[Chart last updated 7/3/14]
• Some might feel we are too hasty to call Eddie Lacy a High Quality Starter, but that’s exactly what he was as a rookie. Our fourth-highest-graded running back last season, he forced 62 missed tackles as a runner in 2013.
• Though they have three Elite players on the roster, the Packers lack quality depth further down. 23 of the 61 players listed above are either rookies or players who we haven’t seen enough yet and if the team have more than a couple of injuries in 2014 that may be a concern.
• Julius Peppers’ role is going to be interesting to watch. Currently the expectation is that he’ll line up at left end when they are in their base defense but will mix in snaps at outside linebacker and as an interior rusher in sub-packages.
• Casey Heyward absolutely has the potential to be rated higher, we just need to see him get back to his 2012 season form after missing most of the 2013 season through injury. Don’t forget that in his rookie season he didn’t allow a single touchdown while picking off six passes and breaking up 12 more.
1. Wide Receiver
Heading into the 2014 season it’s obvious that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are Aaron Rodgers’ top two targets on offense. The battle at wide receiver, however, is who steps up as that third guy. Jarrett Boykin would appear to have the early edge, but the team did spend second- and fifth-round draft picks on Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis, respectively, so they will have high hopes of both.
2. Inside Linebacker
While A.J. Hawk has never really impressed us, his starting job doesn’t appear in any jeopardy. Who starts next to him is more in question, though, with Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore competing to win the job. Lattimore started four games last year, and Jones did struggle late in the year, but does at least have the backing of a very good 2012 season that showed just how good he can be if he can get back to that level.
3. Edge Rusher
With Peppers expected to see some snaps on the outside, it opens up an interesting battle on a roster that has plenty of player who have seen snaps on the edge. We know how good Clay Matthews is, but who steps up opposite him? Nick Perry was a first-round pick two years ago but hasn’t produced consistently enough that he can be counted on, while Mike Neal struggled after moving to outside linebacker last year. Andy Mulumba saw 361 snaps after signing as an undrafted free agent but managed just 10 total pressures from 186 pass rushing snaps.
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