On Tuesday, ESPN.com revealed a list of 99 things that will define the 2018 NFL season. The Green Bay Packers are well represented on this list, with three specific names showing up.
However, only one of these three players was on the team last year. That player is of course Aaron Rodgers, who returns from injury. In fact, Rodgers was the first player listed because of that very fact. Here's what they had to say about him:
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: The Packers are an annual Super Bowl contender with Rodgers and often inept without him. They averaged 27.4 points per game as he led them to a 4-1 start last season, then 17.3 in a 3-7 stretch after he broke his collarbone.
There's not much that needs to be said beyond thst about Rodgers. The last time he broke his collarbone (in 2013), he returned to win an MVP award the following year. If he can repeat that success this fall, the Packers should be in a position going into the postseason.
The second Packers player falls into a category of players who signed big free agent contracts. You can probably guess that this player is tight end Jimmy Graham:
13. Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers: At 31, his best days might be behind him. But Graham remains a uniquely talented receiver, especially in the red zone, and has landed with a quarterback who wants to make use of good tight ends. When paired with Jermichael Finley (2009-13) and Jared Cook (2016), Rodgers averaged more than five targets to them per game.
If Graham gets five targets a game and plays all 16 games, that would be 80 on the season. At his career catch rate of about 65% and yards per reception of 12.2, that would equate to 52 catches for 632 yards.
The third Packer on the list is also a new member of the team who is looking for a bounce back season. Muhammad Wilkerson's reunion with Mike Pettine is one that both player and team are hoping will pay dividends:
68. Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Packers: A one-year contract with Green Bay marked a huge fall from his previous deal with the Jets.
Wilkerson's prior deal was for five years and $86 million, but he played out just two seasons on that contract before being cut this offseason. A healthy and motivated Wilkerson should make the Packers' defensive line one of the best in the NFL this season. Wilkerson, Mike Daniels, and Kenny Clark would be a scary group for any offensive coordinator to deal with.
This list deals largely with big changes across the NFL, which is probably why players like Daniels or Davante Adams aren't on it. But it's clear that the Packers are poised go be a very different team in 2018 than they were a year ago.