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I doubt any fan of the Green Bay Packers is surprised that Mike McCarthy has already named TE Jermichael Finley as the starter for next season. At first I was a bit hesitant about the move. If Finley was in a position where he had to do more blocking, something he didn't do too much of last season, it might wear him down. On second thought, if the offense is going to improve next season then the first thing they should do is get Finley on the field as much as possible. Who else is going to improve next season to help out QB Aaron Rodgers?
RB Ryan Grant remains the starter and you know what to expect from him. He can run the ball, but he's not great at everything else. RB Brandon Jackson has more upside, but he's got no chance of moving ahead of Grant before the start of the season. While they are a good tandem, they aren't going to provide anything more in 2010 then they did last season.
The offensive line will pass block better next season then they did at the beginning of 2009. But it's likely to feature the same five or six guys that have been starting over the past couple seasons. LT Bryan Bulaga is the future, but he seems unlikely to start in 2010 since he's playing strictly at left tackle and LT Chad Clifton has just been re-signed for the next three seasons. There's not a lot of upside here for 2010.
WR Greg Jennings and WR Donald Driver are a good-to-great solid starting two, but I'm not expecting anything more from them that they haven't provided over the past three seasons. Maybe WR Jordy Nelson can provide a spark to the receiving core, but he still has to move ahead of WR James Jones who was awful last season according to Pro Football Focus.
The obvious player who already has been moved into the starting lineup and has an obvious high ceiling is Finley. He was already great in 2009 and ranked No. 6 overall among TEs by Advanced NFL Stats and Football Outsiders. According to Pro Fooball Focus, he was only the 12th best because they took into account his awful run blocking. As good as he played, he could play better because his 6'5" frame remains tough for cornerbacks to match up with, and he can run away from linebackers. When the Packers line him up wide, it can help a wide receiver find a favorable matchup too. Potentially he could make himself better, and his teammates better.
If the Packers have a break out player on offense next season, it looks like Finley is the most likely candidate, and the move into the starting lineup was the change that could make it possible.