The other training camp battle posts have focused around potential starting jobs. This post is going to break from that and not focus on a starting job at all, rather it's going to be on a camp battle that's just going to be for a roster spot. It may seem like there is less on the line in this case, but don't let that fool you....this is probably one of the most anticipated camp battles of 2012.
The Wide Receiver Battle.
I don't need to o tell you about the overflow of talent at the position. Right now the Packers have seven NFL caliber receivers. Most teams keep about five....maybe four if they are a running team and there is talent at the tight end spot. Due to the current talent I have yet to hear one fan, pundit, blogger, beat writer, or anyone willing to type anything about the Packers who say they are going to keep only five. The line starts at six people! There may be another one added on if McCarthy is like a kid in a candy store and can't choose.
Let's meet the competitors:
Mr. Mirrorball: Donald Driver
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: History and money. Not much needs to be said here. DD is a fan favorite and franchise icon. His time with Dancing with the Stars put him in the national spotlight and he handled it with class and grace...winning a whole new set of fans. This translated into the Packers giving him one more victory lap of a season with a new contract. You may not like it but too bad. He's getting too much money for the Packers to just cut so he's probably sticking.
Biggest reason he will not win a roster spot: TT is a stone cold SOB. It's not injury that will preclude DD from making the roster (if he's injured they will just move him to IR and let him be a PR figure). No, the only way DD is cut is if TT has ice water in his veins and cuts him even though there is too much money involved and Driver is so beloved. That's not impossible by the way, he did stare down Brett Favre with the fan base going nuts around each of them after all. Still this is a different time and wildly different circumstances, so don't count on it happening.
Playing the role of Al Czervik: James Jones
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: He's still a Packer. He may get no respect, but he's still a productive receiver and great option for Aaron Rodgers.
Biggest reason he won't win a roster spot: He's traded. People may not always appreciate Jones, but that's the only way he won't make this team. I also wouldn't hold your breath on him being traded. Trades never produce much value at this time of year and one thing Thompson is not known for is rash decisions.
Hans und Franz Approved: Tori Gurley
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: His size. Gurley has something you can't coach...length. He's got long arms, big hands, and is pretty tall. Oh he can also catch and run routes pretty good too. His stature sets him apart from the other receivers of the group and gives him a chance to be a weapon over the middle and in the end zone like few others on this team. Oh he can also has shown a knack for blocking kicks and punts which isn't too bad either.
Biggest reason he won't win a roster spot: He isn't as polished a receiver as his competitors. For all the hype surrounding Gurley the last couple years you don't hear about his route running, speed, or playmaking ability outside of going up and getting the ball. This camp could prove otherwise, but this lack of attention to these skills suggests that he might be more physical presence than prototypical NFL WR. If he can't do the nuts and bolts of the job better than some of the other guys the Packers might chance him one more year on the PS.
The Ex Quarterback: Diondre Borel
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: He outperforms Gurley. Remember I said Gurley might not be as polished as some of his competition? I was talking about this guy. This guy is Gurley's main competition. He's smart, fast, and could be a dynamic playmaker. He also is use to learning offenses like a QB and so has a different feel for running routes and reading defenses. All pretty promising.
Biggest reason he won't win a roster spot: He's more of the same. What's the difference between Borel and anyone else not named Nelson or Gurley? Not much, maybe some experience and a few million dollars. This means he has to produce if he wants to stick with the Packers cause potential isn't going to take him too far with the group as deep as it is right now.
Last year's promise: Shaky Smithson
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: Injuries. I should of said that an injury to Randall Cobb will be the biggest reason Smithson makes the team. Smithson is a good returner and an injury to Cobb would open up a role for him (yes I know Borel has some promise there too). Apart from that though, he's pretty far down on the depth chart to make a strong push for the roster.
Biggest reason he won't win a roster spot: He's not quite ready. Smithson might be the answer to why the Packers only keep only six receivers this year. He's not as far along as Gurley or Borel, but he does have promise and could develop into a good WR in this league. He just needs another year on the PS and to stay healthy in camp. If he can do this then the Packers might not be as hurt letting one of the two other promising prospects walk this year.
The Former Basketball Star: Dale Moss
Biggest reason he will win a roster spot: A miracle. Moss has good moves and plenty of speed, but he's learning football on the go. He may just be a natural and have a camp for the ages....but don't count on it.
Biggest reason he won't win a roster spot: He has too much to learn. The PS seems like a perfect spot for Moss right now. He can learn from the best in the business and hone his athletic gifts into the mold of an NFL WR. No better place than Green Bay to do that, but it's going to take patience to see this through. He's probably not making the roster this year but maybe in the next couple. He could also be another reason why Borel or Gurley is let go.