monstrous run stuffer, and he provides a bit of pass-rushing upside at his massive size. Slaton could have gone in the third round without complaints from me.

178. Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State – C+ Grade
Shemar Jean-Charles is a small and slow cornerback (5-10, 184), which is not ideal. However, he could be stationed in the slot as an instinctive, high-effort player. I didn’t have Jean-Charles drafted, but he makes some sense for the Packers.

214. Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin – C- Grade
I’m not a fan of this pick. I know Cole Van Landen is a local guy for the Packers, but he doesn’t seem lengthy enough to play tackle or strong enough to be used at guard. I didn’t think he’d be drafted.

220. Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College – A- Grade
Linebacker was one of many positions the Packers needed to address entering the draft. They finally used a pick on the position, and they seem to be getting good value with Isaiah McDuffie, whom I slotted 60 selections prior to this spot. McDuffie is a bit undersized, but he has the speed to cover well.

256. Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State – A Grade
I’m shocked Kylin Hill lasted so long. I had him mocked in the third round! Even though the Packers didn’t need a running back with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon signed on for so long, they were right to obtain this incredible value late in the draft.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Aaron Rodgers did not take kindly to his front office spending a first-round pick on a quarterback. Highly motivated, Rodgers tore apart the NFL en route to an MVP season, earning his team the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Offseason Moves:
  • Packers sign LB De’Vondre Campbell

    Team Needs:
    1. Wide Receiver: How great would Green Bay’s offense have looked last year if it had drafted Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins or Michael Pittman? A No. 2 receiver is needed.

    2. Defensive Tackle: The Packers need to strengthen their defensive line because of how poor they are against the run.

    3. Linebacker: Here’s another area in the middle of the defense that must be bolstered if the Packers are to improve versus ground attacks. Signed De’Vondre Campbell

    4. Right Tackle: The Packers cut Rick Wagner, so they’ll need to replace him.

    5. Edge Rusher: Preston Smith has been a disappointment, so a better edge rusher should be acquired.

    6. Cornerback: Jaire Alexander is arguably the top cornerback in the NFL, but the Packers need help elsewhere at the position, especially with Kevin King heading for free agency. Re-signed with Packers

    7. Center: Corey Linsley is one of the top centers in the NFL, but he’s an impending free agent who must be re-signed.

    8. Running Back: The Packers will have to re-sign one of Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams. Re-signed Aaron Jones

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2021 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Dennis Kelly, OT, Titans. Age: 31.
      Signed with Packers

      Dennis Kelly was a solid right tackle for the Titans last year, particularly in run blocking. He just turned 31, but he should be a halfway decent starter or top backup for a couple more seasons.

    2. De’Vondre Campbell, LB, Cardinals. Age: 28. — Signed with Packers

    Green Bay Packers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Corey Linsley, C, Packers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Chargers (5 years, $62.5 million)

      Corey Linsley is one of the top centers in the NFL. His absence was felt in the middle of the season when the Packers struggled to blow out the opposition. His only downside is that he has entered his 30s, but that’s not a big deal.

    2. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Packers (4 years, $48 million)

      Aaron Jones isn’t an elite back, but he’s on the next tier. He’s averaged 5.5 yards per carry or better in three of his four seasons, and he’s a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. He’s only 26, and he has just 651 career carries, so he’s not worn down at all.

    3. Robert Tonyan (RFA), TE, Packers. Age: 27.
      Tendered by Packers (2nd)

      The Packers had lacked a quality tight end since Jared Cook. Robert Tonyan filled that role well, catcing 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020. He’s athletic and has a bright future ahead of him.

    4. Lane Taylor, G, Packers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Texans (1 year)

      Lane Taylor is a very talented guard, but he’s also a 31-year-old coming off a knee injury, so there is definitely major risk involved.

    5. Rick Wagner, OT, Packers. Age: 31.
      Rick Wagner played very well for the Packers last year, but he was released because of financial implications (Green Bay was $11 million over the cap.) He is still a solid starter in the NFL.

    6. Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Lions (2 years, $7.5 million)

      Jamaal Williams has done well when starting in place of Aaron Jones, both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He deserves a chance to win a starting job for himself.

    7. Kevin King, CB, Packers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Packers (1 year, $6 million)

      Kevin King is a fine No. 2 cornerback. He hasn’t quite lived up to his first-round billing, but he’s still just 26, so he has upside.

    8. Montravius Adams, DT, Packers. Age: 26. — Signed with Patriots
    9. Damon Harrison, NT, Packers. Age: 33.
    10. Christian Kirksey, LB, Packers. Age: 29. — Signed with Texans (1 year, $4.5 million)
    11. Tyler Ervin, RB, Packers. Age: 28.
    12. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Packers. Age: 37. — Re-signed with Packers (2 years, $8 million)
    13. Billy Winn, DT, Packers. Age: 32.
    14. Tavon Austin, WR, Packers. Age: 31.
    15. James Burgess, LB, Packers. Age: 27.
    16. John Lovett, FB, Packers. Age: 25.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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