The ranking of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster continues here at Acme Packing Company as we now enter the top five. These guys are the cream of the crop and are so important that their loss would be a severe blow to the team.
5. Corey Linsley, center
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of the center position until their team doesn’t have a good one. Luckily for Packers fans, they’ve been blessed with great centers over the last twenty years: Frank Winters, Mike Flanagan, Scott Wells and now Corey Linsley.
Linsley is probably the unsung hero of the Green Bay offensive line. David Bakhtiari, when not shotgunning beers at basketball games, earns most of the praise and it is well deserved as he’s the best left tackle in the game (spoiler: he’s further up on our rankings). Linsley however has to not only deal with Aaron Rodgers’ improvisation at the line of scrimmage but also with moving parts all around him given the injury situations the past couple years.
Speaking of injuries, Linsley has (knock on wood) been remarkably available having not missed a single snap the past two seasons. That availability helps anchor not only the line but also gives the quarterback a consistent eye at the line of scrimmage.
Playing with Rodgers also presents its own unique set of challenges.
The most noteworthy is his ability to extend plays. Rodgers’ moving around to wait for guys to open up might drive fans crazy but it’s even tougher for an offensive line to contain for that amount of time. Linsley handled that part of the job expertly as Pro Football Focus ranked him as the no. 4 center in terms of pass protection (he was the sixth rated center overall and the 15th highest graded offensive lineman in the entire NFL.).
Rodgers also likes to play from the shotgun and that was especially true last season with the knees injury he suffered in the season opener that affected him all season. That means Linsley has a tougher job accurately delivering the snaps versus when the quarterback is right behind him. This could change some this season as new coach Matt LaFleur installs his new offense but still look for Rodgers to take a decent amount of snaps in the gun.
Thankfully for the Packers, Linsley won’t be going anywhere after the team signed him to a three-year contract extension after the end of the 2017 season. He’s going to have adjust to LaFleur’s zone blocking scheme like the rest of the line, but as long as Rodgers is the signal caller we don’t imagine there being a transition at center for awhile.
Should Linsley miss a game for the first time since 2016, second round pick Elgton Jenkins figures to be the primary backup even if the Packers see him more as a guard. The prospect of a rookie snapping the ball to Rodgers is a little terrifying after the steady hands of Linsley the last two years.
That’s how important Linsley is to the team and why he is number five on our roster ranking.