I’ve always been of the belief that anyone younger than me is 12 years old. Well, folks, the Green Bay Packers are officially a team of 12-year-olds. As of August 30th’s roster cutdowns, the Packers are the second-youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25 years and 7 months. A whopping three players on the 53-man roster are 30 or older, while 24 players are 24 or under. Of these young players, let’s examine who will be relied upon heavily during the 2023 season.
Christian Watson, 24
Entering his second season, Christian Watson is officially stepping into the shoes of WR1, and is a prime candidate for a breakout year. In 2022, we were fortunate enough to witness four of the most electric games we’ve seen from a Packers rookie in some time, with Watson scoring eight TDs during that span. Don’t be surprised if we see a bit of a dip in that insane production this year; I’d expect Watson to be double-teamed more often than not, and with a new quarterback it may take some time to develop chemistry. But hey, that’s why teams have more than one receiver.
Jordan Love, 24
This one is a shocker, I know, but the quarterback is somewhat important to this football team. In his fourth NFL season, Jordan Love is still just 24 years old, and won’t turn 25 until Week 9. We are finally getting the long-term look at our 2020 first-round pick we’ve been waiting for. By the time he turns 25, we should have a pretty solid idea of whether or not he’ll be on the team in 2025 and beyond. We’ve seen some great chemistry brewing this summer between Love and his young targets, particularly Romeo Doubs. The continued development of that chemistry this season is undoubtedly one of the most important facets of this young offense.
Rasheed Walker, 23
Last year’s seventh-round pick started his first game at left tackle this preseason versus the New England Patriots and impressed pretty much everyone. David Bakhtiari’s situation is still “fluid” per HC Matt LaFleur, and Walker will likely be added to the eternal carousel of linemen this season (especially if someone is traded, perhaps to the Jets.) During Walker’s time at OT through 75 snaps this preseason, he allowed a whopping two pressures and was their second-highest graded lineman. A promising young QB + a promising young LT = ??? Super Bowl. The answer is Super Bowl.
Luke Musgrave, 23
I feel like this is just a preview of the offense at this point, but they’re all infants and it needs to be discussed! Luke Musgrave is diving headfirst into the TE1 role as a rookie and has medium-sized shoes to fill. The Packers have never truly found their replacement for Jermichael Finley, who amassed 223 receptions and 20 TDs in 70 games. Musgrave has drawn multiple comparisons to some guy named Travis Kelce. While he wasn’t extremely productive in college, the potential is there. His speed, combined with his giant 6’6” frame, has fans feeling optimistic that the Packers may finally have their guy. Musgrave was on the field for every single Jordan Love snap in preseason, so it’s clear the team has visions of a consistent partnership in the future.
Anthony Johnson Jr., 23
I’m not sure if anyone realized this, but the Packers are, um, lacking in the safety room. Safety is an ironic word, now that I think about it. I have never felt less safe. After losing Adrian Amos this offseason, the position is now spearheaded by Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, and Jonathan Owens, along with some special teamers and this year’s 242nd overall draft pick. Johnson likely isn’t going to see much time to start the season, but the skill at this position is so thin that he will be thrown into the mix at some point. If he impresses, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If he doesn’t, we can all continue to scream.
Lukas Van Ness, 22
Lukas Van Ness had a quiet debut preseason, but towards the end it seemed like he was starting to get a bit more comfortable on the field. His extreme athleticism is the perfect complement to Rashan Gary’s, and if Van Ness can hone his skills as a pass rusher, the Packers may have nailed this draft pick. With Gary coming off of a torn ACL, it may take a few games for him to get back to being the consistently disruptive player we were starting to see before the injury. While Van Ness obviously needs a little more time to adjust to the professional level, he’s going to be a huge part of this year’s defensive front.
Carrington Valentine, 21
As I type this paragraph, cornerback Carrington Valentine is still technically 21 years old. As the team’s youngest player, he’ll be 22 on September 9th. A seventh-round pick this year, Valentine has impressed majorly at practice and in preseason. He’s been a bit handsy during games, drawing two flags against the Patriots. The good news? This can be fixed. With Eric Stokes still recovering from a catastrophic injury sustained last season, and with the DB room being extremely thin, Valentine is going to see the field a lot this season. Quarterbacks love testing rookie DBs, so buckle up, everyone.