Counting on rookies can put you in a tough spot. On the one hand, there’s nothing like the injection of raw talent and upside that comes with a promising draft class. On the other, well, they’re rookies. There will be growing pains.
The Packers got both sides of that coin in 2022. They got solid performances from a bunch of different guys in their 2022 class — Christian Watson had an electric second half, Quay Walker was generally solid next to De’Vondre Campbell, and Zach Tom was like a junior version of Elgton Jenkins, among other noteworthy performances. But each of those players also had their struggles; Watson missed essentially all of training camp and then made the most noteworthy drop of the season on his first offensive play, Walker’s two ejections and inconsistent run fits showed a lack of maturity and processing ability on the field, and Tom’s physical limitations put a hard ceiling on his 2022.
And then there’s Devonte Wyatt, who flashed when he was on the field but couldn’t seem to beg, borrow, or steal a snap to save his life. Whether that’s the fault of the coaches for not putting him out there or the result of some still-unrevealed off-field issue, we don’t know, but it’s not a good look for one of your two first-round picks, especially considering the help he was supposed to represent for Kenny Clark.
It seems fair to say that as good as the rookies were at times, the Packers still needed more, and that’s probably the team’s fault more than the individual players. It’s one thing to ask a lot from your rookies, but it’s another thing to rely on it.
Calling Wyatt’s rookie season an “apprenticeship” is a bit much considering he was losing playing time to Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry, but if he can build on it, it won’t be a total waste.
Carpenter ended up being a core special teamer in 2022, a good role for an athletic safety still finding his feet as an NFL defensive player.
I enjoyed this look at what goes into making the call on whether or not to challenge a play. It’s not quite as easy as it can look on TV.
Here’s a rule I bet you haven’t thought about in a while.
Get your loved one something they’ll never forget.