Now that we have shifted focus back from the NFL Playoffs to the Packers' off-season, it's time to really dig deep and analyze the team's roster and how it stands moving into the 2013 season. We will start with a series of posts this week looking at each position on the team and the players who are currently under contract for next year. We'll then grade the position on an A-F scale for quality and assess the need for improvement on a scale from 1-10. Hopefully you'll agree with our assessments.
We begin, as any NFL team begins, at the quarterback position.
Under contract for 2013:
Aaron Rodgers (2012 role: starter)
Graham Harrell (Backup)
B.J. Coleman (practice squad)
Rodgers is as good a quarterback as there is across the NFL right now. He's only a year removed from a near-unanimous league MVP award, he's two years removed from a Super Bowl win and MVP award, and even in what was though of as a bit of a "down year" he through 39 touchdowns to eight interceptions and led the league in passer rating. He's 29 years old, and is very much in the prime of his career. The only concern about Rodgers is that he holds the ball too long in the pocket rather than escaping and throwing it away; thus, he is prone to taking too many sacks and somewhat increases his risk of suffering an injury. In that regard, he definitely seemed to regress this year, but he still possesses deadly accuracy throwing the football and very good mobility when he does escape the pocket.
Harrell played in four games this season, and thoroughly failed to impress after tripping over a lineman and fumbling a handoff on his first NFL snap. Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff have been publicly supportive of Harrell, but one has to wonder if he can hold onto his backup spot in 2013. Obviously, if Aaron Rodgers were to get hurt, there would be a huge dropoff to any backup quarterback; but the dropoff to Harrell would still be much more painful than it was to Matt Flynn in 2010 and 2011.
B.J. Coleman is the wild-card of the group. I look forward to seeing what Coleman can do with a full off-season under his belt, especially going through McCarthy's quarterback school. Obviously he remained on the Packers' practice squad this season, and wasn't really likely to overtake Harrell in his first year. Look for him to make a run at the #2 spot in training camp.
Positional Grade: B+
Rodgers is as solid and spectacular as they come, though he'll be needing a new contract soon. As long as he's on the field, the Packers will be a playoff-caliber team and a threat to make it to the Super Bowl. However, his propensity to hold the ball too long still continues to be a worry in the back of my mind that he'll end up taking one funny hit and get seriously injured. The other reasons the position isn't in the A range is because Harrell's play has been ugly and Coleman is a huge question mark at this point. I'm just not comfortable with the options at the position if something were to happen to Rodgers.
Positional Need: 2 (out of 10)
Mike McCarthy does a great job of developing quarterbacks; I'm taking a leap of faith here that he will turn either Harrell or Coleman into a serviceable backup this off-season. Even if the status quo remains, improvements are far more critical on other units (like the offensive line to protect Rodgers, for example).
Agree? Disagree? Sound off below.