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Early Look at Position Battles

The months between February and August always seem the longest, don't they?  Sure, the NBA Playoffs are a welcome respite, and I suppose some people out there still like baseball, but c'mon.  Football is where it's at.

The draft is done, and the first rookie minicamp is in the books as well.  OTA's are coming up, and training camp is far off in the distance.  This offseason will be interesting because of the number of rookies and other young players that figure into key personnel moves.  Let's take a look at where the focus is going to be in regards to position battles.

Backup QB: Matt Flynn vs. Brian Brohm

Last preseason, Flynn and Brohm were complete opposites: Brohm played great in practice, while Flynn played great in games.  Flynn managed to get the nod for his in-game performance, a surprising move considering he was a 7th rounder and Brohm was a 2nd.  But after a year has passed, these two get another shot at holding Aaron Rodgers' clipboard for the upcoming season.

Fullback: Korey Hall vs. John Kuhn vs. Quinn Johnson

The fullback position is a dying one in the NFL, but Green Bay is still holding on to the hope of finding someone to fill the void left by William Henderson.  Hall and Kuhn battled injuries last year, but played relatively well.  Johnson's arrival will either push one of the incumbents to be better, or will bump one of them off the roster entirely.

Center: Jason Spitz vs. Scott Wells

Spitz is good enough to start at any of the three interior line positions.  Wells was a very good young center until injuries derailed him last season.  Can Wells return to form, or is he destined for a role on the bench?

Right Tackle: T.J. Lang vs. Breno Giacomini vs. Tony Moll

Mark Taushcer still recovering from an ACL injury and remaining unsigned, one of the bookends on the offensive line is open.  Moll has the edge on experience, but Giacomini has superior physical tools.  Lang might be the best balance between athleticism and technique.

Tight End: Donald Lee vs. Jermichael Finley

Lee has been solid, if unspectacular, as the starter.  Finley is a dynamic athlete who adds a new dimension to the passing game, but he has to improve his run blocking to merit time on the field.  Additionally, he needs to refrain from blaming Rodgers for throwing a pass that he could and should have reached out to grab.

No. 3 WR: Jordy Nelson vs. James Jones

Nelson played extremely well for a rookie last year, especially in the non-pass-catching role of WR.  His run blocking on the edge ranged from above average to superb, something that is a commodity at WR.  Jones' season was cut short by injury, but he has the tools to regain the dynamic form of his rookie season.  An important footnote for this battle is that the winner will likely have the inside track at Donald Driver's job when DD retires.

The entire defensive line:

Cullen Jenkins and B.J. Raji are probably the only two that are good enough by themselves to earn a starting spot somewhere on the line.  Ryan Pickett is still solid, but aging.  Johnny Jolly is inconsistent, Justin Harrell is talented but fragile, Michael Montgomery is undersized, as is newcomer Jarius Wynn.

OLB pass rusher: Aaron Kampman vs. Clay Matthews vs. Brady Poppinga vs. Jeremy Thompson vs. Jason Hunter

Talk about a whole lot of potential and a lack of definition.  Kampman tore it up as a DE for most of his career, but makes a switch that many players find do not suit them.  Matthews is young and certainly has a lot of upside, but expecting him to fill this role immediately is unreasonable.  Poppinga was allegedly a pass rusher in college, but hasn't shown any ability in the pros.  Thompson has the tools to fit well at 3-4 OLB, which is good considering he was an undersized 4-3 DE.  Hunter actually played this role in college, and was fairly successful at it.

Dime corner: Will Blackmon vs. Pat Lee vs. Brandon Underwood

Harris, Woodson, and Williams have the top three corner spots locked up, leaving the fabled no. 4 spot somewhat open.  Blackmon performed inconsistently last season and might be better used as a kick returner/no. 5 corner.  Pat Lee was a 2nd round pick last year and is the early heir to Al Harris' throne.  Underwood is an athletic prospect who could have played at tOSU were it not for some poor decisions and bad luck.

Strong Safety: Atari Bigby vs. Anthony Smith vs. Aaron Rouse

Bigby was a terror when he was on the field.  The key there is "on the field", as he found himself in the trainer's room all too often.  Anthony Smith was Thompson's biggest free agent signing, and played well at Pittsburgh before getting shown up by the 2008 Patriots, who purposefully targeted him after he shot his mouth off to the media.  He's never been the same, but perhaps a change of scenery can do that.  Rouse has the tools, but can't put it all together.  This year is a do-or-die year for Rouse; if he can't contribute this season, there's no reason to expect him to stick around for the next.

Punter: Jeremy Kapinos vs. Durant Brooks.


Did I miss anything?